Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Paper Drivers

In Japan most people get driver's licenses when they become 18 years old (the legal driving age). If a person says they are a paper driver (pêpâ doraibâ) that means that they have a driver's license but never drive. Generally because they don't own a car. In Japan the subway system is very extensive and can get you just about anywhere so cars are not needed as much.

In Japan, cars are driven on the left side of the road and have the driver's seat and steering wheel on their right side. Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major roads are in Japanese and English. Drinking and driving is strictly prohibited.

The typical speed limits are 80 to 100 km/h on expressways, 40 km/h in urban areas, 30 km/h in side streets and 50 to 60 km/h elsewhere. Drivers usually exceed the speed limits by about 10 km/h.

If you want to drive a car while in Japan and don't have a Japanese drivers license, you must obtain an International Driving Permit prior to your departure (hey cannot be obtained in Japan). International Driving Permits are generally issued by the national automobile association in your country. Not every countries driving permits are acceptable in Japan and a Japanese driver's license is required for all drivers who stay in Japan for more than one year. Only if you leave Japan for more than three consecutive months are you again allowed to use an international driving permit.

A good site with more info on driving on Japan is: Ajet - Driving in Japan

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