Japan Data

Road Safety: Japan Sees Rise in Annual Traffic Accidents and Fatalities


Traffic accidents and road fatalities in Japan rose for the first time in eight years in 2023 as more drivers climbed behind the wheel following the pandemic.

Drivers returned to the road in Japan following the government downgrading COVID-19 and lifting restrictions on social activities. This was reflected in traffic fatalities in 2023, which increased slightly from the previous year to 2,678, the first rise in eight years. While 2023 was still the third lowest total since statistics were first kept in 1948, the uptick makes it unlikely that the government will achieve its goal of reducing the annual number of deaths to below 2,000 by 2025.

Traffic accidents as a whole increased by 7,072 year-on-year to 307,911. People injured in accidents also rose, reaching 365,027, an increase of 8,426.

By prefecture, Osaka had the highest number of traffic fatalities for the second straight year with 148, followed by Aichi with 145 and Tokyo with 136. At the other end, Saga Prefecture had the lowest number of fatalities with 13. The national average was 2.14 fatalities per 100,000 people. Tokushima had the highest average at 3.98, followed by Mie at 3.79 and Aomori at 3.74. Tokyo had the lowest average at 0.97.

Traffic Accidents and Road Fatalities in Japan

Traffic fatalities in Japan rose sharply starting in the 1950s as the use of automobiles spread, peaking in 1970 at 16,765 deaths. Seatbelts were made mandatory for front-seat passengers on highways and expressways in 1985 and on all roads in 1992. Beginning in the mid-1990s, safety measures like the adoption of airbags helped decrease fatalities. More recently, advances in preventative safety technologies like collision avoidance systems and lane departure prevention systems have further boosted safety. The growing use of drive recorders is also thought to have encouraged safer driving.

Looking by age groups, road fatalities among people aged 65 and older decreased slightly but remained high at 1,465, accounting for 54.7% of all traffic deaths, illustrating the need for preventative measures aimed at seniors.

Traffic Fatalities Among Senior and Other Citizens in Japan

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

transportation traffic accident