Japan gives elderly drivers a noodle incentive


Ramen is prepared during a ramen class at the New York Culinary Experience. Japanese police are offering discounts on ramen to the elderly to entice them off the road.

TOKYO – Japanese police are offering noodle discounts to elderly citizens who hand in their driving licences, promising them cheaper ramen soup in exchange for improved road safety.

The edible offer comes after a series of deadly accidents caused by cars driven by the elderly – a growing problem in a country where 4,8 million people aged 75 or older hold a licence.

In the hopes of appealing to seniors' stomachs, police in the central prefecture of Aichi on Friday started offering the discounts via a tie-up with a local restaurant chain.

Elderly drivers who give up their permits will receive a certificate from police which they can present when ordering the noodles to see the price reduced from 590 (R73,71) yen to 500 yen (R62), an Aichi police spokesman told AFP.

Last month, a six-year-old boy died and 11 others were injured after an 87-year-old driver's truck hit primary school children walking to school on a street in Yokohama.

The country is introducing a new rule in March under which drivers aged 75 or older must pass cognitive tests when renewing their licences.

Aiming to set an example, a 97-year-old high-ranking Buddhist priest last week returned his driver's licence, calling on his elderly compatriots to do the same.

"It's stupid to try to maintain your licences just out of pride," said Taa Shinen.

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