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Police discuss measures to reduce accidents caused by drivers going wrong way

34 Comments

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department this week held a meeting to discuss measures to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers going the wrong way on expressways.

At the meeting, it was proposed that in addition to larger warning signs and road markings that are already in place, sensors should be installed, alerting the police whenever a car enters the expressway going the wrong way, TBS reported Thursday.

The discussion comes amid a 10% spike in accidents in 2014, caused by elderly drivers going the wrong way. The National Police Agency says such accidents are possible indicators of reduced cognitive function or the onset of dementia.

Last week, the NPA proposed that drivers over 75 involved in accidents such as going the wrong way or going through red lights should be tested for dementia and be required to retake a cognitive test in order to renew their driver's license.

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34 Comments
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I don't think it's just elderly drivers they should worry about in Japan - Japanese drivers of all ages are known to be dangerous and unpredictable.

Only a few months ago here in New Zealand a Japanese driver made national headlines after driving down the wrong side of the road. His excuse? His wife felt carsick so he wanted to 'smooth the curves'.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/63118775/Tourist-admits-dangerous-driving-on-mountain-road

1 ( +7 / -7 )

How can you drive down the wrong side of an expressway in Japan, given that there are toll gates at every entrance to the expressway system? Surely driving the wrong way would be impossible as 1. The barrier wouldn't open (sensors are on the other side for ETC and gate opening) and 2. Surely the toll operators wouldn't open a barrier for cars going the wrong way?

Crazy that this is happening in Japan - drivers in Japan are great drivers generally though compared to other places in Asia. I almost was literally scared to death many times in Taiwan, for an example. And that's in taxis, normal cars and more!

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I think technology is actually just about at the right spot to possibly address this problem. Hopefully... in the very near future Smart Cars will be equipped to warn drivers or even prevent a driver from going the wrong way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Adam:

I think you will find a large percent of the "wrong way drivers" pull out of a rest stop going the wrong way.

Your right, hard to go through the gate from the wrong direction.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Wedge shaped mini ramps.

Installed acoss the road at toll gates or rest stations exits.

They fip down when you drive one way but stop the vehicle if you drive in the opposite direction.

As seen in unmanned car parks in Japan.

Solved in 2 minutes.

gary

7 ( +7 / -0 )

On non-expressways, dividers in the middle of the road can be dangerous for drivers coming out of a side street, if a) you can't see the other side of the road because it's hidden by the divider, and b) the one way sign, if one exists, is not clearly visible.

Came out of a side lane in the country. Rice paddies either side. No sign. Saw a hedge about waist height on the "other side". (If you are sitting in a normal car, that's enough to block your vision)

After making a right turn, some guy coming the other way gave me a weird look, and I just happened to glance to the left and saw the real "other side" through the leaves. Thankfully doing a quick u-turn was enough.

Similar things have happened to me and friends here and back home, due to dividers and/or poor or non-existent signage. Signs should be make highly visible, at night as well as day. And dividers should not hide the other side of the road. There's no need to make them completely solid, (hidden by hedges or concrete walls without gaps), but if "they" are going to do it, at least make it completely obvious the left lanes are on the other side.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

" Drivers over 75 involved in accidents such as going the wrong way should be tested on order to renew their license "? Are they bloody joking? If you over 75 and have an accident because you end up going the wrong way you should just give up or have the license taken away because obviously the ability to drive on a public road without being a threat to other drivers is gone. I have had this experience with an old obaachan in a kei car and she just kept on going driving the wrong way on a very busy road at night obviously unable to stop and turn around...not sure if there ended up being an accident eventually but it was damn scary. Half baked solutions will not stop these incidents from rising.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The National Police Agency says such accidents are possible indicators of reduced cognitive function or the onset of dementia.

So, there is the main problem! Putting up more signs is not gonna stop this happening. The only thing that will stop it happening is stopping these dementia sufferers driving. They should be looking at more stringent and regular testing of senior drivers to make sure they have the cognitive functions to be in control of a car. Driving a car is a privilege, not a right!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Not related but still related by virtue of the fact that its elderly people doing their best get wiped out. Yesterday I had two elderly on bikes meander across the road right in front of me and one elderly gentleman who thought it was prudent to walk straight in front of me through the little red man. Have to concentrate 1000 percent here and be prepared for the unexpected. Its making me a better driver thats for sure.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Better and more frequent testing for the elderly

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why not drivers under 75?

