10/12/2005Japan Tackles Street Racing With Signs
Eliminating parking spots has dramatically cut the street racing problem in Tokyo, Japan.
In the US, UK and Australia the usual answer to street racing is draconian punishment including automobile confiscation. In Tokyo, Japan, officials are finding a lighter touch has proven more effective.
"No Parking" signs have eliminated rally points along the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, one of the capital's racing hotspots and reduced the ability of racers to co-ordinate their efforts and socialize with one another.
"Drivers get mentally exhausted after an intense competition at high speed, and they cannot continue to drive around the central sections so many times [without parking]," a police official told The Asahi Shimbun.
According to police estimates, this has made the Expressway substantially less attractive to racers. Parking areas in Shibaura, Hakozaki and Tatsumi were closed to traffic between midnight and 5am beginning in April. Since then, according to police, the number of racers dropped from 50-100 on a busy weekend evening to just 10 on average.
In 2002, Tokyo Expressway racing had become the subject of its own arcade videogame. Its fame will continue as one of the first titles expected for the next-generation Xbox 360 home gaming console is "Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway Battle." If police efforts are successful, these games will become the more attractive alternative for Tokyo's remaining street racers.