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MariCar go-kart driver mounts pavement, causes serious damage in accident

39 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, chances are you’ve probably seen a fleet of go-karts on the roads, with drivers dressed up in onesies to look like characters from Nintendo’s popular Mario Kart series of racing video games. Run by a go-kart company called MariCar, the driving experience is a hit with foreign tourists, and a sore point for Nintendo, who is currently seeking 10 million yen in compensation from the company for possible copyright infringement.

For locals in Japan, opinions are divided over foreign tourists driving the modified vehicles around an unfamiliar city, especially after an increase in accidents which included a MariCar driver hitting a parked car and another foreign visitor driving onto a sidewalk and running into the wall of a police box, which prompted the transport ministry to look into strengthening safety measures for the vehicles. Currently, drivers are under no obligation to use seat belts or wear helmets while driving the go-karts on the roads.

With every new incident comes renewed debate into the topic of the safety of the MariCar service, and on April 30 it was reported that another foreign tourist had got themselves into trouble yet again, this time mounting the sidewalk and crashing beside a storefront in Tokyo’s busy Roppongi district.

Twitter users were quick to capture the scene on camera, with police from the local Azabu police station arriving to assess the damage and make a report on the incident.

The picture shows that the driver ran into the Malin’s British fish and chips shop, which is less than 200 meters away from the famous Roppongi Crossing intersection, and directly opposite the busy Tokyo Midtown shopping and restaurant complex.

According to Azabu police, the incident, which occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m., involved a driver in her 30s from Singapore, who had arrived in Japan the previous day. The driver, who was in the second kart of a five-vehicle fleet, mounted the sidewalk and crashed into a signboard, damaging the sign before crashing into a wall next to the shop window. The driver was transported to the hospital for minor injuries, and there were no injuries to passersby.

The incident could have been a lot more serious, and Twitter users were quick to add their opinions to the conversation online.

“Even though they’re not run by Nintendo, this is damaging Nintendo’s image.”

“They have to tighten regulations for these vehicles.”

“It’s only a matter of time before something more serious happens.”

“If they did this sort of thing on busy roads overseas they’d probably be run over by other cars.”

“People who drive these karts have to think about others as well as themselves.”

Despite all the negative publicity the company is generating among locals in Japan, the company remains high-up on the must-do list for foreign visitors to the country. Hopefully MariCar will be able to increase safety measures for drivers, so that more foreign tourists can enjoy the thrill of stepping into a Mario Kart game in real life.

Source: Sankei via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Cosplaying go-kart driver strikes bicyclist in hit-and-run collision in Akihabara

-- Trial begins in the case of Mario Kart v. Mari Car

-- Nintendo Shutting Down Real World Mario Kart Fraud

© SoraNews24

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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stupid idea in the first place. Good way to make money but obviously it's dangerous.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Was only a matter of time, and if they let it go on main streets like it is, it's only a matter of time until a truck flattens a few of them.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Cant believe they've got away with it thus far. No helmets or seatbelts, bangin around Tokyo city in costume! You can see the appeal for tourists but it is definitely a risky business. They didn't even bother getting permission from Nintendo! Punters!

14 ( +16 / -2 )

This is just an accident waiting to happen. There's a reason why go karts are driven only on empty roads or in their own track and not in one of the busiest cities in the world. Do you see go kart whizzing around in New York, Manila, Bangkok or New Delhi? If you've ridden a go kart before, you'll notice how these things can turn on a dime and can suddenly flip over and have a low profile which makes them hard to spot when driving. And unlike Mario Kart, there's no cloud to warn you of any dangers.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

They drive licensed go-karts occasionally on the city streets here as well. I always thought it was an accident waiting to happen as they sit so low and are hard for drivers to see.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This needs to be shut down, stat.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I still can't fathom why this is legal. Does Japan not have any safety standards for road vehicles? These karts should be restricted to closed tracks. It would be safer and it would actually be more fun. Who wants to drive in Tokyo traffic in these things while wearing a dum getup?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

That compny doensn't learn its lesson, does it? Is it okay that foreign visitors can enjoy for themselves even if they could hurt other passersby?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I still can't fathom why this is legal. Does Japan not have any safety standards for road vehicles?

There are laws about what is and isn't allowed on the roads, and these fit in the 'allowed' category. Though I suspect not for much longer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I wonder if the boss has a suitcase and passport packed and ready, because its only a matter of time a few of those will be involved in proper accident with a truck or pedestrian, and then its proper jail time.

That said, nintendo tried taking em to court and lost... so there seem to be some deep and influential pockets behind this business.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Very troubling news. I am puzzled by how these Companys can permit Foreigners to drive go karts on public streets of Shinjuku. At least make the rental driver have the Japanese license. Foreign Drivers probably dont know the strict road rules in Japan, which are very different from foreign Nations, and Japan has far stiffer penalties and fines.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

get those jerks off the street pronto

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I see an opportunity for a company out in the hinterlands to build their own private track (perhaps following the course of an actual Matio Kart track) and avoid all this negative publicity and danger.

It would be on private land so you wouldn't even have to worry about driver's licenses. They could take over a place like Nara Dreamland, which has been unoccupied since USJ stole its spotlight. Doing this in the middle of Tokyo is just asking for trouble.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Tourism represents only 1% of Japan's GDP,  but the problems related to tourists is much higher. The Measles epidemic in Okinawa is just the beginning, there's more to come.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

At least make the rental driver have the Japanese license

Japanese drivers overseas don't need that country's license to drive and they have a lot of accidents as well. Japanese drivers have 4000 deadly accidents a year, in Japan! It's not the nationality of the drivers, it's the idea of fun go-cars on public streets that is the problem.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Just ban the flipping things already! They are a pest on the roads. They don’t even have flags on them, so you can see them in traffic. I have never seen one driven appropriately. They are always weaving in and out of traffic, speeding and generally hooning around the place. Get rid of them before they kill somebody!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Time to end this nonsense.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Tourism represents only 1% of Japan's GDP...

