crime

Car sideswipes five children on their way to school

46 Comments

A car sideswiped a group of five schoolchildren in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, on Monday morning, injuring one child.

According to police, the children were walking in single file along a road with no sidewalk at around 7:10 a.m. when a car came up against the group. NTV reported that an 8-year-old boy suffered a broken wrist.

Police arrested the driver, a 42-year-old man, who was quoted as saying that the sun got in his eyes for a second and he couldn't see what was in front of him.

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I am sorry to hear another group of children getting hit on their way school, but this is the first legitimate excuse I read on JT. By the way, I am not saying that he should be given a free pass.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

It's always a dangerous situation when there is no sidewalk and no guardrail between where pedestrians walk and the road.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Could very well happen, especially on a wet, shiny morning road. Sunglasses can help only so much, in the end the sun will blind you to the point where the awareness of the outside obstacles is instantly gone.. Luckily the injuries do not seem too dangerous.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The article doesn't state how fast he was going. I live on one of these narrow streets with no sidewalk and I have been clipped by mirrors half a dozen times. The lights at the end of the street change and it's like a bloody drag strip! There is a serious need for speed bumps and other speed deterrents on these narrow goat tracks. Gladly though, none of these kids were killed (this time).

1 ( +5 / -4 )

At least no one was killed.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

quoted as saying that the sun got in his eyes for a second and he couldn’t see what was in front of him

Then stop! These excuses are always weak. How are you going to keep rolling a large piece of machinery when you lose your main sense even for a second. As he learned the hard way, anything can happen in a split second. I'm glad he didn't kill any of the children.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The sun is a b**ch sometimes. I've been blinded myself. Children should not be on a road with no sidewalk. The school should be held liable.

-19 ( +2 / -21 )

I've walked along those kind of country roads, and in some places the narrow strip of space allocated for pedestrians almost requires the balance of a high-wire performer. Once I went on a white-knuckle ride on a Hato sightseeing bus in Ibaraki and we got to a section where the road was impassible. The driver couldn't turn around and we wound up going in reverse gear for a considerable distance before he could take an alternate route. Scant wonder that most of the vehicles driven in rural Japan are mini-cars and mini-trucks with engine displacement of under 660 cc.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The DevilsAsssitant - you can't just instantly stop a car. Maybe he did apply the brakes but the car is still going to move forward as it is slowing down while he is temporarily blinded.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

you can't just instantly stop a car. Maybe he did apply the brakes but the car is still going to move forward as it is slowing down while he is temporarily blinded.

Stewart, than he would have been going to fast for conditions.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

a broken wrist only? Thank whoever is up there, by the looks of the title I was afraid he took them all out, like the one in Kyoto last year.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Children should not be on a road with no sidewalk.

Much as I would like to agree with that, there is no choice in many cases. Those are the only roads which give access to where people are going. Often the "pedestrian" area is marked by nothing more than a white line, and it is not realistic for pedestrians to stay within it at all times - in other words, they have to clear obstacles on the non-traffic side - walls, trees and shrubs, parked vehicles or bicycles - which means they have to step beyond the line and into the road. But even while walking within the line, there isn't always space for vehicles to pass pedestrians safely at cruising speed. The only way this works is for drivers to take sufficient care, slow down where necessary, give sufficient clearance at all times, allow for the fact that it's too bright (sun in eyes) or too dark (night-time on an unlit road), and show some respect for other road users.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Then stop! These excuses are always weak. How are you going to keep rolling a large piece of machinery when you lose your main sense even for a second. As he learned the hard way, anything can happen in a split second. I'm glad he didn't kill any of the children

You obviously don't drive because you can't just instantly stop a car. Especially when the sun is blinding your vision because that sunshine doesn't disappear after a second or 2. If every car stopped everytime they were blinded by sunlight you would have countless incidents of people ramming each other up the back end and numerous traffic jams because cars are stationary in the road.

The only solution to this is to make these roads safer for pedestrians by either building guardrails or pedestrian paths like most other nations.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

not again...and what kind of bs excuse is that?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

What makes this headline news to begin with? People are struck by cars every day. The driver did not bolt as many news iitems cover. As a driver, narrow roads and people not using sidewalks even when they are there makes driving here scary. Many areas do have adult supervisiers with yellow flags. It was just an accident. Why was he arrested? What if the children had swayed into traffic. Drivers need extra care always here.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

TheDevilsAssistantOct. 21, 2013 - 05:09PM JST

you can't just instantly stop a car. Maybe he did apply the brakes but the car is still going to move forward as it is slowing down while he is temporarily blinded.

Stewart, than he would have been going to fast for conditions.

No, he was obeying the rules of PHYSICS. Its a little something called "inertia". Objects in motion require time to slow down. That time may approach zero, but is always a positive number.

