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7-year-old boy dies after being flung out of van in highway accident

74 Comments

Police said Monday that a 7-year-old boy was killed after being flung from a minivan in a highway accident in Kanagawa Prefecture on Sunday afternoon. The accident occurred at around 5 p.m. when the vehicle the boy was riding in tipped over at a highway interchange, ejecting the boy and injuring nine other occupants.

The driver of the van, a 39-year-old man, told investigators that he lost control of the wheel. The van was carrying more passengers than the authorized occupant limit for the vehicle’s size, according to police.

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and no seat belts probably hanging out the window. crime on so many levels

6 ( +7 / -1 )

RIP. Kids ride here all the time with no seat belts on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It really sucks to jump on the family for making a huge error by not enforcing seatbelts in the car, but come on. It just goes to show, you never know what is going to happen. Furthermore, these housewives that piggyback their kids in the driver seats and/or have all their kids jumping around in the backseat as they pick them up from hoikuen is a tragedy waiting to happen. The police ought to be enforcing their traffic safety in front of schools and convenience stores. Tough item to ready this early in the morning.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Driving on the highway is different to driving on a country lane. Just like eating fugu in a restaurant or catching it yourself and cooking it. It goes back to the common sense thing that Japanese seem to lack. Speeding on a highway with an overloaded vehicle without using seat belts is plain idiotic. I guess people will post about how often they see children that don't have baby seats of seat belts, which I see all the time as the mother is emailing, but, I have a little method. Whenever I get the chance, I tell the mother to her face a simple statement..."I can see you don't love your child, it is a shame because your child never had the chance to choose you and your dangerous reckless ways". 3 out of ten times they get angry and argue back and twice I was threatened. But the other times, the mother apoligised and promised she would change. Try it, seems the police don't care.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I guess the gods of Shintoism were not in this kid's favor. Their faith and luck seems to be the only thing keeping many of them alive. I used to get upset by the negligence shown towards restraining kid's in cars in Japan, but I couldn't give two hoots anymore. I know my kid's are always restrained and I stop at red lights.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

This is going to sound harsh but they have no one to blame but themselves for the tragic death. An overloaded car, no seatbelt. What a terrible waste of a young life and all because some adult who should have known better screwed up. While l feel sorry for the kid l have no sympathy for the idiot driver

1 ( +2 / -1 )

clown carring it in a minivan... RIP little boy.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just woke up, still feeling like a human-whale....then I see this title on JT....haven't even read the article yet... Let me guess.... This child didn't have the seat-belt on?? Am I right?!!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The van was carrying more passengers than the authorized occupant limit for the vehicle’s size

third world antics, right here..in Japan

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

As a parent I have some sympathy with the boy's family - especially the guilt if he wasn't strapped in. My own family was in a less severe crash last month - idiot in a Noah ran a light, writing off the family compact car before his Noah tipped over. Thankfully all my family was safe thanks to the child seats and safety belts which my wife and I insist on and which got praise from the police and ambulance team - why? Why is that considered praise worthy?

This reads like a van going too quickly, and if overloaded, someone wasn't wearing a seat belt. Just tragic for the child. I don't understand the no-seatbelt mentality.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Reap what you sow.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It really sucks to jump on the family for making a huge error by not enforcing seatbelts in the car, but come on

I agree, it does suck to jump on the family, but it needs to be done. The media should jump all over them - this was a totally preventable tragedy. The parents must feel terrible that they lost their son, but the driver should be charged with gross negligence resulting in death.

I'd be interested to know what car they were driving.. Those popular box wagons that every second family seems to drive (Stepwagon, Voxy etc)... can be dangerous if the driver doesn't know what he/she is doing - Tall cars with a light body and high centre of gravity holding up to 8 passengers?? That may be fine for driving 50 in the city, but not for driving 120 on the expressway.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is a major issue in this country and its time that the police got off there lazy butts and did something about it. And also the parents should wake up to themselves and put their kids safety as more of a priority.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

jforce: "The police ought to be enforcing their traffic safety in front of schools and convenience stores."

It's not traffic awareness week. And even when it is, they really only check for drunk drivers or people not stopping completely before going over train tracks.

I'm with disillusioned on this one... while I always feel sorry for the victims in situations like these, the fact is there are ALWAYS going to be victims and stories like these because people seem to think that minor infractions of the law could only possibly result in minor consequences (and so put it out of their minds through habit). This poor kid is dead because of at least TWO laws ignored by ignorant adults, and I hope those adults wonder for the rest of their lives what the kid might have grown up to be if only they'd obeyed such simple and common-sense laws.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Too many Japanese lack common sense! This idiot killed his son by driving with too many passengers and no regard for the protection of his family! Im proud to say i get passed by many crazy Japanese drivers just to see them crash be lying on the side of road in a daze full of blood why?? 急がば回れ isogaba maware!! Those who are in a hurry actually will take longer! Fools that run red lights etc...get into an accident etc... RIP little boy out in Kanagawa. By the way was this driver drunk??

