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Police across the nation reported fewer cases of illegal driving by “bosozoku” motoring gangs in the first six months of the year, as well as a decline in reckless gang driving, according to the National Police Agency said.

The NPA attributed the decline to tougher penalties stipulated in the revised Road Traffic Law.

An agency report on bosozoku states that police verified 3,076 cases of illegal driving by gang members in the six-month period, down 11.7 percent from the same period last year.

The number of bosozoku drivers booked for reckless group driving declined by 27.7 percent to 1,676.

According to the NPA, the number of bosozoku gang members booked by the police in the first half of 2003 rose 2.8 percent to 40,378, although the number of offenders arrested decreased 14.2 percent to 3,474.

The NPA said the number of vehicles used in cases of illegal, reckless driving dropped 16.7 percent to 39,103, while the number of telephone complaints made to police in this regard fell by 17.6 percent to 50,525.

The agency said the number of bosozoku gang members, which has been on the decline since peaking in 1990, decreased by another 6.4 percent in the first half of the year, hitting 24,669. There were 37,155 bosozoku members in 1990, according to NPA data.

In addition to the falling birthrate, fewer teenagers seem to be interested in motorcycles these days, the NPA said.

Under the revised Road Traffic Law, which took effect in June 2002, reckless driving is punishable by up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of 500,000 yen.

Under the previous law, offenders were subject to a maximum prison term of six months or a fine of up to 100,000 yen.

The revised law also raised the number of penalty points for dangerous group driving from 15 to 25, which leads to a two-year revocation of a driver’s license.