The number of deaths in traffic accidents declined 8.8 percent in Japan in the first half of 2005 from a year earlier to 3,124, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

This is the lowest figure for any first half since the number peaked in 1970; the decline was mainly attributed to stricter penalties and additional car safety features.

The previous first-half low of traffic deaths was 3,427, posted in the January-June period of 2004.

Both the number of road accidents and the number of people injured fell for the first time in seven years. Accidents dropped by 2.3 percent to 446,642 cases and the number of injured sank by 2.7 percent to 552,266.

NPA traffic death statistics only cover people who died within 24 hours of an accident.

The NPA laid the decline in road accident deaths to multiplier effects from factors that include stricter penalties on traffic violations, more cars being equipped with air bags and other safety features, as well as progress in emergency rescue technology.

Police will consider further measures to achieve the government’s goal of reducing the annual number of traffic deaths to below 5,000.

“The situation in the second half of the year is still unpredictable. We will step up measures to clamp down on speeding and drunk driving,” an NPA official said.

More than 40 percent of those who died in traffic accidents were aged 65 or older, totaling 1,297, down 3.1 percent from the same period last year.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.