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Perhaps the police could stop checking bike owners and stand on the street and ticket those not wearing and seat belt and those using their mobile?? Just a thought.

Poor kid.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What awful news to read first thing. My heart goes out to the boy...and family members,friends who now have to suffer for the rest of their lives because some idiot didnt make sure his/her kid was strapped in safely. Never mind theno seatbelt mentality. I dont understand the its okay to leave small kids alone at homementality. Thelet your kid race around on the side of roads and other dangerous areas` mentality.

After the twins were born, hubby and I bought two car seats and installed them correctly in the in-lawss car. grandma and Grandad wanted to take them for a 20 minute drive around town. Babies strapped in, off they drove. I went to a nearby shop a few minutes later and was horrified to see the car parked up, MIL sat on in the front seat,one baby balanced on her knee as FIL was pulling the other twin out from the carseat in the back to put him on MILs knee. She couldnt understand why I hit the roof. " But I am a safe driver" PIL kept iterating over and over again. "They are lonely in the back seat" moaned MIL. Yeah, you might be the greatest driver in the history of mankind but we aint just talking about you. thousands of cars are driving around and you cannot possibly vouch that everyone is driving safely, is sober, isnt in a rage due to some arguement, suicidal....a million different things. Thats where I think the problem lies at times. The ability to think forward...to what if..? The sheer stupidity at times is astounding. RIP little man.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sorry about my typing! The computer is in mutineer mode this morning....along with my brain!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't think we need to remind that father what he has done....One sad fact that most people don't know is that in Japan only the driver is required to wear a safety belt! As of a few years ago I was informed there is no child restraint laws there! Tell me this has changed. I was told this by my father in-law who I consider and intelligent man and two others. I found out this when my 18 month old was going there and I asked them to buy us a baby seat. I drive a 2002 Suzuki Ario and it has the modern restraint system that tethers the car seat with its own strap to the seat belt anchors via it's own steel loops between the back and bottom of the seat. This car was built in Japan in 2001 and not one car I looked at in Japan has this system let alone the rear tether anchor at the back. All the baby seat I saw (this was two years ago) where only restrained by the cars seat belt...this is ridiculous way of restraining your precious cargo. I know of a mom here in Canada that had the factory belt fail in a horrible roll over in the snow...she found the seat with her 15mo old face down in a snow bank still in the seat...and she was alive!!! Very lucky little girl but that is why this system is soon to be outdated here from what I heard. Yell loud to your car makers to make your domestic cars as safe as the export models.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

After reading it, what else can I say?? Lack of common sense is a cultural trait in this country. The worst is that most folk will pat themselves saying: しょうがないなーぁ The reality is they will feel bad for the parents, but what about the young life that was lost due to their gross negligence and lack of common sense in the first place? we say in japanese: 常識がない!(No common sense!)

First, I have to admit that my husband and I enforce the seat belts, or else no one gets to ride. Second, due to our large offspring, we drive two (sedan) cars! He carry the boys and I carry the girls. (^_~) Wearing the seat-belts (including baby car seats) is NOT an option at home. You must wear it, PERIOD!!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One sad fact that most people don't know is that in Japan only the driver is required to wear a safety belt!

Not true.

there is no child restraint laws there!

Not true.

Tell me this has changed.

This has changed.

I was told this by my father in-law who I consider and intelligent man

Even some otherwise intelligent people seem to have a blind spot about seat belts, for some reason. My mil is an intelligent woman, but on one occasion when reminded to strap in she remarked that it wasn't necessary because 'It wasn't as if we were going on the expressway or anything'. Mr cleo informed her that unless she strapped in it wasn't as if we were even going out of the garage.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

An accident is an accident because you never know when it is going to happen.

Therefore whenever you drive your car or ride a motorcycle, you should ask this basic question every time before you set off:

Am I (or my passengers) prepared for an accident? (Because you never know when one will occur)...

This means ensuring every safety device is being worn. If you fail to perform this quick safety check every time, you have no one to blame when a tragic or horrific accident could have been prevented HAD the safety equipment been worn...

How many cars do I see each day with children not wearing seat belts...

How many scooters and motorcyclists do I see each day wearing shorts and t-shirts and without wearing gloves. Do these people really fail to understand what damage tarmac/asphalt will do to exposed skin even in low speed (40km) crash????

