Regarding the Big in Japan column titled “Fatal traffic mishaps put drivers in the media spotlight” (May 26), I am losing count of the number of traffic accidents in recent years where the vehicle involved has ridden up onto the sidewalk, injuring and even killing pedestrians.

One cause for the apparent increase must be, as your article pointed out, the graying of Japan’s population, with the resulting increase in the number of elderly drivers in their 70s or 80s. Another factor is surely the rising incidence of accidents caused by distracted drivers, looking at their mobile phones or even texting while driving.

The headline of the article says drivers are being put in the media spotlight. However, I feel there has been insufficient focus on how to prevent pedestrians becoming victims in the first place.

Even with the most strenuous efforts to decrease the number of traffic accidents, they will always occur, and I imagine that, even with the advent of the automatic driverless car, the number of traffic accidents can never be reduced to zero. But, in my opinion, what could and should be reduced, with a little more thought and discussion, is the kind of tragic accident touched on in the article: the injury and slaughter of innocent little children.

Watching the TV footage of the road where the recent accident occurred, my mind boggles at the thought of the ignorance and carelessness of kindergarten staff who imagine it is OK to take the little children in their care for a walk in the vicinity of such a busy road, with a seemingly endless stream of cars, trucks and buses. This is just rank neglect of their responsibility to protect these little kids from danger.

There have been a number of traffic accidents in recent years involving cars plowing into lines of schoolchildren (as well as adults). After such an incident, have teachers and staff nationwide immediately called an emergency meeting to discuss ways of trying to prevent a recurrence of such tragedies?

And do they not have manuals instructing and training their staff on what is to be done in advance to prevent these and other possible accidents, not only within the walls of the institution, but also outside?

Why do accidents have to actually happen before people start thinking about ways of trying to prevent them?

Just recently, the police have been organizing events aimed at educating kids to the potential dangers posed by traffic and instructing them how to cross the road safely. The infants involved in this latest accident, however, had not even started to cross the road.

Apart from the immediate dangers posed by traffic, a recent report in the U.K. has established that, since little children are much shorter than adults, and their mouths and noses are at the same level as cars’ exhaust pipes, they are even more likely to suffer long-term, and probably life-threatening, damage to their health from air pollution.

Again, it is obviously impossible to completely prevent accidents, but with a little more care, thought and proper training of the staff in charge of kids, they can surely be reduced. First, let’s stop taking little children near busy, dangerous roads. There must surely be better places available, even in a city, to take them for a walk in safety. Stop this needless slaughter.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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