Driver’s License Renewal Center for Elderly Opens in Saitama

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Saitama prefectural police department

SAITAMA (Jiji Press) — In a bid to deal with a growing number of elderly drivers, Saitama prefectural police have opened a driver’s license renewal course center that only serves people aged 70 or older.

The first such center, located in the city of Saitama, is aimed at shortening the waiting period for the course while helping such drivers be aware if their cognitive and physical functions have weakened, encouraging safe driving.

In Japan, drivers aged 70 or older must complete the course for elderly people, which comprises a classroom lecture and an actual driving session, when they renew driver’s licenses.

For those aged 75 or older, a cognitive function test, which evaluates memory and judgment abilities, is also mandatory.

The renewal course for the elderly and the cognitive function test have been available at facilities that handle license renewals for younger drivers. Some have pointed out that waiting periods for the course for the elderly have become longer in line with the growth in the number of older drivers.

The Saitama center can handle 120 people for the course for the elderly and 180 people for the cognitive function test a day, or a total of about 75,000 drivers a year.

The number of driver’s license holders aged 70 or older in Saitama Prefecture grew by 1.5 times to some 718,000 in 2023 from some 483,000 in 2014, according to the prefectural police.

While the license renewal course for the elderly can be taken from six months before expiration dates, elderly drivers had to wait about 30 days on average as of the end of April to take the course after making reservations, according to the police.

About 150 elderly people came to the center to take the license renewal course on May 27, when it opened.

“I’m glad that I was able to do all the procedures at one location,” said Hiroshi Tsukui, 77, from Kasukabe City.

Yutaka Kanaizumi of the driver’s license department at the prefectural police pledged efforts to shorten waiting periods for the elderly as much as possible so that they do not have to worry about expiration dates.