WHITE PAPER
ON TRAFFIC SAFETY IN JAPAN 2006

Abridged Edition

CABINET OFFICE

Editorial Supervision:
Directorate General for Policies on Cohesive Society, Cabinet Office

WHITE PAPER
ON TRAFFIC SAFETY IN JAPAN 2006

Abridged Edition

CABINET OFFICE

This English version of White Paper on Traffic Safety in Japan (Abridged Edition) was compiled under the supervision of Directorate General for Policies on Cohesive Society, Cabinet Office.

The International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences hopes this paper, in conjunction with Statistics of Road Accidents Japan (Abridged Edition), will greatly enhance readers' knowledge of traffic accident remedial measures.


White Paper on Traffic Safety in Japan 2006
Cabinet Office

Under Article 13 of the Traffic Safety Policies Law (Law No. 110 of 1970), the government is required each year to report to the Diet on the status of traffic accidents in the previous year, on measures currently being implemented to promote traffic safety, and on plans for traffic safety measures in the current year. All of this is contained in a report known as the White Paper on Traffic Safety.

This year's White Paper is the 36th in the series of such reports. Part I and Part II of the report follow the structure of the Seventh Fundamental Traffic Safety Program and the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program respectively, and each is organized into sections on land (road and railway), maritime and air transportation.

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Copyright © by International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences
October 2006
Printed in Japan


CONTENTS

Note:
Since the figures in the graphs and tables were rounded to the nearest unit, the totals expressed may slightly differ from the sum of constituent figures.

PART I
TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS AND SAFETY MEASURES IN FY2005

CHAPTER 1 LAND TRANSPORT

Section 1 Road Transport

1 Road Traffic Accident Trends
1-1 Long-term trends

Changes in Road Traffic Accidents, Casualties and Fatalities

Changes in Road Traffic Accidents, Casualties and Fatalities

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Figures after 1966 do not include property-damage-only accidents.
  3. Figures for Okinawa Prefecture were not included before 1972.
1-2 Road traffic accidents in 2005
Overview (year-on-year comparisons)
Number of accidents: 933,828 (-18,363, -1.9%)
Casualties (fatalities + injuries): 1,163,504 persons (-26,974, -2.3%)
Injuries: 1,156,633 persons (-26,487, -2.2%)
Fatalities (within 24 hours of the accident): 6,871 persons (-487, -6.6%)
Fatalities (within 30 days of the accident): 7,931 persons (-561, -6.6%)

The decline in fatalities in recent years can be attributed largely to efforts to carry out a comprehensive set of measures based on the Fundamental Traffic Safety Programs, including measures aimed at improving the road traffic environment, at disseminating and reinforcing messages on traffic safety, and at ensuring safe driving practices, and, in addition, measures aimed at advancing vehicle safety, preserving order on roads, and improving rescue and emergency medical systems. Certain quantitatively measurable improvements also contributed to this decline, including (1) increased seat belt usage, (2) lower pre-accident speeds, and (3) the effects of the Initiative for Stricter Drunk Driving Penalties and Other Measures against Dangerous Driving.

Seat Belt Usage and Automobile Occupant Fatality Rate

Seat Belt Usage and Automobile Occupant Fatality Rate

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Seat belt usage = seat belt-wearing automobile occupant casualties ÷ total automobile occupant casualties × 100
  3. Automobile occupant fatality rate = automobile occupant fatalities ÷ automobile occupant casualties × 100

Number of Traffic Accidents (by Hazard Recognition Speed) and Fatalities

Number of Traffic Accidents (by Hazard Recognition Speed) and Fatalities

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. “Hazard recognition speed” refers to the speed at which an automobile or moped is traveling when the driver notices the hazard (moving or parked vehicle, pedestrian, safety barrier, utility pole or other obstacles, etc.).

Number of Fatal Road Accidents, by Alcohol Consumption

Number of Fatal Road Accidents, by Alcohol Consumption

Note:
Source: National Police Agency
Casualties: By age group
  • (1)For the 13th consecutive year, people aged 65 and over accounted for the largest number of road fatalities. This number (2,924) represented more than 40% of those killed in traffic accidents. On the other hand, deaths in all age groups declined compared to the previous year.
  • (2)Injuries were the highest among 30-39 year-olds (220,624) and 16-24 year-olds (219,270). On a year-to-year basis, notable declines were seen in the 16-24 year-old category (11,236 less than the previous year) and in the 25-29 year-old category (7,356 less). Injuries increased among 40-49 year-olds (by 1,593).

Changes in Traffic Accident Fatalities, by Age Group

Changes in Traffic Accident Fatalities, by Age Group

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Figures in parentheses show percentage (%) of fatalities by age group.

