Japan's popular Mario Kart-themed road tours have made headlines again, this time due to a hit-and-run incident that reports are saying could lead to the attractions being disbanded altogether.
If you were hoping to make it to Japan for a go-kart tour, you might want to put the pedal to the medal. According to recent reports, those tours could be crossing the finish line soon, as a recent incident involving a kart and a biker has led to legal action. As the South China Morning Post is reporting, this is being seen by many as the last straw for the attractions, which are under fire for a number of reasons.
In several Japanese cities, tours themed after the popular Nintendo racing game, Mario Kart, have proven to be very successful. Tokyo has three such tour groups, actually, where participants strap themselves into go-karts and tour the city via standard streets. You can, of course, rent costumes from the Mario universe to wear while on these tours, too.
Unfortunately, a number of issues have arisen due to these tours. Most recently, Zhang Ren Jie was arrested on February 23 after turning left at a cross street, hitting a biker with his go-kart and then leaving the scene of the incident. Based on the report, the bike rider only suffered very minor injuries. Obviously, this kind of behavior is unacceptable.
Japanese authorities agreed, as they've slapped the culprit with traffic violations including leaving the scene of the incident, a.k.a. a hit and run. The report also notes that the man has admitted to the charges that were brought against him.
Again, this is only the latest controversy involving the kart tours. Quite a few incidents have been tied to the tours over the past couple of years, usually involving the people in the karts. Participants must have an international driver license to take part in the activity, but that doesn't really compensate for the fact that the karts are super low to the ground and lacking in safety features. This was largely due to a loophole in Japanese regulations that classified karts in a way that they did not require certain safety features, even when traveling on the road. New laws are currently being passed around that would include things such as proper rear view mirrors, safety belts, helmets and flags or poles that would make the carts easier to see by other drivers.
In other words, the kart tours were already cruising on very thin ice. Throw something like this recent hit-and-run into the mix, and lawmakers might now have the equivalent of a blue shell in their arsenal for shutting the tours down.