Traffic Accidents in Japan Decrease by 20% in First Half of 2020Society
Preliminary figures from the National Police Agency published on July 28 showed a 22.5% decrease in traffic accidents in Japan during January to June 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Of the 145,487 accidents, 1,334 resulted in death (down 3.8%), and there were 1,357 fatalities altogether (down 4.3%). There were 173,600 people injured, a year-on-year decrease on 23.6%. These figures show that in the first half of 2020, during which time the government called for people to stay at home to curb the spread of COVID-19, the number of road accidents and casualties fell substantially.
From January to March, there were over 27,000 accidents each month, but in April, when the Japanese government declared a state of emergency, the number fell by some 7,000 to 20,805. In May, this dropped further to 18,107 accidents. Even in June, after the state of emergency had been lifted, accident numbers only rose to 23,846. The year-on-year decreases for these months were 36.2%, 40.7%, and 18.9%, respectively.
There were, however, increases in road fatalities in some urbanized prefectures. Aichi recorded 76 deaths (up 26.7%), Kanagawa 71 (up 6.0%), and Tokyo 64 (up 18.5%).
Police reported 2,806,365 Road Traffic Act violations, a 2.5% decrease compared with January to June 2019. Only 153,001 of these were related to mobile phone use while driving, a 60% year-on-year decrease, after stricter penalties were introduced last year.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Police urge motorists to drive safely in Ōtsu, Shiga Prefecture, at the site of an accident one year ago, when a car struck a group of preschoolers, killing two and injuring eleven more as well as three teachers. Photo taken on May 8, 2020. © Jiji.)