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Traffic fatalities down, but Okinawa still 2nd worst

Date Posted: 2012-02-10

Traffic fatalities in Okinawa accounted for 11.6% of all fatal traffic accidents in Japan, giving Okinawa the dubious distinction of ranking second worst in Japan.

Records have been kept for 15 years, and while the percentage was the lowest in the past ten years, it is still 1.7 times higher than the Japan average, says the Okinawa Prefectural Police Traffic Planning Section. Accidents resulting in injury or death caused by drinking and driving is again forecast for Okinawa to be the worst among all prefectures for the 22nd year in a row.

Prefectural Police note, however, that enforcement of drinking and driving rules within Okinawa has brought clear improvements since special measures were enacted in 2009. Other prefectures report that increased campaigns to eliminate drinking and driving has also improved their statistics, leaving Okinawa ranked high.

During the December Bonenkai party season, Okinawa Prefectural Police report 382 people caught behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, 41 cases more than during the same period two years ago. Police say more people were caught because of increased police vigilance, noting that as many people, if not more than ever before, are actually driving after drinking.

The trend is disturbing, says a police office. “We will promote enlightenment action and safety education,” he says of plans for this year, adding “we’ll be cracking down in the future.”

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