And "involved in accidents"?!?! Why not mandatory suspension for non-zero period depending on the severity of the offense???

Last week, the NPA proposed that drivers over 75 involved in accidents such as going the wrong way or going through red lights should be tested for dementia and be required to retake a cognitive test in order to renew their driver’s license.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

With over 20 years driving experience in Japan and many more years of that abroad in over 10 countriesl, I feel I can safely comment. There seems to be an intention to penalize drivers in Japan. Why do I say this? Traffic lights and signs tend to be placed several metres up in the air,not at any reasonable level.On a sunny day with a sun visor up it is possible to miss many road signs completely! Right turns are on many occasions not signed,nor are no entry signs used, so it is very possible to end up in a one way system! Express way markings are sometimes not marked and only marked just before entering a system. How to manage drivers entering road systems in error? Road markings should be on the road where the driver can see them as is normal in most other countries.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The signage itself is no small part of the problem. In many places, there are so many signs in one place that it's nearly impossible to scan them all at a glance. As another poster noted, many of the wrong way incidents have occurred after leaving a service area, not an entrance area.

But, to be frank, this is a symptom of the greying society. Welcome to Retiree-land, much like Florida with all the geriatric drivers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's step back for a moment and look at this article's starting premise. First they take all traffic accidents in Japan, then they narrow that to only those on expressways, then they narrow that to only those caused by going the wrong way. And of that TINY number they declare that a 10% rise is a big problem?

... come on people, that's just ridiculous. There are probably only a couple of dozen accidents like this a year, and a 10% rise would be maybe 2 or 3 more than usual. That isn't a crisis.

I can't give statistics to back this up since when I looked at the accident statistics there is no category for "going the wrong way", and certainly no category for "going the wrong way on an expressway". The smallest category they did record statistics for contained 53 accidents (nationwide), so I think we can be fairly confident that it is less than this number.

And this is what really gets my goat about modern reporting. There are no sources cited here, the statistics have no context and there isn't every any evidence provided that it is elderly drivers responsible, which makes this entire article badly concealed propaganda against the aged.

This isn't reporting, it is misinformation. And it is this type of article that will soon result in the free press being firmly muzzled, because they seem to show no responsibility for what they write.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Well, they already have "For restrooms, go back toward your behind," so we can surely come up with something similar for highways...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And here's where some powerful corporate madman sees the light come on: mandatory self-driving cars for the elderly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't think it is just expressways, but the local side streets as well. I myself made the mistake on a rainy night in November trying to follow GPS which led me down the wrong way on a one way street. Luckily no issues, but even though the GPS was wrong, I still didn't see any signs clearly marked that the street was indeed one way.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My grandfather stopped driving when he was 65 because he was afraid of car accidents. Japanese can have driver license when they are over 20. Japan also have to decide the age to stop driving.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

sensors to alert police? by the time the police arrive it's gonna be way too late.

how about putting those spike in the ground that sink when they are being driven over the correct way but will puncture a tire if being driven over the incorrect way?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Conducting meetings to tackle statistics are counterproductive. Here's one idea....have field agents revisit sites where accidents frecuently occur and assess board signs (most of them are far small for conductors to view and installed wrongfully -e.g.: to high to see/ opposite where it should be/ etc.), mirrors (never can have too many around) and barriers. Just - do it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They want to find a solution for driving in the opposite direction? Which happens rarely. Why not find a good solution for wearing seatbelts or not using your phone while driving first.

In fact, I demand Japan makes handsfree sets mandatory for every car. ASAP!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

kikokikoJan. 30, 2015 - 09:45AM JST My grandfather stopped driving when he was 65 because he was afraid of car accidents. Japanese can have driver license when they are over 20. Japan also have to decide the age to stop driving.

Japanese people can get a normal driving license when they are 18.

As for your grandfather's CHOICE, it was his choice. Elderly drivers are actually statistically safer than young drivers.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Elderly drivers are actually statistically safer than young drivers.

