None of the passengers who boarded a chartered tour bus at 10 p.m., April 28, at JT Kanazawa Station imagined the tragedy that lay ahead. The bus, bound for Tokyo Disneyland Resort (TDR) in Chiba Prefecture, crashed into a soundproofing wall on the Kanetsu Expressway in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture, around 4:40 a.m. the next day, killing seven passengers and injuring 38 others, three of them critically, plus the bus driver. The wall ripped through most of the length of the bus.
The bus did not have a codriver. The police and the transport ministry should carry out a thorough investigation to find out whether there were problems with tour planning and the driver's working conditions. Clearly a factor behind the accident is cutthroat competition following deregulation. The government needs to revise regulations with the aim of preventing future accidents.
The driver, arrested by the Gunma prefectural police, said he was asleep at the wheel. There was no evidence that he had applied the brake. The bus's speedometer reportedly indicated 92 kph after becoming inoperative. It is suspected that the driver was hired on a day-to-day basis in violation of the road transport law.