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Go-kart driver crashes into taxi after ignoring road sign in Tokyo


If you’ve ever visited Tokyo, you may have seen fleets of go-karts pass by you on the roads. These go-kart tours are so popular with overseas tourists that one of the companies that ran them almost went out of business when inbound travellers were banned during the pandemic, but now that foreign visitors are back in bigger numbers than ever before, the go-karts have returned to the roads, much to the chagrin of locals.

While visitors on holiday might view the go-karts as a bit of fun, many local drivers and residents see them as a nuisance, with the Metropolitan Police Department receiving over 100 complaints about them last year. In addition to the 12 accidents that were reported, there were numerous complaints related to noise and traffic violations, with many pointing out that go-kart riders often ignore road rules.

This disregard for road rules appears to be an ongoing concern, because on June 4, a foreign go-kart driver collided with a taxi on Hibiya-dori in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. According to the taxi driver, the accident occurred along the three-lane road when the go-kart came flying out of a side street, obviously ignoring the stop sign that was placed there. 

The kart that caused the accident appeared to have been trailing late behind the group, because it flew out after around five go-karts exited the side street, crashing into the taxi, which was driving along the middle lane of the road.

▼ This report explains the details of the accident, including an interview with the taxi driver involved.

Thankfully nobody was injured in the incident, but the go-kart caused damage to the taxi after crashing into its front left wheel. The taxi driver was initially annoyed, saying he immediately thought “kono yarou” (“you bastard”), but at the same time he was angry at the people in power, criticising the government that permits this type of thing.

As the report above shows, the staff operating the go-kart tours can be seen regularly stepping out of the karts at stop lights to take photos of the participants, while the participants also take photos with their smartphones while driving. TV commentators were critical of these actions, pointing out the potential dangers, and one pondered if the go-kart driver involved in the accident may have been unable to read the “止まれ” (tomare or “stop”) stop sign on the road, causing them to ignore it.

▼ Stop signs in Japan have “stop” written on them in Japanese.

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▼ In busy areas where the sign might be missed, the word “stop” is painted on the road.

Screenshot-2024-06-13-at-14.21.19.png

While it’s unclear why the go-kart driver ignored the stop sign, with increasing complaints against the tours, the government may have to step in with measures to regulate the industry or abolish it altogether. As one TV commentator mentioned, having fun is a top priority for visitors on holiday, so there should be some sort of requirement for operators to undergo training or keep to some standard before opening up a business.

Online commenters agreed, with some pointing out that because pretty much anyone can run a go-kart business, it puts a question mark over their validity as a company, especially when they display no signs out the front and have a shutter to conceal their existence. Regulation may therefore be in the best interests of both operators and the foreign tourists that use them, but sadly, there may have to be a bigger incident before the government gets involved.

Source: FNN via Hachima Kiko

Insert images: Pakutaso

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