No it doesn't. It makes up over 8% and that's not including jobs and investment. If you have to make up statistics just to prove your point, then you don't have much of a point.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

darknutsMay 3  06:14 pm JST I still can't fathom why this is legal. Does Japan not have any safety standards for road vehicles? 

Cops in patrol cars are required to wear helmets yet there are apparently no rules for this. Wonder how often the carts have to go in for their shakken?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's not the nationality of the drivers, it's the idea of fun go-cars on public streets that is the problem.

That may be true, but it's the perception that matters. Foreign tourists have enough trouble not embarrassing their home country all by themselves, they don't need any help by potentially killing someone.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Tourism represents only 1% of Japan's GDP

No it doesn't. It makes up over 8%

I tried searching, and found numbers ranging from 0.5% to 8.5%. The low number (0.5%) was limited to foreign tourist spending. The higher numbers refer to foreign and domestic tourism, including indirect contributions. (Not sure how indirect contributions are measured.)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

FIRST off; I'm quite surprised this is even LEGAL in Japan.

Secondly, I'm equally surprised no one has been KILLED as long as this has been going on.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

maybe in another town but Tokyo is too busy for this

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

darknutsMay 3  10:41 pm JST

Tourism represents only 1% of Japan's GDP...

No it doesn't. It makes up over 8% and that's not including jobs and investment. If you have to make up statistics just to prove your point, then you don't have much of a point.

In 2017 6.8% of GDP was made by tourism but most of it is internal tourism.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Whats the balance between a fun time for tourist and a literal accident waiting to happen?

I first learned of these on Battle Trio when I was in Korea and thought it looks like a cool video to post on social media, by how is turning a bunch of tourists loose in the streets on go karts a good idea?

Apparently it wasn’t.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Are all of you guys over 80?

A woman damaged a guard rail, and you're reacting like she mowed down a family of baby pandas.

The drivers DO were helmets, seat belts, gloves, goggles, and the cars have roll bars.

MariCar should be commended for what they're going: Creating a fun new business concept in order to bring people and money into Japan. Which it sorely needs.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

It seems to me that the thrill of the go-cart, and thus ability to sell the service to tourists, is the speed, maneuverability, open air, closeness to the ground, and ability to be just a little naughty. The exact qualities that one would not want to see in normal drivers and which would cause you to fail a license test. Since they are apparently type-legal at present, the law needs to be changed if they are to be banned.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A woman damaged a guard rail, and you're reacting like she mowed down a family of baby pandas.

So I guess you missed the part where it said she damaged the guard rail from the sidewalk side... She drove onto the sidewalk first. Very lucky that there were no pedestrians, but it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It is just an accident and accidents happen. If a car ran off the road, do all the posters want to ban driving in Tokyo? Get real and get on with your lives.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I like these go-carts. But they do need to have the same basic restrictions other standard cars have and make sure the rules of the road are enforced.

Do the renters of the Mario Carts have to have an international driving permit or a Japanese license? If not, they should.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do the renters of the Mario Carts have to have an international driving permit or a Japanese license?

Yes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Its only a matter of time, its not that someone will run over these idiots, but when they run through a pack of pedestrians or much worse run over some kids, that's when this will stop. Up on the sidewalk and hit the police box, Tokyo police should have shut that down already.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Daniel DonaldsonToday  05:14 am JST

“Are all of you guys over 80?”

Whats our age got to do with common sense?

“The drivers DO were helmets, seat belts, gloves, goggles, and the cars have roll bars.”

The websites of the company show people with no helmets, and I believe under the law they are still optional. But that from March a change in the law now requires seat belts. Based on what I’ve read in the media.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Here’s a link to a BBC article with some info about safety requirements. One issue is mudgauards to keep costumes from getting entangled in the wheels. Which reminded me of the death of Isadora Duncan. . .

https://www.google.co.jp/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-42263757

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How did she go so terribly wrong on a straight piece of road? Carts don't have great momentum because they are relatively heavy, so to hit something on the sidewalk with any great force she would likely need to have been accelerating on the footpath itself. Sounds like she panicked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ganbare Japan!

Foreign Drivers probably dont know the strict road rules in Japan, which are very different from foreign Nations, and Japan has far stiffer penalties and fines.

Umm.... in a country where there is no consequence for riding your bike down the wrong side of the street, mothers hold their babies on their lap in the front seat and people don't use their headlights at night.

Right.

Point not made

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ganbare Japan!

Foreign Drivers probably dont know the strict road rules in Japan, which are very different from foreign Nations, and Japan has far stiffer penalties and fines.

I think you once comment that you have never been outside of Japan and could not think about a reason why you would want to so how would you even know about driving in other countries not that you really care about that. I have driven in many countries and would not even consider Japanese drivers, rules of the road, and safety are higher or better than those.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have to say that a person of average intelligence would NEVER drive a gocart on a road with normal traffic. Its insane. How this is even legal in japan is unfathomable.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I drive regularly in and around Tokyo. I've come across these things too often. They are too low, too slow and too many inexperienced people operating them. They do not belong on the streets of a busy city. Shut the operation down before stupid rules are set for the entire country.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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