The world’s safest roads are in Japan, where the country took an innovative approach to transportation – in a safety journey that sets an example for the rest of the world.
With an extended rail system, policies meant to deter car ownership, and city infrastructure focused on the safety of children, Japan had fewer than 3,000 death by crashes in 2021. On a per capita basis, merely 2.24 deaths per 100,000 residents occurred that year. It is the fewest road fatalities since 1948, when record-keeping began.
Japan’s rail system – both trains and subways – is reliable, fast, and frequent. In its 58 years of service, the Shinkansen – the world’s first bullet train – has never had a fatal crash. With as many as 15 trains per hour leaving Tokyo for Osaka, the 534-km journey takes under two and a half hours. It would take at least six hours to do it by car. With its 285 stations, Tokyo Metro facilitates citizens’ daily commutes. Even smaller cities like Fukuoka (with a population of 1.5 million) have subways, making the use of cars an option rather than a necessity. A no-parking policy has been put in place to reduce the circulation within city centers to favor pedestrian-friendly streets and help young children to see and be seen while walking. Speed limits are also reduced – 40kph in urban areas and 25kph on side streets. Since Japanese citizens prioritize the collective good over the individual, road safety education campaigns have proven successful in reducing the number of crashes.