Beware of Accidents Involving Foreign Drivers Using Rental Cars! Effective Measures

In recent years, the number of accidents caused by foreign tourists driving rental cars has sharply increased along with the rise in foreign visitors. Some cases have resulted in serious injuries or fatalities, making it imperative to prevent such accidents.

This article explains the reality of the increasing accidents involving foreign drivers and rental cars. It also covers the measures taken by the government and related parties, and provides guidance on how to respond if an accident occurs with a foreign driver. Please use this information as a reference.

Accidents Involving Foreign Drivers Using Rental Cars Are Increasing

According to government data, the number of foreign visitors involved in accidents while using rental cars quadrupled over the four years from 2012 to 2016.

Even in 2023, accidents involving foreign rental car users continue to occur frequently. In January this year, in Kamifurano Town, Hokkaido, a rental car carrying a family of four from Singapore collided with a dump truck at an intersection, resulting in the deaths of a mother and child in the rental car.

On February 14th, in Shihoro Town, Hokkaido, a car driven by a Chinese national collided with a car driven by a woman in her 30s, resulting in serious injuries to the woman.

Causes of Accidents Involving Foreign Drivers

According to “Itarda Information” from the Institute for Traffic Accident Research and Data Analysis (ITARDA), many car accidents involving foreign tourists are “right-turn accidents” and “collisions at intersections.” Both of the aforementioned accidents were collisions at intersections.

One of the reasons foreign drivers cause accidents while driving rental cars is their lack of understanding of Japanese traffic rules and manners.

In the Shihoro Town accident in January, there was a “stop” sign on the rental car’s side of the road. “Stop” signs in Japan often only display the Japanese word “止まれ” (stop), which foreign drivers may overlook. Additionally, during cold seasons, accidents can occur due to ice and packed snow, which foreign drivers unfamiliar with snowy conditions may struggle to handle.

Government and Related Organizations’ Measures

Measures to Strengthen Rental Car Services

The All Japan Rent-A-Car Association has created leaflets in foreign languages (English, Korean, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)) to help foreigners understand Japanese traffic rules and conditions.

Additionally, the All Japan Rent-A-Car Association is also working on creating special stickers to indicate that a foreigner is driving, making it clear to other drivers.

Targeted Measures for Accidents Involving Rental Cars by Visiting Foreign Tourists

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is implementing the “Targeted Measures for Accidents Involving Rental Cars by Visiting Foreign Tourists” to prevent the increasing number of accidents involving rental cars used by foreign tourists.

In this initiative, rental car companies, police, and tourism departments collaborate to identify accident-prone spots specific to foreigners by utilizing data such as sudden braking from ETC2.0.

Based on the identified dangerous spots, the following measures are taken:

  • Colored pavement
  • Signs using pictograms
  • Multilingual warning signs
  • Distribution of multilingual pamphlets at rental car counters

What Should You Do if an Accident Occurs?

Call the police and an ambulance

First, move your car to a safe location and prioritize the aid of any injured persons. Then call the police and, if necessary, arrange for an ambulance.

It is illegal not to report a traffic accident to the police immediately, and you may not be able to obtain the “accident certificate” needed to claim insurance.

When reporting to the police, do not leave the scene until the police arrive. Although rare, there is a possibility that the other party might flee before the police arrive.

Confirm the Other Party’s Identity

After arranging for the police and an ambulance, you need to confirm the other party’s identity. Ensure you record the following details about the other party:

  • License plate number
  • Name
  • Accommodation address
  • Phone number
Contact the Rental Car Company

After calling the police and ambulance, contact the rental car company to report the accident. Unless the driver is injured and unable to contact the rental car company, make sure to report the accident on the same day.

When the Car Becomes Undrivable Due to the Accident (Breakdown/Total Loss)

Call the emergency contact number of the rental car company or the insurance company listed in the rental agreement to seek instructions. Towing and other necessary actions will be arranged as needed.

To avoid panic in the event of an accident, confirm the emergency procedures when renting the car. For car-sharing services, carefully read the precautions in advance.


Various measures are being taken by the government and related organizations to prevent serious traffic accidents caused by foreign drivers. However, it is true that some foreign drivers, unfamiliar with Japanese traffic rules and manners or unable to understand Japanese signs like “Stop,” cause accidents.

ASAHI MOTORS Long-Term Rentals provides long-term rental cars to foreign residents in Japan.

  • Unfamiliar with Japanese traffic rules
  • Want to re-confirm the meaning of signs and signals
  • Need to know how to drive smoothly within Tokyo (including expressways)

For these concerns, ASAHI MOTORS offers an option where professional instructors conduct “ride-along training” in English before handing over the rental car to foreign residents.

At ASAHI MOTORS Long-Term Rentals, we not only offer car rentals but also implement measures to reduce the number of accidents, even by just one.


ASAHI MOTORS Rent a Car provides rental car service for those who come to Japan on business for a long period of time, from one month to a maximum of two years…

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