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Gov't tightens rules to clamp down on smartphone use while driving

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Uhhh . . . This is absolutely unnecessary. If the police here actually bothered to enforce the existing laws, there would be less of an issue. Typical Japan: Passing more laws instead of enforcing existing ones.

Form over substance at every turn.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Fines will be increased from 7,000 yen to 25,000 yen for cases involving large cars, from 6,000 yen to 18,000 yen for standard-sized cars, from 6,000 yen to 15,000 yen for motorbikes and 5,000 yen to 12,000 yen for mopeds. Repeat offenders face prison sentences of up to six months or fines of up to 100,000 yen.

Now how about the fines for using them while riding a bicycle? Probably ¥2,000?

I am glad they are increasing the fines, but enforcement is another story!

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Starting Dec 1, stricter penalties will be meted out, including higher fines, an around threefold increase in driving penalty points and lengthier prison sentences.

None of this matters if no one is ever pulled over for it.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Such hysteria. If there is one thing I cannot...ack!... [crash]...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I wonder how many accidents have been caused by someone hearing their phone ring and dutifully pulling in to the side of the road to take the call - on a blind corner and a yellow line?

This has happened so many times in back roads, forcing me to brake suddenly and break the law by crossing the yellow line to get past them.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I generally agree with Chip Star, but those increased fines are still not high enough!

However, I totally agree with you concerning the cops!

If they were actually patrolling the roads (as they are supposed to do), actually checked for offenders 365 days a year and not just on sunny days, maybe ..... but only maybe this would help, too.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

@Chip Star and Yubaru

The reason why law enforcement is so weak in Japan is because both prefectural governments and local police have no incentive to write tickets, because the money from these fines do not stay in the prefecture, but go directly into the central government. Over 70% of the budget of each prefecture is funded through the central government instead of local taxes or fees. If over 60% or 70% of the budget of a prefecture was funded by local taxes, you know the local governments would make sure the police write as many tickets as they can, and the police would have the incentive to do that too, knowing the more tickets they write, the more their budget grows, and the more their wages increase. Another motivation would be to have a quota system like most States have in America, and a reward system too. When you link the work of a policeman to his or her career development or wage, you would incentivize better law enforcement.

The focus in Japan is never towards the system and the incentives it generates that govern people's behavior, it is always about human personality.

Here's a quick example that illustrates what i mean. Suppose you hire two people to pick apples. Person A and Person B. You pay Person A for each basket he fills. You pay Person B for each hour of work. Which person would pick more apples? Obviously Person A. Not because Person B is more lazy or bad person, but because the incentives he has are different. Now, if this was in Japan, they would not point at the flawed system, but blame Person B for not "ganbaring" enough.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Fines will be increased from 7,000 yen to 25,000 yen for cases involving large cars, from 6,000 yen to 18,000 yen for standard-sized cars, from 6,000 yen to 15,000 yen for motorbikes and 5,000 yen to 12,000 yen for mopeds. Repeat offenders face prison sentences of up to six months or fines of up to 100,000 yen.

Um, how about having one fine for all vehicles regardless? It’s about $400 and 3 points in my state. Oh and better enforcement sounds like it’s called for too!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Gov't tightens rules to clamp down on smartphone use while driving

I hope this new technology called "Bluetooth" will start to make a difference to combat this issue. I heard it'll start to revolutionize the way short distance wireless transmission will start to occur. Dare to dream.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Coffee: Astute analysis. It needs to be sorted out.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The reason why law enforcement is so weak in Japan is because both prefectural governments and local police have no incentive to write tickets

Please do not incentivize the police like they have in the US. That is not what policing is about. You know that if that becomes the case, it will just make the police more powerful and more draconian in their carrying out their duties, and all of us will suffer, but the rules will not be any better enforced.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

"We need to foster a social conscience that the use of smartphones while driving is a dangerous and impermissible act,

And, how do you intend to do that? By ‘urging’ people not to do it? Hefty fines do nothing to prevent any kind of dangerous driving without proactive policing measures. At least half of the drivers I see are using cell phones will driving. They continue to do so because they know their chances of actually being caught and penalized are very slim. In Australia they have plain clothes police standing at intersections spotting these idiots and dishing out hefty fines.

The really stupid thing is, using your phone while driving is not illegal. It is holding your phone while driving that is illegal. If all these idiots were to put their phones into approved dash mounts and use the Bluetooth hands-free built into all modern car navigation and stereo systems there would not be such a problem.

