crime

Driver turns herself in to police for failing to stop at yellow traffic light

57 Comments
By Joan Coello

How law-abiding are the Japanese? We could pull up some statistics and numbers for you, but here’s a little incident that may be slightly unusual and goes to show how serious some Japanese are when it comes to keeping the law.

A driver in Oita Prefecture surrendered herself to the police because she beat the yellow light at a traffic junction. It wasn’t even a red light.

Traffic regulations may differ slightly from country to country, but the general understanding that green means “go”, red means “stop”, applies more or less everywhere. In places where the yellow (or amber) light is used, it usually signifies that the traffic light will soon turn red and drivers should slow down and stop at the intersection if you think you can’t make it across in time.

Recently, a woman in her 40s to 50s approached the Oita Prefectural Police at their Chuo branch, saying, “I have regrettably violated the traffic regulations, so please issue me a ticket.” The station staff were baffled by her request since they had never met a driver who turned themselves in requesting for a traffic ticket.

After questioning her for details, it turned out that the woman had been on the road and as she was driving across a traffic intersection, she looked up at the traffic light and realized that it had just turned yellow, but she proceeded to drive straight past it. Feeling guilty for not stepping on the brakes then, she immediately turned herself in to the police thinking that she had broken the law. The staff explained that “as long as you entered the intersection while the traffic light was still green, it’s not an offense”.

The police commented that, “if only everyone could drive with such caution, there would be no accidents.”

However, some netizens had different views on the matter:

“Having a high level of awareness is great, but it would had been more dangerous if she had abruptly braked there. Don’t beautify the incident.” “She’s too serious.” “She’s so strict with herself, I’m more concerned if she’s psychologically sound.” “Even if what she beat was a red light, if there wasn’t photographic evidence, they wouldn’t be able to penalize her.” “I wouldn’t want to drive behind her…Then again, there are so many drivers in Tokyo who stop their cars anywhere and everywhere, and taxi drivers who accelerate at the yellow light, sometimes even driving straight through a red light, I wish they would learn from her attitude of following the regulations…”

Source: Golden Times

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57 Comments
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This is just ridiculous.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

She is not "too honest" or "too naive", she just doesn't get the traffic law on how the yellow light works. Suddenly breaking on every yellow light will get you in a wreck very quickly.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Virtually no one slows down for the yellow light here. It's more of an invitation to speed up to get through the intersection for most drivers. And the number of people who continue to go through even when the light is red still amazes me. Without traffic light cameras to deter people, it will just continue

14 ( +16 / -2 )

If you are going to hit the brakes on the yellow, make sure you check your mirror first. Nearly always, if you go through on the yellow, two or three cars will follow, one or two going through on the red.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

“She’s so strict with herself, I’m more concerned if she’s psychologically sound.”

Bingo!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I just want to take a moment to thank the author for dedicating an entire paragraph to explain the meanings of red, yellow, and green lights.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

"How law-abiding are the Japanese?" Not very. They run stop signs, run red lights, don't use their blinker. I would know. Someone hit my car 5 years ago becuase they ran a stop sign. Someone hit two weeks ago because they ran a light. I see them breaking the law at least 10-20 times a day and that just in my 5km commute.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

How law-abiding are the Japanese?

As law-abiding as people from most other countries.

The actions of one stupid woman should not be hailed as a good thing either.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Man, in Osaka here.........Greens means go, yellow means speed up, red means go for the heck of it.....I wonder how people here think about this woman.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

she looked up at the traffic light and realized that it had just turned yellow, but she proceeded to drive straight past it. Feeling guilty for not stepping on the brakes then

I think she not only doesn't understand the traffic laws, but also doesn't understand why we have laws. Laws are there to keep people safe. Slamming on brakes suddenly just because light has turned orange is not safe. Technically the driver behind you should have left space to stop, but at an intersection most good drivers are busy checking to the left and right for kids on bikes, obaachans who cross whenever they like, etc., and their reactions might be delayed. Bad drivers are already sitting on your tail and will definitely hit you.

The laws are there to keep us safe, not to be obeyed blindly even when they put you or others in danger. When did common sense die?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The laws are there to keep us safe, not to be obeyed blindly even when they put you or others in danger. When did common sense die?

In Japan? Around 1930.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Running red lights in Japan should be a national sport!!!

I fully put the blame on the keystones!! They are virtually NEVER around, sure a few speed/ketai traps but other than that & a SELECT few who get to drive around so they can have 10s of cars lined up behind them haha there presence............well there basically ISNT one!

SO!!!! We have 99.9% of the drivers who simply know there aren't any cops around so they run reds!!

As one astute poster above said if your going to slow down on a yellow or even reds you MUST see what is behind gauge speed & note size of vehicle. Otherwise you may be stopping but you run an extremely high risk of being in serious rear enders as MOST drivers SPEED UP to go through, they don't slow down when its yellow or about to turn so.

Hell I HAVE to do like wise in order to avoid being rear ended.

Thank you keystones for sitting back & waiting for the accidents to happen!! NOT!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As law-abiding as people from most other countries.

