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Police across the nation in 2016 took action a total of 7,625 times in cases where drivers failed to keep a safe distance between their vehicles and those ahead of them, citing violations of the road traffic law, National Police Agency data showed Tuesday.

Of the total, 6,690 incidents, or nearly 90 percent, occurred on expressways, according to the data.

“If you are followed by a tailgater, especially when driving on expressways, you should stop your car at a safe place, such as a rest area, and call the police,” an NPA official said, adding, “You shouldn’t open the door of your car.”

According to the agency, 75 accidents happened on expressways last year due to drivers’ failures to maintain sufficient distances between vehicles.

In June, Yoshihisa Hagiyama, a 45-year-old self-employed man from the city of Shizuoka, and his wife, Yuka, 39, died in an accident on the Tomei Expressway in the town of Oi, Kanagawa Prefecture, in which their car was hit by a truck after it was forced to stop on a passing lane by a male tailgater. The accident also left the couple’s two daughters injured.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police last week arrested the tailgater, Kazuho Ishibashi, a 25-year-old part-time construction worker in Fukuoka Prefecture, on charges including negligent driving resulting in death and injury. Ishibashi allegedly chased the couple’s car after Hagiyama complained to the man about his inappropriate way of parking at a rest area.

The incident attracted wide media coverage and raised public attention to tailgating and other reckless driving behavior.

In 2009, Japan toughened penalties on drivers failing to keep a safe distance on expressways, with violators facing a prison term of up to three months or a fine of up to ¥50,000.

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