Oddly Enough

Enticing elderly to give up driving

The main street of Kyoto is packed with cars during the "golden week" holidays May 4, 2007. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo businesses are to start offering benefits to elderly people who give up their drivers’ licences, backing a police effort to cut back on the ballooning number of traffic accidents caused by drivers over 65.

Among more than 30 special offers, one small bank will give higher interest rates, while Mitsukoshi department store chain plans to provide free delivery from its Tokyo stores and a hotel will offer a 10 percent discount on meals in a program starting next month, Tokyo police said on their Web site.

“Have the courage to give up your licence,” the police say on the site. “If you have lost confidence in your driving ... if your family says they are worried about you driving ... please think about handing in your licence.”

Japan has the largest proportion of over-65s in the world and faces a growing problem with elderly drivers, who caused 100,000 traffic accidents last year, about twice the figure 10 years earlier, broadcaster NHK said.

Reporting by Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Bill Tarrant