Car rentals by foreign tourists at highest rate ever
A study by Okinawa Rent-a-car Association found that the number of car rentals by foreign tourists in 2016 was 207,970 that is a record high for the third consecutive year.
By nationality, Koreans accounted for the most rentals with 80,249 or 39% of the total. Visitors from Taiwan had slightly fewer rentals at 78,587 followed by tourists from Hong Kong who had 37,573 rentals. American visitors rented a car 3,104 times and people from Singapore used a rental car 911 times.
The number of accidents involving foreign tourists driving rented cars that were reported to the Association was 5,416 in 2015. The accident rate was 3.8% of all rentals by foreign visitors, which is 4 times higher than the rate by domestic tourists.
Of the car accident, 67% did not involve other parties, 13% occurred in overtaking situations, and 20% were others. As for reasons,, the left-side traffic in Japan was cited most often. Especially the fact that the steering wheel in the cars is on the right side and people walk on the left that is the opposite from South Korea and Taiwan seems to be a cause of confusion. The difference is traffic signs was also mentioned as a factor.
The Association has started providing its member companies with magnetic stickers to slap on their cars when they rent to foreign visitors that say in English “Heartful Friendship in OKINAWA.” In Japanese the sticker says, “A tourist from a foreign country is driving this car!” to warn local drivers.
This idea has spread to 16 other prefectures in Japan so far.