Police plan to install video cameras at about 350 accident-prone intersections across Japan beginning in April to help police investigate collisions at the spots, the National Police Agency said.

The cameras will automatically start recording after detecting the distinctive sounds of a collision, the agency said Saturday, adding that each camera will hold a 120-minute videotape capable of recording up to 900 accidents.

Agency officials said the cameras will make it easier for police to investigate accidents and determine who is at fault when drivers make conflicting statements.

The new system will also help police in hit-and-run cases because the video footage will be usable as evidence.

The installation sites were chosen from among 1,000 intersections nationwide where accidents have frequently occurred, the officials said. The system will go into operation in fiscal 2001, beginning next April.

The agency has been developing the system since 1993, making special effort to sharpen its accuracy to avoid mistaking any loud sound for a collision, the officials said.

While sounds from construction sites or passing trains still sometimes set off the cameras, the officials expressed confidence they will not fail to activate when accidents occur.

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