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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 17 - 23  > 3,000 truck drivers but not freight owners punished for overloading
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2018 October 17 - 23 [LABOR]

3,000 truck drivers but not freight owners punished for overloading

October 17, 2018

For truck drivers of freight vehicles, it is a violation of the Road Traffic Law to carry a load exceeding the legally-permitted weight. In effect, it is only drivers, not freight owners, who are held responsible for breaking the law.

The Transport Ministry, under the Motor Truck Business Act, can issue its "recommendations" to owners of the goods being loaded on overloaded trucks. However, since 2016, no recommendation has been issued to consigners. In fact, an official of the ministry's cargo transport division admits, "We tell owners to improve the situation only if we can determine that they actively have a hand in the overloading of trucks."

Meanwhile, the National Police Agency cracked down on more than 3,000 drivers a year for carrying excessive loads (FY2013-FY2017), but the police issued a "prevention recurrence order" only to one owner in FY2015 and to five in FY2017.

Hirose Hajime, secretary general of the dump truck department of the All Japan Construction, Transport and General Workers' Union (Kenkoro), said, "Cracking down on drivers will have no effect at all on the eradication of overload cases." It is because, he says, drivers have no authority to adjust the amount of weight in shipments.

About 80% of truck drivers in Japan are self-employed using their own vehicles. Many freight owners take advantage of this one-person position in order to bring down freight charges. Therefore, most truck drivers are forced to carry excessively heavy loads just to make a living.

Hirose said, "Generally, they receive 35,000 yen or so which is less than the fuel costs." He added, "Decent work-style reform, fair unit prices, and better working conditions are necessary in order to eliminate the problem of overweight loads. The Transport Ministry and the police should find out why this is happening and work to build a system which will not allow illegal loads on the roads."

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