Rate of fatal accidents during twilight prompts police to urge drivers to turn on headlights earlier

Kyodo

Police are urging drivers to turn on their headlights earlier in the evening, as 13.1 percent of fatal traffic accidents in Japan occurred during twilight hours, especially in fall and winter, a survey covering a five-ear period to 2016 showed.

The National Police Agency’s analysis of 20,431 fatal traffic accidents between 2012 and 2016 showed that 2,680 happened within one hour of sunset.

November had the highest number of fatal accidents in twilight hours with 358 cases, while the low of 119 cases was recorded in June when daylight hours are longest.

On a three-month basis, 1,031 cases were reported in the October-December period, compared with 400 cases in the May-July period, according to the police data.

More than half of the twilight-hours accidents, or 1,410 cases, involved pedestrians, followed by sole vehicle accidents at 374, between vehicles at 312, and collisions of vehicles and bicycles at 283.

The data also showed many elderly pedestrians were killed in twilight accidents as they were out shopping or going for walks.

Among the 20,431 fatal traffic accidents, 1,389 cases occurred between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., followed by 1,370 between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., and 1,216 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Of the 1,338 people who died inside cars in 2016, police found that 558 failed to wear seatbelts. Of these, 414 were in the driver’s seat, 42 in the front passenger seat, and 102 in rear seats or seats in buses.

Meanwhile, the police said 1,675 people died in traffic accidents in Japan in the first half of this year, down 8.3 percent from the previous year.

The figure was below the 2,000 mark for the fourth year on a half-year basis, and was the lowest since 1956 when comparable data was first made available.

The number of deaths among people who were 65 or older fell 8.6 percent from a year before to 911, but accounted for 54.4 percent of the total.