If you feel an earthquake while you are driving:

  • Never brake sharply. Slowly decelerate, calmly pull over to the edge of the road on the left side and stop your engine.
  • Depending on the seismic intensity, there may be a danger of landslides close to steep slopes or tunnel entrances so try to avoid stopping in such places whenever possible.
  • If the measured seismic intensity is 4.5 or larger (equivalent to an intensity of lower 5 on the Japanese scale of 1 to 7), expressways will close for inspections.
  • After major earthquakes, emergency vehicles will use the main roadways.
  • Please follow evacuation guidance from staff if a strong earthquake occurs while you are using rest area facilities.

If you receive an Earthquake Early Warning:

Since October 2007, the Japan Meteorological Agency has broadcast Earthquake Early Warnings to the general public by radio and TV, etc. When receiving these warnings, please behave calmly and keep the following in mind.

What is an “Earthquake Early Warning”?
Immediately after an earthquake the Earthquake Early Warning is an information bulletin delivered to provide estimated time and seismic intensity of primary motion for each place based on analysis of observation data captured from seismographs close to epicenter.

  • As it is possible that the drivers of following vehicles are not listening to the information, do not slow down rapidly.
  • After gaining attention of other vehicles by turning hazard indicator on, slowly decelerate without braking sharply.
  • If you feel large motions, check the road conditions and then pull over to the left and stop as safely as possible avoiding rapid steering inputs and braking.

If you stop on the shoulder

  • When you stop, turn on the hazard indicators to avoid collisions, place a warning triangle where following vehicle cans see and take preventive measures for aftershocks such as keeping your distance from other vehicles.
  • Be careful to follow instructions from the police and expressway company, or information from public authorities though radios or navigation systems so that you will not be misled by rumors and gossip. Since there is a possibility of a Tsunami, especially in coastal areas, gather information on the height and arrival time by radio, etc.

Do not behave selfishly, collect accurate information
In the Niigata earthquake people became close to panic due to a rumor that “an even bigger one is coming". In the Great Kanto Earthquake, a rumor of arson almost caused fearful riots. Even in modern society, fear of earthquakes continues and people feel anxious. Nowadays, information is ensured by public radio waves and no information is lost. Please do not believe rumors, trust public information such as from the radio and act cautiously.

When you have to leave your vehicle ensure that

  • The engine is off, windows are properly closed, the doors are not locked and leave the key. Vehicles may be moved if they become an obstacle to relief activities and post disaster procedures. (If possible leave a memo with contact details in the vehicle)
  • Do not leave valuables in the vehicle.
  • To avoid being struck by other vehicles, do not stay in your vehicle or on the shoulder, move to a safe place such outside the guard rail or an emergency parking area.
  • Information on the overall damage situation will be provided by traffic information boards, highway radio, from speakers on police and expressway company’s patrol cars and broadcast at service areas, etc. Left vehicles may be removed in order to allow passage of emergency vehicles.

If you are leaving your vehicle to evacuate due to a disaster, etc.

please pull over on the left, apply parking brake, turn off engine, leave the key in and do not lock the doors.

The partial amendment of the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures on November 21, 2014, allows road administrators to remove stalled or left vehicles that may obstruct emergency vehicles during large-scale disasters such as earthquakes hitting metropolitan areas or heavy snow.

When a vehicle fire occurs

  • Cooperate with others to initially fight the fire.
  • During congestion there is a possibility that a single vehicle fire may spread to other vehicles.
  • Try to carry a fire extinguisher to be prepared for vehicle fires. (It is mandatory for vehicles transporting hazardous materials to install fire extinguishers.)

Emergency supplies and preparations

Based on past experience these are the minimum things you should carry in your vehicle.

  1. Water (Always keep 1L in a plastic container)
  2. Food (That can be eaten without cooking)
  3. Lights
  4. Portable radio (The radio may not work when a vehicle breaks down)
  5. First-aid kit
  6. Blankets
  7. Rope
  8. Fire extinguisher
  9. Vehicle escape hammer

If a warning declaration is issued

What happens to traffic regulations for expressways

  • Inflow to heavily affected areas will be restricted.
  • Inflow from interchanges within heavily affected areas will be restricted.
  • Other traffic regulations will be imposed depending on the situation.

What should drivers do

  • Gradually slow to lower speeds without panicking.
  • Listen to the radio, etc. for earthquake and traffic information frequently and act calmly according to that information.

When a warning declaration is issued, expressways become emergency transportation routes.

* How is an urgent warning declaration communicated?
For expressways, it is communicated through traffic information boards on main roads, highway radio, or broadcast on speakers in long tunnels and at service areas, etc.