Swiftly relocate bus stops deemed to pose greatest risk of traffic accidents

Accidents are more likely to occur at bus stops located near pedestrian crossings and intersections, where large buses create blind spots. Bus stops with higher risks must be relocated on a priority basis.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry conducted a survey to assess the risk of accidents at about 400,000 bus stops across the country. Based on the distance to pedestrian crossings and intersections, among other factors, they were divided into three ranks of A, B and C in descending order of danger.

According to the survey, there were a total of 10,195 such bus stops, with 1,615 in category A, 5,660 in category B and 2,920 in category C. At most of the A-ranked stops, buses blocked pedestrian crossings and obstructed the view of other vehicles’ drivers and pedestrians.

It may be vital to first swiftly relocate A-ranked bus stops and remove a cause of traffic accidents.

However, it is often difficult to relocate stops. Many landowners do not like having bus stops put in front of their homes, making it difficult for them to reach agreements with bus companies, police and local governments.

In some areas, local resident associations were included in the consultation process so that residents were actively involved in the selection of new sites and negotiations with landowners. Residents reportedly talked with each other, and the agreement of landowners was smoothly obtained. It is necessary to utilize such methods and facilitate smooth consultations.

Traffic accidents have occurred irrespective of the levels of danger. In 2018 in Hiroshima Prefecture, a junior high school boy was hit and injured by a car that had passed a stationary bus when he was walking in a pedestrian crossing. In 2017, a high school student was struck by a car coming from the opposite direction from a bus in Saitama Prefecture.

Neither of the two bus stops involved in those accidents was ranked A. The possibility of children falling victim to traffic accidents increases near school routes, and at times when they are heading to or leaving school. It is also necessary to look into relocating such bus stops as soon as possible.

An accident occurring in the vicinity of a bus stop does not have to be reported to the central government unless the bus company becomes a party to a serious accident. It is important for bus companies to share with local governments and police information about cases in which bus drivers had a frightening experience because passengers or pedestrians were almost involved in an incident, thereby helping prevent traffic accidents.

Some bus companies put stickers on their buses to urge other drivers of vehicles running near bus stops to be careful regarding bus users and pedestrians, and warn passengers through recorded voice announcements to be careful when they get off the buses. It is also important to disseminate these steady measures.

The understanding of drivers who are near bus stops is also essential for the safe operation of buses. Bus riders include many elderly people who find it difficult to drive their own cars. It is vital for drivers to pay renewed attention to good driving manners for the sake of pedestrians.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 15, 2021.