New Approaches to Reduce Road Traffic Accidents in Japan (PDF)

Current situation of traffic accidents in Japan, management approach for safer roads and new efforts to combat traffic accidents


1. Reducing traffic accidents

The number of traffic fatalities has decreased for 12 consecutive years, fell below 4,500 in 2012, but the number of traffic fatalities and injuries still exceeds 800,000. In particular, the ratios of senior citizen and pedestrian fatalities are higher than in Europe and the United States. Therefore, effective and efficient measures are being implemented to reduce traffic accidents on both arterial roads and community roads.

Changes in the number of traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries

* 1. Up until 1959, accidents causing minor injuries (injuries treat able in less than eight days and property damage less than 20,000 yen) were not included.
* 2. In and after 1966, the number of accidents does not include property damage.
* 3. In and before 1971, Okinawa Prefecture is not included in th e numbers of accidents, fatalities and injuries.
Source: Data from the National Police Agency

Traffic accident measures on arterial roads

Because traffic accidents frequently occur in specific sections of arterial roads, 3,396 sections with a particularly high incidence of high accident sections. Intensive measures for death or injury accidents were designated as these sections are being conducted through the collaboration of prefectural Public Safety Commissions and road administrators.

Example of measures in high accident section
Method for identifying road sections requiring accident measures
Accident occurrence on arterial roads

* Created from data on averages of accidents that occurred during four years (2003-2006) on approximately 180,000 km of national and prefectural roads throughout Japan.

After sorting the sections in descending order according to the incidence of death or injury accidents, those which require priority implementation of measures are selected and specified as priority action sections.

Traffic accident measures for community roads

Meticulous traffic accident measures are being conducted for community roads by establishing a problem solving cycle from problem identification and sorting to confirmation of project implementation benefits through collaboration with regional residents and related organizations.

A schematic diagram of a safe-to-walk area
Easing traffic at railroad crossings

A survey on the road traffic situation at roughly 36,000 railroad crossings all over Japan was conducted in 2006 and revealed that about 1,800 crossings urgently need measures for easing traffic congestion. Comprehensive and focused measures are being carried out on the crossings by combining immediate measures, such as widening pedestrian paths, and drastic measures, such as the implementation of grade separation.

Continuous grade separation project

The continuous grade separation project promotes integration of divided cities and smoothes urban traffic flow by eliminating many crossings through the use of elevated or underground railways at road-rail intersections.

2. Creating a Comfortable Living Environment

Road construction and improvement projects are being implemented so that people can truly experience the improvements, such as safe and comfortable pedestrian spaces; high-quality living environments with roadside greening; running utility cables underground, etc.

Promoting universal design in pedestrian spaces

By 2012, barrier-free pedestrian paths will be increased to represent about 75% of all road segments interconnecting railway stations, government facilities, hospitals and the like, which are designated by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as road sections where a large number of elderly and disabled people normally travel on foot.

Example of universal design in pedestrian spaces

Eliminating utility poles

Utility poles are being eliminated to help secure safe and comfortable pedestrian spaces; create a visually enhanced landscape and living environment; prevent disasters; improve the reliability of telecommunications networks conserve historical townscapes; promote tourism, restore local culture; and revitalize local communities.
We will continue to promote the elimination of utility poles in the future by aggressively utilizing multiple methods that suit local situations such as a combined approach of widening roads projects in conjunction with the elimination of utility poles and wiring in spaces under or behind building eaves. We will additionally look to reduce costs.

Multiple methods for eliminating utility poles

Identical installation of common utility duct simultaneous with road construction project

Moving cables to the side street behind the street where poles are to be eliminated

Running cables under/along the eaves of houses along the street

Example of utility pole elimination

3. Creating a safe and pleasant environment for bicycle riding

While bicycles play an important role in the urban transportation system as a convenient transportation method, infrastructure for cyclists is not yet sufficient and is resulting in an increase of bicycle accidents relative to the total number of traffic accidents.
To stop this trend, MLIT and the National Police Agency (NPA) cooperated to launch the “Committee for Creating a Safe & Comfortable Bicycle-Use Environment” in 2011. The Committee submitted the following proposal to MLIT and the NPA: “A Bicycle Environment that is Friendly to Everybody: Proposal for a Safe & Comfortable Bicycle-Use Environment.” In response to the proposal, in November 2012, MLIT and the NPA jointly formulated, “Guideline for Creating a Safe & Comfortable Bicycle-Use Environment.”

Changes in the number of bicycle accidents classified according to the other party (last 5 years)

Note: "Accidents involving bicycles" means the first party or the second party is a bicyclist and accidents between two or more bicyclists are calculated as one instance.
Source: Information from National Police Agency

Aiming to create advanced urban settings for bicycle usage
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