Japan toughened penalties for using mobile phones while driving

Talking via mobile phone

From Dec. 1, Japan toughened penalties for driving while using mobile phones. The road traffic law was amended to introduce longer prison terms and steeper fines for smartphone use while driving. That was against the background of a rising number of fatal accidents caused by inattentive drivers using smartphones while driving. Calls for tougher penalties have been growing after the death of a 9-year-old boy who was hit by a truck whose driver was playing the famous on-line game “Pokemon Go.”

Under the amended road traffic law, penalty points applied to drivers caught speaking or using their mobile phones will be increased from one to three points. In the case where drivers endanger others by using mobile phones, 6 points, which means the suspension of driver’s license, rather than the previous two points, will be imposed.

Fines will be increased from ¥7,000 to ¥25,000 in the cases of large cars, from ¥6,000 to ¥18,000 for standard-sized cars, from ¥6,000 to ¥15,000 for motorbikes and ¥5,000 to ¥12,000 for mopeds.

Foreign drivers are also subject to the points and fines

Drivers having an international driver’s license are also subject to the points and fines. However, the imposed points won’t affect records in the other country where you got the driver’s license, but it will affect the record in Japan. If the drivers are imposed more than 6 points, they are subject to the prohibition of driving in Japan. In any case, the term of the prohibition of driving in Japan will affect when you try to get a Japanese driver’s license afterward.

Specifically prohibited actions

What kinds of specific actions are subject to penalties? There are no clear criteria for that. It depends on how each police acknowledge the driver’s action. 

You can see car navigation by mobile phones, but not for more than 2 seconds. Using mobile phones while driving can be subject to penalties, so put the smartphone in a cell phone holder and try not to touch it in the car when seeing a car navigation system. It’s not always prohibited to talk with someone by mobile phones but only in hands-free mode. It’s better not to read or browse something by mobile phones while driving.