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Safer Buses = Safer Roads in Japan

When we get in our cars and buckle our seatbelts, or step onto a bus and hold the hand grip, we don’t tend to think about the vast number of safety features protecting us. The development and enforcement of automotive safety features is often taken for granted. It is mind-boggling to think that not so long ago seatbelts or airbags weren’t mandatory and even after their introduction were only optional, or available for front-seat passengers only.

The development and implementation of automotive safety features throughout the 20th century and until today have without question helped to save countless lives. And as we close the first two decades of the 21st century we are witnessing both the quick development and wide adoption of increased safety standards around the globe.

As we move towards more sophisticated and essential safety features so does the world of safety regulation and legislation. Countries across the globe are increasingly expanding automotive regulation and safety practices as new technology becomes available.

One such recent case is a new mandate from the Japanese government. Japan’s Government has issued a recommendation for the inclusion of Advanced Safety Vehicle (ASV) standards for chartered buses operating throughout the country. This, unfortunately, did not happen in a vacuum and as with other regulations, a need was identified following tragic accidents.

The most well-known of accidents occurred in 2016, when an overnight tourist bus was involved in a devastating accident in Karuizawa, leading to many deaths and injuries. This accident was one of a series of fatal accidents that continue to plague the transportation industry of Japan.[1]

As such, earlier this year the Japanese government proceeded to issue their endorsement for the inclusion of Advanced Safety Vehicle (ASV) standards for chartered buses. The standards include three specific safety features:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Lane Departure Warning System (Mobileye retrofit only), and
  • Emergency Stopping System (where passengers can execute emergency braking similar to a train)

Mobileye’s Lane Departure Warning (LDW) System is the only retrofit LDW technology approved by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), in compliance with ASV standards.

 

MLIT has communicated that all chartered buses, a total of approximately 60,000 vehicles, have a responsibility to implement the ASV features by October 1st, 2017.

This step is in line with governments and safety organizations around the world starting to mandate increased vehicle safety. The need for Collision Avoidance System (CAS) features, such as Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning, is the next wave of safety technology that is slowly being regulated and widely accepted throughout the world.

Many large car manufacturers, including Ford, BMW, Nissan, Audi and others, already offer comprehensive built-in solutions straight from the production line. At the same time, older vehicles already on the roads, such as the chartered buses in Japan, can employ a retrofitted unit that provides life-saving alerts.

We’ve come a long way in automotive technology; three-point safety belts, automatic accident fuel cut-off switch, and antilock braking all made a huge impact on road safety. It is thanks to these technological advancements that road safety is constantly improving and we are finding more and more ways to reduce road fatalities, injuries, and accidents.

[1] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/15/national/night-ski-bus-flips-karuizawa-three-killed-11-critical-condition/#.WaZkhsgjGUl