The National Police Agency (NPA) plans to revise traffic regulation standards to raise the speed limit on some sections of expressways from 100 kilometers per hour to 120 kph, it was learned Wednesday.
It would the first time for expressway speed limits to be raised in the country.
The new standards will be applied to sections of expressways that are designed to be safe even when used at 120 kph and have low accident rates. Large trucks will be excluded from the change and will continue to be required to drive at below 80 kph.
The change comes after trials conducted since 2017 found that the number of accidents did not change greatly when the higher speed limit was applied.
The speed limit change will potentially apply to the Tohoku expressway between the Hanamaki-Minami interchange and the Morioka-Minami interchange, the Joban expressway between the Kashiwa interchange and the Mito interchange, the Tohoku expressway between the Urawa interchange and the Sano Smart interchange, the Higashi-Kanto expressway between the Chiba-Kita interchange and the Narita junction, and the Shin-Tomei expressway between the Gotenba junction and the Hamamatsu-Inasa junction.
The public safety commission for each area will approve the speed limit increase after local police and expressway operators discuss adjustments. The portion of the Shin-Tomei expressway subject to the potential speed hike may get approval as soon as this fiscal year.
Under current regulations, regular cars must be driven at 60 kph or below on ordinary roads and 100 kph or below on expressways, unless there are signs indicating otherwise.
After the change, signs will be posted to mark the sections of expressways where the speed limit is 120 kph. The police plan to ramp up safety measures and crack down harder on speeding.
Since November 2017, the NPA has conducted tests to raise the speed limit for some sections of the Shin-Tomei and Tohoku expressways to 110 kph or 120 kph. It found that the average speed of vehicles and the number of accidents resulting in death or injury did not change drastically.