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Saitama police open Japan’s first training center for older drivers

Japan’s first facility exclusively tailored to older drivers taking lessons to renew their driver’s license has been opened in Saitama City by the Saitama Prefectural Police.

In Japan, drivers aged 70 and over must undergo sessions consisting of driving instruction and classroom lectures.

In addition, individuals age 75 and older must take cognitive function tests to assess memory and judgment.

The new facility, created with the aim of reducing the wait time for older drivers to renew their driver’s license, offers both lectures and tests.

The facility can accommodate up to 300 people per day – 120 for lectures and 180 for cognitive testing – and approximately 75,000 people per year.

Older drivers can attend such lectures at driver’s license renewal centers or driving schools. However, with the increasing number of older drivers, wait times for these sessions have increased significantly.

The number of drivers aged 70 and older in the prefecture has increased from about 483,000 in 2014 to about 718,000 in 2023, according to Saitama Prefectural Police.

Despite the course being available six months before the renewal deadline, the average wait time for a reservation as of April this year was approximately 30 days.

On May 27, the day of the center’s opening, approximately 150 elderly people came to attend the sessions.

Hiroshi Tsukui, 77, from Kasukabe city, praised the convenience of completing all required sessions in one central location.

Yutaka Kanaizumi, an official at the Prefectural Police Driver’s License Department, said, “We aim to reduce waiting times as much as possible to ensure that older drivers face their renewal periods without stress.”

[bio]Translated by The Japan Times[bio]

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