Vigilance against reckless driving crucial among police, other drivers

The Yomiuri ShimbunReckless driving, including tailgating and other such dangerous behaviors, could lead to a major traffic accident. As well as having authorities strictly crack down on such driving, it is crucial that every single driver makes sure to guard against such dangerous actions on the road.

A man who drove recklessly on the Joban Expressway in Ibaraki Prefecture, forced the car behind him to stop, then injured the male driver of that car by punching him, has been arrested on suspicion of inflicting bodily harm. The suspect reportedly told the police that, among other things, he “felt the man’s car was going slowly and blocking my path” and “I lost my cool.”

A dashboard camera in the victim’s car recorded the alleged assailant suddenly slowing down and changing lanes over several kilometers, repeatedly cutting in front of the car and blocking its path. This was extremely hostile driving.

The Ibaraki prefectural police will investigate the case with a view to handling this act of reckless driving itself as a violation of the Road Traffic Law and a suspected case of assault under the Penal Code. The police should strictly deal with this incident.

Reckless driving became a major social issue in 2017 following a fatal accident in Kanagawa Prefecture on the Tomei Expressway. In this incident, a vehicle that had been forced to stop in a passing lane was struck from behind by a truck, killing a married couple. After this accident, the National Police Agency instructed police headquarters across the nation to actively target reckless drivers.

In 2018, police handled about 13,000 incidents of reckless driving as violations of the Road Traffic Law’s article that obligates drivers to maintain a distance. This was 1.8 times the figure from the previous year. A growing number of administrative penalties, such as immediate suspension of a driver’s license, are being handed out to dangerous and reckless drivers.

Make punishment harsher

However, the punishment for violating the obligation to maintain distance between vehicles is only up to three months in prison or a fine of up to ¥50,000. This punishment seems too lenient given the danger such behavior poses. Establishing a legal framework that fits such cases of reckless driving will also become an issue deserving consideration.

Currently, the police attempt to deal with reckless driving not only under the Road Traffic Law, but also treat it as a crime of dangerous driving resulting in death or injury, or as a case of assault or bodily harm under the Penal Code, among others. A crackdown that uses to the full every law available is imperative for deterring reckless driving.

People reportedly attain a feeling of exaltation and tend to become more aggressive when driving. It is vital to help drivers realize this and make them thoroughly aware of the dangers of reckless driving by, for example, explaining this during the lecture given when people renew their license.

According to one survey, 70 percent of drivers have encountered acts of reckless driving. As a first step, drivers should take care to avoid getting caught up with reckless drivers, such as by not making a sudden lane change.

If the tailgating continues relentlessly despite these efforts, allow the vehicle to pass and let it go ahead. Seek safety by pulling into a parking area or other place where many people are around. If your vehicle is forced to stop, call the police emergency number 110 and do not open doors or windows. It is vital to not rise to the provocation, but to calmly deal with the situation.

In the Joban Expressway incident, footage captured by a dashcam in the victim’s car helped the police investigation. Installing such a device is an effective way to protect against reckless drivers.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 22, 2019)Speech


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