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48% victims of road rage, only 2% told police: central Japan police survey

A Fuefuki traffic safety association member distributes a leaflet on the revised Road Traffic Act to a driver in the city of Fuefuki, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Aug. 31, 2020. (Mainichi/Shota Kaneko)

FUEFUKI, Yamanashi -- About half of those who took part in a survey by a local police station in this central Japan city said they had been victims of road rage, mainly tailgating or reckless passing, but only 2% of them had reported the incidents to police.

    The revised Road Traffic Act, which came into effect in June, defines actions with the purpose of blocking other vehicles' movements, such as tailgating and sudden braking as "obstructive driving," and carries penalties. In response to the amendment, the Yamanashi Prefectural Police's Fuefuki Police Station conducted a survey on people who visited the station for driver's license procedures and other reasons between June 30 and Aug. 21, and received responses from 516 individuals.

    According to the survey results, 248 people, or 48.1%, said they had been embroiled in a road rage incident. Of these, 228 people said they were tailgated, 108 said they were recklessly passed by another car, 78 said they were intimidated by high beam lights, 75 said the other driver honked the horn and 47 said another vehicle drove very slowly in front of them. In other cases, drivers had trash thrown at them, and were yelled at after the other driver came knocking on their window.

    Meanwhile, 243 respondents, or 98%, did not report the case to the police, and 152, or 29.5%, had installed dashboard cameras -- a measure against road rage incidents.

    Based on the result of the survey, the police station designated the last day of each month as "a day to beef up road rage countermeasures," and decided to intensify awareness-raising activities and crackdowns on such cases. On Aug. 31, a total of around 40 officers at the police station and Fuefuki traffic safety association members distributed flyers to inform drivers of the revised Road Traffic Act in front of JR Isawa-Onsen Station.

    The 35-year-old head of the police station's traffic division asked victims "to consult with police" if they are targeted in road rage incidents, and for people "to drive with enough space from other vehicles."

    (Japanese original by Shota Kaneko, Kofu Bureau)

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