Community and police in central Japanese city decide to remove accident-infested crosswalk

This April 20, 2021 photo shows the passage where a fatal accident occurred in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture. Although there are two lanes in each direction and a lot of traffic even at night, the traffic lights are not installed. (Mainichi / Ayaka Morita)

TOYOHASHI, Aichi – Despite calls for traffic lights to be installed at a rugged crosswalk where a high school student was fatally hit by a vehicle this year, a local community association and police in this central Japanese city have decided to remove the crosswalk altogether.

The then 16-year-old schoolboy was fatally run over by a passenger car while standing on the four-lane pedestrian crossing of the city’s Mukaiyamaoike-cho district by bike around 8:10 p.m. on the 4th March. , on his way home from high school.

According to the Toyohashi Police Station of the Aichi Prefectural Police, there have been a total of five accidents at this crossing since 2017. Mukaiyama School District Chief Eiji Takano, 70, and others asked the police station to install traffic lights two years ago, but police rejected the request based on guidelines from the National Police Agency (NPA), which state that new traffic lights must be at least 150 meters from existing lights. There are other traffic lights about 120 meters south and about 90 meters north of the crosswalk.

Originally, the passage was installed around 40 years ago and is used by local residents and high school students.

Takano commented, “There were also voices from drivers saying it was a dangerous level crossing. I am relieved that it is deleted.

Koji Honda, head of the traffic division at Toyohashi Police Station, who decided to remove the crossing in response to the March accident, stressed, “Pedestrians have priority use of the crossings, whether or not there are traffic lights. He called for caution, saying: “I want drivers to carefully check safety and pedestrians to cross while looking properly left and right. ”

Drivers are forced to slow down or stop in front of level crossings. However, there has been no end to accidents on crosswalks, which are meant to be a safe zone for pedestrians. According to the NPA, up to 2,652 people were injured or killed nationwide while on crosswalks in 2020. Although these accidents have declined over the past decade, the figure remains high .

In Aichi Prefecture, there have been around 20 fatal accidents per year on pedestrian crossings without traffic lights. An investigation by the prefectural police following the fatal accident in Toyohashi revealed that in the prefecture, there are 84 level crossings on roads “with two or more lanes in each direction and without traffic lights.” The prefectural police consider that traffic lights can be installed without the authorization of the NPA if it is determined that there is no fear of confusion caused by the installation of several traffic lights too close together and little likely to disrupt the flow of traffic. It intends to consider removing level crossings or installing traffic lights depending on the traffic conditions in each neighborhood.

“Considering the volume of traffic and other factors on the two-lane road in each direction, there is no alternative but to remove the crossing at this site,” said Takao Yanagihara, professor. transport planning associate at Kindai University, on the decision to abolish The passage. But he also added: “Local police should actively set up traffic lights in their own judgment, even without permission from the NPA. ”

Meanwhile, Ayako Taniguchi, an engineering professor at Tsukuba University, who is familiar with traffic environments, pointed out, “While there may be more incidents in which pedestrians and cyclists cross the road. road against reason if the crosswalk is removed, I guess officials have come to this difficult decision because of the deep-rooted perception that vehicles have the right of way. ”To cross on crosswalks, did- she said, “It is necessary for pedestrians and drivers to indicate their intentions through eye contact and other methods.”

(Japanese original by Ayaka Morita, Nagoya News Center)


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