Upon arrival, driving in Japan may sound like a daunting prospect. The road laws are different, the signs are all in Japanese, and for some of us, everything is flipped! For many JETs, it will be the first time to drive on the left, in a car with the steering wheel on the right.
In fact, it is not nearly as difficult to adjust to driving in Japan as one might think. Road signs are often bilingual or pictographic, and getting used to left-hand driving takes just a week or two. The biggest problem is accidentally putting on the windshield wipers instead of the blinker. Also, not everyone needs to drive. For many rural placements, it is extremely useful (though not necessary!) to have a car. In urban placements, the high cost of parking and the ready availability of public transportation can make cars burdensome rather than useful.
A Few Friendly Reminders
- Please, oh please, do not drive without a license. If you get caught doing so, you will have to pay a large fine and could face jail time. If you cause an accident while driving without a license, there will be very bad consequences (huge fines, jail time and lightning strikes. Yes, lightning strikes).
- Please, oh please, do not drive without insurance. You should have two types of automobile insurance: Compulsory Liability Insurance and Optional (but also compulsory) Automobile Insurance.
- Please, oh please (I’m on my knees for this one), do not drink and drive or ride with a driver who has imbibed any amount of alcohol!!! If you knowingly aid or allow someone who has consumed alcohol to drive, or if you are a passenger of someone who has consumed alcohol, you will be prosecuted just as severely as the driver.