Photo/IllutrationThe driver of a ride-sharing taxi assists an elderly passenger in Miyazaki. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The government at a Cabinet meeting on June 18 set up emergency countermeasures to prevent traffic accidents caused by elderly drivers, amid an increasing concern around the nation.

The actions came in response to an accident in April in which a car driven by an 87-year-old man struck and killed a woman and her young daughter in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district and injured 10 others.

The steps include promoting “vehicles that support safe driving,” which have an automatic braking system, and creating an environment where people can live without depending on driving to get around.

The introduction of the flat-rate taxi system is being eyed for elderly people if they agree to stop driving and hand in their licenses. Passengers using it would be able to take taxis for a fixed fare, instead of paying for every ride, within a range of set areas or a limited number of uses.

The ride-sharing taxi system, in which multiple passengers heading in the same direction can benefit from lower fares, will also be permitted to expand nationwide.

The government aims to create a standard for automatic braking systems and is considering making the feature mandatory for all new vehicles.

A new license that restricts elderly drivers to operating only vehicles that are equipped with safety support systems is also being studied.

The government will discuss what level of driving ability seniors will be required to have to qualify for the new license and other issues.

It is seeking to make the final decision on whether to introduce the new license by around the end of this fiscal year.