Is calling the police always necessary when being involved in a traffic accident?

calling the police

Should we call the police when being involved even in a minor car accident? Yes, we should. You might think, "It's not critical to call the police because no one is injured." Or, the other driver might say, "It's not a big accident, so let's solve it through discussion without the help of the police." However, calling the police is essential for any of the traffic accidents because it's a legal duty. 

Even if the accident is minor, be sure to call the police so that you can prepare for any of the possibilities that will arise after all. In the case of an apparently urgent and serious accident, call 110. If you don't need urgent support, call 03-3503-8484 of Police Center for Foreigners in Japan to seek their advise on what to do. In this article, let's see the detail of possible risks which could arise if not calling the police.

It's illegal not to call the police when a traffic accident happens

If you don't report the traffic accident to the police, it will be a violation of the Road Traffic Act in Japan. Article 72 stipulates the obligation to take emergency measures when a traffic accident occurs. And it includes the obligation to report it to the police.

Article 72 (1) In the event of a traffic accident, the drivers and staff members of the vehicles and streetcars involved in the traffic accident (hereinafter each such person is referred to in this Section as a "driver or staff member") must immediately stop driving and take the necessary measures, such as aiding injured persons and preventing road hazards. In such a case, the driver of a vehicle or streetcar (or a staff member, if the death or injury of the driver compels it; the same applies hereinafter in the following paragraph) must report to a police officer at the scene or at the nearest police station (including police booths and police satellite offices; the same applies hereinafter in the following paragraph) giving the date, time, and place where the traffic accident occurred; the number of injured persons and the extent of their injuries; damaged objects and the extent of the damage; the loads carried by the vehicles and streetcars involved in the accident; and measures taken in connection with the accident.

Simply, Article 72 states three obligations you have to follow:

(1) Relief and protection of injured persons
(2) Prevention of Dangers on Roads
(3) Reporting to the police

If they find out you didn't report to the police, it may be considered a violation of the law. Imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of more than 50,000 yen can be imposed.

Call the police so that you can prove you didn't get away from the accident

When a traffic accident happens, the at-fault driver might apologize to the other person and leave as it doesn't seem to be a serious accident. However, injury or property damage may be discovered later on and reported to the police then by the other driver. In this case, it's possible the police handle the case as a hit-and-run case. As you see, Road Traffic Law Art. 72 stipulates relief and protection of injured persons, prevention of dangers on roads, and reporting to the police. If you violate any one of it, it is likely to be considered hit-and-run even if you didn't literally hit and run. 

The following are the penalties of the hit-and-run case.


Hit-and-run in human injury traffic accident

Hit-and-run in a property damage traffic accident

Criminal penalty

Imprisonment of up to ten years or fine up to 1 million

Imprisonment of up to one year or fine of up to 100,000 yen

Administrative penalty

35 points

5 points

Civil penalty

Compensation for property damage

Compensation for treatment feeConsolation money for injury

Compensation for property damage

The criminal penalty is for when you don’t give relief and protection of injured persons in the accident scene.

Call the police for receiving insurance payout 

Calling the police is an important opportunity to officially prove the accident. If you skip the step, you might not be able to get an insurance payout. It’s not that rare; the other driver finds some scratches on the surface of his car or injuries on his body a few days after a traffic accident. In this case, you might want to apply for a payout from insurance, but in many cases, the insurance company won’t pay compensation when you cannot officially prove the traffic accident. When you apply for an insurance payout, you have to show the evidence that the accident truly happened. The evidence will be a traffic accident certificate that prefectural automobile safety center issues. Since the certificate is issued upon the report issued by the police, calling the police and reporting to them is always critical when you are involved in a traffic accident.


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