I do recall a certain state when they enacted a "no texting while driving" law, the accidents increased sharply. So no. I beg to differ.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I do recall a certain state when they enacted a "no texting while driving" law, the accidents increased sharply. So no. I beg to differ.

So, you're saying people in Japan don't use their phones while they are driving?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@InakaRob,

All true but you forgot to mention cutting people off, obstructing traffic so people can back into their driveway off of a main road, braking and then signalling etc. Apparently low accident numbers here but...I can`t believe how.

@GW,

Ive been to the koban countless times to give them an earfull about stupid drivers. They just dont care though. Hai! wakaru. Thats all they say. Just useless and uninterested. Its much easier to let the cameras do the work for "speeders" on the Tomei. Easy money.

And just think, if they slam on the brakes and you hit them it is you who is at fault. I had a guy (Yakuza pimped up BMW) slam on his brakes (to a complete stop) on the Nagoya ring last year. Would`ve been killed but virtually no traffic so...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

So many taxi / truck / big Benz drivers in Japan seem to be colourblind when it comes to blatently driving through reds (even at pedestrian crossings when people have started to walk out) I think that more than compensates for the remarkable "honesty" of this particular time-waster.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not relevant. Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All true but you forgot to mention cutting people off, obstructing traffic so people can back into their driveway off of a main road, braking and then signalling etc. Apparently low accident numbers here but...I can`t believe how.

Yeah. Imagine that. Millions of cars and drivers being "lucky" 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout Japan. I'm sure one of these days, their "luck" will run out and will see a big jump in the numbers,(sarcasm)

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Speaking of yellow lights, I recently went through one and a bike cop was under the bridge waiting for someone to run a red, etc. Crazy thing is, I turned my head and caught his eye and I slightly panicked but realized I was already 60% through the intersection before turning red, but stopped on the other side before the line and did not cross. I looked at my rear mirror and did not see the coppertop and thinking that since I was already 95% through the intersection that I just went as there was no cross traffic in sight. Guess what, the bike cop pursued and stopped me and asked why I went through the red light. To make a long story short, he said that the most ideal thing I should have done when I stopped before the end of the intersection was to back up all the way to the other side. I argued that it would have been more unsafe to back up, but he was relentless in his interpretation of the law. Or, had I just stayed at the end of the intersection until the light turned green again, I would not have gotten a ticket. So there you go folks, more confusion to this yellow light.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So they are excellent drivers Nigelboy???

0 ( +1 / -1 )

No one's mentioned yet how ridiculously short the yellow is. If you're driving at the legally permitted speed and the light turns yellow, there is literally no time, nor safe braking distance, to stop safely. With the ubiquitous tailgaters, stopping suddenly is a sure way to get rear-ended. I watch the pedestrian crossing lights in addition just to prepare to stop safely.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Amber means speed up. Beat the lights!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Besides all the rules about the traffic lights and the woman's honesty, how in the heck did this article come make news? Do cops call the news media about them?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It IS very dangerous to stop at a yellow light... I did it some years ago on Ome Kaido (as I saw the light changing as I approached) only to have a small truck run right into the back of my car. I now check if there's anyone too close behind me when there's a "yellow light" in front and if so, I go through.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was just back from driving in Miami. In general in Miami they do NOT run red lights, but they do speed and text while driving. In Tokyo, I see lights turning red run ALL THE TIME, and stop signs seem to be voluntary on side streets. Also, speeding on Daisankeihin is a matter of right.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This sounds made up. It was reported in Golden News....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I've seen more traffic violations in the form of ignoring amber and red lights in Kirishima, Kagoshima than I have anywhere I have driven with the exception of NYC. This article parochial naval gazing. There is a world outside of Japan. Other places are special too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Red means STOP!

Green means GO!

Yellow means GO FASTER!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The article is wrong.

Yellow light has no separate legal significance. It is exactly equal to a green light except it warns you that soon the light will change. If the very front of your car enters the intersection during final second of the yellow light you are safe - you may proceed through. A red light means "do not enter the intersection" and you had already entered when it changed so you are not guilty. But if the front of your car is outside the intersection when it turns red, then you may not enter.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The police commented that, “if only everyone could drive with such caution, there would be no accidents.”

Stopping abruptly at an intersection is more likely to cause an accident, not prevent one. I'm sorry, but I think this woman has a few screws loose.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And who the heck taught this person how to drive and charged her a small fortune for the pleasure of doing so? I can't understand how some drivers actually DO STOP half way across the intersection because the light has changed.......how stupid. Is that what they teach at the driving schools in this country???? Ridiculous. Fantastic way to have the car behind you slam into the back of your car that's about it. I wouldn't go as far as to say

“if only everyone could drive with such caution, there would be no accidents.”

