Asian drivers. Yes, we all know the stereotypes.
But the sad truth is that road traffic safety is a problem in Japan because of the combination of narrow streets, especially in Tokyo and other major cities, and some bad driver habits. With an aging population, this issue is only going to get worse as the numbers of elderly drivers on the roads increases.
The years in the early 1960s were notorious due to a perfect storm of more cars, more people and bad roads. Annual traffic accident fatalities exceeded those for the First Sino Japanese War (1894-95) and peaked at 16,765 in 1970, though had halved by the early 1980s due to a concerted campaign that saw a rapid push to install more traffic signals and pedestrian bridges. But the trend reversed in the 1980s 1990s and fatality numbers began to increase again. In more recent years, overall accidents are on the rise but fatalities are falling, no doubt due to better car technology that helps prevent serious crashes.
The car dealership chain Okayama Toyopet has created a novel and effective road traffic safety video to encourage local drivers to take more care.
The video shows a new arrival in the prefecture greeted by a landscape covered in bubble wrap. As cars fail to indicate and repeatedly hit other motorists or pedestrians, people gleefully fall through the air to be cushioned by the bubble wrap as they hit the ground. This ridiculous scenario is then painfully revealed as the fantasy it is when the scene cuts to the real effects of the accidents, showing pedestrians lying dead or injured in the roads.
Okayama Prefecture is known was the worst place in the country for not using indicators. It, the campaign says, has a traffic accident every 50 minutes. As part of the Bubblepack Town campaign, there is also a fun making-of video.