Japanese Driving Schools Benefit From Coronavirus Fears; Public Transit Now Terrifying

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
japanese driving schools benefit from coronavirus fears public transit now

Driving schools in Japan are reporting an increase in attendance from individuals who already possess a driver’s license. According to The Japan Times, the new trend is epitomized by Paper Driver School Kitakanto in Maebashi. The school has seen influx of already licensed drivers this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 10 percent of new students are said to have signed up as a direct result of COVID-19. As Japan’s population has a lower percentage of drivers than in North America, many are dependent upon public transportation to move about — a mobility type that’s become problematic overnight, what with fears of contagion spreading as quickly as the virus itself. To avoid sharing space, some Japanese drivers are attempting to brush up on their skills in order to feel more comfortable behind the wheel.

“Unlike trains and buses, you don’t come into contact with others in a car,” school representative Michitoshi Sonoda told the outlet.

However, others simply needed a way to get to new workplaces after their previous positions dried up due to the outbreak. One student reportedly took a lesson Thursday after quitting his job in the hospitality sector after the coronavirus impacted the hotel he worked at. Despite holding a license for 20 years, he hadn’t had much of a need for driving.

“I took the lesson because driving for the first time in a while is really scary, and I couldn’t possibly do it alone,” he said.

While we’re doubtful this will transform societies into masses of pro-car zealots, it’s interesting to see how the pandemic is reshaping things — even to a mild degree. Public transit and even ride-hailing firms are seeing noteworthy declines in ridership. In the United States, traffic has also declined immensely in response to the virus, though it’s not keeping pace with trains, buses and cabs.

For example, New York City saw a 76-percent decline in subway ridership this week, with the Long Island Railroad and Metro North seeing similar or worse declines. MTA Busses lost 62 percent of their normal occupancy volumes. Even Uber, which you’d expect to be a popular alternative to mass transit, anticipates declines in ridership averaging between 60 and 70 percent in NYC. By contrast, road traffic has only dwindled 43 percent over the same period — some of which overlaps with declines in ride-hailing.

People clearly prefer being inside their own vehicle during this health crisis. It’s hard to blame them — no one wants to get coughed on when the media says it might be fatal.

You have to wonder how this all shakes out in the long term. Young adults have proven slower to get their license than generations past pretty much everywhere in the developed world; we’re curious to see if that trend changes as more people opt out of sharing space during their commute. After the panic ends, there could be months where citizens feel uneasy about sharing space on a bus or train but still have to go to work. Despite the added expense of owning a vehicle, it doesn’t come with that particular baggage — and could prove a preferable alternative to many.

Still, it’s early days. The big lesson many take away from this could simply be that it’s a lot easier to work from home.

[Image: Aslysun/Shutterstock]

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  • Detroit-X Detroit-X on Mar 26, 2020

    2020 The Year Of The Introvert

  • PeteRR PeteRR on Mar 26, 2020

    Live in dense cities. Utilize mass transit. Use reusable grocery bags. All three are conducive to being infected, and possibly dying, from coronavirus. All three are promoted by progressives.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged