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Bumps in the road that we can afford

Dear Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Akihiro Ota,

I recently attended the induction ceremony for one of my children at a local elementary school. We listened to various speeches, one of which was of particular interest: A traffic police officer spoke at length about the hazards faced by children as they travel to and from school.

He mentioned the fact that Nagoya drivers are notorious for disobeying traffic laws and generally being discourteous (Aichi is often cited as one of the worst prefectures in Japan for road accidents). The officer went on to explain that drivers often use cell phones, read paraphernalia and generally drive recklessly, paying little or no heed to traffic signs. This is readily apparent as I see drivers speed past our front gate at speeds that wouldn’t be permitted on the highway. Our house is situated on an otherwise quiet back street.

The officer told us to remind our children to pay attention when crossing the road. I found this solution to be of little use, because no matter how often parents try to instill road sense in kids, their little heads are focused more on catching their friends or a wayward ball than watching out for speeding cars. In addition, drivers intent on running a red light to save a few seconds are likely to pay scant regard to children playing ball at the side of the street..

These days, cars are so quiet that it is difficult at times to know whether or not the engine is running. Drivers, too, do not have the same sensation of travelling at speed as they once did.

In addition to the suffering caused by the tragedy of losing a loved one in an accident, there is also a very real cost to the economy. It is imperative that a solution to this problem be found, and we cannot simply rely on children or drivers to alter their ways overnight.

One answer, therefore, would be to introduce speed bumps on all roads in the vicinity of elementary schools. This takes the responsibility out of the hands of both drivers and children and forces drivers to slow their cars in certain areas. Speed bumps are simply bumps in the road, typically between 7 and 10 cm in height, made from recycled plastic, rubber, asphalt or metal. They are a cheap way to ensure that motorists drive within speed limits and, should any accidents occur, damage is kept to a minimum.

Some people claim that speed bumps slow the response time of emergency vehicles. However, since they would be used primarily on minor roads where many schools are situated, they would have little or no adverse effect on such vehicles. In addition, I used to teach English at the regional police academy, and when I mentioned the fact that many countries now successfully use speed bumps as a means of improving road safety, a large number of the cadets stated that they would like to see them implemented in Japan.

A great deal of money in Japan is spent on grand concrete structures, built in the middle of nowhere, seemingly serving little or no purpose. Speed bumps are cheap, easy to install and guaranteed to save lives and boost the economy.

As a parent, I believe we have a moral duty to ensure that we do everything in our power to ensure that our children do not become another government statistic. How many more deaths will it take before the government sits up and takes notice?

GERALD MCLELLAN
Nagoya

Send your submissions of 500-700 words to community@japantimes.co.jp .

  • Starviking

    Speed bumps would be good, but the police enforcing important laws more often, as opposed to sitting secluded for hours catching people making illegal turns at inadequately signed junctions could help more.

    • Tanaka

      I didn’t give too much of a thought about the speed bumps, but I think this would be a very Japanese way of dealing with problems: fast and short-term measures, a patch.

      I live in a small town in Shizuoka and not even near the craziness that is the Nagoya traffic. But still, a lot of crashes, a lot of disregard to the TOMARE and the red traffic lights.

      I know it’s impossible to punish all the infractions, but what upsets me the most is the fact that you’ve just mentioned. The police hiding strategically in oportunistic places (far from being critic zones or really above-average accident areas) and giving speed tickets “machine-gun style” one after the other.

      Drivers are stopped for driving at 55km/h in a 40km “tanbo” street. No pedestrians, no children, just rice in the vicinities… It’s revolting.

      Streets are not safe this way, but it seems that it is the Japanese way.
      They’re satisfied because they think they’re doing something, but doing something doesn’t mean doing what is necessary.

      • Starviking

        The easy fines are just a nice extra source of income for the police, nothing more, nothin less. Disgusting.

  • ren

    The number of speed bumps in Tokyo in front of schools or anywhere, 0. Traffic enforcement is next to none. On many Tokyo streets around schools THERE AREN’T EVEN ANY SIDE-WALKS OR GUARD-RAILS, just white lines. I’m angry and I demand Japan knock down these walls in front of houses and apartments so that side-walks can be built and guard-rails can be placed. I see too many traffic accidents and near fatalities.

  • Jeffrey

    More speed bumps would be great. All kousokudoro have speed cams., time to start putting them in intersections and near schools. And make the fines stiff.