A one hour lesson is 6300 yen and while expensive, the experience is good. When you're an experienced driver, you tend to get into all kinds of 'bad' habits. Going to the Driving School helps you become more aware of some things. The following are some useful points about driving school.
When Entering the Car
- Adjust the seat
- Adjust rearview and outside mirrors (even if it seems okay, make a show of doing it)
- Put on seat belt
- Adjust steering column if necessary
- Put foot on brake
- Check that handbrake is up
- Check that car is in park
- Turn on engine (foot on brake)
- Put car into drive
- Put handbrake down
- Put on indicator
- Check mirrors
- Look out the window
- When told to stop at a place on the left (for parking at the completion of the exercise/test), indicate, be in the extreme left of the lane and stop at the position told (ichiban, niban, sanban). The front of the car is to be directly aligned with the post that you're told to stop at - not ahead, or behind. Park straight...make sure that your steering column indicates this.
- Stop the car and pull up the handbrake
- With foot still on brake, put car in Park
- Turn off engine and remove key from ignition. Place key in slot where a radio would normally be (or hand to instructor?)
- Check mirror and look out window before opening door to exit.
- Know your road signs
- Keep to the extreme left (hidari) of the lane except when positioning to turn right
- When about to turn right (migi), put on indicator and position car as close to center line as possible. Make sure to stop and check that the way is clear before proceeding.
- For spots where construction is taking place, reduce speed, put on indicator to go wide of cones, but do not go fully into the next lane (about 10 metres from cones). Indicate to pull back into lane.
- At the pedestrian crossing where a big coloured sign shows a child/ren, STOP at the white line before the crossing
- When turning at an intersection, look
- If you have already crossed over the white line when the stop light changes from yellow to red, proceed through the light checking that the way is clear.
- If you are behind the white when the stop light changes from yellow to red, stop!
- When turning, if you see a triangle in the road you're turning onto, make the turn on the side of the triangle nearest to you (i.e. do not go over the triangle)
- Accelerate for the straight (massugu) 40 kph stretch but decelerate before entering the curve. You're not allowed to use your foot brake to slow down while in the turn.
- At the train crossing, stop at the white line, roll down your window, at least 1/3 of the way, listen for any oncoming train; if clear, go. When you come to the next stop, roll up your window (do not use one hand to roll up the window when driving)
- For the hill, stop the car when told, using foot brake. Pull up handbrake. When told to go, accelerate a bit, release handbrake. Remember to check mirror/outside, before going.
- When entering and negotiating the S-curve, go very slowly. When taking the first right bend, steer car as far right as possible, without wheel going over the edge. Then, bring the car as far left as possible for the left bend. Make sure you end up on the left-most side of the lane, after completing the curve, look out the window, and indicate before leaving the S-curve to go onto main course.
- For the crank-curve, keep left. If too close to the barrier when making the right turn, stop (don't hit the barrier!) Put car in reverse, check your rearview mirror and over your shoulder, back-up and try again... you are allowed to do that.
- For both curve courses, enter the curve slowly and take your time. Your wheel must not go over the edge.
- When going around any bend on the main course, decelerate first, and keep to your extreme left. Only position right, for a right turn.
- When turning at the traffic light (shingo), if there is a diamond with arrows on its outsides, marked on the road, keep on the inside of the arrow pointed in the direction you're going (just like the triangle mentioned in 9 above).
- To do the first part of the test on day 1, (which is the PP check, eye test and written test etc.), go early (and take a number). The section opens at 9:30 a.m., but I got there at 8:00 a.m., with 2 friends, and we got numbers 1-3. I was number 2, and it took me over an hour to complete the processing. Given that there are only 2 officers in this office, the further down the number you get, the longer the wait.
- Make sure to have your passport/s showing all travel since your home license was last issued (i.e. since the date your D/L was last renewed). If you have done a lot of traveling, since your home D/L was renewed, I suggest making a list of these (departure and return dates to Ja.) before going to the testing centre...it helps you and the officer :).
- Have all the requirements: PP, D/L, picture cut to required size (for Hyogo-ites, there is a photo place at the Akashi D/L Centre ...just in case...it opens at 8:30), 2400 yen, translation, hanko, pen,
- Know your traffic signals (use the JET diary). Most of the 10 questions are things you'll readily know but go through quickly first, then re-check, as some questions may seem awkwardly worded. You have 5 mins. to do the 10 questions and you circle either yes/no on your answer sheet. They give you 10 picture cards, showing situations and the question is posed below. The cards are not necessarily sequentially numbered, so make sure to match the correct question number with the answer number. NB. You may get a question showing a blue and white arrow, with a car positioned in a 'filter' lane. Once that blue and white arrow is there, even if the traffic light is red, you can make the turn from the filter lane onto the main road, if the way is clear.
- At the testing centre, go early, walk the course as soon as it is permissible to do so.
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