Changes in Traffic Accident Injuries, by Age Group

Changes in Traffic Accident Injuries, by Age Group

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Figures in parentheses show percentage (%) of injuries by age group.
Casualties: By mode of transportation
  • (1)Fatalities occurred most frequently among those riding in automobiles. Deaths in this category numbered 2,722 and accounted for 39.6% of all traffic fatalities. However this was a marked decline compared to the previous year.
  • (2)Most injuries from traffic accidents were suffered by those riding in automobiles. These numbered 722,889 and accounted for 62.5% of all persons injured in traffic accidents.

Changes in Traffic Accident Fatalities, by Mode of Transportation

Changes in Traffic Accident Fatalities, by Mode of Transportation

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency (figures for “Other” omitted)
  2. Figures in parentheses show percentage (%) of fatalities by mode of transportation.

Changes in Traffic Accident Injuries, by Mode of Transportation

Changes in Traffic Accident Injuries, by Mode of Transportation

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency (figures for “Other” omitted)
  2. Figures in parentheses show percentage (%) of injuries by mode of transportation.
Fatalities: By seat belt usage
  1. (1)Deaths among occupants of automobiles who were not using seatbelts numbered 1,410, a decline of 182 persons (11.4%) compared to the previous year.
  2. (2)The fatality rate (ratio of fatalities to total casualties) for seatbelt wearers was approximately one-tenth that of non-wearers.

Changes in Automobile Occupant Fatalities, by Seat Belt Usage

Changes in Automobile Occupant Fatalities, by Seat Belt Usage
(CSV data)

Notes:
  1. Source: National Policy Agency
  2. Figures in parentheses show percentage (%) of fatalities by seat belt usage.

Changes in Automobile Occupant Fatality Rates, by Seat Belt Usage;
Usage of Seat Belts by Automobile Occupant Casualties

Changes in Automobile Occupant Fatality Rates, by Seat Belt Usage; Usage of Seat Belts by Automobile Occupant Casualties
(CSV data)

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Ratio of seatbelt usage: Number of persons injured or killed (in cars) while wearing seatbelts ÷ number of persons injured or killed (in cars) × 100.
    Fatality rate for seatbelt users: Number of persons killed (in cars) while wearing seatbelts ÷ number of persons injured or killed (in cars) while wearing seatbelts × 100.
    Fatality rate for non-seatbelt users: Number of persons killed (in cars) while not wearing seatbelts ÷ number of persons injured or killed (in cars) while not wearing seatbelts × 100.
Child fatalities and child safety seat usage
A total of 21 children under age six were killed, and 174 seriously injured, while riding in automobiles. The fatality rate among children who were not restrained in child safety seats was approximately 3.1 times higher than that of those who were restrained. The fatality rate among children who were not restrained in child safety seats was approximately 3.1 times higher than that of those who were restrained.
Fatal accidents caused by primary party
The number of fatal accidents in which automobile drivers aged 65 and older were the primary party1 continued to increase. In 2005, this number was approximately 3 times higher than the level in 1989.

1The party most to blame for the accident, or, when the parties involved share nearly equal fault, the party that suffered the least harm.

Changes in Fatal Accidents Caused by Primary-party Automobile Drivers (Young and Elderly)

Changes in Fatal Accidents Caused by Primary-party Automobile Drivers (Young and Elderly)

Notes:
  1. Source: National Police Agency
  2. Index figures are based on 1989 (= 1).

Focus
The Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program

Transportation safety policy in Japan has been based on seven consecutive five-year plans known as Fundamental Traffic Safety Programs, which have been drawn up since FY1971. The measures executed in accordance with these plans have aimed to enhance transportation safety in the areas of land, maritime and air transportation. On March 14, 2006, the Central Committee on Traffic Safety Measures adopted the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program, which established the framework for measures to be executed over the five-year period from FY2006 to FY2010.

In this section, we explain the process by which the new program was adopted and the structure of the plan. We also provide an overview of the program's basic philosophy.

The content of the respective sectors is noted at the beginning of each chapter (section) of the report: land transport (page 15); railway transport (page 41); maritime transport (page 51); and air transport (page 60).

Our Focus sections, entitled “Expediting Measures to Eliminate Grade-Level Crossings” (page 46) and “Comprehensive Safety Measures for Public Transportation” (page 48), include excerpts from the Eighth FTSP.

What is the Fundamental Traffic Safety Program?

