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News First senior driver training centre opened in Saitama


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Japan has inaugurated its first driving centre in Saitama, which is dedicated to helping senior citizens renew their driving licenses. This initiative by the Saitama Prefectural Police is designed to streamline the process for drivers aged 70 and above, who must partake in driving courses and educational sessions. For those 75 and older, cognitive assessments evaluating memory and decision-making skills are mandatory. The establishment aims to diminish wait times for license renewal, with a daily capacity of 300 individuals—120 for educational talks and 180 for cognitive evaluations, serving an estimated 75,000 annually.

Saitama Dricing Centre for Senior Drivers

Photo credit: Jiji[/credit]

Elderly drivers can take such lectures at driver's license renewal facilities or driving schools. However, with the increasing number of senior drivers, waiting times for these sessions have grown considerably. According to the Saitama Prefectural Police, the number of drivers age 70 and above in the prefecture rose from approximately 483,000 in 2014 to about 718,000 in 2023. Despite the course being available from six months before the renewal deadline, the average waiting time for a reservation stood at approximately 30 days as of April this year.

I went thru a 'course' at a local driving school early last fall, preceding the actual renewal at the usual place (this area's 免許センター).

I don't remember any specific cognitive assessment :LOL: , but I'll guess that was probably subtly done all along the way. The main test was a more thorough vision test, and I'd had my eyes checked and gotten a pair of 'driving' glasses for distance vision just in case, but passed without using them (and the eyeglasses place said I would pass, but I opted for them anyway).

There was a driving test, too, in a school car on the school's closed course. One thing they emphasized was that on the back stretch you had to get up to and maintain 40-50kph.

I passed, they gave me a certificate to take to the actual testing center (¥5000? for the class and testing). And I now have a license (still gold) on a shorter three year renewal cycle.
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