U.S. Forces Japan officials have told active-duty servicemembers, Defense Department civilians and dependents to exercise extra caution while driving outside the gates, where the Japanese National Police Agency is conducting its annual Fall Traffic Safety Campaign through Sept. 30.

The nationwide crusade, which got under way Wednesday, also takes place each spring, according to an NPA spokesman.

During the campaign, Japanese police will beef up their presence off base and are likely to monitor speeds more closely than usual, USFJ officials said.

“We encourage and expect all our personnel to drive wisely, cautiously and safely any time they get behind the wheel,” said Air Force Col. James Brophy, USFJ’s provost marshal. “We have a duty as ‘U.S. ambassadors’ to always set the example in terms of safe driving. We do let our USFJ members know of the increased enforcement during this period, but our expectation is that they drive safely and obey all relevant traffic safety laws each and every day.”

The 10-day effort by Japanese police is designed to boost traffic-accident prevention through increased safety awareness, the NPA release stated.

Emphasis is being placed on reducing mishaps involving the elderly and those involving pedestrians and bicyclists at dusk. Authorities also are focused on proper use of seat belts and child safety seats.

Police hope to strengthen cooperation among local agencies, and they see the campaign as an opportunity to lower traffic fatalities, according to the release.

Prefectural police are carrying out the endeavor in different ways, officials said.

Kanagawa Prefectural Police, for example, will dispense safety advice at major intersections, patrol in a car with red flashing lights and conduct safety classes for the elderly, children, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Nagasaki Prefectural Police are promoting various safety themes on certain days, according to their Web site.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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