Japan Today
Image: Pakutaso

Only 30% of Japanese drivers stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, survey says

By Katie Pask, SoraNews24

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.

Image: Pakutaso

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.

Source: Japan Automobile Federation via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese survey finds only 23 percent of vehicles stop for pedestrians at crosswalks

-- Harrowing video sees reckless drivers ignore pedestrian crossing in Japan【Video】

-- Simulation shows the chaotic consequences of walking in Shibuya while staring at your phone

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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There's no point painting the crossing markings if the rules on using the crossing aren't enforced. Drivers are already lazy and polluting, so should obey traffic laws and give way to pedestrians. The Japanese police need to enforce the laws.

12 ( +16 / -4 )


I'm surprised it's that high. In Osaka some drivers seem to think the parallel lines mean to go faster.

That said, there's a pedestrian crossing near my home that the cops patrol pretty regularly, and the fines they generate from all the drivers they ticket would make a pretty healthy contribution to the coffers.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness...

The greatest trick Japan ever pulled was convincing the world its politeness was genuine.

Having driven here for more than 20 years, I cannot believe that 1 in 3 drivers stop at pedestrian crossings without traffic lights. Not a chance it's that high. There must be something in the research that has boosted that figure higher.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

That's not my experience, I have to say. As soon as I step out into the road I find that virtually 100% of cars stop for me (even if there isn't a zebra crossing).

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Drivers here are pretty random

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness

says who?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

30 percent???!!! That's rather generous. I really don't understand the point of these crossings. This is where I can really say Americans and Brits are more well-behaved (the threat of being sued also helps). I'm already cautious when crossing at pedestrian lights. Female drivers in Japan can be just as disgraceful. I don't know whether they really are oblivious to everything going on around them or whether they're just plain selfish.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I'm in the habit of stopping my car whenever there's a pedestrian waiting at a crossing with no traffic lights.

My complaint is with those who just stand there (often chatting with a friend near a tree or a signpost) showing no intention of crossing and with those pedestrians who won't bother to look up from their phones.

Then, there are the cyclists about which I won't get into here.

The need for increased safety awareness applies to not only drivers, but to pedestrians as well.

My 2 cents.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I think generally drivers in Japan are quite well behaved. I'd say it’s more common for them to stop when it’s a narrow 2-way street rather than on the wider ones when cars go faster.

On the contrary, in Europe I’m used to sometimes letting cars pass first not to block the traffic (e.g. a car turning from a main street would block the right lane if they let me cross the side street) and cross after them.

In Japan they mostly stop to let me go, I show them to go first, they don't go, things get awkward, I do the typical Japanese crossing while running move.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Take your life into your own hands stepping onto a pedestrian crossing in japan!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

And speaking of speed limits what's the go there? My father in-law always tells me its ok the go 15~20km/hr over them so how do you know when you'll be fined for speeding? Make the speed limit the limit not the recommended limit!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness

says who?

Japan, mostly.

After all it's the safest, most polite, generous, environmentally-friendly, self-aware place in the world.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

My father in-law always tells me its ok the go 15~20km/hr over them so how do you know when you'll be fined for speeding? 

Violations for driving up to 14km/hour over the speed limit, account for only 0.1% of all speeding violations in Japan which is something around 1 million cases per year.

The police aren't likely to seriously enforce such violations.

However, it should be noted that driving over the designated speed limit by even 1km/hour is in violation of the Road Traffic Law.

Please tell your FIL to try to drive a little slower next time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am happy to be one of those who stops for pedestrians. We are all pedestrians sometimes, if not most of the time, here in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

And speaking of speed limits what's the go there?

