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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 October 26 - November 1  > Truck drivers’ being overworked due to deregulation triggers major accidents
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2016 October 26 - November 1 [LABOR]

Truck drivers’ being overworked due to deregulation triggers major accidents

October 31, 2016
Truck drivers are forced to drive long hours under intense competition in the wake of deregulation of the surface transportation industry and are facing a higher risk of accidents.

“Under the on-time delivery pressure, I drove without stopping while fighting the urge to sleep and drove into highway barriers,” said a 42-year-old truck driver.

The All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers’ Union (Kenkoro or CTG) conducted a survey in April this year. The survey results show that out of 3,630 respondents, 165 or 5.5% said that they frequently drove while feeling sleepy and 1,368 or 45.2% answered they sometimes did so.

The government deregulated the road transport industry in 1990. The number of transport companies has increased to 63,000 or 1.5 times from 40,000 twenty years ago. At the same time, fierce price competition among companies has brought about a deterioration in truck drivers’ working conditions, including wages.

In Japan, workers in the trucking industry work 2,273 hours per year on average, about 500 hours longer than workers in other industries.

The Transport Ministry has issued a notification which limits the maximum on-duty time of truck drivers to 16 hours a day. However, even if employers violate the notification, they receive no penalty.

In a survey which the ministry and the transportation industry organization jointly conducted in September 2015, more than 60% of workers surveyed said that their daily working hours exceeded 16 hours.

Hokkai-Gakuen University Professor of labor economics Kawamura Masanori pointed out that to tighten regulations on driving hours and other working conditions of truck drivers is essential to ensure safe transportation. He also noted that the deregulation policy should be changed to one enabling road transport companies to set fair prices.

Past related article:
> Truck drivers should be paid for waiting time: court [April 26, 2014]
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