Come on public, it's time to take responsibility for your own and your passengers safety....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@cleo

My mil is an intelligent woman, but on one occasion when reminded to strap in she remarked that it wasn't necessary because 'It wasn't as if we were going on the expressway or anything'. Mr cleo informed her that unless she strapped in it wasn't as if we were even going out of the garage.

I feel your pain~ Same monthly battle I have here with my in-laws. No seat-belt, NO RIDE!!!!!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I know my kid's are always restrained and I stop at red lights

Until one of these idiots loses control of their car or runs a red light and crashes straight into you.

One sad fact that most people don't know is that in Japan only the driver is required to wear a safety belt! As of a few years ago I was informed there is no child restraint laws there!

I don't know if you have ever lived in Japan or what decade you are referring to, but seatbelts are mandatory for both front passengers and have been for some time now. The front seat belt law is enforced somewhat.

What many don't know, or choose to ignore is it is also mandatory for children to use a child seat and seatbelt. The problem is the police don't enforce this law, so people don't think they need to follow it.

It is now also mandatory to wear a seatbelt in the backseat, and I'm pretty sure most of the population know that, but choose to ignore it too.

The fault is ultimately with the driver (or adults in the car) who fail to strap their kids in safely, but the police must also share some blame choosing not to enforce the law. If they started pulling over mums who didn't strap in their kids and slapped them with a hefty fine, I can guarantee almost everyone would start putting seatbelts on their kids almost immediately.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess the change of law that Japan needs is a fine of maybe 10000 yen per person without seatbelt and a suspension of the driver's license (even in case of passengers without seatbelt) for a month or so. Germany has such a law, it has the only highways worldwide without general speed limitation (not that I would call this a good thing), but thanks to seatbelts people flying out of cars are basically unheard of. Roads are rather safe, since police is strict.

These fines would create a lot of income for the state without the need of raising taxes. Japanese people need time to change their habits, so it would be profitable for at least one or two years. And everyone who has only little cash can avoid it completely. I think the Japanese economy would truly benefit from such a law.

They could also put stickers on the cars like they have for their first-year drivers: some "I do not use a seatbelt, so please be careful" sticker. I think this would be quite humiliating and could also help. Normally, You'd think that appealing to common sense would be sufficient, but in this case... maybe the cars seem to be safe because they are made in Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bluewitch - funny thing is, she never has to be reminded when her police officer granddaughter is along for the ride - it's like she has to wear a seat belt because granddaughter will scold her/get in trouble if she doesn't, not she has to wear a seat belt for her own safety.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Parents should be charged for murder since the kid was obviously not wearing a seat belt

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Any word on the seatbelts??? Come on, this is the most important part of the story, yet it hasn't been reported????

I see so many kids in Koriyama here riding in the front seat of the car with no seatbelt, jumping around playing....And the sad thing is, the only way the parents will learn is if a tragic accident were to happen...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Any word on the seatbelts??? Come on, this is the most important part of the story, yet it hasn't been reported????

It was a minivan presumably designed to seat 7 or 8, with 10 passengers. So by default at least 2 people weren't wearing seatbelts. The child was no doubt one of them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Police here do check for people not using seat-belts and using cell phones, there is a 5000 yen fine, but this is only on ordinary roads. Though there are speed traps and cameras on the highways, the cops only seem to go after people doing just that, speeding! This is a very sad and unfortunate incident, I hope other people will wake up and learn from this!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan needs is a fine of maybe 10000 yen

In Australia the fine for not wearing a seatbelt is $280 and three points. And, if it is a passenger not wearing a seatbelt the driver gets fined as well as the passenger. And, something that would be very odd in Japan is, the police are actually everywhere everyday stopping and fining drivers. Something that always struck me as odd in Japan is, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt and running a red light is 9,000yen, but a parking fine is 15-20,000yen. There is something seriously wrong with that.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Even though the parents are responsible, I don't understand why the police don't enforce the child seat laws more in Japan. If they put as much energy into that as they do for drunk driving or stop signs or speeding, the general public will change. The public awareness just isn't there. RIP little boy. So tragic, so preventable.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Police here do check for people not using seat-belts and using cell phones, there is a 5000 yen fine, but this is only on ordinary roads.

Either the police in your area have a good scam going, or laws differ in each prefecture. As far as I know there is no fine for not wearing a seatbelt. You lose 1 point off your license, that's all. I guess that is why police don't bother enforcing the law - because it creates more paperwork for the boys in blue but no revenue.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

NeoJamalAug. 23, 2011 - 09:38AM JST

third world antics, right here..in Japan

Well, very sorry that Japan doesn't meet your first-rate standards sir!!! We in Japan hope to someday be on the same pedestal as you so we can look down on third world countries just like you!

