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South Korea to Introduce VR-powered Driver Training Program for the Elderly Citizens in 2025

An innovative program using immersive experience will test elderly drivers’ cognitive, memory, and driving skills to be launched soon in Korea.

In 2020 alone, South Korea experienced an alarming number of 209,654 road accidents. This is nothing new for this country, as automobile-related disasters have been a chronic problem for years now. Unfortunately, over 30% of those untoward incidents were caused by elderly drivers. In an effort to combat this situation, the Korean authorities have taken the initiative of giving out subsidised public transport coupons to elderly citizens in exchange for their driver’s licenses. However, only 2.8% of the target population has cooperated and taken advantage of the program so far. This remains far from solving the problem and continues to be a constant crisis prevailing in the country. Taking the matter as a more pressing issue, South Korean police are now adopting a new approach relying on emerging technologies.

In a recent report published in Aju Business Daily, one of the leading English-language economic news magazines in the country, it was revealed that South Korean police are planning to introduce a VR-powered driver training program targeted specifically at the country’s growing elderly population. The program will reportedly test the driving skills of those aged 65 and above. On passing the test, elderly drivers will be handed a “conditional driver’s license” which is subject to timely renewal.

The South Korean authorities stated that this could be an effective measure to curb the growing rate of road accidents in the country. The conditional license is a restricted permit for those charged with DUIs. These are issued to such people so that they can attend to necessary obligations even if their driver’s license is suspended. Now, the same licensing system will be implemented for drivers of or above 65 years.

According to the news, the National Police Agency is entrusted with developing a custom driver training system. The innovative training program will use virtual reality technology to test elderly drivers’ memory, cognitive and driving skills. The VR solution being used in this training program is the same technology that is used in dementia clinics to evaluate elderly people’s brain function. Similarly, it will be leveraged here to check whether the drivers are eligible to maintain their conditional driver’s license. For now, this will be a three-year program subject to alterations in the coming days.

The Korea Transportation Safety Authority (TS) already has a driver evaluation test in place for commercial drivers. Those who drive taxis, buses, and freight trucks are obligated to undergo this test from time to time to retain their commercial license. This evaluation tests their memory and cognitive skills, asserting whether they can handle the vehicles on their own. Given the fact that over 40% of South Korean cab drivers are over 65 years of age, the new driver ed test is evidently going to be an important step towards road safety.

The innovative program is expected to launch in 2025.


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