The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered a Decatur, Georgia-based trucking company, Keep On Trucking, LLC, USDOT No. 2928121, to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations after a federal investigation found the company to pose an imminent hazard to public safety. Keep On Trucking, which transports general freight, was served the federal order on November 2, 2017.
On August 11, 2017, a Keep On Trucking truck operated by company co-owner Dwight Anthony Preddie travelling on Interstate 95 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, failed to reduce speed from an estimated 63-miles-per-hour as it approached and entered a construction work zone. Preddie’s truck collided into the rear of a Jeep Grand Cherokee estimated to be traveling at 5-miles-per hour. The Jeep was pushed into the rear of stopped tractor-trailer. The driver of the Jeep was killed and a passenger was critically injured.
Virginia State Police subsequently charged Preddie with reckless driving, driving with a suspended license and operating an uninsured vehicle. The police investigation also found that Preddie, at the time of the crash, to be in violation of federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigued driving.
A post-crash investigation conducted by FMCSA safety investigators further found the company to be in violation of multiple federal safety statutes and regulations, including:
* Failing to comply with any driver qualification requirements, including ensuring that its drivers were properly licensed and physically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. During FMCSA’s investigation, Keep On Trucking officials could not produce any driver qualification file with the requisite employment application, medical certificate, driver road test certificate, state motor vehicle record, prior employer inquiry or record of violations. Records reviewed by FMCSA investigators found that the company had in the past year allowed its drivers to operate without a valid driver’s license, or with a suspended license, or without possessing a valid medical certificate.
* Failing to properly monitor its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum hours-of-service requirements prohibiting fatigued operation of commercial motor vehicles. During FMCSA’s investigation, Keep On Trucking officials could not produce any records-of-duty-status or supporting documents.
* Failing to properly monitor its drivers to ensure the safe operation of the company’s commercial vehicles. During the past year, Keep On Trucking drivers have been cited for numerous violations, including reckless driving, failing to obey traffic control devices and failing to use a safety belt as required by federal regulations.
* Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, repaired and met minimum safety standards. During FMCSA’s investigation, Keep On Trucking officials could not produce the required maintenance files or records, including copies of roadside inspections or vehicle repair receipts showing that vehicle out-of-service defects had been repaired. In the past 12 months, Keep On Trucking vehicles have been cited at roadside safety inspections for inoperable or defective brakes, broken or missing axle position components, inoperable lights, damaged windshields and battery installation deficiencies.
In addition, Keep On Trucking was also found to be in violation of the following USDOT/FMCSA commercial regulations:
* Failing to possess the requisite federal operating authority required to conduct interstate commerce.
* Failing to possess the minimum levels of insurance as required by federal regulations.
FMCSA’s investigation found that Keep On Trucking’s failure to ensure its drivers were qualified, its failure to monitor its drivers for compliance with federal safety regulations and its inadequate vehicle maintenance program, “…substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for its drivers and the motoring public if the operations of Keep On Trucking are not discontinued immediately.”
Keep On Trucking may be assessed civil penalties of up to $25,705 for each violation of the out-of-service order. The carrier may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $10,282 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $14,502 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary USDOT registration. If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year.
FMCSA is also considering civil penalties for the safety violations discovered during the investigation and may refer this matter for criminal prosecution.