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After fatal accidents, Abe orders measures to tighten safety for young pedestrians and elderly drivers

Kyodo

Following a recent spate of accidents in which children have been killed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday instructed ministers to ensure road safety for preschoolers.

Abe also called for measures featuring advanced technology such as automatic braking systems to enhance the safety of vehicles driven by the elderly, amid concern over the number of accidents caused by senior citizens behind the wheel.

“In order to protect the lives of children who will be responsible for the next generation, I’d like you to swiftly compile measures ensuring the safety of routes that groups (of children) take on a daily basis,” the prime minister told a meeting involving the heads of education and welfare ministries and police.

Earlier this month, a vehicle involved in a collision with another vehicle rammed into toddlers who were walking with their teachers along a road in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, killing two 2-year-olds and injuring 14 others.

Last month, a car driven by an 87-year-old driver struck pedestrians and people on bicycles at several crosswalks in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district, resulting in the deaths of a 3-year-old girl and her mother, as well as injuries to eight others.

“Heartbreaking accidents have continued to occur although measures have been taken,” Abe said, referring to cognitive function tests conducted for elderly drivers under the revised road traffic law.

After the meeting, Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, minister in charge of traffic safety, told a news conference that he will launch a working group to tackle the issues based on Abe’s instructions.

Shortly after the accident in Otsu, the transport ministry started nationwide safety checks on roads used by young children to go to and from their kindergartens and schools.