The minibus involved in Friday's accident Photo: YOUTUBE/FNN
crime

Driver of minibus that rolled down slope had no valid license

33 Comments

Police in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, on Sunday sent a 66-year-old man to prosecutors following a minibus accident on Friday.

Police said that Isao Ebihara, who was the minibus driver, has been charged with negligent driving resulting in injury and driving without a valid license, Fuji TV reported.

The accident occurred at around 2:50 p.m. Friday. The bus, carrying 18 tourists aged over 50 who came to climb Mt Eboshidake, started moving while Ebihara was outside the bus. He had parked the bus in a lot at the trail entrance in the village of Nanmoku, Kyodo News reported. The bus went off the road and rolled about 20 meters down a mountain slope, injuring 14 passengers.

Police said Sunday that Ebihara has admitted he may have forgotten to make sure the parking brake was fully engaged. He also said he did not have a license to drive a bus.

Police raided the bus company’s head office on Saturday and said the bus operator faces a charge of violation of the Road Transportation Law for using drivers without valid licenses.

© Japan Today/Kyodo

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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A perfect example of why tiles are needed. Had he had the proper license, he would have gone through the proper training. More training leads to fewer unreasonable accidents like this.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

This actually may be a perfect example of.... they had no one else available to drive the bus. Labor shortages. And its gonna get worse.... well before it gets better.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Chip Star, training will not fix stupid. I'm sure he knows how to drive a vehicle. With or without a license I think the results would have been the same. As for the company not screen their applicants and/or keeping up to date on their staff, I hope they are held accountable for the incident.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This also illustrates the point that taking driver's licenses from the elderly won't stop them from driving

4 ( +9 / -5 )

sensei258 - This also illustrates the point that taking driver's licenses from the elderly won't stop them from driving

So, you'll be handing in your licence at 60 then? 66 is not elderly. It's just older than you.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

He also said he did not have a bus driver's license.

First off, just so people dont misunderstand something here, there is no such thing as a "bus driver's license" here in Japan.

The plate is white, so it was not a "commercial" vehicle, and due to it's smaller size, would have meant that the driver needed a "middle class" license. If the plate was green, he would have needed a "commercial middle class/size" license.

I have a "large class/size" vehicle license here, I can drive city buses, IF they have white plates, meaning they are not commercial vehicles. If they have green plates, a "commercial class" license is required.

No matter the class/size, a commercial license is needed for any green plated vehicles.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I agree with you that 66 is not elderly and I'll be there soon enough.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

A perfect example of why tiles are needed. Had he had the proper license, he would have gone through the proper training. More training leads to fewer unreasonable accidents like this.

Actually this is a false assumption. Recently the "middle-class" license was created here in Japan, and people who had "regular" license were grandfathered and "given" the "middle-class" license, however if they do not actually take the required courses to maintain the license, they would lose it when they renewed their license the next time.

The middle class license was created because previously only people with large vehicle licenses were allowed to (legally) drive any vehicle that seated over 10 passengers, and the size of the vehicle did not matter. There are over-sized vans that can carry 11 passengers, that required a large vehicle license to drive, but if there were no seats in the vehicle and it was plated as a "8" number, a regular license was all that was required.

Now the middle class licenses allow drivers to carry up to 29 passengers, which includes these "micro" or "mini" buses.

However I dont understand what you mean when you say "tiles are needed"? What is that?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@ disillusioned - I'll rephrase that statement just for you "This also illustrates the point that taking taking driver's licenses from elders won't stop them from driving."

Feel better feel better now?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

This also illustrates the point that taking driver's licenses from the elderly won't stop them from driving

However, in this case it does not matter, as he HAD a drivers license, just not the license required for the vehicle he was driving.

If had had been driving without ANY type of license he would be facing more serious charges, including driving without a license, which in itself is close to a ¥200,000 fine.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This just proves elderly drivers are dangerous legal or otherwise. He forgot to set the parking brake and left the bus in neutral. At the ancient age of 66 he is probably partly senile.

Cars should have age sensors and anyone over 60 prevented from driving unless they can prove they can drive and are not suffering from the first signs of dementia. Allowing old people to drive as if they were not dangerous on the road is crazy. This old guy is lucky no one died. The company is done, how could they let someone without a license drive for them? The owner of the company should end up in jail.

What is with these old folks, they are either running over people mistaking the brake and the gas petal or letting their vehicles roll down a mountain?

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

The point to me is.... Why, in a country the prides it self in checking all the boxes and following all the rules, was this man allowed to drive the bus. He clearly did not have the credentials to be driving it but yet the company allowed it. I think this has nothing to do with age. He was 66.... perfectly capable of driving. As I said in the beginning.... this stinks of labor shortages. Heck.... bus companies in Tokyo are reducing schedules because they cannot find willing drivers. Rather than miss out on making some money.... the company gambled and lost.... and so did the bus' occupants but they didn't know they were in the middle of a game.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

sensei258 - I'll rephrase that statement just for you "This also illustrates the point that taking taking driver's licenses from elders won't stop them from driving

But, you are still implying that 66 is elderly.

It is quite difficult to believe the bus company did not scrutinize his licence status before giving him the job. No licence means no public liability insurance. Both the driver and the company will be liable for all medical costs and their insurance on the vehicle will be void.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If I were a passenger of the bus and If the driver left the bus and the bus started moving, I rush to the driving seat and stop the bus.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I had been wondering why the TV reports were referring to a "white bus" when the vehicle involved in this accident is unmistakably blue; thank you Yubaru for that detailed explanation!

The name displayed on the door of the bus company is "Ebihara" leading us to believe that the owner of the company was likely driving the bus.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If I were a passenger of the bus and If the driver left the bus and the bus started moving, I rush to the driving seat and stop the bus.

