Car accidents involving seniors on the rise in Korea

Insurance industry, law enforcement need to make changes for greying population

Car accidents involving seniors on the rise in Korea

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The number of car accidents involving elderly drivers in South Korea more than quadrupled in a decade, data revealed.

According to the Korea Insurance Development Institute, there were about 29,000 accidents involving drivers aged 70 and above in 2016, compared to just 7,000 in 2006. Accidents involving senior drivers accounted for 3.8% of all accidents last year, up from 1.3% in 2006.

In comparison, accidents by younger drivers, such as those under 20 years old and in their thirties, decreased.

The amount of damage from accidents involving seniors also increased, from KRW53.8 billion (US$4.9 million) in 2006 to KRW304.8 billion (US$277.9 million) in 2016. The average damage caused by senior drivers was also the highest, at KRW1.88 million (US$1,715) per accident, compared to the average of KRW1.62 million (US$1,477).

Fatalities were also the highest among senior drivers at 0.32%, higher than the national average of 0.23%.

According to experts, the data reflects the rapid ageing of South Korea’s population. The number of South Korean aged 70 and above leapt from 2.68 million in 2005 to 4.03 million in 2016, or an increase of 50.3%.

“We need to think about adopting road safety measures of advanced countries, such as conducting skill tests for driver’s licenses that take into account the age of the driver and changes in his or her physical conditions,” an insurance industry insider told Yonhap News.

This means that the country’s traffic law enforcement agencies and insurance industry may have to come together to think of changes in order accommodate the increasing number of seniors using the roads.

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