Speed Reads

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Japan's Mario Kart driving tours just got a lot safer

Drivers in Japan's real-life Mario Kart tours are soon going to have to wear seat belts on the road, the Japan Times reports.

For less than $75, would-be racers can dress up as their favorite Mario Kart character and dash around city streets in go-karts that drive up to 37 miles an hour. The tours, which are wildly popular among tourists, last two hours and are sparsely regulated. Exhibit A: While MariCAR, the company behind the tours, claims "safety is our top priority" on its website, their go-karts do not have seat belts.

While MariCAR does warn against dropping banana peels and shooting red turtle shells at other drivers, kart-goers are not legally required to wear a seat belt or a helmet because of a loophole in Japan's vehicular regulations. And while it sounds exhilarating — if moderately terrifying — to drive a go-kart freely on city streets, the Mario Kart tours veer toward outright recklessness, as the karts are not required to have direction indicators or rear view mirrors either. (It was only in May that MariCAR banned their customers from using smartphones while driving.)

If that wasn't bad enough, consider this: Most Mario Kart drivers are tourists who have no experience driving on the left side of the road, the BBC notes. All of this has led the Japanese government to announce revisions to its road regulations law by next March in order to better moderate the Mario Kart tour industry.

While celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Kim Kardashian have taken Mario Kart tours in Japan, the country's residents are not so wild about the tours. A taxi driver told The Wall Street Journal in July: "When I see them driving close by it's scary, especially since they drive in large groups."