Seriously though, I will bet you that your home country and every other industrialized "Western" nation was no different not much more than 10-15 years ago. It's only recently that police in the western world have enforced basic car safety such as seat belts, child seats, not to mention drunk driving, etc. etc.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

FYI check out the following link http://rules.rjq.jp/tensuhyo2.html

座席ベルト装着義務違反 点数1 反則金の額 0円

I think the only way to get both the public to follow and police to enforce this law is to add a fine of at least 12,000yen or more. Hit these folks where it hurts and they'll step in line.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was in a Taxi the other day, with my friend who is over here on holiday for a while. Getting in the car, we started to drive. I realised that my friend wasn't wearing a belt and told them to put it on.

They did.

The taxi driver then thanked me.

What!!

He should have enforced it from the very beginning, not thank me for doing it after he started driving.

'Rules' in Japan are only adhered to when people are watching, and nobody bothers to consider what they are there for.

Idiots.

And kids die.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Tahoochi

Seriously though, I will bet you that your home country and every other industrialized "Western" nation was no different not much more than 10-15 years ago. It's only recently that police in the western world have enforced basic car safety such as seat belts, child seats, not to mention drunk driving, etc. etc.

So you are happy to admit that Japan is 10 - 15 years behind the "industrialized Western world" in terms of road safety. Sorry to rain on your parade though but seat belts have been compulsory in most western countries since the 70's yet even today in safety conscious Japan you see cars being driven around with kids unrestrained and not one or to cars but l would say the majority. So either Japan is lagging behind the times or Japanese parents dont care much for their kids safety.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The law since 2008 is all passengers were a seatbelt, apparently only drivers are fined, and only on an expressway. The problem is not enough is done to enforce it or educate some of the population who don't follow it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

papasmurfinjapan: "It is now also mandatory to wear a seatbelt in the backseat, and I'm pretty sure most of the population know that, but choose to ignore it too."

You'd be surprised how many people actually DON'T know the laws changed. I was talking with a Japanese co-worker of mine who asked me why I put on my seat-belt when he was just driving me to the station after work (it's about a km or two from our work place, but with a few signals in between it takes a bit sometimes) and we got to talking about road-safety laws. He had NO clue that everyone in the car has to wear a seat-belt, not only the driver (and he wasn't wearing one).

Most taxis these days have over the shoulder seat-belts that are easy enough to put on, which I always do if riding, but in my time in Japan I have been in a couple with only the waist belts, which were tucked in behind the seat and I couldn't get at them. And show me a single person who puts on the mandatory seat-belt on expressway buses (never mind people who take them off while seated on planes and lie down if there's an empty seat beside them!).

No, laws here are simply not enforced, and if they are the penalties in this regard are too lax. As one poster said above the fine for not wearing a seat-belt is zero money and one point taken off your license, IF you're caught. The fine for illegal parking? 15-20,000 yen (but of course you can double park in front of a station to wait for someone, or in front of a supermarket to run in and get some groceries despite the road being a single lane for both-ways traffic).

Tahoochi: "Seriously though, I will bet you that your home country and every other industrialized "Western" nation was no different not much more than 10-15 years ago."

So if Japan is 15-20 years behind other industrialized nations, isn't that "third world"?

"It's only recently that police in the western world have enforced basic car safety such as seat belts, child seats, not to mention drunk driving, etc. etc."

You need to get your facts straight. Even as a child some decades ago it was mandatory for me to wear a seat belt in the back seat, with stiff fines and penalties for not doing so if caught (in the case of a child, of course, the driver faces said penalties). My father has a classic car from the 50's which, when he bought it to refurbish had no seat-belts, but it was not long after the fifties -- in the 70's I think -- that it became mandatory for all to wear seat-belts, and the laws have been strictly enforced for a long time, not only 'recently' as you claim (you have any links to back it up?). So, try to stop making excuses for the Japanese police and 'safety' system here, for clearly a young boy is dead as a result. If things were better enforced, people would be less inclined to ignore the rules, and it might have saved the boy here.

I hope the driver of the car, as well as having to live with this for the rest of his life, gets a few years in the klink.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tahoochi: "...not to mention drunk driving, etc. etc."

Forgot to mention, extremely strict measures against drunk driving have been in place and enforced in most Western nations for decades as well. In Canada they have random 'Ride Programs' where police pull over people and give breathalyzers (or back in the day a walking/touch your nose test) -- and no, unlike in Japan they don't announce they're doing it first (ie. safety week/month).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

papasmurf: "I think the only way to get both the public to follow and police to enforce this law is to add a fine of at least 12,000yen or more."