The Fundamental Traffic Safety Program establishes the broad outlines for comprehensive and long-term policies on transportation safety in land, maritime, and air transportation. In accordance with the Traffic Safety Policies Act (Act No. 110, 1970), the Central Committee on Traffic Safety Measures (chaired by the Prime Minister, and whose committee members consist of the 13 members of the Cabinet) is charged with preparing the plan.

In accordance with this fundamental program, each year related national agencies prepare and execute plans that provide for measures to be adopted during that fiscal year. In addition, based on the Fundamental Traffic Safety Program, local public authorities prepare and execute long-term and annual plans in their respective jurisdictions.

1 Process of adoption

In February 2005, an expert panel serving under the Central Committee on Traffic Safety Measures (consisting of 20 experts in engineering, education, psychology etc. and chaired by Shigeru Morichi, Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies) began a year-long examination of the issues to be dealt with under the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program. In September 2005, the panel announced an “Interim Working Draft of the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program” and called for public comment. In an effort to incorporate voices from as wide a spectrum of the nation as possible, the panel held a public hearing on October 13, where it received testimony directly from interested parties. The central committee then convened a meeting on March 14, 2006, where it formally adopted the plan.

The Prime Minister and other Cabinet members at the March 14, 2006 meeting of the Central Committee on Traffic Safety Measures

The Prime Minister and other Cabinet members at the March 14, 2006 meeting of the Central Committee on Traffic Safety Measures

2 Components of the plan

The Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program begins by stating the common philosophy that underlies the measures that have been adopted for all sectors of transportation: land, maritime, and air. It then goes on to discuss the “basic thinking,” “objectives” and “measures (perspectives, and the policies to be enacted)” adopted for each sector: (1) road transport; (2) railway transport; (3) traffic on roads with grade crossings; (4) maritime transport; and (5) air transport.

Most notably, the Eighth FTSP clearly sets forth objectives for each sector and establishes numerical objectives that will be targeted during the period of the plan.

3 Basic philosophy of the Eighth FTSP

In the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program, a common philosophy is spelled out for all transportation sectors (land, maritime and air); it can be summarized as follows:

Focus
Future Directions in Road Traffic Safety Measures
- From the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program -

The Seventh Fundamental Traffic Safety Program, which was composed in FY2001 (and covered the period FY2001-FY2005), set as its target decreasing road traffic fatalities to less than 8,466. This goal was achieved in the second year of the program, in 2002. In 2003, therefore, the government established a new policy which sets out to “reduce the number of traffic fatalities to less than 5,000 within a 10-year period, and to create a record of road transportation safety that is second to none in the world.” The government dealt comprehensively with one area in particular, traffic safety measures for the elderly, who account for the largest percentage of fatalities. It based its efforts on a program adopted in March 2003 by the Task Force on Transportation which was called “On Comprehensive Traffic Safety Measures for the Elderly toward the Transition to the Full Scale of Aging Society.”

The number of traffic fatalities continued to decline in 2003, and in 2005 fell below 7,000 for the first time in nearly half a century. Nevertheless, there continue to be large numbers of people killed or injured in traffic accidents. On January 2, 2006, the head of the Task Force on Transportation released a statement indicating the government's continued strong commitment to pursuing comprehensive traffic safety policies.

Future road traffic safety policies will be pursued within the framework of the Eighth Fundamental Traffic Safety Program, which was adopted on March 14, 2006. The new program states the government's intention to redouble its efforts to reduce traffic fatalities, in order to achieve the goals that it set in 2003. It goes on to commit the government to an even more robust effort to reduce the number of accidents per se; and, for the first time since Fundamental Traffic Safety Programs were begun, it establishes numerical objectives for the reduction of traffic casualties. The following is an outline of the discussion on road traffic safety contained in the Eighth FTSP.

1 Basic thinking
2 Objectives
3 Measures
(1) Perspectives
(2) Measures to be implemented
<A Secure Society: Let's Take a Walk>

Safe and secure walking spaces resulting from sidewalk improvement programs provide an inviting atmosphere for walks

photo

2 Overview of Current Policies on Road Traffic Safety
2-1 Improvement of road traffic environment
Implementation of projects to improve road safety facilities
In FY2005 the nation vigorously pursued the following projects for improving the road traffic safety infrastructure, in line with the “Priority Plan for Social Infrastructure Development.”
  1. (1)In 2003, certain intersections and road sections with high rates of death or injury-inducing accidents, or with high incidences of such accidents, were designated as “black spots.” National and local agencies launched a project to reduce the number of accidents at these sites by roughly 30% by FY2007. Prefectural public safety commissions and road management agencies collaborated in a unified effort to implement accident-prevention measures at these sites. Moreover, in FY2005, project teams adopted a new “priority indication method,”2 by which they selected other previously undesignated dangerous sections of roads for priority accident-prevention measures.

