Men held for overworking trucker

Kyodo

Police arrested two trucking firm officials Thursday for allegedly assigning an excessively tight delivery schedule to a truck driver who caused a fatal vehicle pileup in Mie Prefecture in August.

Authorities said it is rare for company officials to be arrested in connection with traffic accidents caused by drivers. Police arrested Kenichi Komuro, 50, on suspicion of negligence resulting in death and injuries. Komuro is in charge of fleet management for Isaka Soko, a trucking firm in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture.

They also arrested Yutaka Watanabe, an Isaka Soko employee who heads an office of the trucking company for which Komuro worked. Watanabe, 49, is suspected of violating the Road Traffic Law. The two suspects gave the driver a tight schedule despite knowing that he would have to exceed speed limits or get insufficient rest to meet it, police allege.

Komuro allegedly ordered Tsuneo Honda, 33, to deliver goods on a schedule so tight that it required that him to drive at excessive speeds. Komuro also allegedly assigned work to Honda despite knowing the driver was exhausted.

Honda allegedly fell asleep while driving on the Higashi Meihan Expressway in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, on the morning of Aug. 10. His tractor-trailer rammed into a string of cars, killing five people and injuring six others.

Honda, who was arrested on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, reportedly told police he dozed off at the wheel because he had skipped sleep to meet his delivery schedule and was late due to heavy traffic.

Investigations have shown that during the three days prior to the accident, Honda had been making round trips of roughly 700 km between Hitachi and Osaka without sleep.