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JAF finds over 90% of drivers ignore pedestrian crosswalks

The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) has announced that a nationwide investigation found over 90 percent of drivers do not stop at pedestrian crosswalks without traffic lights even if pedestrians are waiting to cross -- a violation of the Road Traffic Act.

    During the test, JAF personnel would attempt to cross pedestrian crosswalks on streets with one lane on each side of the road where traffic lights were not installed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, from Aug. 15 to Sept. 1. Of the 10,026 vehicles that passed through the 94 locations across all 47 prefectures, only 757 stopped when the pedestrians tried to cross -- a total of a mere 7.6 percent. At 48 of the 94 locations, the percentage was under 5 percent.

    The results of the investigation, announced on Sept. 26, made it clear that most drivers do not follow the Road Traffic Act, under which drivers are required to come to a complete stop in front of a pedestrian crosswalk and not obstruct a pedestrian if they are trying to cross the road. Violators are subject to up to three months in prison or a fine of up to 50,000 yen. In reality, however, the law is rarely enforced, and pedestrians have no choice but to yield to vehicles on the road to prevent accidents.

    "Most vehicles do not even stop for children or the elderly. It is difficult for police officers to strictly enforce the law, so there is really nothing we can do but trust drivers' good judgment," an executive from the Japan Traffic Safety Association commented, hopelessly. A JAF representative stated, "Even though the law is invariably taught when applying for a driver's license, perhaps drivers have forgotten, or simply do not realize, that they are breaking the law."

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