If you want to enjoy whole Hokkaido, you should go by car. There are most of scenic places where you can’t access easier except by car. But, in Hokkaido, it is true that Hokkaido is one of the most terrible place where a lot of fatal accidents occur every year. The amount of death in a traffic accident was 185 last year. The number has been descending for a decade, but Hokkaido is the 4th rank of fatal accident through the all countries. With wide and long strait lasting roads, people may speed up and also get sleepy. You need to take a break every 1 hour. There are many convenience store along a road where you park to get some coffee or juice. The slower you drive, the faster you reach. Anyway, you drive your car on the left-side in Japan, of course you’ve already known. When you leave Sapporo urban area, remember these 10 check points below.
10 Check points of Driving in Hokkaido
- Take a sufficient sleep before you drive. The road of Hokkaido often makes you sleepy.
- Watch your speed when you leave or enter a city/town. The police sometimes measures your speed at the road-side when you enter a new city/town or you leave. Most of cases are on the strait road not curve.
- Keep your distance from the car ahead. The more rural you go, the rougher driving. Even though in Sapporo, some drivers don’t put the blinkers on before their turn, there are more bad manner drivers in the country. Especially in case of touring by motor cycle, you have to watch around you.
- Be sure to fasten your sheet belt. Most of death cases are not-used sheet belt ones.
- In the spring or autumn, there might be a snow fall at the pass of higher-mountain such as Nisshotoge, Karikachitoge, Mikunitoge, Bihorotoge, Shiokaritoge, Sekihokutoge and Nakayamatoge. Check the weather condition often.
- Avoid a heavy traffic jam in the Great Sapporo. In the season of Golden week(Apr,29 to May,5), Obon(Aug,12 to 16) and other long holidays, all of people go out by car, it is like a migration of the Germanic race. It is better for you not to move these weeks by car.
- In the beginning or the end of the of the winter, keep watching the road condition, especially the surface of a road. If you see something shining on the road, that part of the road could be frozen, icy road. This is the most dangerous case of driving in Hokkaido. There are a lot of accidents especially in the night. Also when you go through a tunnel, watch the entrance and the exit. Their surface are often frozen. You must drive slow down carefully.
- Don’t look a beautiful view as your driving. There are many beautiful sights while you are driving then you look there and something could be happened. This is one of the most possible case in Hokkaido. Watch ahead or stop the car if you want to.
- A restroom available in the convenience store or the Station of Road, Michinoeki(道の駅). Every convenience store offer to use their toilets for drivers. Also Michinoeki is available for taking a break. Park your car and get some foods or drinks. Michinoeki is usually located in the entrance of the town, even if the shop is closed in the midnight, you can use a toilet.
- In case of a terrible snowstorm, if your car can’t move anymore with much snow fall, Kill the engine and call 911, say ‘Tasukete’ or ‘Help me’. English available. Don’t stay in car idling the engine for heating inside. This is one of the most dangerous case, sometimes it is going to be a death accident of all people inside the car by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Enjoy your touring and have a good day.
- Northern Road Navi — Information for passes in Hokkaido