September 18, 2009

JAMA Launches Its 2009 Autumn Road Safety Campaign

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association will be conducting its annual Autumn Road Safety Campaign from September 21 (Monday) through October 20 (Tuesday) this year. The JAMA campaign’s launch date coincides with that of the Japanese government’s own national Autumn Traffic Safety Campaign (September 21-30) 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 totalled fewer than 6,000—a yearly fatality level not recorded, until 2007, since 1953. Last year’s road fatality count also represented a more than two-thirds decline from the highest number (16,765) ever registered in Japan, in 1970. Road accidents and injuries, which reached historical highs in 2004, also fell—for the fourth year in a row. Notably, the number of road injuries dropped below one million for the first time in a decade.

Although encouraging, these statistics demonstrate that road fatalities and road injuries in Japan nevertheless remain a matter of urgent concern.

JAMA fully supports the Japanese government’s twin goals of reducing annual road fatalities to under 5,000 by 2012 and to under 2,500 over the next 10 years. JAMA’s own initiatives in support of 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 information activities and hands-on safe-driving programs. Information activities include its Road Safety Campaign, which JAMA conducts every year in both spring and autumn.

Main Issues Addressed by JAMA’s 2009 Autumn Road Safety Campaign

  • Seatbelt Use by Rear-Seat Passengers
    The use of rear seatbelts in passenger vehicles became compulsory in Japan in June 2008. However, the resulting rate of seatbelt use by rear-seat passengers stands 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 higher than that of backseat passengers who have buckled up.
  • Use of Headlights at Dusk
    Fatal road accidents whose victims are senior citizens occur most frequently between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. (17:00 and 18:00), especially from autumn to year’s end. This indicates a need for greater awareness among drivers that elderly people out walking at dusk often have difficulty in seeing on-road vehicles, and, on the part of the elderly, a need to be more alert to the presence of vehicles on the road. Accordingly, the campaign will urge drivers always to turn on their headlights in twilight hours.
  • For Motorcycle Riders: Proper Wearing of Motorcycle Helmets
    In 2008, 990 people died in Japan while operating or riding on a motorcycle (of those fatalities, 423 occurred on 50cc-and-under mopeds and 567 on motorcycles). For many of those victims—34.8% (or 147 persons) of the moped riders and 25.0% (or 142 persons) of 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 chin straps, the campaign will therefore strongly promote the proper wearing of motorcycle helmets.
  • For Passenger Vehicle & Motorcycle Users: Greater Attention to Bicyclists
    In recent years Japan has seen greater numbers of road accidents involving bicycles. Stricter road rules for bicyclists were enforced as of June 2008, with the implementation of a revision to the national Road Traffic Act. 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.