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Driving

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Rules of the RoadEdit

Car
  • Drive on the left side of the road.
  • You cannot turn left on red.
  • The right of way is always given to pedestrians and cyclists.
  • It is the law to always fasten your seatbelt.
  • Backseat passengers MUST also wear seatbelts!
  • You cannot use your cell phone while driving.
  • Stop at ALL railroad crossings regardless of if there are warning lights or barriers.
  • Wear a helmet on motorcycles and scooters.
  • Give way to emergency vehicles (even if you are the only one doing it).
  • Flashing police lights do not mean you should pull over or stop. If they have their siren going, then pull over.


Lines You will see white lines, yellow lines, dashed, solid, and a mixture. The lines do not indicate traffic flow so assume every road goes in two directions (no matter how narrow it is) unless you are on the expressway. Basically, the rule is that, if the line is dashed, you may pass, overtaking the car in front of you. If the line is a solid white, you may pass but exercise caution. Never cross a solid yellow line at all unless there is an additional white line on your side. This is especially true if it is a thick yellow line. Also, as a general rule, there is no passing allowed in a tunnel.


Traffic Signs Traffic signs are not written in romaji at all, though many are self-explanatory. See your JET Diary (or here http://www.police.pref.shizuoka.jp/e-html/yobu-1-h.htm) for a complete list. If you see a lit sign full of kanji, it is almost always warning of a construction zone ahead. Despite the intimidating number of kanji, it is almost never something to worry about.


Construction Zones Construction is common, especially construction that reverts traffic to one lane. These zones are either monitored by live workers or by small lights. If a worker waves a red flag at you, you must stop. If a worker waves a white flag, you may proceed. If a worker is waving a sign with two giant kanji, it usually means 'slow' indicating construction ahead. There may be a single light during off-peak times. Simply: stop if it is red and proceed if it is blue or green. (Often, a timer shows how long you have to wait before you can proceed - no more than 2 minutes.)


VERY IMPORTANT RULES:

Don't speed! Speeding tickets are very expensive here!

  • Fines start at 12,000 yen and go up to 70,000 yen plus your license will be suspended for a month if police catch you going 30 km over the speed limit.
  • Be aware that there are some video speed traps on the major highways and roads.

NEVER EVER DRINK AND DRIVE!!!!

Random DWI tests are very common and absolutely no drunk driving is allowed! Some people have gotten pulled over at 10:00 am. Don't think that because you live in a rural area that you won't get pulled over. If you get caught driving under the influence of ANY alcohol, there is a good chance that you will lose your license AND your job! It is ZERO tolerance -- one drink is too much to be behind the wheel.

GasEdit

  • Gas is expensive in the city but cheaper outside (for Kanazawa, try areas along Route 8 which runs parallel to the Hokuriku Expressway).  The Cosmo by the Satoyama Kaidou might well be the cheapest gas in the prefecture, especially if you get lucky with their slot game.  Gas also tends to get more expensive the farther north you go in the prefecture.
  • If you frequent a gas station, ask if they have a point card, which upon presentation will get you a discount anytime you go. There are some gas stations that also have discount days.
  • Gas stations won't take credit cards generally. Also, many gas stations (particularly in rural areas) close early (7:30/8:00 pm) so be mindful of that. They could also be closed on Sundays or holidays. If you are in a rural area, don't run your tank too low!
  • Self-service stations will say セルフ on them somewhere visibly. Like gas stations everywhere, they are all a little different. You must unscrew your tank top first and place it where it tells you to. Then you can select what type of gas and how much you want to put in the car. Some places have a machine outside where you pay first. Others will have you go inside to pay when you are finished.
  • Full-service stations cost a little extra, but a gas station attendant will put the gas in for you and clean your windshield. When the attendant comes over to you, if you want to fill up the tank with regular gas and pay in cash, you can just say: mantan genkin desu. If you want premium, then say: haioku mantan genkin desu. If you want a certain amount of gas, tell them (--litres/yen). They will also offer to throw away your garbage.
Important Terms:
Full tank - mantan 満タン
Cash - genkin 現金
Regular - regyura レギュラ
Premium - haioku ハイオク
Garbage - gomi ゴミ

Driving MannersEdit

Japanese drivers are generally not too aggressive. Although they will pull out directly in front of you and go through red lights, they tend to do so in a leisurely manner. The Japanese rarely honk but they do tend to, like drivers all over the world, speed, tail you, and pass you dangerously. On the other hand, they will also politely stop to let you pull out in front of them and will pull as far left as they can (putting on their left turn signal sometimes) to let you pass. Local roads rarely have shoulders, so beware of cars stopped or parked right in the middle of the road. Beware of drivers stepping out directly into traffic as well as pedestrians walking on the road who have no sidewalk to walk on. Like any place, driving in the city is more dangerous and aggressive than driving in the country because of the sheer number of cars, but comparatively, Japanese drivers could be worse.

