C: Matthew T Rader – Unsplash

Japan’s National Police Agency announced Monday that the nation’s total number of traffic deaths in 2020 hit a record low of 2,839 individuals – the first time the number has fallen below the 3,000 mark since record keeping began in the late 1940s.

Year on year, when compared to 2019, the number of deaths on Japan’s roads throughout 2020, dropped 376, leaving the overall figures at a mere sixth of the highest rate announced by media reports today in Japan of 16,765 in 1970.

In all, the deaths occurred as part of almost 310,000 accidents injuring almost 369,000 people the Japanese police announced.

Tokyo remained the deadliest region with 155 of the recorded deaths in 2020, although nationwide annual death rates were still as high as 10,000+ as recently as the late 1980s.

However, there is another side to the apparent drop in numbers in Japan and the ‘safer‘ roads now being touted by the nation’s police authorities – and that is how the numbers are calculated.
As recently as the turn of the century, much higher numbers were an annual cause for consternation in the media and among the general populace at the turn of each year.
Figures being reported were routinely at or near the 10,000 mark – three times higher than now.
Then, suddenly, they plunged by around 60%.
Few at the time were aware that this was largely down to the method in how to include traffic ‘related‘ deaths in overall numbers, and that only those who had died within 24 hours of an accident taking place were actually being factored in: all on the advice of a prominent insurance company.
Those dying after the 24 hour period had expired, in hospitals or suddenly after having been allowed to go home, were categorised as having lost their lives through other means; heart or organ failure etc – methods that can be contested by insurance companies, and typically carrier lower payouts than sudden accidental death if proven hereditary or untreated.
Be careful out there – wherever you are.
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