I think it should be more like 30,000 plus points taken off (more than one). Repeat offenders: 1st repeat should be a 100,000 fine plus suspension of license for a period of time. 2nd repeat complete loss of license for at least one year plus 100,000 or jail time. Any accident resulting in injury or death as a result of not wearing a seat-belt or a child not being in a child seat should result in removal of license for 10 years (at which point they have to retake driver's education and be on probation) as well charges of involuntary manslaughter (in the case of death), and a slightly lesser punishment in the case of injury.

Oh, and if it can be proven that an accident in which a person was injured/killed as a result of not wearing a seat-belt occurred after passing through a police patrol or stop, the police in the area should also be held somewhat accountable. They need to actually ENFORCE the laws -- be it seat-belts or people talking on cell phones while driving, or what have you, instead of waiting until after an accident occurs or until the aforementioned safety week/month.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Smithinjapan,

Totally agree that there need to be stronger fines. However l doubt it will happen, did a bit of digging and came up with this from a couple of years ago.

Apparently the law for wearing a seatbelt in the rear of a car was introduced in Japan in 2008. The penalty is 6 points on your license but the funny part is it only applies on expressways. The reason for this rule as bizarre as it is, is that "a Cabinet Office survey shows a lack of public support for penalizing people for not buckling up on surface roads". So while the police are saying that you are 4 times more likely to be killed in a crash if your in the backseat and not wearing a seatbelt they will not enforce it as its unpopular. Oh well guess that life just isnt as important in Japan. Most civilized nations make it compulsory regardless of whether its liked or not.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think it should be more like 30,000 plus points taken off (more than one)

I agree, but they have to start somewhere and 12,000 seems about the going rate for what the police would consider a minor offence. I guess that is another problem that needs to be dealt with - not wearing a seatbelt or putting a seatbelt on your child is not a "minor offence", it is gross negligence that can result in death - as in today's story. I am interested to see if the driver is going to be charged with anything or if they will let him go.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Something car manufacturers can do to help is:

make curtain airbags standard features on all cars, instead of making it an option.

make an annoying buzzer go off if someone is not wearing their seatbelt (not just the driver).

Both of those are standard features on most Japanese cars overseas, so why not here?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Minivans don't have rear seatbelts, at least older models don't, but they do pass "shaken" :(

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

SpidaPig: "a Cabinet Office survey shows a lack of public support for penalizing people for not buckling up on surface roads"

But that's Japanese politics in a nutshell, isn't it? (more than other places, and MUCH more obvious!) I remember last year when they introduced the law that a person may have no more than one young child on the bicycle with them, in a bicycle seat on the back of the bike, with a helmet, but it was quickly repealed because a bunch of whiny homemakers complained it was 'inconvenient'. This rings through every facet of this society, and it's disgusting. People, and therefore police and politicians, act as though opinion trumps physics and fact.

Anyway, I know it won't change until one of said Cabinet member's or a police officer's child dies in a similar accident. It's a sad fact that life here is not as important as the ignorant opinions of a lot of people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe if the general public were made aware of exactly what happens to a human projectile thrown through a windscreen at so many kilometres per hour they might just rethink before they drive off. In the UK we had some pretty in your face commercials especially around Christmas time on drink driving, seatbelts and carseats etc. Harrowing to see and not easy to forget. Thats what Id like to say whenever I see parents driving around, anywhere. Imagine what would happen to your toddler if the brake was suddenly applied or your car crashed? Are you really willing to take that chance? Thirty or so years ago,there werent as many cars on the road. Kids walked to school. Theres a lot more traffic on the roads out there these days. More drivers, more accidents.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Spidapig24

Apparently the law for wearing a seatbelt in the rear of a car was introduced in Japan in 2008. The penalty is 6 points on your license but the funny part is it only applies on expressways. The reason for this rule as bizarre as it is, is that "a Cabinet Office survey shows a lack of public support for penalizing people for not buckling up on surface roads". So while the police are saying that you are 4 times more likely to be killed in a crash if your in the backseat and not wearing a seatbelt they will not enforce it as its unpopular. Oh well guess that life just isnt as important in Japan. Most civilized nations make it compulsory regardless of whether its liked or not.

And that's just one of many ways the have to "keep the population down" I guess.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@smithinjapan

I remember last year when they introduced the law that a person may have no more than one young child on the bicycle with them, in a bicycle seat on the back of the bike, with a helmet, but it was quickly repealed because a bunch of whiny homemakers complained it was 'inconvenient'. This rings through every facet of this society, and it's disgusting. People, and therefore police and politicians, act as though opinion trumps physics and fact.

Anyway, I know it won't change until one of said Cabinet member's or a police officer's child dies in a similar accident. It's a sad fact that life here is not as important as the ignorant opinions of a lot of people.

Exactly!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see kids every day playing on the front seat of cars driving leisurely past police box after police box and nothing happens. Why are there no officers patrolling here on foot in our cities to stop those atrocities?

