ペーパードライバー (pēpā.doraibā) is a unique ‘Japlish’ (Japanese English) word that literally means ‘paper driver’. It indicates inexperienced drivers who haven’t driven for years, or who never drive after they’ve got their driver’s license. They are called ‘paper drivers’ because their driver’s license are utterly useless and nothing but papers (, or plastic cards in the modern era).
Actually, there are a great number of ‘paper drivers’ in Japan, especially in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka. This is because those cities have highly developed railway systems that can take you everywhere, and the cost of owning a car is very high due to the limited land space. For instance, in Ginza, one of the most luxurious areas in Japan, it can cost up to 1100 yen (about 10 USD) to park a car only for 30 minutes.
Usually, the word ‘ペーパドライバー’ is used to describe one’s inability to drive a car. For instance, people often describe themselves as ‘paper drivers’ when they express concern about driving, or make an excuse for not driving, saying, ‘Oh sorry, I can’t drive… because I’m a ‘”paper driver”‘.
Related Word: ペーパーカンパニー (‘Paper Company’)
ペーパーカンパニー literally means ‘paper company’. It actually indicates a dummy corporation which exists only on paper and does not have its office or employees.
Because I’m a ‘paper driver’, I have to practice driving before travelling to Okinawa.
(Note) The public transportation system in Okinawa is not as developed as in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka. Therefore, it is common for ‘paper drivers’ to practice driving before going to Okinawa.
Synonyms: 運転初心者（うんてんしょしんしゃ） a new driver
Synonyms in English: inexperienced driver
Related words and phrases: ペーパー (paper), ドライバー (driver)