How do you reduce the number of elderly drivers on the road without outright taking their license away? By bribing them with McDonalds, of course.
Japan’s got a burgeoning elderly population and with that, the country is facing a unique set of challenges where they must support and honor its older population without making them feel like a burden. As per CBC News earlier yesterday (Sept. 17, 2018) the Japanese government/police in collaboration with McDonalds introduced a controversial program where elderly drivers relinquish their driver’s licenses voluntarily, and in return, get a maximum discount of 110 yen or about $1 on select McDonald’s products.
Mind you, this is only being tried out in one particular county(or prefecture as they call it in Japan) so it’s not a country-wide initiative. In return for your license, you get another ID that removes your driver’s privileges but is used for government ID purposes. When this particular ID is used at a McDonald’s, you can get a discount on your meal.
This initiative is in direct response to the correlation between a high driving age and fatal accidents. According to the NY Times,
drivers over 75 caused twice as many fatal accidents per 100,000 drivers as those under that age. Among drivers over 80 years old, the rate was three times as high as for drivers under that age. The news media regularly features grisly reports of deaths caused by older drivers, some of whom are later discovered to have Alzheimer’s disease.
And since 2009, drivers 75 and older have their cognitive abilities tested.
Giving up your driving privileges is akin to giving up your personal freedom and is a major blow to one’s quality of life. Instead of relying on yourself to get places, now you have to rely on others or use smart technology to get you where you need to go through ridesharing services.
It is working though as initiatives like this and cognitive test means
Over the last five years, the number of drivers over 65 who voluntarily gave up their licenses across Japan more than tripled, to nearly 405,000 last year.
Some older drivers still have all their physical and mental faculties to drive while others don’t. If it takes a little McDonalds to help you get over your pride in the name of greater public safety, it’s not all that bad.