On June 13, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it has ordered a Massachusetts trucking company to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations after a federal investigation found the carrier to pose an imminent hazard to public safety. The company was served the order on June 9, 2016.
In April 2016, FMCSA investigators began an investigation of the company after it initially failed to submit to a New Entrant Safety Audit, as required by federal regulations. The company had received an FMCSA order to cease operations, which was subsequently rescinded after the carrier submitted to the New Entrant Safety Audit.
Later in the month, while the federal investigation was ongoing, the parking brake on one of the company’s vehicles failed, causing it to roll down a hill and collide into a residential housing structure, injuring the driver and causing significant damages to the property. One month later, a second vehicle experienced a brake failure, causing it to break down in a roadway travel lane and require removal by a tow-truck.
During the federal compliance review investigation, FMCSA safety investigators found the company to be in violation of multiple federal safety regulations including:
- Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, and repaired and met minimum safety standards.
- Failing to require that drivers conduct pre and post-trip vehicle inspections and submit reports of safety defects to the company in order to make repairs.
- Dispatching vehicles with known safety defects that had been discovered during roadside inspections without making the required repairs.
As part of FMCSA’s review, safety inspections were conducted on six of its seven vehicles (the seventh vehicle was not inspected because it had been in a crash and was inoperable). Out-of-service safety violations were discovered in every vehicle inspected. These safety defects included worn, leaking, welded, or missing brake, steering, and/or suspension components. During the investigation, the company was unable to produce records demonstrating that the company had a vehicle maintenance program of any kind.
Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in a penalty of up to $25,000, operating without necessary authority may result in a fine of not less than $10,000, and operating without a USDOT number may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000. A violation of this order may also result in a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.