The traffic death toll used to be over 10,000 people every year. I used to point out to the
Japanese I knew, that Americans lost a about 55,000 people in the Vietnam War, and they were
fighting that for over ten years (including advisors etc). Japan was losing more people
to traffic fatalities than America did in a war. They were quite surprised.
I can`t make that comparison anymore as Japan has improved traffic safety. Seat belt laws
have been strengthened and enforced more often, and the anti-drinking and driving laws have
become much more severe thankfully.
All of this has led to much safer roards! Don`t get me wrong, still a lot of people drive like
absolute idiots, but things are safer.
From Japan Today:
Traffic death toll falls to record-low 5,772 in 2009
The number of people who died within 30 days after being involved in traffic accidents last year dropped 4.2% from a year before to 5,772, the lowest since the statistics were first compiled in 1993, the National Police Agency said Tuesday. Among the victims, 51.2% were aged 65 or older, according to the NPA.
The number of people who died within 24 hours fell 4.7% from a year earlier to 4,914, or 85.1% of the dead within 30 days, dipping below 5,000 for the first time since 1952, the NPA said. The rate of traffic deaths within 30 days is 4.52 per 100,000 in Japan, which is higher than Britain but lower than the United States, Germany and France, according to the agency.