It’s a fantasy of more than a few trucking company owners, I suspect: What if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration disappeared and took all of the regulations and red tape with it? But that's also a very good case of "be careful what you ask for," because the result could be a run on applications for Worst Trucker in the World.
Now, I’m proud to say that most folks I know in the business would continue to truck responsibly. After all, being unsafe is, ultimately, a ruinous business strategy. (Indeed, I’d argue that insurance companies are more vital to carrier safety and best practices than the federal regs are—but that’s a discussion for another day.)
Still, laws and regulations exist because some people can’t be trusted to do the right thing. (Although, and another point for another day, I do believe in bureaucratic momentum and that once a government agency is established to make regulations, that’s what it’s going to do.)
FMCSA, to its credit, tries to focus on the “bad actors” in trucking, with the aim of making them better or taking them off of the road. And every now and then they publicize the shutdown of a real doozy. As much as I might try to empathize with any fleet's being called out, and wonder what the company’s side of the story is, sometimes it’s best to just say, “good riddance.” (For what it's worth, the company owner admitted to the FMCSA investigator that he is unfamiliar with the FMCSRs and has little time to devote to the operations because he is busy with other business ventures.)
The exemplar for this edition of Worst Trucker in the World is indeed outstanding in the worst ways, based on the FMCSA determination that it’s an imminent hazard to public safety.
Late last year, a truck operated by the company (we don’t name names on WTITW because the aim is to educate, not to humiliate—and we don’t like threatening emails) was involved in a single vehicle crash. The post-crash investigation by the New York State Police found multiple, recent violations by the driver of federal hours-of-service regulations.
During the subsequent compliance investigation last month, the company was unable to show that it had taken any action following the two roadside inspections to ensure that the driver—and all of its drivers—complied with HOS and RODS. And during roadside inspections over the past 12 months, the company’s vehicles have been placed out-of-service at a rate of 33%, the determination adds.
Specifically, according to FMCSA, the company refused, or was unable, to produce:
- Vehicle maintenance records, including servicing schedules, or documentation otherwise indicating that the company had a vehicle maintenance program;
- Drivers’ vehicle inspection reports or evidence that drivers undertook federally required pre-trip and post-trip safety inspections;
- Evidence that defects identified in past roadside inspections had been corrected—before allowing that particular vehicle to be dispatched again;
- Records for a majority of its drivers specially addressing driver qualification documentation, leading the company to dispatch multiple drivers that possessed suspended or invalid commercial driver’s licenses (CDL);
- Medical examiner’s certificates for its drivers;
- Complete records-of-duty status for its drivers or supporting documents, such as fuel and toll receipts; and
- Records for a majority of its driver documenting that they underwent mandatory pre-employment controlled substances tests—before performing a safety-sensitive function including operating a commercial motor vehicle.
In short, this is a company that appears to have completely ignored FMCSA and basic common sense. That’s illegal, unfair, and unsafe. That’s this week’s WTITW.
Got a report of a trucker behaving badly that the rest of us could learn a little something from, pass it along. But please address all complaints to Keith Olbermann.