Japan transport ministry to allow remote health checks on drivers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A driver takes alcohol breath test in June 2020 in Tokyo.

The transport ministry plans to allow the operators of truck, bus and taxi businesses to remotely confirm their drivers’ physical condition.

These businesses are currently required to conduct such checks in person, in principle. By letting managers confirm drivers’ health condition and other relevant information via the internet or other remote means, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry expects the new rule to ease the labor shortage and help prevent infections.

The ministry will send notices stipulating the requirements for remote checks in April next year or later, thereby officially sanctioning such monitoring. It will require, for example, business operators to set up screen monitors through which managers can clearly confirm drivers’ facial expressions, identification systems to prevent people from impersonating others, and security cameras to record footage of breath tests.

The ministry decided that if business operators can fulfill such conditions, the burden on them can be reduced while also confirming driver safety.

The checks will be implemented by so-called operation managers who are nationally certified for the purpose. Before a driver begins working, operation managers check whether they have such problems as suffering from the effects of alcohol or insufficient sleep.

If business operators fail to implement the checks, they face administrative punishment. A pre-departure check was not conducted in the case of a ski tour bus accident that occurred in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, in 2016.