Mr. James Deakin visited Japan through the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Part of his itinerary was a visit to the Koyama Driving School. There he found out how the school prepares potential drivers for the road and eventually obtain their driver's license.
I've often wondered why Japanese drivers are so different to just about every other country I've driven in. So I asked. And the ministry of foreign affairs invi...ted me to Japan's largest driving school to show me how they prepare drivers for the road.
The Koyama driving school is a fully accredited facility and requires drivers to undergo a minimum of 16 days (and up to 12 months if they still dont pass) of written and practical training and costs about 300,000 yen.
It features a full closed course where drivers learn the rules and proper operation of the vehicle, as well as a 30 million yen simulator for cars--and a 10 million yen simulator for motorcycles--to practice more complicated situations like accident avoidance and reacting to emergency situations.
Once they pass, the driver can then bring their certificate to the national police and take a written test for their license.
For me, it all starts there. Aside from the obvious knowledge and training gained, once a person has made that kind of investment in time and money, it holds an entirely different value to them and elevates the profession. Yes you can say the price is anti poor, but you could also say that about a pilot's license, right? But how comfortable would you be flying with someone who bought their license on Facebook?
They also work on a points system. If you rack up 6 points on your license, it is suspended for 30 days. Just to put that into perspective, they have just increased the penalty for using your mobile phone while driving to 4 points. If you are caught drunk driving, the penalty is confiscation and a 1 million yen fine. If there are passengers and they knew you were drunk, they also get fined 1 million yen each. If they can prove that the restaurant that served you knew you would be driving, they also get a hefty fine.
Driving in japan is considered a privilege and not a right. I know that's the case worldwide, but here, they walk the talk. They need to know that once you get behind the wheel, you are part of a greater machinery that has to fully understand your place, because you are only as strong as your weakest link. And for them, that's a matter of life and death.