National

Deaths in Japan from truck accidents rose in 2017, the first increase in five years

JIJI

The number of people who died in truck accidents in Japan totaled 298 in 2017, up 11 from the previous year for the first increase in five years, according to the transport ministry and the Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis.

Regarding casualties, truck accidents accounted for the most in incidents involving vehicles for business purposes, such as taxis and buses.

The ministry has set a goal of reducing the figure to 200 by 2020. “The number of fatalities is dropping in the long run. We’ll move forward with measures to achieve the goal,” a ministry official said.

In 2017, truck accidents saw the greatest number of deaths per 100 million kilometers traveled, at 0.46, among those by business vehicles, compared with 0.4 for taxis and 0.35 for passenger buses. The figure for private passenger vehicles stood at 0.38.

Fatal truck accidents occurred most frequently when pedestrians were crossing the road, totaling 68, followed by trucks hitting other vehicles, at 41, and collisions caused when trucks passed each other, at 40.

The number of accidents in which trucks struck objects such as guardrails and utility poles increased 50 percent to 45.

Among accidents involving small trucks, many were caused by drivers neglecting to stop when they should have or not paying due attention to the road ahead.

Accidents caused by midsize trucks were mainly due to drivers exceeding legal speed limits at night, misjudging the speed of oncoming vehicles when turning right, and not paying enough attention to the presence of pedestrians.

As for accidents involving large trucks, many stemmed from drivers failing to concentrate, misjudging the speed of oncoming vehicles, and lack of attention to pedestrians.

The number of truck accidents has been decreasing every year since 2011, totaling 17,986 in 2017. The ministry has set a goal of reducing the figure to 12,500 in 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths from accidents involving taxis dropped by 13 from the preceding year to 39, while that of passenger bus accidents increased by five to 11.

Accidents involving taxis were mainly caused by driver inattention to the road ahead while looking for customers, according to informed sources.

Fatal passenger bus accidents were chiefly due to collisions with cyclists and drivers’ lack of attention to safety when the vehicle had no customers.