What to do if you have to stop on the Shuto/Toll roads in Japan? Call JAF!

Recently while driving on the Shuto around 7.45am one of my tires blow, this has happened to me in Australia a few times where the roads are wide enough to pull over and I can change the tire and drive on my way but in Japan on the highways if you are lucky enough to find a space to pull over fantastic but usually even if you do it is too dangerous to get out of the car especially with the lorries and truck driving 80km (or more) passing within inches of your door.

The first thing to do is to work out where exactly you are? If you can see one of the highway entrance or exit signs that help but like me, I was between exits so really had to work out which exits I passed and which was coming up.
On most of the highways, there are cameras monitored by the highway patrols (the yellow SUV’s with the orange lights) but if you are unlucky like I was there are a few blind spots that make finding you a little tough.
img_9686For me as with everything I called JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) these guys are the best value for money I have spent – many times I have called them to boost a car or tow a car that has been in an accident and at no cost apart from the yearly sign up fee. To sign up you can go to their website – http://www.jaf.or.jp/ – for the initial sign up it costs ¥5,000 for the first year and then ¥4,000 for every year after that. I have been told that there are also English speakers at the call center that you can speak with if needed. You can also use your JAF card to get discounts at a number of restaurants/hotels/golf courses. If you don’t have JAF and need assistance you can even call them up and sign up straight away and they will still come and help you.
After I explained what had happened and where I was, I just needed to wait. To my surprise 45 minutes later 1 JAF car, 1 tow truck and 2 highway patrol cars arrived and promptly blocked off one lane of traffic and grabbed the spare from the back of my car and put it on and I was ready to head off again. All this and it didn’t cost me a thing (apart from a new set of tires the next day!).
So in short

  • Pull over to a safe space on the highway which cars from behind you can see you from a decent distance away.
  • Wait in your car – do not get out!
  • Work out your location on the highway.
  • Call JAF – 0570-00-8139.
  • Wait for JAF to arrive – do not get out of your car!
  • For all you servicing needs in Tokyo make sure you contact us