Having kids on bicycles should be forbidden in the first place, it is way too dangerous.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I was going to state that this may now bring stiffer penalties for people not putting seat-belts on their kids in cars, but then I caught hold of myself and realized where I am. Nothing will change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smithinjapan, Spidapig, I am well aware of laws in western nations as I was born and raised in Canada. And what you are saying is correct, that seat belt laws have been around in North America for example since the 70's.

With that said, my point was that the existence of something like a seat belt law doesn't mean anything unless it's enforced and the public is made aware of why and to what extent it's being enforced. Honestly, growing up in Canada in the 70's, 80's and 90's, I recall seat belt's still being considered a "pain in the butt" by most until the 90's. It wasn't until the early 90's when the public finally started wearing seat belts in the back seats and many people in their 30's and up in North America today still do not wear their seat belts in the back seat. The anti-drinking & driving campaign really didn't make an impact on the public probably until the early 90's as well in the suburbs of Toronto and Vancouver where I lived.

So if Japan is 15-20 years behind other industrialized nations, isn't that "third world"?

So western nations who were not following seat belt laws were "third world" up until 15-20 years ago?

So, try to stop making excuses for the Japanese police and 'safety' system here, for clearly a young boy is dead as a result. If things were better enforced, people would be less inclined to ignore the rules, and it might have saved the boy here.

Smithinjapan, I believe that's exactly what I said in my original post. Japan is behind on this issue, so I said that the laws need be enforced and public awareness needs to be improved. I don't know why you think I was trying to make excuses. My post was a rebuttal to Neojamal's nose-held-high comment which only mocked the issue of people not following seat belt laws but provided no solution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In the UK we had some pretty in your face commercials especially around Christmas time on drink driving, seatbelts and carseats etc. Harrowing to see and not easy to forget.

The police should show things like that to drivers renewing their licences, instead of that video about a drink-driving accident (which concentrates on the shame of other people knowing that he caused an accident but precious little about the effect on the victim).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tahoochi

So western nations who were not following seat belt laws were "third world" up until 15-20 years ago?

Sorry but what are you on about. It was countries like US, Australia, etc that lead the way with seat belt laws in the 70's the fact that this was new technology at the time how exactly would that be considered third world then? The fact is Japan is currently 20+ years behind these countries when it comes to seat belt laws. And given some third world countries have more stringent seatbelt laws than Japan l think the comments are fitting.

On a side not if a parent truly cares about the safety of their child law or no law they would use a seat belt. The fact they dont says one of two things either they dont care for their kids safety or they are just plain morons.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think they should start the topic with low fines (between 10000-20000 yen per capita without seatbelt) and a lasting television campaign. You can't change Japan quickly. Otherwise, Japan would be very different by now after the disaster from March. Whenever you want to change this system, you must include its latency.

Furthermore, if the fine for the first time would be 100000 yen, people would complain too much and it would be hard to enforce it. But with a small fee at the beginning, there might be a learning curve and lots of income for the municipalities. And nobody can complain about such a small fee without losing his face completely.

You could also couple this to the bonus payments for police officers. I somehow like the idea that police officers get paid for doing something useful instead of fining people parking their bicycles in the wrong place.

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Spidapig: again, even if people in western countries were actually following seat belt laws in the 70"s, but which they weren't, my question is: So were they third world countries in the 60's then? I think no. Please listen carefully to what I am saying: I am not debating the existence or non-existence of seat belt laws. I am talking about whether or not people follow those laws.

The law may have existed, but because it wasn't enforced much, most people didn't buckle up in the 70's. Besides, we're talking about buckling up in the back seats here. Are you honestly gonna tell me that they were buckling up in the back seats back in the 70's where you come from?

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Tahoochi,

again, even if people in western countries were actually following seat belt laws in the 70"s, but which they weren't,

And you know this because? Oh thats right you grew up in Canada. If thats the case you would realise that most of Canada didnt introduce seatbelt legislation until the 80's...

my question is: So were they third world countries in the 60's then? I think no.

No they werent because prior to there introduction they were not around. But now seatbelts have been around for 30 years or more and in Japan they are not compulsory in the back seat unless on an expressway. So that means they are only a couple of decades behind the rest of the western countries.

The law may have existed, but because it wasn't enforced much, most people didn't buckle up in the 70's. Besides, we're talking about buckling up in the back seats here. Are you honestly gonna tell me that they were buckling up in the back seats back in the 70's where you come from?

Your point is what exactly? Because 30 years ago seatbelts where unpopular (and for the record in the 70's as kids we where always in a seatbelt in the back seat.) and here we are today 30 years later in super safe Japan and the laws have only just been introduced. And people (kids) are still dying because idiot adults are to dumb to take proper care of their kids.