Also, as KariHakura pointed out, if coming around that corner blinded you then it will likewise blind the next driver coming around the corner, who won't see your stopped car and will collide with your car, sending it in an unpredictable direction... quite probably directly into the school kids.

Stopping under those conditions would be idiotic.

5 ( +12 / -8 )

My point exactly Frungy.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The sun's much lower now, making bends treacherous.

The only responsible way to drive under any conditions is such that you can react to any hazard and remain in control.

The "aw shucks, it was an accident" defense is for the playground, not the open road.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@SenseNotSoCommon So you should drive 10kph everywhere you go because you never know when something will jump out at you?

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Inertia? WTF lame excuse is that? If you are traveling on a narrow road with the sun in your eyes you should only be traveling at 10-15kph and you can stop on a dime at that speed! And, you can bet this person travelled this road regularly and knew that school children use it. He is just another banzai samurai driving at excessive speed in side streets to make up time. No excuse and no defense! The speed limit on a single lane road less than 5m wide is 20kph and, in many cases, that is still too fast!

5 ( +11 / -6 )

DisillusionedOct. 21, 2013 - 08:44PM JST Inertia? WTF lame excuse is that? If you are traveling on a narrow road with the sun in your eyes you should only be traveling at 10-15kph and you can stop on a dime at that speed!

The sun "got in his eyes". This means it wasn't in his eyes initially, but rather something changed (clouds cleared, turned a corner, reflected from one of those mirrors, etc) and he suddenly was blinded by the sun.

Even going slowly stopping safely still takes time. Reaction time + stopping time. Even at 15kph the estimated stopping distance for a car is at least 2 1/2 meters... not a dime, which is about 2cm.

Stopping as fast as possible would not remove the danger of the car behind you rear-ending you as they experience the same problem (sun in their eyes), and propelling you into people nearby.

The sensible course of action is to reduce speed, and flip down your sun-shade. Stopping suddenly when you KNOW the driver behind you is also blinded is a sure recipe for causing an accident.

The fact is that drivers are often blinded for a few moments, such as when a car ahead of you suddenly flashes their brights at night. Generally drivers slow a little, change their focal point and blink like crazy to fix their vision, and run for a few seconds on their memory of the road conditions ahead, hoping they haven't changed.

.... and pedestrians and cyclists have no room to complain about motorists. I've seen pedestrians actually CLOSE THEIR EYES and continue walking when they're walking with the sun in their eyes, completely unaware that humans naturally tend to drift to one side... which the pedestrian often only realises as they walk off the sidewalk onto the road.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Disillusioned, well said!

You obviously don't drive because you can't just instantly stop a car

Kariharuka, obviously you don't know how to drive. There's a big difference between getting the sun in your eyes and can't see anything in front ofyou because of the sun, in which the driver stated. If he was driving on that road while school children were walking and couldn't stop because some forseen circumstance, then he was driving too fast. If he was driving at a slow speed and the sun BLINDED him he should have stopped and moved his head around until he made sure there was no obstacles in his path. If he still couldn't stop in time, he was driving too fast for conditions.

he was obeying the rules of PHYSICS. Its a little something called "inertia". Objects in motion require time to slow down

Oh geez, It's frungy again. Inertia huh? So if you're driving on a small road with children and you don't take in considering the amount of forward inertia your vehicle is exerting, than it's alright to sideswipe a group of children? I don't know about you backseat drivers, but if I'm traveling on a small road with children and I lose site of one, I'm stopping. If I get rearended, than guess what? Did you guess correctly? The driver behind me was driving too fast for conditions.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

The solution is to not allow this guy to drive during the day. That pesky sun is just out there too often during the day. He can drive at night and they come up with some other lame excuse, like it was too dark for me to see the kids I hit.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The sun "got in his eyes". This means it wasn't in his eyes initially, but rather something changed (clouds cleared, turned a corner, reflected from one of those mirrors, etc) and he suddenly was blinded by the sun.

You're grasping for details from a translated "quote" in a 7-line story.

How would you possibly know that the driver isn't lying?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Any accident involving Kids is terrible, particularly if you have some of your own. Continually remind them of the dangers of the Road, and of the Green Cross Code for crossing the road ... Stop Look Listen http://talesoftheroad.direct.gov.uk/stop-look-listen.php

It's also useful to teach them that if they walk on the side of the road from which they can see cars coming towards them, then it may be a bit safer for them .... https://www.gov.uk/rules-pedestrians-1-to-35

Although both the quotes are for the UK but, they're simply common sense and applicable most places...

For example:

be prepared to walk in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light

However, kids will be kids, and ignore/forget everything they've been told.

Roads should have warning signs that Schools are nearby to alert motorists that unexpected dangers are nearby... And motorists should also heed those.