No you wouldn't. By the time you realized what was happening, you'd have enough time to jump out of your seat and get thrown all about as the bus rolled down the hill.

But we can all appreciate the sentiment. It's like the gunman in the church situation. You'd take the guy down. We get it.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Tiles?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tiles? I think it is a block which has to be put before or the after the tires when a car is stopped and a driver leaves at a slope.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maybe we should focus on the safety issues and invalid licenses, rather than concentrate on age...

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Jail to him and his operators, and no this has nothing to do with labor shortage but with his and many other companies trying to make profit by using unlicensed workforce on the cheap.

The labor shortage is an absolute imaginary tale.. its just that anyone qualified enough , will not work for dimes...

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I think it is a block which has to be put before or the after the tires when a car is stopped and a driver leaves at a slope.

My understanding is that buses and trucks need air to release (not apply) the brakes, which should make chocking the wheels pretty much redundant if the brakes are correctly applied.

Which, evidently, they weren't.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@yubaru I can understand the green and white plate regs, but if you running a company that takes money, surly the bus is run commercially, ie for hire and reward.. since its run commercially shouldn't all of the licence plates be green and the bus driver have a suitable licence for driving a commercial vehicle? I can see that little mini vans/buses that carry unto 10-12 people like for a school or something, is ok on a normal driving licence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The company was at fault for employing a driver without the correct license.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I can understand the green and white plate regs, but if you running a company that takes money, surly the bus is run commercially, ie for hire and reward.. since its run commercially shouldn't all of the licence plates be green and the bus driver have a suitable licence for driving a commercial vehicle?

Well, if they're using drivers who are unlicensed, perhaps the company are cutting other corners as well? Heck, the brakes on the bus may even have been defective.

I suppose there could be a distinction made that the bus is not being run commercially because passengers are paying for a tour, not specifically to get from A to B. Hotel shuttle buses probably fall in this category as well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

yubaru I can understand the green and white plate regs, but if you running a company that takes money, surly the bus is run commercially, ie for hire and reward.. since its run commercially shouldn't all of the licence plates be green and the bus driver have a suitable licence for driving a commercial vehicle? I can see that little mini vans/buses that carry unto 10-12 people like for a school or something, is ok on a normal driving licence.

Without knowing details all I can do is give you an educated guess for an answer. Looking at the micro-bus's name on the side, "Ebihara Auto" looks to me that it was not registered as a commercial use, meaning "for profit" vehicle, meaning people/customers did not pay money for it's use, hence the white plate.

Reading the article again here, it would also appear that whomever appropriated the bus from Ebihara, who one could probably assume was the "owner operator" of the vehicle , did so knowing that the bus was not an "official" commercial vehicle, and more like a friend who worked in the tourism industry, called him and asked him; "Hey Ebihara I got these tourists who need to get somewhere. Can we (hint hint) "borrow" your bus for the day? We need a driver too, how much would it cost?"

There is a hell of a lot more to this story than just the case of a driver forgetting to pull the parking brake.

It was not a commercial use vehicle, being used for commercial purposes, that resulted in the injury to, more than likely paying passengers, who should never have been on the bus in the first place, if they paid money for the journey.

Ebihara and the company that out-sourced him are in for some serious trouble here!

I can see that little mini vans/buses that carry unto 10-12 people like for a school or something, is ok on a normal driving licence.

10 fine, over that, no, you would need a "middle sized" class license.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The company was at fault for employing a driver without the correct license.

More than likely the company that outsourced the job to Ebihara did so without the knowledge that the owner or driver of the bus did not have the proper license.

Also that it is more than likely that there were some back door payments made to Ebihara for the use of his vehicle as well.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Glad no one was hurt. Not sure his license situation is relevant. Seems like anyone could forget the parking brake.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Glad no one was hurt. Not sure his license situation is relevant. Seems like anyone could forget the parking brake.

Forgetting the brake is one thing, but by admission or upon questioning by the police, he was found to not have the required license to drive the bus, that compounds the problem and will most definitely increase the penalties.

In Japan, drivers are considered to be, by law, "professionals" and when an incident like this occurs the drivers are found to be "professionally negligent" and will have to pay the fines and such.

In this case there are many extenuating circumstances, which also are related to the license issue. THe passengers, if with or even without their knowledge, rode the bus knowing that their driver was not properly licensed, can and probably will file a report with the police, and he could and probably will be charged accordingly. Not to mention HIS liability is increased as well as the liability of the company that hired his bus as well.

Even the people who were not injured could file a civil lawsuit for professional negligence and probably will receive some compensation. I would not be surprised to hear that their "tour" and associated expenses were paid back and with extra money as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I tripped over one of those block things in a combini car park on night. Had an injury for two weeks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I tripped over one of those block things in a combini car park on night. Had an injury for two weeks.

Not the same thing. The reference was to a block or stopper that the driver should have placed under the front drive wheel after stopping the vehicle.

Not the concrete stopper you tripped on. You really do have some interesting bad luck here

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just hope the insurance company pay out for the injuries and medical bills, we all know how quick insurance companies pay out ( not )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This good new that "Police raided the bus company’s head office on Saturday and said the bus operator faces a charge of violation of the Road Transportation Law for using drivers without valid licenses."

what is name of bus company?

We must aware of such irresponsible element.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I tripped over one of those block things in a combini car park on night. Had an injury for two weeks.

My wife tripped over one of those mechanisms that prevents the car from leaving the space at a paid lot until you've paid. Also two weeks!

The reference was to a block or stopper that the driver should have placed under the front drive wheel after stopping the vehicle.

That's referred to as a "chock" in US English. (Possibly other variations of English, as well.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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