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Old drivers crash into hospitals one after another

Nov 05,2018
A pair of car accidents caused by elderly drivers made headlines Friday and Saturday, highlighting another risk facing a rapidly aging society like Korea.

In both cases, the drivers confused the accelerator pedal with the brake.

On Friday in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, an 80-year-old driver drove through a hospital entrance after confusing the accelerator pedal with his car’s brake. The car crashed through the glass doors and only stopped after ramming into a pillar. No one was hurt. On Saturday in Jinju, South Gyeongsang, a surprisingly similar accident occurred when a 72-year-old driver drove through a hospital entrance for the same reason. The car crashed through glass doors and only stopped after hitting the information desk in the lobby. The driver was mildly injured, but no other casualties were reported. Police later confirmed that the driver was driving despite having a physical disability.

Upon investigation, the police confirmed that both drivers had valid driver licenses and were not drunk at the time of the accident.

Accidents caused by elderly drivers are on the rise. According to a report submitted by the Korean National Police Agency to Rep. Kim Min-ki of the National Assembly’s Public Administration and Security Committee, 9 percent (2,986,676 people) of all drivers in Korea are aged 65 and over. The number of traffic accidents that are caused by elderly drivers increased 52 percent in 2017 compared to five years earlier.

BY WE SUNG-WOOK [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]