April 20, 2007

The JAMA /JAF/JTSA 2007 Senior Drivers’ and Safe-Driving Programs Will Take Place at 67 Locations Nationwide, from Hokkaido to Kyushu
One-Day, Hands-On Programs Teach Skills to Help Reduce Road Accident Occurrence

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) and the Japan Traffic Safety Association (JTSA) - with crucial support from the National Police Agency, individual prefectural police headquarters, prefectural traffic safety associations and other organizations - are again this year jointly sponsoring the JAMA/JAF/JTSA Senior Drivers’ Program and the JAMA/JAF/JTSA Safe-Driving Program throughout Japan.  Drivers who have held a driver’s license for at least one year are eligible to enroll in these one-day sessions that train participants in practical safe-driving skills.

Road Accident Trends in 2006: More Elderly Persons Involved in Accidents

Road fatalities in Japan in 2006 totalled 6,352 - 519 fewer than in the previous year and the first drop below 6,500 since 1955. The roughly 890,000 road accidents represented a decrease of 5.0% from 2005, while the number of accident-related injuries was also down, by 5.1%, to a total of 1.10 million, marking declines in both these categories for the second consecutive year.

Road fatalities involving “seniors” (aged 65 years or older) totalled 2,809, or 115 fewer than in 2005, but the share of elderly persons in total road fatalities rose to 44.2%, up 1.6% from the previous year. According to the National Police Agency, the number of drivers’-license holders aged 65 or older meanwhile rose by about 620,000 persons to a total of 10.38 million drivers - the first time ever for that figure to exceed the 10-million mark.

Against this backdrop, the sponsors hope that, through the conduct of the two nationwide programs, more and more drivers will adopt safe-driving practices that will contribute to a further decline in road accident occurrence in Japan.

Overview of the JAMA/JAF/JTSA Senior Drivers’ Program:
Launched in 1996, the Senior Drivers’ Program enables elderly drivers to become more aware of their own driving habits and limitations and to develop safe-driving skills.  Targeting drivers aged 65 or older but open to drivers who are at least 50, the program boasts a cumulative participation, in a total of 177 locations, of 3,890 persons, many of whom last year expressed surprise at how slow their reactions as drivers had become (for example, in breaking) and said that the program was very valuable in helping them to rethink their own driving habits.

The program’s content covers matters that can be especially problematic for elderly people, including vehicle safety checks, driving posture, blind spots, air bag deployment, braking on slippery surfaces, right-hand turns at intersections, and crossing intersections in poor visibility.  Hands-on sessions are followed up with question-and-answer periods between participants and instructors.

The 2007 Senior Drivers’ Program will be conducted in 32 locations from Hokkaido to Kyushu, with the inaugural session to be held on May 3 in Kyoto Prefecture.

Overview of the JAMA/JAF/JTSA Safe-Driving Program:
The Safe-Driving Program has been conducted since 1991 and is open to any driver, regardless of age, who has held a driver’s license for at least one year.  The program enables drivers to advance their understanding of vehicle characteristics, performance limits and other factors, in order to improve their safe-driving skills. It also promotes a better awareness of the need to adopt safe-driving practices. By the end of 2006, this program had been held in a total of 319 locations with about 8,500 participants, one of whom commented that the program was very helpful in making him aware, for example, of the difficulty in coming to a halt on a slippery road surface and of the importance of rear-seat safety belt use.

Program content begins with confirmation of driving basics, then moves on to driving on straight and curved roads, sudden braking, cornering, and many of the practical aspects of driving that are also covered by the Senior Drivers’ Program, thus providing participants with valuable pointers on how to react to and deal with real-life road situations.

The 2007 Safe-Driving Program will be conducted in 35 locations from Hokkaido to Kyushu, kicking off on May 19 in Wakayama Prefecture.


Photo: A JAMA /JAF/JTSA Senior Drivers’ Program session held in fiscal 2006
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