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Unlicensed driver rams day care center van into wall

June 15, 2024 - 16:01 By Yoon Min-sik

A 70-something-year-old man caused an accident while driving the van of a local day care center and is being investigated for operating the vehicle without a valid driver's license, local media outlets reported Thursday.

No injuries occurred outside of the driver, as the car had no passengers at the time.

Officials of the Seoul Seongdong Police Station are investigating the man for violating Article 43 of the Road Traffic Act, which prohibits driving a motor vehicle without a valid license.

The incident reportedly occurred at around 10:30 a.m. on June 4 after the man, a member of an agency that dispatches drivers, had dropped off children and personnel of the day care center for a field trip. He ran the car into the wall of a home in Seongdong-gu, eastern Seoul, sustaining a nonfatal injury.

An initial investigation found that the driver had his license revoked in March, after accumulating extensive demerit points due to traffic violations. He hid this from his employers and continued to work as a driver.

South Korean law mandates anyone wishing to operate a commuter bus for children to report to and be authorized by the head of the police station that has jurisdiction in the area. But hiring a temporary driver for a field trip lies in a legal gray area, which led to the day care center skipping the background check for the driver.

The Seongdong-gu District Office said it is inspecting day care centers in the district to ensure similar cases do not occur, and it is currently mulling filing charges against the agency that dispatched the driver in question.

South Korea has recently seen a surge in its number of unlicensed drivers, with the annual number of such cases surpassing 50,000 for the first time at 56,721 in 2022, according to the National Police Agency. It marked a 28.8 percent increase compared to 44,020 in 2018.

The number of traffic accidents by drivers aged 65 or older also marked the highest ever figure in 2022 at 34,652. The government in May was considering the implementation of driving limits on seniors, such as banning them from driving at night or on the freeway.

But the plan faced fierce opposition from the public, leading to the government scrapping the plan just a day after it was initially revealed.