April 3, 2009

JAMA Launches Its 2009 Spring Traffic Safety Campaign

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc. (JAMA) is pleased to announce the conduct of its Spring Traffic Safety Campaign from April 6 (Monday) to May 6 (Wednesday), 2009. The campaign’s launch date is intended to coincide with Japan’s nationwide Traffic Safety Campaign (April 6-15, 2009) conducted by the National Police Agency.

In 2008 there were 5,155 road fatalities in Japan, marking the eighth consecutive annual decline in such fatalities and the second straight year that they numbered under 6,000—an annual fatality level not registered, until 2007, since 1953. Last year’s road fatality total also represented a more than two-thirds decline from the highest number (16,765) ever recorded in Japan, in 1970. Having reached historical highs in 2004, road accidents and road injuries also dropped, for the fourth year in a row. Notably, the number of road injuries fell below one million for the first time in a decade.

Nevertheless, road traffic accidents still claim thousands of lives every year in Japan, making increased road safety a matter of urgent concern to both government and the public at large.

JAMA fully supports the Japanese government’s twin goals of reducing annual road fatalities to under 5,000 by 2012 and—the new official target—to under 2,500 over the next 10 years. JAMA’s own initiatives towards those goals include not only vehicle-based measures, such as expanding the installation rates of onboard safety equipment and enhancing vehicle structural safety, but also road user-directed measures, such as public awareness activities and hands-on safe-driving programs. Awareness-raising activities include its Traffic Safety Campaign, which JAMA conducts every year in both spring and autumn.

Main Issues Addressed by JAMA’s 2009 Spring Traffic Safety Campaign

  • For Passenger Vehicle Users: Seatbelt Use by Rear-Seat Passengers
    The use of rear seatbelts became compulsory in Japan in June 2008. However, the resulting rate of use of seatbelts by rear passengers stood at only 30.8% on regular roads, compared with a use rate of 95.9% and 89.2% for drivers and front passengers, respectively, on the same roads. The campaign will therefore strongly promote rear seatbelt use, particularly since the accident fatality rate of unbelted backseat passengers is about three times greater than that of backseat passengers who have buckled up.
  • For Motorcycle Riders: Proper Wearing of Motorcycle Helmets
    Last year in Japan 990 people died while operating or riding on a motorcycle, of which 423 fatalities occurred on mopeds (under 50cc) and 567 on motorcycles (50cc and over). For many of those victims—34.8% (or 147 persons) among the moped drivers and 25.0% (or 142 persons) among the motorcycle riders, a common occurrence was the loss of their helmets on collision impact. With the primary reason behind helmet loss being the improper fastening or non-fastening of helmet chinstraps, the campaign will therefore strongly urge riders to wear their helmets properly.
  • For Passenger Vehicle & Motorcycle Users: Greater Attention to Bicyclists
    In recent years Japan has seen greater numbers of road accidents involving bicycles. With the implementation of a revision to the national Road Traffic Act, stricter road rules for bicyclists were enforced as of June 2008. Aiming at the same goal as the revision, this aspect of the campaign will urge car drivers and motorcycle riders to pay greater attention to the presence of bicyclists on roadways.