The caption reads: "Please raise your hand on the crossing," followed by an ad for a clinic. Kindergarten-aged children are taught to raise their arms as they cross the road to be more visible. The old and vulnerable can often be seen doing the same as they navigate Japan's busy, vehicle-choked streets.
Things are improving slightly for Japan's luckless pedestrians as the annual cull of their number by drunk and incompetent drivers is falling. In a country where sidewalks are a luxury, it pays to "be seen, be safe" and wear something bright at night. Public outrage at the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers finally forced the government to increase the penalties for such offences. Road deaths in Japan reached an all time high of 16,765 in 1970 gradually falling to 6,352 in 2006. The UK with roughly half Japan's population recorded 3,201 traffic fatalities in 2005, the USA with nearly triple Japan's population had a staggering 42,636 traffic deaths in 2004.
Sunday, December 23, 2007