The creation of a so-called Zone 30, where the maximum vehicle speed is limited to 30 kph (19 mph), has led to a 23.5 percent fall in the number of traffic accidents in the zones, a National Police Agency survey showed Thursday.
Of the total, the number of vehicle accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles in the 30-kph zones declined 18.6 percent. The comparisons were made between the fiscal year after the year each zone was created and the year before its creation.
According to the NPA, 3,105 areas across Japan were designated Zone 30 at the end of fiscal 2016. In the current fiscal year through March, some 300 additional zones will be created, mainly in areas where facilities used by the elderly and children, such as hospitals and parks, are located.
In addition to the speed limit, the 30-kph zones have pavement markings and speed bumps or poles to narrow road widths, depending on the location’s conditions.
According to the survey, conducted on 2,490 such zones created in fiscal 2011-2015, the number of traffic accidents dropped from 5,414 to 4,144.
Of them, vehicle accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles fell from 2,587 to 2,107.
The number of fatal accidents and accidents that resulted in serious injury declined 26.8 percent, from 373 to 273.
The survey also found that the average vehicle speed fell from 34.9 kph to 32 kph in 202 of the zones created by the Saitama and Kyoto prefectural police departments by the end of fiscal 2016.
The speed dropped by 4.2 kph in 13 zones with road-narrowing poles or other measures.