“Conbini warp” an increasing traffic problem for businesses and authorities across Japan
Written by tokyoclub on June 21, 2021
Warping is best left to the Mario Bros.
Driving in Japan is certainly not without its share of problems. Narrow winding streets and blind corners abound for motorists, while widespread disregard for basic rules of the road plague pedestrians.
But one issue has become an increasing headache for law enforcement and business owners in Japan. It’s called the “conbini warp” and describes the act of a car cutting through a parking lot to avoid waiting at red light.
▼ Video of a driver getting cut off by a conbini warp
The use of “conbini” in the name suggests the warping is done in the parking lot of a convenience store, but the act can take place on the property of any business. “Gasosuta warp” is a variation of the term when done in the lot of a gas station (gasorin sutando in Japanese).
Although it is often seen as a slightly selfish but generally harmless shortcut, the act increases the risk of injury and even death. In March of 2020 a three-year-old was killed in Usa City when she was struck by a light truck cutting across a parking lot.
However, conbini warps take place on private property they aren’t regulated by the Road Traffic Act of Japan. The closest law that would apply is if the vehicle doesn’t come to a complete stop before crossing the sidewalk to enter or exit the lot. Of course, in the event a person or object is struck it becomes a criminal matter, but it would be better to take preventative measures instead.
▼ YouTuber Gero Ni-san witnessed a double conbini warp, assuming that the person really needed to use a restroom
And because this all occurs on private property, authorities aren’t even sure how frequent conbini warps occur. Stores have reported seeing it several times a day but aren’t able to do much about it since the act happens so quickly, and in some cases the parking lot is rented property that even the store has no authority over.
Comments online show a general displeasure with conbini warps as both a safety hazard and generally pointless endeavor.
“I always assume people who do this all have really bad diarrhea.”
“You can save a few seconds, maybe a minute. But if an elderly person just happens to be walking by, you’ll be waiting even longer so it isn’t worth it.”
“I was behind someone who warped the other day, but they got stuck in traffic and I was right behind them again.”
“I had friend who was killed by a car turning left, so seeing this really makes me angry.”
“I see people doing that every day.”
Still, without the proper legal mechanism, there isn’t much that can be feasibly done. One ace in the hole of law enforcement is a rather vague legal definition of “a road” in the Road Traffic Act: “a place where an unspecified number of people come and go.”
This could arguably allow the law to be applied to parking lots in certain cases since they technically fit the definition, but for the moment police and businesses are hoping security cameras and signs indicating that the lots are being monitored will serve as an effective deterrent.
Perhaps a public awareness campaign could help by highlighting that the risks of the conbini warp far outweigh the supposed benefits of a shaving a few seconds off travel time.
▼ Video shows a van hurriedly cut through a parking lot, only to end up in the same place as the person recording five minutes later
Or, failing that, convenience stores can just build another store in their parking lots. 7-Eleven showed us that it can be done!