Let me guess you dont wear a seatbelt in the backseat?

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If you overload a vehicle with passengers it is obvious there are not enough seat belts to go round.The driver would be aware of this before he even put the key into the ignition. A childs life is lost through the drivers stupidity.

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Spidapig: What are we splitting hairs about here?

I originally made 2 posts. My first one said "Japan needs to enforce the seat belt laws more in order to raise public awareness".

My second post was directed at someone else who commented about "third world antics" in Japan.... I basically said to that poster: "it was not long ago that the western world was the same, so get off your high horse."

prior to there introduction they were not around

How much more vague can you get? What do you mean by "introduction"??? Of course seat belts weren't around before their introduction...

Anyways, a simple search on wiki would tell you that the seat belt has been around in the US since the 19th century with its first patent made in NY in 1885. Nash (an American car manufacturer) offered the seat belt as an option in 1949, and Ford in 1955......

And for the record, it also states on wiki:

In 1970, the state of Victoria, Australia, passed the first law worldwide making seat belt wearing compulsory for drivers and front-seat passengers.

Not the back seat..... so the first seat belt was patented in 1885, and Australia made seat belts mandatory in 1970....... hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...... it took 85 years for someone to realize that seat belts should be mandatory????? And the front seats only mind you.

Spidapig, what are you trying to convince me of by the way?

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Tahoochi

My second post was directed at someone else who commented about "third world antics" in Japan.... I basically said to that poster: "it was not long ago that the western world was the same, so get off your high horse."

Yes and that post was addressed to myself and smithinjapan, you actually addressed your post "Smithinjapan, Spidapig, " So apologies for any confusion but when l see my name and comments made l assume you are addressing me.

But apart from that lets just agree then that there needs to be better enforcement of seatbelts in the back seat and that the responsibility lies with the parents and drivers as much as police and government. Fair enough

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Actually, my first post wasn't directed at anyone specifically, and then my second was directed at Neojamal, then my third post was directed at you and Smith. Maybe you didn't see my first post? Anyways, yes. Agreed.

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@nigelboy:

You miss an important point in these comparison. Continental countries have an automatically increased rate of traffic accidents, as traffic is passing through in large amounts (at least in Europe). Well, nothing You could say about Japan, right? You have a natural increase in traffic accidents if there are many people who are not familiar with the peculiarities of the local traffic laws or the local area.

Therefore, these comparisons somehow lack meaningfulness. Japan greatly profits from the small number of foreigners driving here, from the low driving speeds and well - probably also from the rather low number of road kilometers. But I think that number is actually the most important one. Non-driving citizens hardly kill anyone with their car. Most Japanese people travel long distances by train. Therefore, the amount of highway accidents due to tired long-distance drivers decreases naturally. In narrow roads in Japanese cities it is actually quite hard to really accelerate to speeds, where accidents tend to be fatal. The matter is far too complex to be summarised in such a small statistics, because you compare very different systems.

I think the main question is not about absolute numbers, but why Japan doesn't enhance safety by such simple means as stricter enforcement of seatbelts.

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It really sucks to jump on the family for making a huge error by not enforcing seatbelts in the car, but come on I agree, it does suck to jump on the family, but it needs to be done.

To what end? Make the family feel more guilty than they already feel? To impress on them that their negligence caused their son's death? Or to show that we know more than them?

Its a tragedy albeit an unavoidable one. The parents don't need to be reminded of their grave mistake. Their preparation for funeral services will be more than enough.

Better to use this to educate other families. Jumping all over this family doesn't serve any purpose other than making the one doing it feel justified and morally superior.

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We all know how in Japan people tend to let their kids bounce around the insdie of a vehicle unsecured like a playground. It's sad that if he would have been buckled in he could possibly still be alive today.

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Make the family feel more guilty than they already feel?

Yes.

To impress on them that their negligence caused their son's death?

Yes.

Or to show that we know more than them?

Yes.

They should be shamed and made an example of in the media. If that acts as a deterrence for others, then at least the child's death won't be in vain.

Just calling it an accident and saying "oh, haven't they suffered enough?" achieves nothing. The driver (father?) committed a crime, you know. His negligence killed his child. Yes, it adds insult to injury, but he should go to jail.

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Better to use this to educate other families.

And how exactly would you use this incident to educate families without pointing out the faults of the driver and the fact that he is the only person to blame for the death of his son?

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@papasmurf

Youve made it clear that you are interested in making the family feel more guilty than they are already feel and worse yet to satisfy a misplaced sense of moral superiority.

Pointing out what they did wrong to educate others is not the same as attempting to make them feel more guilty. Cant help you if you dont understand te difference.