Ishikawa DriversEdit

Ishikawa drivers are known in this region as less courteous than their other Japanese counterparts. Don't assume people will stop when they are supposed to. It is common for people to run red lights. Drive defensively. Pedestrians don't always pay attention to traffic either. Look out for the wackos! In the Noto especially, be prepared to get stuck behind slow moving vehicles. Also, keep your eyes out for people crossing the road and cars pulled over (or in the middle of the road) with their flashers on. Proceed with caution.


a. Ishikawa is known for bad drivers

b. They are more offensive than defensive

c. Slower traffic flows in the left lane, faster traffic flows in the right lane.

d. Pedestrians and cyclists often don’t look around, and a lot of cyclists don’t use lights at night-time, so watch out!!

e. Traffic flows from the left.

f. Drivers here turn on their turning signals very late (and oftentimes not at all)

g. Drivers here tend to over swerve to avoid obstacles in the road. Many also drift from side to side in their own lanes.

h. You will see many drivers without their headlights on at nighttime or in the tunnels.

i. Cars often suddenly stop on the side of the road. Hazards are often only turned on as they are coming to a stop, so don't tailgate too much. You might end up rear-ending a car who decides to suddenly turn on his hazards and stop in the middle of the road.

j. It is not uncommon to see cars driving on a wide sidewalk to bypass other cars or to bypass a signal.

k. There are many small one-way-looking streets that are actually two-way streets.

l. Many roads are one-way roads or pedestrian only roads at certain hours of the day.

m. Drivers tend to inch forward (A LOT, sometimes even to the middle of the intersection) when the light is still red in anticipation of the green light.

n. Many drivers will run red lights (there is a 3-second delay between one red light and the next green light, so drivers tend to run reds)

o. A green and yellow sticker on the back of the car means that the driver is a 1st year driver, and a maple leaf sticker mean the driver is 75+ years old. These kinds of drivers tend to be slow and unpredictable.

p. Hazards flashed twice means "Thank you".

q. Police cars flash their lights when they're on patrol. When you are being pulled over, they will shout on a megaphone for you to pull over. There are often police road blocks where they check for drunk drivers.

r. Beware of speed traps. High beams flashed twice from opposing traffic means “speed trap”.

s. Beware of speed cameras. Most are supposedly activated when the car surpasses the speed limit by 20+ kph. You may see drivers slow down when approaching a speed camera.

Buying a CarEdit

Keysimage
Paperwork needed (where to obtain it):
  • Certified Hanko (Obtain at City Hall)
  • Proof of Residence (City Hall)
  • Letter of Attorney (Ishikawa Land Transportation Bureau)
  • Car Transfer Certificate (Ishikawa Land Transportation Bureau)
  • Proof of Shaken (Car Owner)
  • Automobile Inspection Certificate (Car Owner)
  • Liability Insurance Certificate (Car Owner)
  • Proof of Parking (Apartment Manager or Parking Lot Manager)
  • Certified Parking (Police Station)

Step By Step Procedure:

  1. Find the car you want to buy and discuss price, shaken expiration date, and general condition of the car with the owner.
  2. Both the buyer and seller must have a registered personal seal (hanko 判子). If your hanko has not been registered (should be a separate hanko for big purchase items like a house, car, etc.), you must get a Hanko Registration Certificate (inkan-shomeisho) from the City Hall. You will also neeed a Proof of Residence (jyuminhyo) from City Hall as well. To get this, however, you need your Hanko Registration Certificate and your Alien Registration Card, so you will have to make a separate trip back to City Hall for the Proof of Residence.
  3. Buy a Letter of Attorney (i-nin-jyo). You can purchase this at the Ishikawa Land Transportation Bureau (Ishikawa-ken-riku-un-shi-kyoku). This form must be filled out by the car's owner to commission you to complete the procedures. Also, at this place, you must purchase a Transfer Certificate (jyoto-shomeisho) and the car's owner must fill it out.
  4. The owner of the car should supply you with the Automobile Inspection Certificate (shakensho) and the compulsory Liability Insurance Certificate (jidosha-songai-baisho-senkinin-hoken-shomeisho).
  5. You also must have a Parking Certificate (shako-shomeisho or jidosha-hokan-basho-shomeisho) to prove that you have a parking space. This form is available at your local police station. The parking form is included in the Transfer Certificate. You must also include two maps (drawn or photocopied) - one showing your house or apartment and the surrounding area and the other of your parking space including the dimensions of the parking space. If you live in an apartment, your landlord can prepare these papers for a small fee. These papers must then be taken to the local police station. They will mail you the final certificate.
  6. You must submit all of the above documents when applying for a change of ownership. You will also have to complete a registration application (iten-toroku-shinseisho) purchased from the Transportation Bureau's revenue stamp shop and buy a 500 yen revenue stamp (in-shi) for the registration fee.
  7. After the transfer of ownership is approved, you are required to apply for the payment of Automobile Tax (jidosha-zei) at a local taxation office.

Leasing a CarEdit

Leasing a car can be a cheaper and less hassling alternative to buying a car. A pro is that you don't have to worry about selling the car when your lease is up. Make sure you are clear on the conditions of your agreement with the car owner. You might be completely or partially responsible for fixing the car if anything goes wrong. You may also be responsible for any damage to the car before turning it in. Do compare how much it costs to lease a car with how much it would cost to buy it. Often leases are a worse deal in the long run. You will still be responsible for getting your own car insurance.


Name

Type

Location

Address

Contact

English?

Notes

Masanori Yachi

Car Rental

Noto

Shika-shi

Phone: 090-2377-7762

Yes!

Facebook accessible. Familiar with JET.

Kuruma Koubou Meitekku /</p> <p class="Body">くるま工房メイテック </p>

<p class="Body">Car Rental</p>

<p class="Body">Nomi-shi</p>

<p class="Body">石川県能美市出口町202-3</p>

<p class="Body">(Ishikawa-ken, Nomi-shi Deguchi-machi 202-3)</p>

<p class="Body">Phone: 076-151-6633</p>

<p class="Body"></p>

<p class="Body">www.meiko-j.co.jp</p>

<p class="Body">No - bring a fluent JET with you.</p>

<p class="Body">Familiar with JET. Smaller operation. </p>

<p class="Body">Urban Auto, Tanaka-san</p>

<p class="Body">Car Rental</p>

<p class="Body">Nomi-shi</p>

<p class="Body">923-1112 石川県能美市佐野町二65</p>

<p class="Body">(Ishikawa-ken, Nomi-shi, Sanomachi Ni 65)</p>

<p class="Body">Phone: 076-158-4420</p>

<p class="Body"></p>

<p class="Body">urban@po5.nsk.ne.jp</p>

<p class="Body">Not sure; bring fluent JET just in case</p>

<p class="Body">Smaller, familiar with JETs. Many JETs use this company. Private insurance offered; runs about 18万円/y </p>

InsuranceEdit

  1. Under Japanese law, all registered vehicles must be covered by Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance (CALI).
  2. There are many different optional automobile insurance policies out there.
  3. Collision coverage pays to repair damage to your vehicle caused by a crash. In addition to the standard types of insurance, comprehensive coverage will also pay for damage to your vehicle if it's vandalized or stolen, etc. Both comprehensive and collision coverage generally require you to pay an excess (sometimes known as a ‘deductible’) before you can claim any money. The amount of the excess is decided at the time of insuring the vehicle, and is typically 20,000 yen, 50,000 yen, etc. The point to remember is that the lower the excess you choose, the higher the premium will be. Furthermore, different policies will specify the particular circumstances under which coverage is available.
  4. Liability coverage provides a fixed amount of coverage for damages that an insured becomes legally liable to pay due to an accident or other negligence. For example, if the insured party drives into a telephone pole, liability coverage will pay to repair damage caused to the pole. The insured party may also be liable for other expenses related to damaging the telephone pole, such as loss of service claims (by the telephone company).
  5. Collision coverage provides coverage to repair or replace the insured party’s vehicle if it becomes involved in an accident. This coverage is designed to provide payment to repair the damaged vehicle, or replace it according to the conditions of the insurance policy. An excess usually applies to this.
  6. Here are some of the different kinds of insurance there are: Bodily Injury Compensation/Coverage, Property Damage Insurance, Protection for the policy holder while driving another vehicle, Own accident insurance coverage, Uninsured automobile insurance coverage, Passenger personal accident coverage, and more.
  7. For more information, go to this website: http://www.japaninsurance.net/
  8. For some JETs, they may be able to apply for car insurance from their town hall or city hall. This insurance tends to be fairly thorough in its coverage and is very cheap (about 30000-40000 yen a year). However, if you are involved in an accident, you are expected to do a lot of the mediation on your own. If you do not speak Japanese or do have a supervisor who is extremely willing to help you in case of an accident, you may find yourself floundering in Japanese insurance proceedings. If you go with coverage from an insurance company (will usually cost about 100000 yen a year), they will generally mediate for you and do all the necessary paperwork. Some will also provide you the same services that JAF membership (the Japanese AAA) provides.
  9. Be aware that in some cases, it is not practical to sign up for comprehensive collision insurance. In some cases, if you use your insurance to pay for damage to your vehicle in a collision, the price of your insurance will increase to more than the amount you would have paid to repair your vehicle privately. Make sure to talk this over with an insurance agent when you are discussing policy plans.

