Some changes have been been made to the Traffic Law which will come into effect on June 1, 2008. Here is an overview of the changes (from what I understand).
1. Changes to the rules regarding bicycles driving on the sidewalk
You may ride your bicycle on the sidewalk under the following conditions.
- If there is a sign that specifically permits riding bicycles on the sidewalk.
- If you are under 13 or over 70 years of age.
- When you have to because of road or traffic conditions.
Cyclists must ride slowly on the part of the sidewalk that is designated for bicycles. However, if there are no pedestrians on the part of the sidewalk that is designated for bicycles, or if there are no pedestrians who are trying to walk on that part of the sidewalk, then cyclists can go at a safe speed using proper and safe riding techniques. Pedestrians must also make an effort to avoid the part of the sidewalk that is designated for bicycles.
2. Children must wear helmets when riding bicycles or when being carried on a bicycle that is being driven by someone else.
3. All passengers must wear seatbelts, including those in the back seat. If the driver or any of the passengers are not wearing a seatbelt in a car that is driving on the toll highways, the driver will be punished.
4. Elderly drivers (above 75 years of age) must display an “elderly driver” mark on their cars. People between the ages of 70 to 75 years of age “should” display the mark. (The elderly driver symbol is in the shape of a tear drop. It is cut down the middle and the left half is orange and the right half is yellow.)
5. People who are hard of hearing are now able to get a driver’s license if they use a special wide mirror. They must display a “hard of hearing mark” on their cars. Other drivers are forbidden from cutting off or aggressively passing cars with such marks. (The “hard of hearing” symbol is a green circle with a yellow butterfly inside.)
- Ibaraki Prefectural Police Website (Japanese)
- Topics on Traffic and Safety on the Police Website (Japanese)
- Amendments to Traffic Laws (Effective June 2008, Japanese)
- Amendments to Traffic Laws (Effective September 2007, English)
- Basic Traffic Safety Instructions (English)