Traffic deaths fell for 13th year in 2013


Traffic accidents took the lives of 4,373 people in 2013, down 0.9 percent from 2012 and declining for the 13th year straight, police data said Monday.

After deaths in the January-June first half logged the first rise in 13 years, police launched a crackdown on late afternoon traffic offenses in September, according to the National Police Agency, which said fatal accidents tend to occur around dusk.

Elderly people 65 or over accounted for 2,303 of the deaths, up 39 from the previous year and up for the first time in 12 years. Seniors now account for 52.7 percent of total deaths — the highest on record.

By prefecture, Aichi had the most traffic deaths with 219, followed by Hyogo with 187, Chiba with 186 and both Hokkaido and Shizuoka with 184. Tottori had the fewest at 25.

Twenty-one of the 47 prefectures, including Shizuoka and Miyagi, saw traffic deaths rise, while 23 saw deaths fall, including Kyoto.

There were 628,248 accidents in 2013, down 5.5 percent from the previous year, causing 779,660 injuries, down 5.4 percent.

During the year-end and New Year’s holidays between Dec. 29 and Friday, there were 60 deaths, down three from a year earlier, the agency said. Deaths from drunken driving rose to six from four.