Prosecutors in Japan have recently started taking seriously the reckless cyclists they’ve been investigating and been indicting with gross negligence those who have been causing accidents resulting to injury and even death. In the Tokyo District Court alone, three people have already been indicted without arrest on suspicion of gross negligence resulting in injury.
Before, prosecutors were reluctant to bring charges against cyclists as a large population of Japan rides bikes, but the increasing number of accidents has made them change their minds. They have shifted their policies towards traffic violations, especially those that cause injury. Gross negligence resulting in injury is when a person, through his extremely careless nature, causes an injury. Violators are punished by imprisonment with or without labor for up to five years, and can also receive a fine of 1 million yen (approx. US$10,000). The punishment is the same if a victim dies, but the charge would change to negligence resulting in death. Last year alone, there were 90 indictments on gross negligence resulting in injury or death and this number excludes cases involving cars.
Because of the sharp increase of number of people who bike after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, bicycle-pedestrian accidents also increased, reaching 5,885 cases in 2012. This was a 20% increase from 2002. Casualties also increased from 965 to 6,267 during the same time period. In 2011, the National Police Agency came up with a comprehensive policy on bicycle safety and became stricter on warning and arresting cyclists over these traffic violations. Now the prosecutors are also not letting them off easily. “We won’t hesitate to indict cyclists over accidents where there was reckless behavior causing serious injury. This is also important from the viewpoint of sending a message to them,” said a senior prosecutor.
[ via Yomiuri ]
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