The number of people killed in accidents on roads in Japan dropped below 4,000 last year for the first time in 67 years. But the ratio of elderly people killed in motor vehicle accidents was the highest ever.
The National Police Agency says 3,904 people died in traffic accidents in 2016. That figure was the third lowest since record-keeping began in 1948. The last time fewer than 4,000 people died was in 1949.
The number of people aged 65 or older who died in motor vehicle accidents last year stood at 2,138. That's down 109 from the previous year, but it accounts for 54.8 percent of the fatalities, making it the highest percentage since 1967.
Japan had the highest number of traffic deaths in 1970, when 16,765 people were killed, but the number of deaths has been declining for more than 3 decades.
The National Police Agency attributes the decline to more people wearing seat belts and crack-downs on serious traffic offenders, such as drunk drivers.
The agency plans to increase surveillance on roads and promote measures to prevent accidents involving elderly people.