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Japan's traffic death toll falls to record low 3,532 in 2018

28 Comments

Japan's traffic death toll fell to a record low of 3,532 in 2018, the National Police Agency (NPA) said Saturday. The figure was 162 lower than in 2017 and the lowest since traffic death statistics started being kept in 1948.

By prefecture, Aichi had the highest number of traffic fatalities with 189, followed by Chiba (186) and Saitama (175). Tottori and Shimane prefectures had the lowest at 20 each, Fuji TV reported.

The NPA attributed the decrease to a police crackdown on traffic violations, as well as more stringent tests for elderly people renewing their driver's licenses. However, the number of fatalities among people aged 65 and older declined only by 54 to 1,966, accounting for 55.7% of the total.

Road fatalities in Japan peaked at 16, 765 in 1970, when there were fewer traffic lights and road signs.

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Seems pretty low to me. Australia has a population of 25 million and a death toll last year of 1,225. That makes Japan's roads considerably safer than ours.

No mention in the article of the zero-tolerance law in Japan on drinking and driving - that's got to be a major factor, surely?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japanese traffic death tolls figures are fudged: Only people are counted as traffic deaths who die within 24 hours of being in an accident. After that it is not counted as traffic death statistic.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

The NPA attributed the decrease to a police crackdown on traffic violations, 

Really? Certainly not in Kansai. Another plausible explanation that could explain these good numbers is that most drivers/riders/pedestrians now know that they can not rely on their fellow drivers -nor the cops- to follow (& enforce) road rules and have learnt to anticipate what other drivers will do/not do in a given situation i.e run a red light, not stop at zebra crossings nor use their turn signals etc.

We've learnt to deal with (and tolerate) other ppl's bad driving. J roads are still very much a free-for-all, anything can happen (& you can get away with it).

7 ( +9 / -2 )

That's great news!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I wonder how this corresponds to the decrease in actual population. is the per capita death toll still the same?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

BigYen - Seems pretty low to me. Australia has a population of 25 million and a death toll last year of 1,225. That makes Japan's roads considerably safer than ours.

Not necessarily so. You failed to consider the percentage of drivers in each country. Around 90% of adults drive in Australia and the majority drive every day, but only around 50% of adults drive in Japan and many are only weekend warriors. The average kilometers driven per year are also very different. These factors make comparative statistics irrelevant.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

That would be the police statistical method, however insurance companies recognize up to 30 days after the accident, with when added only puts the number at 10-20% higher.

https://www.insweb.co.jp/car/kisochishiki/jidosha-jiko/30days-shisha.html

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I still don't rely on traffic lights. The first five seconds of the lights turning red, it's still a free for all. Trucks and cars vs pedestrians.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Very good for a 127 Milliion people country.

With most of those 127 million traveling regularly by train, foot, or bike; and not by car.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

A falling death toll is great news.

Every year this topic comes up and comparisons are made.

For instance re Aust. & Japan. The 2 are not easily compared. Japan for starters has a vastly superior public private transport system encompassing all the country vs an almost totally reliant on car system in Aust.

And as has been mentioned often before - the most reliable statistic when comparing road fatalities is deaths per 1 billion kms of travel. In this regard Japan's rate is double Australias.

Hopefully the rate will continue to fall, here and elswhere.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Recently I have been stuck behind cars driving at 35km in 50km zones in the countryside. Of course this will prevent fatal deaths at such a speed, but the stress of being stuck behind these tosrs causes so much stress that I just feel like getting drunk, destroying my liver and dying in a few years. Not included in statistics.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

 Australia has a population of 25 million and a death toll last year of 1,225

if you calculate 1billion km traveled to deaths, then Australia fairs better, risk is calculated by exposure, vast majority of Japans population doesnt even drive. average driver in Japan travels less than 10,000km/yr, average Australian driver travels twice that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If many people don't own cars or hardly use them at all, then fatalities per / kms seems a reasonable statistic. Kms travelled indicates "Time on the Road" hence the increased chance of an accident

just what I stated, risk is linked to exposure, if you dont drive your risk of a traffic accident is severly diminished. far higher percentage of Australias population drivecompared to Japane. and as the statistics show for an an equal number of km driven Australian have fewer fatalities than Japanese. There are at least 15 countries that have a lower fatality rate than Japan

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Also, Japan is shedding people ,hundreds of thousands a year.

Prefectures full of mountains and sparse population are always going to have low accident rates....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

4.58% is promising but needs to be set against overall annual mileage driven, ie, Total Oil Imports, to have any significance.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

However, the number of fatalities among people aged 65 and older declined only by 54 to 1,966, accounting for 55.7% of the total.

55% of the total reported, older drivers, meaning the government's push to get them off the roads here is not working.