She is more likely to cause accidents driving with her mentality.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In advance, I apologise for grammatical errors of any kind lol. Well, having been pulled over numerous times, I know the police are active, and also know most of their patrol vehicles........Have never been rear ended by someone at the lights and have driven here for 18 years, including delivery work. If you go with the flow then the lights are great. But if you think your own countries rules reign supreme then watch out. As is the case when living overseas anywhere. That blue green thing does my head in though lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We were taught that yellow means stop. Here in Japan yellow means floor it and going through red is OK as long as you keep very close to the car in front such that you essentially form a single vehicle.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

After all of the making mountains out of molehills here, you would think they would fine people for running red lights. I see it almost daily in Tokyo. Sometimes a second car will run a red after a first car had. Ughh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

as long as you entered the intersection while the traffic light was still green, it’s not an offense

I believe the reporter forgot to mention the facepalm as part of the response to the driver.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Im sure most will agree with me when i say she is the minority. Couldnt Abe get his boys in blue to start fining all the terrible drivers who fly through red light and zebra crossing, undertake or drive right up ya A@s! A quick fix for the economy and save quite a few lives while hes at it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Attention seeker.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Walking my son to kindergarten years ago, we were halfway across a street when the "walk" signal began to blink. He panicked, dropped my hand, and ran back from whence he came. Of course, continuing would have resulted in the distance, being halfway across. This woman' logic reminds me of my son's.

But of course, he was six years old at the time.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

common sense is absent from this ladies mind.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I used to think that once my light turned green, the intersection was mine. Well I changed my tune after nearly getting run over by a Japanese dump truck on one occasion. Drivers who have been pushing their luck and running red lights, better start considering the consequences if they cause an accident. The Japanese police will not be kind.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Where I come from Japanese drivers (mostly tourists) are known as reckless and unpredictable drivers (especially by the police. I think this woman is a good example of this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

There are far too many traffic lights in Japan. Especially in the countryside where there is very little traffic they still seem to be placed at almost every intersection. I guess this explains why Japanese drivers fare so badly when driving on international roads where traffic lights are only really placed where they are needed. There seems to be no consideration given to other forms of traffic control such as roundabouts.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Some VERY good points by posters above, yellow lights are indeed very short often, you can enter an intersection on green, see yellow & red BEFORE you are through!! This is more common than you think!

And yes while stopped waiting for the green, when you GET it, you had better bloody well watch for the red light runners because 50% of the time or more they WILL still be going through!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I forgot to mention the "orange light" I stopped at was a VERY "ripe" orange... in fact, it immediately turned into a "blood orange"...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The article is wrong.

Yellow light has no separate legal significance. It is exactly equal to a green light except it warns you that soon the light will change. If the very front of your car enters the intersection during final second of the yellow light you are safe - you may proceed through. A red light means "do not enter the intersection" and you had already entered when it changed so you are not guilty. But if the front of your car is outside the intersection when it turns red, then you may not enter.

Actually, I believe the article's interpretion is rather accurate.

This is taken directly from the National Police Agency's website:

Vehicles and streetcars must not move farther than the stopping point. However, if a vehicle is rapidly approaching the stopping point when the signal changes to yellow, and cannot stop safety, it may continue to proceed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OK, so the law here is that the car has to be at least partly in the intersection by the time the light turns red (not completely in). Different than where I am from, but if that's the law... Still even with that difference, I see people running red lights almost ever day here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As Starman ( Jeff Bridges ) said:

Red means stop.

Green means go.

Yellow means go very fast.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yellow means "Caution". In the case of a light going from green to yellow, it means "Caution, things are about to change." There's no law being violated if you enter an intersection when the light is yellow.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds more like a nut job to me.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I think it's kinda sweet!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@jonobugs

Vehicles and streetcars must not move farther than the stopping point. However, if a vehicle is rapidly approaching the stopping point when the signal changes to yellow, and cannot stop safety, it may continue to proceed.

This proves the point, yellow is the same legally as a green. A green light means "you may enter the intersection" and a red light means "you may not enter the intersection" - but if those were the only two lights then you would have people caught at the last second of a green light entering intersections just as the light turned red. The yellow light is a green light that is about to die. While it is yellow you may enter the intersection. And how you measure is at the ront of your car - if it crosses the line into the intersection then you are legal, even if the light turns red while you are driving the rest of the way through the intersection. Only one thing is illegal - you may not cross into an intersection when the light is red.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mackeral Apr. 23, 2014 - 04:34AM JST This proves the point, yellow is the same legally as a green.

If that is your logic, you will get expensive tickets in Canada. However, it depends on the laws of that country. In British Colombia, Canada, when a driver approaches an intersection with a signal light that is yellow, the driver must stop the vehicle before entering the marked crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if there is no marked crosswalk then before entering the intersection, unless the stop cannot be made in safety.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Everyone knows Japan is a self-policing society - your neighbours will always turn you in if they think you are doing something wrong - but this is crazy and demonstrates the depth of mind control in the society.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

common everybody GREEN lights are not green in Japan theyre BLUE, geeees get it right please.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A very interesting story, but the tag line of "How law abiding are Japanese?" is a bit stereotypical no? if this was normal behavior it wouldn't be news...and it is on a page with not one but TWO articles on people murdering the elderly...

"How law abiding are Japanese?"...depends on the person!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

common everybody GREEN lights are not green in Japan theyre BLUE, geeees get it right please.

I guess that's true considering they say that 青い can mean either blue OR green. When we were taught, aoi was only blue and midori was green.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wouldn't want to be behind her that's for sure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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