Section 2. Response to Increase in Traffic Accidents

Item 2. Tightening of Vehicle Safety Standards in Japan and Overseas

As outlined in section 1, in 1966 the United States enacted the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Based on this law, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMMVS) consisting of 20 items were promulgated in 1967, and brought into force in January 1968, the following year. The FMVSS established rules for vehicle safety.

Due to this development, all vehicles exported to the United States were required to meet the 20 items set out in the FMVSS, including seatbelts for all occupants, energy-absorbing steering column1, restrictions how far the steering wheel can extend into the cabin in a collision, as well as restrictions governing instrument panels, seatbacks, sun visors, armrests, interior shock-absorbing door-covering materials, etc. FMVSS were expanded and tightened in subsequent years.

In response to the 1967 decision by the United States to introduce FMVSS, in February 1968 Japan's Ministry of Transport (now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) announced the introduction of Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In July that year the Safety Standards for Road Trucking Vehicles set by the Ministry of Transport were revised to tighten regulations of 12 safety related items.2 The revised Safety Standards for Road Trucking Vehicles came into effect in April the following year.

Furthermore, in September 1972 the Transport Policy Council, an advisory body to the minister of transport, released a report entitled "Engineering Policy for Vehicle Safety-Targets for Improvement of Vehicle Safety Standards".

This report was based on analysis of the results of accident studies conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department, the Japan Highway Public Corporation, and the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, as well as findings from a study of overseas countries' vehicle safety standards. The report addressed safety measures from the key perspective of vehicle structure. Three basic countermeasures were proposed-accident prevention measures (visual characteristics, operational characteristics, etc.), damage-reduction measures (occupant protection, pedestrian protection, vehicle body, etc.), and fire prevention measures. Based on this report, the Ministry of Transport determined specific safety standards, and in 1973 the Safety Standards for Road Trucking Vehicles were revised to tighten safety regulations.

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