Driving is NOT a right, it's a privilege, yet sadly the government has done little to lessen the need for these seniors to be on the road. Public transportation in rural areas stinks.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@ goodlucktoyou - are there other types of death besides fatal ones?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No mention in the article of the zero-tolerance law in Japan on drinking and driving - that's got to be a major factor, surely?

your being sarcastic right!? in all the years ive been here ive been breath checked twice, by blowing in the police faces, try drinking and driving in Australia especially around holidays the Australian police actually police your chances of getting caught are high

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Road rage, people not following traffic laws is not something Japanese do.

Unfortunately, there is in fact road rage in Japan. It is called 煽り運転 aoriunten. One of the major news items of the last few weeks has been the trial of a 25 year old guy who is charged with causing the death of two people.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/11/04/national/media-national/fatal-road-rage-cases-highlight-japans-rise-aggressive-driving/

In my experience as a long distance cyclist who also cycles all over Tokyo (I cycled through the Ginza area with my wife just a couple of days ago), I can say that there is very little road rage in Japan compared to the US or the UK, but it is not entirely absent.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good news.

The article makes it sound like the police want to take the credit, but have the various collision avoidance technologies like automated braking been a factor? Car manufacturers have been selling them hard as a feature.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

albaleoToday 03:12 am JST

 the most reliable statistic when comparing road fatalities is deaths per 1 billion kms of travel. In this regard Japan's rate is double Australias.

"..I'm not sure what you mean by "reliable". I'd guess the measurements of average distance driven in any country are not so accurate. What is it based on? Also, I often used to read that most traffic accidents occur close to one of the drivers' homes. I have no source for such data, but if true, it would suggest that distance travelled is less relevant than the number of trips.

Anyway, I guess it's possible to assign all kinds of reasons for the fall. The police say it is due to their activities. I like to think it's because there are fewer young drivers on the road, thus making it safer for us oldies..."

Thanks for your reply.

By reliable, I guess we can only go by the most credible general source available. The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety, I'm sure it is not perfect, but probably pretty good.

Using their stats to compare 2 modern countries - ie Japan & Aust is quite interesting. (2015)

Aust - 5.4 fatalities / 100,000 people : Japan - 4.7

Aust. - 7.3 fatalities / 100,000 cars : Japan - 6.5

Aust. - 5.2 fatalities / 1 billion kms : Japan - 6.4 (more recent figures has Japan at 8+ I believe)

If many people don't own cars or hardly use them at all, then fatalities per / kms seems a reasonable statistic. Kms travelled indicates "Time on the Road" hence the increased chance of an accident. Parked and garaged cars have negligible chances of being involved in accidents.

And I believe you are correct in suggesting most fatalities are within proximity of home. Local drivers are possibly notoriously complacent and set in their road behaviour patterns, with an over-familiarity creating a feeling of safety. Just because one is going to the local conbini, doesn't mean less care and attention is required.

And re "us oldies" - well we're dying disproportionately to the real demographics. Way above the %. And unfortunately the declining skills of elderly drivers will certainly exacerbate this problem - unless severe practices by authorities are put in place.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

that is why many of my friends did not drive in Brazil,Argentina,France etc.but now that they are living in Japan they drive,have cars.Driving in Japan is safer,security is really good even in traffic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So the real solution would appear to be to take those 65 and older off the roads. Instant 55% reduction.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 the most reliable statistic when comparing road fatalities is deaths per 1 billion kms of travel. In this regard Japan's rate is double Australias.

I'm not sure what you mean by "reliable". I'd guess the measurements of average distance driven in any country are not so accurate. What is it based on? Also, I often used to read that most traffic accidents occur close to one of the drivers' homes. I have no source for such data, but if true, it would suggest that distance travelled is less relevant than the number of trips.

Anyway, I guess it's possible to assign all kinds of reasons for the fall. The police say it is due to their activities. I like to think it's because there are fewer young drivers on the road, thus making it safer for us oldies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If we are comparing countries, you have to take into account the super-built up areas in Japan that have narrow roads with a crossroads every 100m or less and no pavement/sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists. I'm terrified every time I have to drive down one.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Very good for a 127 Milliion people country.

taikutsujinToday: With most of those 127 million traveling regularly by train, foot, or bike; and not by car.

If you really believe this you need to get out of Tokyo and Osaka etc. Most people outside of these giant metropolises drive.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Was this not expected already.

Japan is a safe country in many different areas, driving is not a surprise.

Road rage, people not following traffic laws is not something Japanese do. Respect, being polite with one another are a big factor in this low numbers.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Great news. Thankfully, the Japanese are generally law abiding citizens and very safety conscious.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

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