By TAKURO YAGI/ Staff Writer
August 28, 2019 at 16:30 JST
Fumio Miyazaki, who was arrested over an Aug. 10 road rage incident on the Joban Expressway, is escorted inside the Toride Police Station in Ibaraki Prefecture on Aug. 19. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Police are moving to tighten traffic rules to curb road rage incidents after a spate of cases in recent years resulting in injury and death.
The National Police Agency raised the issue at an Aug. 27 meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Special Committee on Traffic Safety.
As the legal system currently lacks provisions to crack down on road rage offenders, the agency is seeking to make changes to the Road Traffic Law.
Typically, failing to keep an appropriate distance between vehicles is now used against drivers considered to be involved in road rage cases.
“We have reached a limit in what we can do to crack down on road rage offenders under current laws," Katsuei Hirasawa, a Lower House member and chairman of the special committee, told reporters. "Our committee acknowledges the need to stipulate road rage under appropriate laws.”
The NPA will consider whether a new legal apparatus is needed to cover such offenses.
In January 2018, the NPA asked police nationwide to enhance measures to crack down on road rage offenders in response to a June 2017 incident on the Tomei Expressway. After the offender in the case blocked a couple's van from moving forward, a large truck rear-ended their vehicle, killing the driver and her husband and injuring their two children.
Police took action in 13,025 cases last year for not maintaining a safe distance between vehicles while driving, an 1.8-fold increase from 2017. In certain cases involving malicious or dangerous acts, the Criminal Law was applied, leading to heavier penalties.
A man was arrested earlier this month after camcorder footage showed him repeatedly punching a 24-year-old man in the face on the Joban Expressway in Ibaraki Prefecture on Aug. 10 after pulling in front of his car and forcing him to stop.
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