When I go 50 on a country road, about 3 or 4 vehicles will quickly appear close in my rearview mirror. When I speed up to 60, they're still there. Around 70 and they start to fall back to a reasonable distance.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Having never been through the J school system, is anyone else aware of any formal training students in Japan receive about basic rules of the road ? - 

After Nov 12.’s tragedy of the truck hitting the bike of a woman and her now, deceased child, there are still MANY questions of pedestrians, motor scooter riders and mothers/student bike riders having greater situational awareness.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Pictured: Continued respect for these elderly women that routinely dismount, look both ways, cross only when it’s allowed/safe and then remount their bikes to continue on their way. Surely, it must be their generation and/or the focus of ‘social’ education and common sense in the past.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

30%? That seems high, in central Japan it must be close to 1%.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In Japan, ‘motorized scooter riders’ are the most aggressive and the absolute worst offenders of all traffic signs & signals in all kinds of traffic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

yes and your picture highlights the problem. 99% of zebra crossings in Japan are sited at traffic light controlled crossings. Drivers obey the lights and pay no attention to the black and white markings. Not surprising then that when they come across poorly signed (with blue signs not red) poorly lit and often barely visible markings that most drivers don’t consciously notice them and subconsciously don’t think of them as a hazard. Add to that the following situations:

1 you stop, the pedestrian starts to cross but cars coming the other way keep coming, you feel you are luring the pedestrians to their deaths.

2 the car behind you overtakes you and goes over the crossing anyway (more guilt)

3 the car behind has to mount the kerb to avoid running into the back of you as they can’t believe you would just suddenly stop without traffic lights.

4 the car behind runs into you

and it’s easy to see why most Japanese drivers ignore them.

Until all zebra crossings must be removed from traffic light junctions and used exclusively for pedestrian crossings, Japan will never develop the reverence for zebra crossings that exists in the UK.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness

Missed an adjective. Let me help: Japan is a country that is famed for its superficial politeness.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Yesterday morning a salary man stepped out onto a zebra crossing and a car actually swerved round him onto the other side of the road

Don't worry. It's not unusual. It happened to me. You'd thinking stopping for two seconds would kill the driver.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And it's not just those crosswalk violators!

Red traffic lights don't seem to exist for many.

Do you know what this is called? No police doing their jobs.

I flip the bird more often when I'm walking across a crosswalk than I do when I'm driving.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Take the licenses away from the next 1000 who do it and you’ll see how dramatically the situation will improve to nearly zero such cases.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Not stopping at crosswalks is somewhat tolerable, but I've seen way too many cars driving through red lights.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Eastman 11.53am

If you stop and get honked, turn on your hazard lights and put your bonnet up and look busy.

Alternatively, walk back to their car, tell them you have stalled, but you will keep your hand on their car horn if they could just go and start yours.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For taxi drivers, it’s 0%.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness

This is one of the greatest illusions Japan has painted for the world. That and tricking people into believing that they are technologically advanced.

Having seen how cyclists behave on the roads here, I'm not surprised that car drivers are just as if not more complacent and selfish behind the wheel. Also, 30%? Bit steep, I reckon.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan is a country that is famed for its politeness

Drive around two days in anywhere in Fukuoka and tell me what you think then.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Agree with other posters. 30% is propaganda to bolster the wholesome Japan image. Where I live, the birthplace of the 'Ibaraki Dash', my estimate would be less than 5% of drivers stop at crosswalks. You can hurl your body onto a crosswalk and you'll get honked at, or killed.

Additionally, most folk here are also aware drivers actually speed up to run red lights, and an interesting trend I've seen recently is drivers jumping lights at train crossings, good luck with that. Go Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As far as traffic lights, perhaps you don't fully understand the Japanese system?

Green/(Blue per the police): Go

Yellow: Go very fast

Red: Only 4 more cars

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Disagree, at least where I live people STOP and give ways to ped's. almost always, no honking from behind and no problems even cats are stopped for and they just walk across the street, no problems at all.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I think the real problem is that everyone is just following what everyone else seems to be doing and not think anything different. Another problem is that the police don't seem to think it is a problem, or they'd be out enforcing the rules. I've had a guy abuse me because I stepped out onto a pedestrian crossing and he was startled and had to brake suddenly. I've also had a taxi driver swerve around me as I started to cross a pedestrian crossing, while apologizing to me profusely (I don't think this the Japanese politeness that everyone is referring to!) because he decided not to stop for me. I kind of think it is actually safer to jaywalk than to use a pedestrian crossing, as you would not have that misinterpreted sense of safety of a pedestrian crossing, and you would be more alert of the incoming traffic to safely judge when is the correct time to cross the road.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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