Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 10.54.56 AMIf you’ve ever lived in Japan, chances are you’ve seen a little three-year-old climbing around the inside of their parent’s car…while the vehicle was in motion. To those in other countries where seatbelt and child safety harness laws are strictly enforced, this might be shocking to hear, but this situation happens more often than you might think. In fact, Japan didn’t have a mandatory seat belt law for rear passengers until 2008.

But even an official law doesn’t seems to deter Japanese drivers from not buckling up when it comes to the backseat. That’s why the Japan Automotive Federation along with the National Police Agency published the results of a 2013 survey detailing exactly how many people use their car’s most important safety device.

The following infographic shows the percentage of people who buckle up in the back seat and the small car figure in the upper lefthand corner reveals the national average of seatbelt wearers separated by their location in the car. Drivers in Japan almost always buckle up (99.4%) and so do side passengers riding shotgun (97.9%). However, only 68.2% of backseat passengers take the extra three seconds to strap in when taking a ride in the car.

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It’s a very busy image with all the numbers squished together, but it’s easy to see the top five (in red) and bottom five (in black) prefectures. Here’s a breakdown:

Top five back seat belters by prefecture:
1) Akita (92%)
2) Fukushima (91.2%)
3) Chiba (87.1%)
4) Kochi (83.5%)
5) Fukuoka (83.9%)

Bottom five back seat belters by prefecture:
1) Okinawa (32.4%)
2) Hyogo (47.4%)
3) Kagoshima (47.6%)
4) Yamanashi (48.8%)
5) Toyama (49.8%)

It’s surprising to see that not even half of the population of the bottom five prefectures buckles up in the back seat. If the survey findings shock you, take a look at the numbers from 2003. The orange line in the infographic below indicates the number of backseat belters, and as you can see, the national average in Japan was 11 percent on highways and 6.9 percent on city streets just ten years ago (Note: The mandatory backseat seat belt law was implemented in 2008).

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In light of the statistics and in an attempt to persuade those who can’t be bothered to use a seat belt, the JAF also released information on car accident casualties. Let’s take a look:

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It appears that your chances of dying in a car crash increase 14 fold when you don’t wear a seat belt or place a child in a safety seat. And if the statistics aren’t enough to get you to use a seat belt on yourself or your children every time you get in the car, JAF added the following image for good measure:

 Won’t somebody please think of the children?!Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 7.10.38 AM

Yikes! We hope to see the number of seat belt wearers in Japan increase and thus more lives saved in the event of a crash. Now if only Japan can find a way to stop parents from allowing their toddlers to stand in the passenger seat and mothers from driving with their baby strapped to their chest…

Source: NariNari
Images: Japan Automotive Federation, Driving Test Tips