National

Subsidies offered for safer roads near nursery schools

JIJI, Kyodo

The transport ministry will provide subsidies to help municipalities take safety measures to curb vehicle traffic in areas surrounding nursery schools and other facilities for children, sources have said.

The ministry decided on the move as traffic safety measures are being enhanced nationwide following an accident in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in May that killed two nursery schoolchildren and left 14 others injured.

The financial assistance, to be provided in fiscal 2020, will cover safety measures in areas around nursery schools, kindergartens and similar facilities, the sources said.

The ministry plans to include costs for the subsidies in its budget request for the year starting in April 2020, the sources said.

The ministry recommends that safety measures be taken not just at areas directly adjacent to the facilities but in wider surrounding areas.

Recommended measures include the introduction of speed bumps and temporary barriers to prevent cars from entering certain areas during specific times of the day.

However, such measures will require agreements to be reached with residents.

The ministry is advising municipalities to speak with administrative bodies, police and local residents’ associations when drawing up plans.

The ministry intends to give subsidies to municipalities whose plans win local consent.

It also plans to give municipalities technical assistance, including by identifying dangerous spots.

In addition, the central government has decided to introduce a “kids’ zone” designation around nursery schools and other child care facilities to create areas where vehicle traffic is restricted.

Details of the zones are likely to be decided in fall, but the Otsu Municipal Government already designated several areas last month ahead of the nationwide rollout.