Where is your shame?.

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Where is your shame?.

And you are lecturing me on "moral superiority"? Give me a break.

The man committed a crime. He killed his child. He should go to jail. That is all I am saying. The media should treat this as not just another "tragic accident", but the crime that it is.

If the driver feels more "guilty" in the process of justice being done, then well, shucks, darlin', I don't give a damn.

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@ caribjustice

BTW, let me put this into perspective for you and why I am being such a bastard about this. I work with kids, day in and day out. Every day I tell the mothers who pick up their kids to strap them into their seats properly. Some do, most don't... Other than going up to each and every mother's car and strapping the kids in myself, there is little else I can do. I tell them every week, I warn them in newsletters quoting seatbelt statistics etc... no one listens.

Now I hate to be the token gaijin dissing on Japanese society, but there is a complete lack of safety awareness here. Gaijins like me (despite having spent my whole adult life in Japan) telling Japanese mums how to do things just doesn't work. Reasoning with them doesn't work. Showing them videos when you renew your license doesn't work. Stupid "seatbelt week" campaigns don't work. It's time for drastic change. A starting point would be the media's shift from mere "accident" to "culpability" for his actions. They don't have to post his face all over the newspapers, but they need to find fault and lay blame on him for this child's death. It wasn't an act of the gods, it was a completely preventable death. With no blame or no fault of the driver, there is no real lesson learned. People just go on living their happy little lives saying "oh well, he was unlucky. I'm a safe driver so my kids don't need seatbelts.".

Let's pretend it was your kid going to soccer practice in this guys car. He didn't strap your kid in. Your kid died due to his negligence and stupidity. Would you still be so forgiving? If so, you are a better man than me. I'm a bastard about this because I care, so some stranger lecturing me on moral superiority really gets on my nerves, and no offense but wreaks of hypocrisy.

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Still somewhat confused with this whole kids pickup and and no seatbelts, etc stuff.

Now this is my personal experiences.

Most public kindergarten/creches/schools won't allow you to drop or pick up your kid by car, bicycle is ok though. Neither would the kids there appreciate it.

So that leaves private, etc institutions. Don't know many kids or parents that visit those.

IME, most parents are worried about their kids safety as the drive only on the weekend at the most, this I think is the vast majority parental drivers out there.

Don't get me wrong, sad that the wee one had to die but again we get few details from JT, so Opinions, Views, etc run rampage.

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Still somewhat confused with this whole kids pickup and and no seatbelts, etc stuff.

Sorry, that has nothing to do with the article. All we know from that is the man was driving a minivan designed for 8 passengers with 10 people inside it. He lost control of the wheel, the van crashed, and the child not wearing the seatbelt was thrown out of the car and died.

My point about pick-ups is my personal experience with the phenomenon of not buckling up.

Now unless I am mistaken caribjustice believes we can turn this tragedy into a lesson without implicating the driver for fear of making him feel "more guilty". I disagree with that, and think if anything, his actions should be closely scrutinized and criticised, and charges of negligence laid. If he killed someone else's kid, surely they would want to press charges. Why should it be any different if he killed his own kid?

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Some/ all of the Kei-cars and mini-vans should be banned from the expressways, it is just too dangerous for them. Small wheelbase; tall, narrow body, underpowered, they are blown all over the place in winds or bad weather, they are accidents waiting to happen.

Nothing worse than to see an overladen mini-van in the fast lane at 90 km/ hr, weaving from side to side as the engine strains to maintain the speed and straight line, while cars behind overtake on their blind, inside...

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@papasmurf

--off point slightly-- As you pointed out your jumping on the family is to demonstrate that you know more than them, to impress that they caused their son's death and to make them feel more guilty. However, since its unlikely that they would read your written tirade, it certainly is moot. I certainly don't claim to be morally superior to anyone however it turns me into a "bastard' when I see others kicking someone who is down.

--back on point--

No doubt illegal acts deserve punishment and negligence that leads to death is not an excuse. However, I see no use in jumping on them. There is nothing to be gained. That is where you and I disagree. On the other facts as presented I have no issue.

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However, I see no use in jumping on them.

Perhaps you misinterpreted my post - the point I was trying to make is the media should treat this as a crime, not as just another "tragic accident". That is what I mean by the media jumping all over this guy. This is what I stated in my original post. I'm not saying the public should form a vigilante group and take justice into their own hands.

If the child in the car was not his son, I'm sure this would have been much bigger news, and no doubt there would have been criminal charges laid against the driver. Why should he get off the hook because the person he killed was a family member? I don't see how you can treat this as a crime and not "jump on" (lay blame on, criticise) the driver. Anyway, perhaps we just have to agree to disagree on this one.

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