Japan’s traffic deaths rise for first time in 15 years

Tokyo, Jan 4 (IANS) The number of people killed in traffic accidents rose for the first time in 15 years in 2015, with seniors comprising the largest age bracket for fatalities, the Japanese National Police Agency said on Monday.

The agency said the death toll from last year totalled 4,117 people, rising 0.1 percent from a year earlier, with the police saying that Japan’s rapidly ageing population is to blame for the rising death toll, Xinhua reported.

Those aged 65 or above comprised 54.6 percent of the total deaths in the recording year, which marks the highest percentage since comparable data became available in 1967, the agency said, with the number rising by 54 deaths to 2,247 traffic-related fatalities.

“We take the situation seriously and review the measures drastically,” Taro Kono, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission supervising police forces, said.

The death toll from traffic accidents had been on a downward trajectory for 14 straight years till 2014.

The police agency said it now plans to introduce new measures to reduce the number of deaths in the senior age bracket by implementing more traffic education geared specifically toward Japan’s growing numbers of senior citizens.

The government’s goal of reducing traffic-related fatalities to less than 3,000 as laid out in 2011 has not been reached, but the agency said it is determined to tackle a new goal of reducing fatalities to 2,500 or less by 2020.

Overall traffic accidents across Japan totalled 536,789, with 665,126 people being injured as a result, marking a decline for the 11th consecutive year, the agency said.

Accidents connected to alcohol dropped for the fifth straight year, said the agency, to just over 200, marking a 10.6 percent drop and the lowest since comparable data became available in 1990.

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