Heisei Enterprise Kimi Takura, CEO Located in Fujimi- City, Saitama. Founded on December 11, 1992. Heisei operates long distance coach, community, shuttle bus, city bus, school bus, tourism bus and more.
While Heisei Enterprise has been attracting a great deal of attention with their unique services, such as their “VIP Lounge” luxury waiting room and ladies-only “VIP Liner” luxury coach, they have also been very active in safety activities. As part of this safety push, they are introducing alcohol interlocks in many company owned coaches. The devastating accident on Kanetsu Highway in April 2012 revealed a dark side of the bus industry that had been hidden from the public eye. Heisei Enterprise is aiming to reinforce customer confidence by providing this highly visible safety measure.
In 2012, Heisei Enterprise announced that they will install alcohol interlocks in all fifty of their overnight coaches. They will be using the ALCOLOCK V3 alcohol interlock, imported from Alcohol Countermeasure Systems (ACS) Corp in Canada. Installations should be completed by the end of this year.
Roles in active safety measures and drink-driving offender recurrence prevention measures
ACS, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada, is a global manufacturer of alcohol interlocks and portable breath alcohol testers. ACS was founded in 1976 to design and manufacture breath alcohol testers for law enforcement, and sells testing equipment for aftermarket and OEM as well as a line of portable devices. ACS has branches throughout Asia, Australia, Europe and the United States, all of which provide various distribution and support services. ACS established one of their latest global subsidiaries, “ALCOLOCK Japan,” in November 2011.
ACS alcohol interlocks feature high reliability and comply with the European CENELEC and US NHTSA standards (in April, Japan’s MLIT released its own “Alcohol interlock technical guideline”). The role of alcohol interlocks is expected to grow in the current safety-minded environment, where enhanced safety measures are in demand, especially in the fleet industry.
The ALCOLOCK V3 Alcohol Interlock
ALCOLOCK V3 alcohol interlocks measure the breath alcohol concentration of vehicle drivers. If the breath test result is over the limit, the interlock prevents the engine from starting.
They feature an electrochemical sensor that is specific to alcohol.
The device is also set up to detect circumvention, such as any attempt to use an air pump, and will lock the engine when this happens. In order to prevent abuse, any use of the built-in emergency override function is recorded, and administrators will be able to spot it. The device is compact in size, and it is quick and easy to install.
Heisei Enterprise has been aiming for zero accidents as a company since their establishment in 1992. Their directive states: “we will do our best to pursue traffic safety as a member of vehicle society.” They are active participants in various activities to raise awareness of traffic safety as part of their employee training – taking part in national events such as Traffic Safety Week. They hold a driving safety class periodically and mandate their drivers to attend. Included in this program is precautionary contingency training to ensure their drivers are prepared for anything. They also invite all employees to enter an annual “traffic safety catchphrase” competition, and prizes are given to selected entries to encourage participation. The winning catchphrase is printed in the guideline book that drivers carry with them. In 2010, they implemented fleet safety management as part of their safety management systems under NASVA’s (National Agency for Automotive Safety and Victim’s Aid) guidance. In addition to these “soft” safety measures, Heisei Enterprise carefully employs “hard” safety measures. For example, they have prepared a dormitory in both Tokyo and Osaka to ensure that drivers get enough rest and drive in prime condition. They have also equipped their vehicles with “vehicular gap” and “traffic lane crossing” warning systems. Furthermore, they are looking into installation of at-the- wheel dozing detection systems. Naturally, Heisei Enterprise has long since mandated the use of alcohol testers during employee role call. In a bus exhibition held this year, the company supported demonstrations of alcohol interlocks and then decided to introduce them into their vehicles as a “visualized safety measure” that customers can see. Heisei Enterprise will introduce alcohol interlocks in their overnight coaches, and if this works well, they will consider expanded use.
“2012 Bus Tech Forum,” an interactive bus event held on May 31 in Osaka, Japan. ACS Alcohol Interlock was installed and demonstrated in a bus Heisei Enterprise exhibited.
Research shows that ignition interlocks reduce recidivism among both first time and repeat DWI offenders, with reductions in subsequent DWI arrests ranging from 50 to 90 percent while the interlock is installed on the vehicle. (NHTSA)
Although drink driving rates are decreasing, the issue never disappears entirely. While penalties have been enhanced, last year alone some five thousand drink driving accidents were reported in Japan, 270 of which killed people involved. With this in mind, public interest in alcohol interlocks has increased over the last several years. In countries over seas, alcohol interlock standards have been established, and interlocks have been widely accepted as part of DUI offender programs. They are also mandatory for certain commercial vehicles and available for use as voluntary safety measures.
In the United States, 47 out of the 50 states use alcohol interlocks as part of DUI offender programs. Some states mandate alcohol interlock use, and in others judges and / or state administrators choose whether or not to order their use for convicted DUI drivers. Research from NHTSA shows that alcohol interlocks reduce recidivism a mong DUI offenders, with reductions in subsequent DUI arrests ranging from 50 to 90 percent. Alcohol interlocks are also widely used in Canada to prevent the recurrence of drink driving. Convicted DUI drivers go through an assessment by a doctor or psychiatrist, a 3 month license suspension period, and, if eligible, receive a conditional license that specifies the use of an alcohol interlock for 9 months or more.
In Europe, alcohol interlocks are used largely outside of offender programs. A trial running from 1999 to 2002 in Sweden saw three hundred commercial passenger and goods transport vehicles equipped with alcohol interlocks. The trial was a success, and alcohol interlock use has spread rapidly since. In 2004 the Swedish Road Authority required that all of its purchased or leased vehicles be equipped with alcohol interlocks. Currently, over eighty thousand vehicles in Sweden are equipped with alcohol interlocks. People are also closely watching the effect of alcohol interlocks in Belgium. A taxi company had the devices installed in some of their taxis as a trial. As a result, their profit increased by twenty percent: their corporate clients started preferring the taxies with alcohol interlocks over the rest. After this trial period, they had all of their vehicles equipped. In 2005, a trucking company in France installed alcohol interlocks in some of their vehicles. It resulted in a massive reduction in their drivers’ drink driving rate; they now have all 35 vehicles equipped with alcohol interlocks. Moreover, a law has recently been passed in France mandating that all school buses have alcohol interlocks installed by 2015.
“Heisei Enterprise Introduces ACS Alcohol Interlocks on 50 Buses”. LIGARE; Japan. Print. August, 2012.