Get the cops out of their police boxes and start rounding up these idiots. And, while they’re at it, crack down on speeding drivers, running stop signs and red lights, ignoring pedestrian crossings, no seat belts, road rage and all the other reckless behaviors I see from Japanese drivers.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

How about putting some effort into educating the public as well? As with other posters, I also many drivers using cell phones while driving and the Japanese people I mention about it don't see the problem. They feel it is "unlucky" that they get caught! These types of comments show me the public does not understand the point or believe it.

Agree, the cops need to start setting up roadside checks.....to start the education.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The problem is minimal enforcement and a basic reliance on people doing what they are told. We get Road Safety Week campaigns where people are warned and offenders are caught, but people know they can get away with all sorts the rest of the time.

The only speed traps Ive ever seen were on roads with convenient laybays for paperwork and set up on sunny days. I've never seen one near my kids school or any accident blackspot.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Data from the UK has shown that even answering a handsfree-phone is just as distracting as using your SmartPhone - your mind is basically elsewhere as you focus on the person at the other end of the line, and not on the road.

Also, what about some action against drivers watching the TVs on their car navis as they drive along? I see this frequently on the expressways.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Um, how about having one fine for all vehicles regardless? It’s about $400 and 3 points.

Because that would make sense!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Also, what about some action against drivers watching the TVs on their car navis as they drive along? I see this frequently on the expressways.

Technically speaking the police can pull you over for this as well. There are newer versions of the car navi, that automatically shut off the TV while the car is in motion.

How about nailing the folks who do their makeup while driving, and the people who hold their babies, or let their kids roam around the vehicle, or the people who stay in the right passing lane, or drive along at 40 km/h on the tollroad, or the idiots who drive with their highbeams on.

It's all about enforcement of current laws, not about the fines.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Out of curiosity, will they also apply these rules towards TV’s? Many people here watch television in their cars while driving and too many times have I seen someone swerving, not moving, or almost hit someone because they were paying attention to the TV they have installed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Will the police uphold this though? They seem pretty passive, to say the least when it comes to policing driving. Definitely reactive, rather than proactive.

They'll probably make a push for the first two weeks then not bother about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The current fine for using a phone while driving is ¥50,000 and 3 points. It doesn’t seem to stop anybody because they know they will never get caught. The cops are too busy giving directions to old people at their koban.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I Love Coffee, piecework is a crude strategy that leads to corner cutting and lower quality. In the case of the Police see that as increased graft and corruption.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What about using your keitai's map app? Not typing in information, but having it open and on display. Surley that will be allowed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A lot of sat navs, certainly all of the officially sanctioned ones fitted by dealers, don't allow map searches or display the tv while driving. It's been this way for years.

The problem is that the systems generally rely on an earth signal from the car, in simple systems from the handbrake, when it is stopped. This is easily defeated by fitting an aftermarket coupler that makes a permanent earth connection to the terminal in question. Aftermarket sat navs may not even need a coupler.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, until the cops actually go out and, do their job..............none of this will be solved. How are they gonna pull people over and give them citations when they are too busy sitting in their koban's sleeping or playing with their phones?

Have the patrol officers actually go out and you know, patrol. Walk the beat. Drive around the town, the roads, the highways.

It's not just one sided though. People are just self absorbed in their own little worlds. They need to pay attention and actually LOOK at where they are going.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

kohakuebisu - A lot of sat navs, certainly all of the officially sanctioned ones fitted by dealers, don't allow map searches or display the tv while driving. It's been this way for years.

What a load of rubbish! It is illegal to have the TV function active while the car is in motion. However, a quick mod changes that and every car has the mod done. You see all these new vans driving around with videos playing on multiple screens. This is despite it being illegal to do so.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

In my town, I've often seen cops set up traffic enforcement positions. Usually 3 or 4 cops at an intersection, apparently waiting for red light infractions or right-turning scooters. (I've never understood that stupid scooter law.)

They're so obvious standing there, visible from like a block away, I can't believe people screw up right in front of them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I certainly hope they finally become serious about that. Smartphone zombies driving vehicles is an urgent issue.

Don´t have high hopes though... so far, the koban near here seems mostly interested in harrassing people riding mamachari bikes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Gov’t tightens rules ... and the cops continue to ignore them. Nothing to see here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There are many ways to use your phone hands free these days I don't understand how this is still an issue. I use my phone while riding my bicycle all the time with a bicycle mount and never have any issues.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

WilliB

Don´t have high hopes though... so far, the koban near here seems mostly interested in harrassing people riding mamachari bikes.

In my area, they are tackling the scourge of scooters making unbroken right turns.

Will we ever be safe from those monsters and their horrific driving maneuver. Think of the children!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Offenders should have their driving licenses taken away. First offense 1 year, second 5 years, third life.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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