FMCSA Declares Georgia Trucking Company to be an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered an Acworth, Georgia-based trucking company, Daya Trucking, LLC, USDOT No. 3020203, to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations after investigators found the company to pose an imminent hazard to public safety. Daya Trucking, which operates 39 trucks hauling general freight, was served the federal order on April 23, 2018.
In March 2018, after receiving information that Daya Trucking may be a reincarnated and/or an affiliated entity of Ekam Truck Line, LLC, FMCSA initiated a compliance investigation. In 2017, Ekam agreed to enter into a Consent Order as a condition of upgrading its proposed FMCSA safety rating from Unsatisfactory to Conditional. Ekam’s proposed Unsatisfactory safety rating had resulted from a federal compliance investigation revealing numerous safety violations. The 2017 Consent Order required Ekam to take specific actions to improve safety – and it prohibited Ekam, its owners and/or any individuals related to Ekam from applying for USDOT/FMCSA registration as another motor carrier.
Ekam Truck Lines, however, failed to comply with virtually all provisions in the Consent Order and instead evaded the Consent Order by applying for USDOT/FMCSA registration as Daya Trucking, LLC.
On March 24, 2018, FMCSA reinstated Ekam’s Unsatisfactory safety rating placing the company out-of-service. Following discovery of the reincarnation, FMCSA also merged and consolidated the federal safety and enforcement records of Daya Trucking and Ekam Truck Lines.
The compliance investigation into Daya revealed numerous serious violations of federal safety statutes and regulations, including:
* Failing to properly monitor the dispatch of its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum hours-of-service (HOS) limitations to prevent fatigued driving. Daya does not review its drivers’ records-of-duty-status (RODS) for falsification, completeness, accuracy or violations of HOS regulations.
Daya uses a non-compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD) system in which drivers can alter their RODS and can manually input odometer readings, violations of federal safety regulations. Between Jan. 1, 2018, and Feb. 28, 2018, Daya’s AOBRD system recorded 4,802 hours of unidentified driving time resulting from 51 instances of drivers unplugging or disabling the recording mechanisms.
Investigators found an instance in which a Daya driver recorded his off-duty time commencing in Orangeburg, South Carolina. After disconnecting the AOBRD, the driver continued operating his vehicle. Global positioning system (GPS) records showed the vehicle leaving South Carolina, passing through Georgia and Florida, before arriving in Brewton, Alabama, where the driver reconnected the AOBRD. The following day, the same driver, after crossing Mississippi and now near Ruston, Louisiana, again recorded that he was commencing his off-duty time, however, he again disconnected the AOBRD and continued driving through Louisiana and across Texas before arriving in New Mexico, as documented by GPS records.
* Failing to ensure the company has negative pre-employment controlled substances/alcohol tests results prior to dispatching its drivers. Investigators found that Daya allowed seven drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) before receiving negative pre-employ tests as required by federal safety regulations. Four drivers known to have tested positive for controlled substances were found to have been dispatched by Daya.
* Failing to comply with certain driver qualification requirements, including ensuring that its drivers were properly licensed to operate a CMV, or were medically qualified. Investigators found instances of five drivers without a current commercial driver’s license (CDL) or in possession of a suspended CDL, nevertheless, being allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
* Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, repaired and met minimum safety standards.
In the past 12 months, Daya vehicles have been placed out-of-service at a rate of 46 percent and cited for inoperable required lamps, exposed tire fabric, defective brakes, broken or missing axle position components, and oil or grease leaks from hubs.
FMCSA’s investigation found that Daya’ Trucking’s “complete and utter lack of compliance” with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and its effort to avoid the 2017 Consent Order to Ekam Truck Lines “…substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for its drivers and the motoring public if the operations of Daya are not discontinued immediately.”
Daya Trucking may be assessed civil penalties of up to $26,126 for each violation of the out-of-service order. The carrier may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $10,450 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $14,739 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.
A copy of the Imminent Hazard Out-of-Service Order is available here.