Walking down Tokyo's Shinjuku-dori Avenue at lunchtime, just past Yotsuya Station, in front of Sophia University, I saw this odd car accident. A middle aged man had just driven his car up and halfway over the fenced, kerbed concrete median strip dividing the lanes – apparently with no other car involved.
Driving in Japan is generally a safe activity. Other drivers are usually polite. If anything, the main frustrations are to be had not from other people’s aggression, but such things as slowness (for example, drivers in Japan are quite slow off the mark when the lights go green), inattentiveness (you still often see people using mobile phones in cars even though it was made illegal last year), and people suddenly stopping, even in heavy traffic, to leisurely pick people up or drop them off.
However, a look at “Traffic Safety.com” (http://www.kotsu-anzen.jp/index.html), a site (Japanese language only) run by the Police Department and the Ministry of Transport, reveals that in most wards of Tokyo at least, accidents have been steadily declining over the past five years. Although, at the same time, other statistics show that of the traffic accidents that do happen, more and more are happening to elderly drivers.
Fortunately today’s accident seemed to have hurt no one, and, conversely, provided a bit of light hearted relief for the lunchtime crowds while giving three policemen something to do.
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