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Driving Information

For comfortable traveling

Road signs

Regulatory signs

Regulatory signs

Regulatory signs

Caution signs

Caution signs

Direction signs

Caution signs

Quick reference table on distances between major cities

Quick reference table on distances between major cities

This table shows distances in kilometers between locations when traveled via major national routes. Please use it as a quick reference for long distance travels.

For safe driving

Driving in Hokkaido lets you enjoy the splendid natural scenery as you travel on its spacious roads. However, it may ruin the fun time if you end up in a traffic accident.

Please be careful, drive safely and enjoy the ride.

Pedestrians have priority

Pedestrians always have the priority on the road. Drive carefully and slow down or stop if necessary, especially when you see children, the elderly, or the disabled.

Drive on left side

Drive on the left side of the centerline. When you cross the opposite lane for right turns, etc., slow down and beware of oncoming traffic.

Seatbelt and child car seat

Seatbelts save lives. Make sure all passengers are buckled. Children must use child car seats. These rules are stipulated by the law.

Right-side steering wheel

Most Japanese cars have the steering wheel on the right-hand side. On the right side of the wheel is the headlight/turn signal control lever, and on the left side are the wiper switch and the gearshift lever.

Do not use cell phone while

It is dangerous to talk on the phone while driving. Park at a safe spot (Using cell phone while driving is prohibited by the law) when using a cell phone.

Lane change

It is extremely dangerous to change lanes abruptly. When you switch lanes, make sure to give the signal and confirm safety using rearview mirrors.

Passing crossroads

It is immensely dangerous to make abrupt turns without signals or from wrong lanes.

  • When turning to the left, stay as near as possible to the left side of the road and turn slowly along the edge of the crossroad.
  • When turning to the right, stay as near as possible to the centerline and turn slowly before the center point of the crossroad.
  • If a crossroad has a "follow directions" sign, make sure to choose and stay in the correct lane for going straight or turning to the right or left accordingly.

Japanese traffic lights

Do not judge by the movement of traffic; Make sure to check the light at all times.

Regulatory signs
Green light

You may go forward. Even if it's green, however, keep an eye on the movement of other cars and pedestrians.

Yellow light

Stop. However, if you are too close to the stop line to stop safely when the signal has turned yellow, you may keep going.

Red light


Arrow signal

When a red light comes with a green arrow, you may go in the direction of the arrow.
*Do not follow the yellow arrow. It is for streetcars only.

Do not enter Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) lane

The ETC lanes only allow vehicles with the ETC card. Other vehicles must go through the tollgate for cash. The newly introduced ETC system uses wireless communication for toll collection.

Fill up the tank before returning

Customers must pay for the fuel. Before returning the car, fill it up at a designated gas station or one near the rent-a-car company office. Use regular gasoline only. Inappropriate fuel may damage the engine. Many people make these mistakes, so be careful.

In case of accident

Do not panic in the case of an accident.

1.Check safety

Move the car to a safe spot (roadside, vacant lot, etc.) and turn off the engine. To keep other cars safe, set up the warning triangle behind the car and use the warning flare.

2.In case of injury

If someone is injured in the accident, dial 119 (no area code) to call the ambulance. If you have trouble communicating in Japanese, ask passers-by for help.

3.Call police

Dial 110 (no area code) to call the police to explain the details of the accident and file a report. You must report an accident no matter how small it is.

4.Call rent-a-car company

You must report the accident to the rent-a-car company. You may have to pay for deductible insurance fee or Non-Operation-Charge(NOC).

Traffic offenses

Be careful enough to avoid violations and enjoy driving safely.

Serious offenses, penalties, and fines
*Drunk driving *Speeding *Illegal parking *Use of cell phone while driving

Traffic offense Penalty
Drunk driving Driving while heavily intoxicated Imprisonment for up to 5 years or
fine of up to 1 millionyen
Driving while intoxicated Imprisonment for up to 3 years or
fine of up to 500,000yen
Speeding 30 kph or more over the limit Imprisonment for up to 6 months
or fine of up to 100,000yen
25-30 kph over the limit Fine of up to 18,000yen
20-25kph over the limit Fine of up to 15,000yen
15-20 kph over the limit Fine of up to 12,000yen
Less than 15 kph over the limit Fine of up to 9,000yen
No parking/stopping zone Fine of up to 18,000yen
No parking zone Fine of up to 15,000yen
No Use of
cell phone
while driving
Use of cell phone Fine of up to 18,000yen
Use of cell phone (cause danger) Imprisonment for up to one year or fine of up to 300,000 yen
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