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Initiative Calls for Senior Drivers to ‘Surrender’ Driver’s Licenses to Enhance Road Safety

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There has been a suggestion for local governments to expand their budgets to support elderly drivers who surrender their licenses.

On the 12th, Taeyong Jang, a South Korean lawmaker and a member of the Planning and Economy Committee of the Seoul Metropolitan Council (People’s Power Party), during his 5-minute speech at the 324th regular meeting, pointed out the seriousness of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers and the Seoul city government’s indifference. He urged a budget allocation to increase the incentive for license surrender from the current 300,000 won ($218) to 1 million won ($727).

Jang has previously proposed an ordinance to increase the incentive for drivers aged 70 and above who voluntarily surrender their licenses from the existing 100,000 won ($73) to 300,000 won ($218). All sitting members passed this ordinance in December 2022. However, Seoul city still provides incentives through 100,000 won ($73) worth of Seoul Love Gift Vouchers or transportation cards.

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Jang emphasized, “I have repeatedly requested a budget allocation to increase the incentive for elderly drivers to surrender their licenses to 300,000 won, but even after one and a half years since the amendment was passed, Seoul city government has remained indifferent, showing no progress.” He strongly criticized the government of Seoul, saying, “I cannot accept that Seoul is so indifferent to a safety issue directly related to the lives of its citizens.”

Over the past three years, the overall rate of traffic accidents in South Korea has decreased by 6%. However, traffic accidents involving drivers aged 65 and older have increased by 11%. In Seoul, the rate of accidents caused by drivers aged 70 and older is 1.7 times higher than that of other age groups. Accidents involving elderly drivers have been found to have a higher fatality rate compared to different age groups. 

Accidents involving elderly drivers have a higher fatality rate than accidents involving other age groups. According to the National Police Agency statistics, accidents caused by drivers aged 65 and older account for the highest proportion of total traffic fatalities, at 26.8%.

The fatality rate for traffic accidents involving drivers aged 75 and older is 2.4%; for those aged 80 and older, it is 4.7%; and for those aged 85 and above, it is 7.3%, showing a sharp increase with age.

Jang emphasized that “even local governments with much worse financial situations than Seoul city government are considering the surrender of licenses by elderly drivers as a serious issue directly related to the lives of citizens and are expanding the amount of support.” “Seoul city government should proactively step forward to allocate a budget for elderly drivers to surrender their licenses to create a safer Seoul,” he added.

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