National

Pedestrian first-graders eight times more likely to be killed in traffic accidents than older peers

JIJI

First-grade students were found to have been eight times more likely to be killed in traffic accidents while walking than sixth-graders in the years from 2013-2017, according to a National Police Agency report issued Thursday.

Of 84 elementary school children who were killed in traffic accidents while walking during the five-year period, 32 were first-graders and four were sixth-graders, the agency said.

Looking at the number of killed or injured pedestrian victims per 100,000 people, seven-year-olds, or first— and second-graders, accounted for the highest number among all age brackets. Many seven-year-olds met with accidents between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., when a lot of children are on their way home from school.

“Newly enrolled students are beginners in terms of walking to and from school on their own,” an official at the agency said, calling on drivers to be thoughtful about such young pedestrians especially around the time when the new school year starts in April.

Elementary school students who were killed or injured while crossing streets totaled 18,841 through the five-year period.

Of the total, 10,262 were on streets where there were no crosswalks. But those who were killed or injured on crosswalks still numbered 7,364, or around 40 percent of the total.

While there were some 1,000 cases in which students ran onto crosswalks or ignored traffic lights, more than 80 percent of victims had not committed any traffic violation.

Cases in which there were no clear traffic violations on the driver’s part totaled only six.

The agency also looked into 2013-2017 accidents involving junior high and high school students on bicycles.

Many accidents occurred between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. , and 16-year-olds — or first- and second-year high school students — made up the largest group of victims.

The proportion of schools that encourage students to wear helmets when they use bicycles for commuting stood at 85.3 percent for junior high schools and 7.7 percent for high schools.

As many fatal cycling accidents involved head injuries, the agency plans to stress the need to wear helmets to students, their families and schools.