How to Get a Japanese LicenseEdit

Image
For a complete step-by-step explanation, please follow this link:

How to get a Japanese Drivers License - From Start to Finish


How to Get an International Driving Permit for Your Japanese LicenseEdit

If you want to get an IDP (国際免許 kokusaimenkyo) for your Japanese Driver’s License, you have to go to the Driving Center between 10-11:30 a.m. or 2-3:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday. You will need:

  1. Japanese driver’s license
  2. A 3x2.4 (standard) photo of yourself. You can get them taken at the photo machine at the Unten Menkyo Center on the 1st floor if needed
  3. hanko
  4. 2650 yen. Fill out and submit the application, and you will be able to receive the permit on the same day.


How to Handle an AccidentEdit

  • Call the police by dialing 110
  • If anyone is injured, call an ambulance by dialing 119
  • Record the people involved and where the accident took place
  • Call your supervisor
  • Call a PA

Tolls and TravelEdit

  • The major highways in Japan have tolls. The amount that you have to pay depends on how far you are driving. Often when you enter a toll road, you will take a ticket and then pay at the booth when you exit. Other times, an amount will be collected at each toll booth. Link to prices: http://www.c-nexco.co.jp/navi/toll/ and to calculate for further travel, http://www.c-nexco.co.jp/navi/
  • If you are paying with cash or credit card (most major tollways accept credit cards), use the lanes marked in green. Do not go through the purple ETC lanes.
  • Yellow plate cars pay less at tolls than white plate cars do.
  • There are toll tickets you can buy that discount the amount paid slightly. Toll passes for the Noto Yuriyo can be purchased at city halls in the Noto.
  • The ETC (Electronic Toll Collection) card makes tolls cheaper (on weekends, the toll is capped at 1000 yen for some highways) and automatically charges the amount to your account. Setting up the ETC pass can take a long time. You have to first apply for a Japanese credit card, which foreigners usually cannot get until they have been here for about one year. If you do some hunting around, you may be able to find a company that will issue you a credit card and an accompanying ETC card, but don’t expect to obtain the card for about 10 months. After you get the card, then you can go to a car shop and buy an ETC machine (which will cost between 15000 to 25000 yen). You cannot install the machine on your own; a certified mechanic has to install it for you. Here is a link explaining how to use the ETC system: [1]

Winter DrivingEdit

Image2
  • Be sure to get snow tires on your car before the first snow fall.
  • It is always a good idea to carry sand or salt in the back of your car in case you get stuck.
  • Drive more slowly in winter conditions and allow yourself more room to stop.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If you feel your car start to skid, ease off the brake.
  • If you end up sliding on ice, don't panic! Also, don't brake. Steer the wheel where you want the front tires to go.
  • Be especially careful on overpasses, bridges, and infrequently used roads because these freeze first.
  • Don't use cruise control or overdrive in wet or icy conditions.
  • Carry an ice scraper/snow brush in your car at all times.
  • After it snows, make sure to clear your car off completely. You don't want snow falling in front of your view when you are driving.
  • It is important not to run your gas tank low in the winter. If the temperature gets below freezing, your tank can freeze if there is less than a quarter of a tank of gas in it.

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