The idea of road-bumps/ramps is good, and if not implemented locally should be argued for as a way to save the government money - alternatively we could just let the local utilities keep on digging up the roads and encourage them to do a substandard job of filling in the holes.... (saving them money).

In short, Getting a phone call that your kid has been hurt in an accident is a terrifying experience, my heart goes out to the parents.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

change their focal point and blink like crazy to fix their vision, and run for a few seconds on their memory of the road conditions ahead, hoping they haven't changed.

Hoping?! You would drive on MEMORY and HOPING conditions of the road ahead haven't changed? Wow...unbelievably speachless.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

TheDevilsAssistantOct. 21, 2013 - 10:00PM JST Hoping?! You would drive on MEMORY and HOPING conditions of the road ahead haven't changed? Wow...unbelievably speachless.

So, while you're being speechless and outraged, would you care to suggest a better alternative? ... there isn't one. The road ahead was a known quantity a fraction of a second ago, clear of hazards at your present speed. Slowing down maximises the time you're in known clear territory without increasing the hazard by braking suddenly - yes, the cars behind you MAY have a correct following distance, but my driving experience in Japan suggests that this is UNLIKELY, and sudden braking would result in my car being rear-ended and being projected at INCREASED velocity in an unknown direction during a time when I am blind and unable to correct for any hazards.

The real world isn't perfect. The driver in this article, through no fault of his own, was temporarily blinded by an act of nature (the sun). He was left with a range of options, and the one you suggest, braking suddenly would have resulted in an INCREASED risk to everyone in the vicinity, and an INCREASED possibility of one or more of those kids ending up dead if the next driver (driving on the same path and therefore exposed to the same sunlight, and therefore likewise blinded) rear-ended him. Under those circumstances driving on was both the sensible and correct course of action.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

"So, while you're being speechless and outraged, would you care to suggest a better alternative?"

A better alternative would be not driving at all so the possibility of running a kid over is reduced to zero.

But you don`t want to hear that.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Frungy, blah blah blah. Like I said, I don't know about you backseat drivers, but how fast are you going on this small road that children are walking on to talk about getting rearended or projected. On a road like that before or right after school hours, he should have been going at a speed where he could stop on a dime. If you can't fathom that then might as well turn in that license before you hurt someone.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

yokohamaridesOct. 21, 2013 - 11:52PM JST A better alternative would be not driving at all so the possibility of running a kid over is reduced to zero. But you don`t want to hear that.

When did you last buy something from a convenience store? I ask because 100% of convenience store goods are delivered by trucks... trucks that drive on roads... trucks that could hit kids. But I somehow doubt you'd inconvenience yourself in any way, you'd just prefer to criticise those of us who don't live in Tokyo and don't have the advantage of public transport.

TheDevilsAssistantOct. 21, 2013 - 11:52PM JST Frungy, blah blah blah. Like I said, I don't know about you backseat drivers, but how fast are you going on this small road that children are walking on to talk about getting rearended or projected. On a road like that before or right after school hours, he should have been going at a speed where he could stop on a dime. If you can't fathom that then might as well turn in that license before you hurt someone.

Going at 15 km/hr (the speed you recommended and WELL below the recommended speed of 30km/hr for school zones) the stopping distance for the average driver is 3 to 6 meters (assuming perfectly dry roads, good tires and otherwise perfect conditions). Stopping distance is a combination of reaction time (in this case getting unexpectedly blinded by the sun would probably make it tend towards 5 or 6 meters) and physical braking time. That is not a dime.

And you're consistently ignoring the fact that this leaves enough space for another driver to likewise get blinded and rear-end your car, resulting in the car experiencing uncontrolled acceleration from the impact in an uncertain direction.

Someone who can't grasp that there are other cars on the road really should turn in their license right now. Someone who doesn't have a license really shouldn't be ranting about driving when they clearly know nothing about it.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

With the narrow roads and lack of sidewalks, I'm surprised there are not more accidents of this kind.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Frungy is in the right here. If those against him want to outlaw cars, just say so. Just don't hold this guy accountable for the laws of physics. Pass a tree or building or made a slight course correction, the sun can be right in your eyes, and no, slamming on the brakes is NOT an option.

Was he speeding? My gut wants to say he was, considering what I see in Japan everyday. I yell at people for speeding on my road and am viewed as the crazy gaijin for it. But the worst injury here was a broken wrist? That suggests he was not speeding.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It's always a dangerous situation when there is no sidewalk and no guardrail between where pedestrians walk and the road.

What is 80% of Japanese roads?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@neojamal

To slow some of the cars, the cost effective ways is for Japan is to install more speed bumps near the schools, and in the narrow streets where there are alot of pedestrians and students.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If those against him want to outlaw cars, just say so. Just don't hold this guy accountable for the laws of physics.

