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Japan sees 100 road rage cases in year since stricter law took effect

This file photo shows a police car's lights. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

TOKYO -- Police across Japan either made arrests or sent papers to prosecutors for a total of 100 road rage cases in the year since the revised Road Traffic Act, which categorizes road rage as "obstructive driving," went into effect on June 30 last year, the National Police Agency (NPA) announced on Aug. 26.

    There were 23 incidents resulting in injuries or death from obstructive driving during the same period.

    Among 10 types of obstructive driving, there were 24 cases of "sudden unnecessary braking" -- the highest figure -- followed by 20 cases of "sudden lane changes," 16 cases each of "tailgating" and "violation of safe-driving practices" such as weaving and driving close alongside other cars, nine cases of "parking or stopping on expressways," and six cases of "forcible overtaking."

    "Significant traffic danger," for which harsh penalties can be imposed, was applied to 29 of the 100 cases. Dashcam videos, which were used in the investigation of 93 cases, have become important evidence to prove deliberate obstruction. Broken down by types of road, 24 violations occurred on expressways. Four among the 100 road rage cases were caused by cyclists.

    Among the 23 incidents that involved injuries or death, in 21 of those cases, people sustained minor injuries. In one case, a victim died after an accident caused by road rage. A 14-year-old male junior high school student on a motorized bicycle was tailgated by another moped which then caused an accident in Aichi Prefecture in January 2021. The boy died six days later.

    Also, police nabbed 11,510 drivers for failing to maintain a safe distance between vehicles on the grounds that it could lead to road rage incidents, though officers could not prove deliberate obstruction. The number of these cases was down 3,208 from the same period the previous year. Among them, 10,030 cases occurred on expressways -- a decrease of 3,247 from the previous year.

    The NPA commented that the statistics suggest the strict penalties for road rage are having a deterrent effect.

    (Japanese original by Noritake Machida, Tokyo City News Department)

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