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Go-Karts on Public Roads!?

By June 1, 2017 at 1:13 am

You know those tiny, bump-free vehicles you see in amusement parks - the one kids have fun driving? Go-karts, as they are called here in Japan, are now driving out of the parks into open roads downtown Tokyo. Not really exactly those in the parks - a great deal remodeled to fit to drive on open roads, but they are good enough to cruise around amid any other four-wheelers.

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Now, who drive them on open roads. Well, certainly not local Japanese drivers who are strictly regulated to abide by the traffic law which by tradition bans go-karts on the public roads. Who else then?

Yes, the vehicle in question, called "Public Road Cart", is currently booming among visiting foreign tourists who love to cruise in popular scenic places onboard the vehicle - Asakusa, the Skytree. and the now famous scramble intersection in Shibuya.

The rental service dealers charge 8000 yen for two hours of "sightseeing driving" with costumes to wear while on the road. The drivers are asked only to produce the international driving license but no crash helmets - nor sheet belts to guard them. The maximum cruising speed is limited to  60 km/h.

As well expected, accidents of all sorts are reported to the police - 13 in the last two months. So flat without the top, the cart is less visible from above to provoke extra risk, so tricky to maneuver at turns, etc.

No reports of bodily injuries are yet to be reported but many have reasons to worry that serious damages are due any moment. Commercial drivers e.g. Hato Bus drivers are given routine warnings each morning before they sit behind the wheel: Watch out for Public Road Cart!.

Much as we welcome foreign tourists, we hate to have them involved in traffic accidents. Some ad hoc legislation is due to prevent them in advance. (Nathan Shiga)

Source: NHK

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