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Traffic regulations in Japan

Follow the traffic regulations in Japan, and enjoy driving safely and comfortably.

Japanese traffic regulations prone to error

Traffic rules

  • Keep Left
    Drivers must drive on the left side of the street in Japan.
  • Stop Before Turning Right
    Cars going straight and turning left have the priority at an intersection.
    Turn right after there passed the oncoming cars going straight or turning left.
  • Watch your speed
    Legal speed limits in Japan are “60km/h on normal roads” and “100km/h on expressways.”
    It is prohibited to drive a car at the speed exceeding the legal limit even if there is no traffic sign for speed regulation.
    Speed Limit Sign
    Speed Limit Sign
  • Do not Cross the Line
    Yellow solid line in center means “No Crossing.”
    Along the roads with “No Crossing” lines you can not cross the line to pass another car.
    No Crossing Sign
    No Crossing Sign

Rules for Traffic Signals

  • Place of Traffic Signals
     Traffic signals are installed beyond the intersections in Japan, whereas in some countries, they are installed before the intersections, and cars must stop before the traffic lights.
     You must stop the car at the stop line before the intersection, not before the traffic signal.
  • You MUST Stop at the Red Light
     At the red light, you can not go straight or turn left.
  • Comply with Green Arrow Light
    Even at the red light, you may proceed to the direction of the green arrow light. But the yellow arrow is for streetcars, so cars may not proceed.
  • Watch the Color of Your Traffic Light
     Some traffic signals in Japan are “Time Shift Signals” which change the lights according to the traffic volume, or “Pedestrian-Vehicle-Separated Signals” which let all the vehicles stop at the intersections while the pedestrians’ lights are green.

Rules Concerning “Stop” Signs

  • Differences in Traffic Signs
    “Stop” signs in Japan are red and reversed triangular, different from other countries’ octagonal or circular
  • You Must Come to Complete Stop
    “Stop” rules are strictly applied. If you do not come to a complete stop, it will be the violation.
    You must come to a complete stop also before the railroad crossing.
  • Stop Signs in the World
    Japan  United States Taiwan China Korea Hong Kong Thailand

Drivers and All the Passengers Must Wear the Seatbelts

 Drivers and all the passengers are required to wear seatbelts in Japan, like other countries.
 If you let a child under six be on board in a car, you are required to use an appropriate child safety seat according to his/her age and physical size. If you rent a car with your children, request the rent-a-car firm for the child safety seats.

Never Drink and Drive

 You can not drive a car after drinking alcohol, and it is also “driving under influence” if you hold alcohol in your body from the previous day.
 Severe punishment for DUI will be imposed also on the person who is knowingly on board of a car of the driver under influence of alcohol, and the person who encourages drinking alcohol to a person who will drive a car.

Rules for Bicycles

 There are many violations by bicycles, such as insufficient safety confirmation at intersection, neglect of stop signs and neglect of traffic signals.

Five Safety Rules for Bicycles

  1. Bicycles should proceed on the roadway in principle, on the sidewalk as exception.
  2. Bicycles should proceed on the left side of the roadway.
  3. Pedestrians have the right of way. Bicycles should proceed the roadway-side of the sidewalk.
  4. Comply with the safety rules
     ○ Drinking and riding, two persons riding on a bicycle and abreast travelling are prohibited.
     ○ Turn on the light at night.
     ○ Follow the traffic lights and stop signs, and confirm the safety.
  5. Children must wear the helmets
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