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Trucking company head held in overworked driver's fatal pileup+
[March 06, 2006]

Trucking company head held in overworked driver's fatal pileup+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)KYOTO, March 6_(Kyodo) _ Police arrested the head of a trucking company and one of his deputies Monday on suspicion of ordering an overworked tanker truck driver to continue driving prior to a fatal road accident on Feb. 13 for which the driver was alleged to be responsible.

The police say that on Feb. 12, Hidefumi Kunimatsu, 63, who runs the company Kinjaku Sekiyu, and Masanobu Yamada, 48, a subordinate at the company, ordered driver Koichi Kitamura to transport kerosene the following day knowing he was overworked and suffering from fatigue and could have difficulty properly steering his truck.

Kitamura logged 420 work hours in the one-month period prior to the accident, taking only three days off. Just 10 days before the accident, a local office of the transport ministry had issued a warning to the company, based in Shiga Prefecture, over the long hours its drivers were keeping, the police said.

Kitamura's work hours in the month prior to the accident exceeded the monthly maximum agreed by labor and management by about 100 hours, they said.

Three people were killed and six others injured after Kitamura's truck caused a multiple crash involving 11 other vehicles on an expressway in Kyoto Prefecture on the morning of Feb. 13. Kitamura told investigators he was dozing off behind the wheel due to fatigue, they said.

Prosecutors on Monday indicted Kitamura on charges of professional negligence resulting in the death, they said.

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