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Car skids on icy Sapporo road, hits 4 students

13 Comments

Four elementary school students walking to school in Sapporo on Monday morning were hit by a car that skidded on the icy road. Police said two of the children were seriously injured.

Police said the driver of the car told them he lost control of the vehicle which veered onto the sidewalk and hit the four children at around 8 a.m. in Kita Ward, TBS reported. Two girls suffered broken legs while two others sustained bruises.

The accident occurred on a straight stretch of road with visibility good, police said. However, the icy conditions have left furrows in the road, causing many cars to get into difficulties.

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13 Comments
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Broken legs are generally not considered "serious injuries".

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

I live in Sapporo and I am starting to get very annoyed about the poor work the city is doing for the snow and ice covering not only the roads but also the side walks. They are basically running in minimum service but they are leaving places around the city with very dangerous conditions.

The last few weeks, roads (and I am talking about major axis of traffic) were covered with ice bumps that made them dangerous not only because they are difficult to see in low light conditions but also even at low speed they are dangerous. The driver could lose control but also damage his/her car. Those bumps formed after a period of frequent changing temperatures and they didn't bother to remove the snow out of the roads before the bumps formed. People are having children in their cars, it's not acceptable that major axis of traffic are not properly cleaned up.

It rained last Saturday, that's why the city became a giant ice skating surface. And again, they didn't do anything to reduce the risk and better guaranty the safety of people, I am not surprised that this accident occurred.

I don't care that it costs the city a lot of money to clean the snow, I pay a lot of of local taxes. And it's not my fault that they are stupid enough to rely entirely on private companies for the snow removable. Those greedy companies all colluded together and fixed prices so that the city has not other choice than to pay more than it should.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Ken

Depends whose legs....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I remember driving around Sapporo during the Winter Olympics in 1972. The roads were like skating rinks with potholes, but the drivers all knew how to handle themselves. No salt or grit. So you drive according to the conditions. It sounds as if things have not changed much over the years.

Still, one small accident like this in a city of two million has to be pretty good going, all things considered.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember driving around Sapporo during the Winter Olympics in 1972. The roads were like skating rinks with potholes, but the drivers all knew how to handle themselves. No salt or grit. So you drive according to the conditions. It sounds as if things have not changed much over the years.

That was in the days of studded tires, which were banned in the late 80s/ early 90s for reasons of air pollution and road wear. One unintended consequence of the ban was that studless tires tend to buff the road into a slippery polish.

I haven't seen the December roads this bad in Sapporo in more than a decade. This was because of a sudden snow dump, followed by freezing rain, more snow, then more rain, warm temperatures and a quick chill. In the busy bonenkai season, the roads were a mess, and the sidewalks even more so. These conditions are more typical of March. Even in boots with metal cleats, I was slipping and sliding.

The problem is that winter road maintenance already eats up a big portion of the city budget. Here are the stats:

"Sapporo dedicates approximately $100 million (10 percent of its road maintenance budget) to snow and ice control. Half these funds come from national road-user taxes and half from local tax sources."

Sapporo gets more snow (5 m annually) than another other city of its population (1.8 million). Sometimes it will be like skating rink.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Cheers for the update, Nessie! :thumbs:

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thank God it wasn't worse

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if the driver will be charged.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It just occurred to me that it was 20 years ago this month that the city of Sapporo instigated the "studless" law. A two or three year study had ascertained that "studless" tires could drive safely on snow and ice-covered roads. The study was done on the basis of driving "studless" winter tires over snow and ice that the studded tires had broken down into safe powder. By December first, 1994 we all had to either buy a new set of "studless" winter tires or remove the studs from our tires using a screwdriver-like instrument. When all the studded tires were gone from Sapporo winter roads, the ice covering them remained slick and cars slid into each other as well as into power poles and people. Tired of paying overtime to all the police personnel who had to respond to accidents all over Sapporo, the Chief of Police announced that the Sapporo police would not be enforcing the studless tire law.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ken As a retired paramedic, broken legs are most always treated as serious as the femoral artery descends along the anteromedial part of the thigh. If a fracture of the femur, tibia or fibula bones were to nick the femoral or popliteal arteries a patient could bleed out which is serious to deadly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Would say it is professional negligence resulting in injury. A driver needs to maintain control at all times. Think he was traveling in excessive speed for conditions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Tired of paying overtime to all the police personnel who had to respond to accidents all over Sapporo, the Chief of Police announced that the Sapporo police would not be enforcing the studless tire law.

It's been enforced since at least the early 90s in Hokkaido, although the law started being phased in area by area from the late 80s. The air quality has improved, studless tires have improved, and so has road maintenance. Several years ago Sapporo launched the policy of turning off road heating except on slopes and at dangerous curves, for reasons of economy. Hokkaido has also developed some technologies for monitoring road surface friction, which is not as easy as it sounds, and for coordinating plowing using Intelligent Transport Systems. On expressways they've addressed winter problems through road design (road geometry, rough-textured pavements, etc.). This includes road accessories such as snow protection fences and snowbreak forests.

I think winter accidents have been trending down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Either way you cut it, a horrible thing to happen to these kids right before their winter holiday. Hope they are together in the same ward, with family camped around them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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