Friends don’t let friends Ibaraki Dash.

Although Japanese people tend to be stereotyped as extremely courteous and well mannered, there’s something about the act of driving that seems brings out the worst in some people. We recently saw how some use the Conbini Warp to dangerously cut corners in urban areas, but now another traffic violation is taking the spotlight.

Recently the Ibaraki Prefectural Police have taken to social media to raise awareness about the dangers of a driving habit known as the “Ibaraki Dash.” This is when a car makes a right turn across oncoming traffic (Japan drives on the left side of the street) immediately when the light turns green.

▼ Dash cam recording of an “Ibaraki Dash” in Tochigi Prefecture, watch the van on the right that’s creeping into the intersection as far as possible on a red light

The reason the Ibaraki Police are using the self-deprecating nickname for this act is that it is said to occur more often in Ibaraki Prefecture than elsewhere. However, it’s not alone as other pockets of Japan also struggle with the same problem under different names. In Nagano Prefecture it’s called the “Matsumoto Run” (Matsumoto Hashiri) after Matsumoto City, and in Ehime Prefecture it seems to take place frequently in Iyo City and has earned the name “Iyo’s Early Turn.”

Whatever you want to call it, the police would like everyone to know that the Ibaraki Dash isn’t just against guidelines, it’s breaking the law. Anyone caught doing it is clearly violating Article 37 of the Road Traffic Act which explicitly states that: “When a vehicle turns right at an intersection, the vehicle must not interfere with the progress of other vehicles.” Anyone caught doing so can be fined up to 6,000 yen ($55), or more for special types of vehicles.

▼ A tweet by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police explaining the possible offenses that can get racked up when doing an Ibaraki Dash

Netizens agree that it’s a reckless and selfish habit that needs to go, though some wonder if it’s unfairly putting Ibaraki in a bad light.

“What if there’s a pedestrian crossing the street?”
“It’s likely an oncoming car would also start suddenly, so it’s a pretty dumb idea.”
“‘Ibaraki Dash’ is a clever name, but it’s unfairly blaming the people there for something that’s done all over Japan.”
“I don’t mind it. It’s crowded in the morning so I understand why people do it.”
“I ride a motorcycle and I get scared in Ibaraki. That’s why I got a camera installed.”
“I’ve always called it the Nagoya Run.”
“It’s a serious problem, but that name is in bad taste.”
“It’s the worst for motorcycles because they don’t necessarily have to crash. Just a sudden stop can lead to a serious accident.”
“I see a truck do it once in a while. That’s really scary.”

Although it isn’t fair to single out one region in particular, there is some data to back up the driving situation in Ibaraki. In a 2016 survey by the Japan Automobile Federation, residents of each prefecture were asked to rate the manners of their own drivers. About 67 percent of Ibaraki residents rated their own driving etiquette as “very bad,” putting it third among the highest percentages of self-rated “very bad” ratings for Japan’s 47 prefectures.

▼ Another Ibaraki Dash caught on camera. Note how the driver is listening to a song performed live and just after the dash is complete the audience starts cheering

But even with this data, the question of whether or not Ibaraki is truly a hotbed of bad driving remains largely conjecture. Because of this, possible reasons for widespread bad driving remain a mystery – just like the mystery of why there are no monkeys in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Source: Ibaraki Shimbun, Itai News
Top image: Pakutaso
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