Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness, with Japanese citizens making international news for their impeccable manners.
And while Japanese society has a lot of unspoken rules created to avoid inconveniencing others, at times those manners seemingly vanish when it comes to driving a car.
A survey conducted by the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF) observed 8,281 vehicles throughout the country, and their behavior when it came to approaching crosswalks without traffic lights.
They found that the number of vehicles stopping to allow pedestrians to cross the street averaged just 30.6 percent nationwide, despite the fact that according to Japanese traffic laws, pedestrians have right-of-way when it comes to crosswalks.
While that news may sound pretty grim, the number of cars stopping has actually increased over the years. Since JAF first started conducting the surveys back in 2016, the number of those who stopped at pedestrian crosswalks has risen by 23 percent.
And while the national average sits at a depressing 30.6 percent, there are some areas whose traffic manners are significantly worse than others. The lowest scoring prefectures for drivers who stop at crosswalks without traffic lights were Aomori (14 percent), Tokyo (12.1 percent) and Okayama (10.3 percent).
Of course, this survey isn’t representative of all drivers, and certainly isn’t representative of all prefectures.
Nagano Prefecture has taken the top spot for number of drivers who stopped at a pedestrian crossing ever since this survey was first taken, and they take the win this year too with a whopping 85.2 percent — miles out ahead of its nearest rival Shizuoka Prefecture (63.8 percent).
Japanese netizens responded to the news with weary acceptance, with some netizens attempting to justify the behavior of the drivers who don’t stop.
“I’m just looking forward to the age of self-driving cars.”
“On the other hand, so many people just step out onto the crosswalk without properly checking that there are no cars coming first, too.”
“I’m sure lots of people don’t even know that it’s against traffic laws to not stop for pedestrians.”
“Doesn’t everyone learn this kind of thing at driving school? I mean… that’s why licenses exist, right?”
“Even though I want to stop, stopping with a car behind me would be an accident waiting to happen. Some cars will even try and drive around you if you stop, too. That’s way more dangerous for the pedestrians.”
“If it’s just one person crossing the road, so many drivers might have to wait just to let that one guy cross. They’d be holding so many people up.”
JAF hopes the survey will help spread awareness to more Japanese drivers, and in turn encourage them to drive with pedestrians’ safety in mind.
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