The number of deaths caused by traffic accidents in 2015 rose by four from the previous year to 4,117, up for the first time in 15 years, the National Police Agency said Monday.
The number of fatalities among people aged 65 or older increased by 54 to 2,247, according to the NPA’s preliminary data. They accounted for 54.6 percent of all such deaths, the highest level since officials began compiling comparable statistics in 1967.
An NPA official attributed the rise to the growing population of elderly people, who have a higher mortality rate in the event of an accident.
The data mean that the government failed to achieve its target of reducing the annual traffic death toll to 3,000 or less by 2015, which was set under the basic plan for traffic safety covering fiscal 2011 to 2015.
“We need to make a drastic review of our measures, as the annual total (of traffic deaths) surpassed the target by more than 1,000 people,” Taro Kono, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, told a news conference.
Despite the increase, the traffic deaths in 2015 were the fourth fewest since the survey was launched in its current format in 1948.
There were an average of 11.3 traffic deaths per day in 2015. The worst day was Dec. 25, which saw 26 deaths, while Feb. 5 had the fewest at three.
By prefecture, Aichi had the highest death toll with 213, followed by Osaka at 196, Chiba at 180, Kanagawa at 178, and Saitama and Hokkaido at 177 each.
According to the NPA data, the number of fatal drunk-driving accidents in 2015 decreased by 24 from the previous year to 203, hitting the lowest level since the agency began compiling the data in 1990.
The preliminary total of traffic accidents last year fell by 36,676 to 536,789 and that of injured people declined by 44,863 to 665,126, both down for the 11th consecutive year.