Police arrested the driver,

LoL! Like I said, backseat drivers. "Arrested" is the word of the day here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Anyone care for a "speed zone" sign with some "flashing" lights...!? And even with these, Japanese motorists won't follow dilligently, anyway!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One can drive passively, and let outside factors dominate - nature gets the best of you, be it through ice, sun, a tanuki, or physics, as you take that bend hoping that this year's omamori will protect you.

Or you can drive assertively. If a car is behind you going into a blind curve, let them see your brake lights. If you suspect for a millisecond that there's a hazard, pop your flashers on. Don't worry about crying wolf. They'll know from the rest of your driving that you're a responsible driver, not a geriatric.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

With the narrow roads and lack of sidewalks, I'm surprised there are not more accidents of this kind.

Perhaps there are fewer willing victims of physics than this thread suggests?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

SenseNotSoCommonOct. 22, 2013 - 10:02AM JST One can drive passively, and let outside factors dominate - nature gets the best of you, be it through ice, sun, a tanuki, or physics, as you take that bend hoping that this year's omamori will protect you. Or you can drive assertively. If a car is behind you going into a blind curve, let them see your brake lights. If you suspect for a millisecond that there's a hazard, pop your flashers on. Don't worry about crying wolf. They'll know from the rest of your driving that you're a responsible driver, not a geriatric.

... If I was able to see the future your advice might be valid, but sometimes stuff just happens. I was driving into work this morning, heading South and a car passed me on my right. The angle the car was moving, the angle of the sun, etc... everything was just right so that for a second the sun reflected of the passing car's passenger side window right into my eyes.

I closed my right eye as quick as possible, and slowed down a little, but with the truck behind me too close to see my lights (it was sitting on my tail), and cars on all sides I was really limited in my options. It turned out okay, I was able to drive with one eye closed until I got my sun shield in place and my right eye recovered.

But I was reminded of the idiotic advice being given by most of the people on this thread and was thinking how 99% of it would get me killed.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I was reminded of the idiotic advice being given by most of the people on this thread and was thinking how 99% of it would get me killed.

It must be tough, being so perfect.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Frungy,

sometimes stuff just happens

Driving southbound in bright, autumnal conditions with no sunglasses?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Get RealOct. 22, 2013 - 12:02PM JST @Frungy,

sometimes stuff just happens

Driving southbound in bright, autumnal conditions with no sunglasses?

I was wearing sunglasses. However sunglasses have these gaps to the sides... maybe you're not familiar how they're designed.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

maybe you're not familiar how they're designed.

I only wear wraprounds when driving or cycling. Maybe you've heard of them?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Get RealOct. 22, 2013 - 12:31PM JST maybe you're not familiar how they're designed. I only wear wraprounds when driving or cycling. Maybe you've heard of them?

I can't use them, for medical as well as fashion reasons. I'm allergic to looking like a jerk.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

We have road such as this in Manhattan Kansas... people to include kids get his all the time. Sad!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Jack Stern The reason the driver was arrested is that he caused an injury with the vehicle he was driving. It's very, very common for the police to make an arrest in such a case, typically for professional negligence (yes, even for non-commercial, private drivers...they're licensed professionals is the way the thinking goes). I have heard of a few cases where the driver wasn't arrested, but anecdotally it appears that this was only in cases where the victim indicated that he/she would not press charges and/or testify against the driver, at the scene. With a minor victim, that wouldn't fly, I'm pretty sure.

I know of at least one case in which the driver was in a curbside parked van, and opened his door without looking, just in time to have a bicyclist slam into the door. The police came and would have arrested him, had the cyclist not said that, in view of the driver's apology and offer to have his insurance pay for the (considerable, as it turned out) injury and damage, arresting him was unnecessary/unwanted.

Another case happened to a non-Japanese colleague who was hit while walking in a crosswalk, "luckily" sustaining only a sprain and a broken collarbone. The police had to be talked out of arresting that driver, by the victim, after the driver apologized and agreed to pay for hospital bills, lost income, etc. The driver was justifiably grateful, since it would have been a pretty serious charge, and since she was working for a major car company, an arrest for professional negligence resulting in injury would not have endeared her to her bosses, because of the risk of bad PR (that info is from her colleagues, not from my imagination or speculation, BTW). She seemed to think, probably correctly, that had it gone to court, innocent or guilty, she would have lost her job. My colleague was horrified.

"Arrested" doesn't necessarily always lead to arraigned, however, and it's entirely possible that once the accident has been thoroughly investigated, the driver will be released if it doesn't appear that there's a case against him/her. In that case, the "arrest" is more like "briefly detained for questioning", and there won't be further ill effects, except points against the total on the license. How much of that decision is up to the arresting officer and how much to a public prosecutor--or what triggers the involvement of the prosecutor--depends, like much else in Japan, including the definition of "thoroughly investigated" above, on the situation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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