    To carry out effective and efficient traffic safety measures, traffic safety agencies took steps to improve their ability to analyze accidents and to accumulate and utilize this know-how. In addition, they used two manuals, the “Road Safety Manual for Hazardous Spots”3 and the “Compilation of Accident Prevention Measures,”4 to propose and carry out measures for black spots and to pursue scientifically sound accident-prevention measures. They also built a data base for use in formulating accident measures. Finally, experts were also brought in to evaluate the measures that were adopted both prior to and following execution.

  2. (2)In the nation's Safe Pedestrian Area project, project teams, with the cooperation of prefectural public safety commissions and road management agencies, continued to implement areawide and comprehensive accident prevention measures. These were executed in residential and commercial districts that had been designated as target areas in 2003 because of their high incidence of accidents resulting in death or injury. The goal of the program was to reduce casualty-inflicting accidents in the designated areas by approximately 20% overall and approximately 30% for pedestrians and bicycle riders by FY2007.

    Residential roads outside the Safe Pedestrian Areas were also an area of concern. Utilizing the “Road Safety Manual for Residential Roads,”5 project teams collaborated with prefectural public safety commissions and road management agencies to achieve a number of goals, including limiting the speeds at which automobiles traveled through in these areas, providing drivers with signs that alerted them to road characteristics and intersections, and clearly demarcating sections of roads to be used by traffic and by pedestrians. In this way, the project teams endeavored to create road spaces that would be shared safely and securely by pedestrians and automobiles alike.

  3. (3)Another issue was the need to provide a safe and comfortable transit environment for pedestrians and bicycle riders. In dangerous sections of roads where pedestrians were frequently injured in accidents, the nation continued to make improvements via road reconstruction projects and to focus on sidewalk and bike path construction.

    In these projects, wide sidewalks assuring comfortable transit for users continued to be developed. Where space along existing roads did not permit the building of sidewalks, the nation substituted exclusive pedestrian roads or bicycle and pedestrian paths which ran parallel to existing roads.

    In order to help seniors and disabled people lead independent, socially active lives, projects were also implemented to develop broad, level sidewalks and to install barrier-free signals in areas around train stations and other public facilities. The nation also endeavored to eliminate utility poles, convert traffic signals to LED lighting, and develop improved road signs and markings to make them more visible to elderly motorists.

2“Priority indication method”
This method provides a way of executing projects in an effective and efficient way by identifying locations where measures should be carried out on a priority basis. Priority is determined by expressing need in terms of objective data and lining projects up according to the degree of urgency of the problems that have been identified.

3“Road Safety Manual for Hazardous Spots”
This manual is a systematic compilation of procedures, points of consideration, and other matters related to the entire process of traffic safety measure implementation, from proposal to assessment. It is based on the results of accident countermeasures previously implemented under the Black Spot Emergency Measures Program and other projects.

4“Compilation of Accident Prevention Measures”
For this publication, experts analyzed the causes of accidents occurring at 557 black spots and the measures adopted in response to these accidents, looking at each accident in terms of road characteristics and type of accident.

5“Road Safety Manual for Residential Roads”
The aim of this manual is to illustrate ways of effectively implementing accident prevention measures on residential roads. It presents in a systematic way procedures, methods of improving road traffic environments, etc.

6Field tests: actual outdoor tests.

Development of Intelligent Transport Systems
In 1996, the nation formulated a major plan on intelligent transport systems called the Comprehensive ITS Initiative. Its aim was to use advanced information technology to build systems that brought people, roads and vehicles under one integrated system, thereby enhancing road safety and transportation efficiency. Based on this plan, the nation adopted measures to promote research and development, field tests6, and infrastructure development.

Focus
Sidewalk Development:Providing People-First Walking Spaces that Offer Safety and Bestow Peace of Mind

In FY2005, the number of road traffic fatalities declined below 7,000 for the first time in 49 years (since 1956). Still, the percentage of pedestrian deaths to the total number of traffic fatalities was high in comparison to Europe and the United States. Hence, taking steps to assure the safety of those who are in a weak position compared to those in automobiles will remain an important traffic safety issue hereafter.

In this section, we review the current situation of pedestrian accidents in Japan and describe steps that are being taken to improve sidewalks and other facilities. The report then goes on to describe the policies that the nation will promote hereafter to develop walking spaces that will offer greater safety to pedestrians.

1 Traffic accidents involving pedestrians and status of sidewalk development projects
(1) The current state of pedestrian accidents
(2) Improvements for sidewalks etc

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