That's true. Maybe we should raise the driving age to 34?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

sensors should be installed, alerting the police whenever a car enters the expressway going the wrong way

Already tax money has been wasted dreaming up - and announcing - this gem of a failure. Will other police forces reinvent Tokyo's square wheel, and waste further resources? Perhaps hordes of engineers are already tilting at this windmill that plays Russian roulette with road users' lives.

Or rather than this business as usual, all-policing-is-reactive approach, change the environment, not the behaviour caused (or enabled) by it. Huge high viz signage (出口 with arrow) and traffic flow plates (hat tip to GaryMalmgren) that stop rather than shred tyres, are an affordable solution for space-poor highway rest areas.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department this week held a meeting to discuss measures...

And that's that. A meeting was held, an announcement was made that a meeting has been held, and that's the same thing as addressing a problem.

Nothing is going to be done about this in case some revered elder causes a stink about being asked to prove he is fit to drive being "troublesome".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

how about putting those spike in the ground that sink when they are being driven over the correct way but will puncture a tire if being driven over the incorrect way?

Several reasons that's not a good idea.

Maintaining them is hard and expensive.

Small cars and low sitting cars have a hard time with them.

Snow covering them.

Hitting anything that will blow out your tire at a high speed will make you lose control.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

drivers in Japan are great drivers generally though

Perhaps, but they are far from perfect and generally lack spatial awareness. More testing of the elderly would be best.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

drivers in Japan are great drivers generally though

Depends how you define 'good'. Many run red lights, ignore pedestrians, ignore speed limits, ignore indication and lane changing rules, tailgate, and are just generally very unpredictable. Whenever I took to the road while in Japan I was constantly on high alert - they scared me.

Stricter policing would do wonders for Japan's road safety.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Standing at a pedestrian crossing this morning, with snow blowing across the street, I waited for the light to change. When the little green man appeared for me, I let two cars go straight through the red light and started to cross. Then a third car came barreling through on red and slammed on the brakes like it was my fault.

Please don't tell me Japanese drivers are uniquely law-abiding and harmonious, because it's a pile of bolleaux.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Farmboy,Frungy they are safer only because they drive less, those stats are bogus. If you check driving stats for 3-18 year old you will find them safest by your logic... but thats just cause they dont drive. Over 60 should be tested yearly, at their expense to prove they are fit to drive, over 70 twice a year and over 80 shouldnt drive at all. At their expense because driving is not a right but a priviledge and a dangerous one.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Alex EinzJan. 30, 2015 - 04:11PM JST Farmboy,Frungy they are safer only because they drive less, those stats are bogus. If you check driving stats for 3-18 year old you will find them safest by your logic... but thats just cause they dont drive. Over 60 should be tested yearly, at their expense to prove they are fit to drive, over 70 twice a year and over 80 shouldnt drive at all. At their expense because driving is not a right but a priviledge and a dangerous one.

Actually those statistics are per 1000 kms drived. Driving experience counts for a lot.

Of course this is a big problem with the modern generation, you've been convinced that youthful talent trumps elderly experience. It doesn't. Take a trip down to Okinawa and go insult some 60 year old karate instructor and no matter how many one-handed push-ups you can do he'll make you cry for your mommy. Likewise elderly drivers may react a little more slowly, but they react correctly, while some young driver can rush to the wrong decision a lot faster.

And as for dementia being a problem? Don't make me laugh. I'm a lot more worried about sleep-deprived salarymen who can barely keep their eyes open and keep nodding off at the wheel.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

How about being motre careful who they hand out driver licenses to?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Given that it's mostly elderly people doing this and also mistaking the accelerator for the break and crashing into houses or shops, there's not a whole lot that can be done in advance short of taking away the licenses of the elderly, and that is not right (if they can pass the current tests). I mean, an old man or woman who can't tell they are in the wrong lane are certainly not going to take notice of larger signs than the ones already there to tell them not to do what they are doing. The sensors they mention are a start, but again they would only send a message that the could not possibly respond to quickly enough. Gary has a pretty good idea, but I wonder if they would install those at all rest stops and other possible places for going into the wrong lane, given the costs.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Rubber cars... then they'll just bounce and no more crashes with people going the wrong way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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