FMCSA Declares New Mexico Truck Driver to be an Imminent Hazard
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared New Mexico-licensed commercial driver Evaristo S. Mora to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce. Mora was served the federal order on July 3, 2018.
On June 13, 2018, at approximately 3:55 p.m., Mora, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was operating a tractor-trailer in an active work zone along U.S. 54 in Pratt County, Kansas, when the vehicle veered into the oncoming traffic lane, colliding head-on with another tractor-trailer. The driver of the other vehicle was killed, as was a passenger in Mora’s truck cab.
Following the crash, the State of Kansas charged Mora with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. He was also cited for following too close and for operating a commercial motor vehicle after being declared out-of-service for violations of federal hours-of-service regulations that are designed to prevent fatigued driving. Earlier the same day, June 13, 2018, at approximately 10:00 a.m., following a roadside safety inspection, Mora was placed out-of-service for 10 hours for failing to have any records-of-duty-status. The tractor-and-trailer Mora was operating likewise was placed out-of-service for numerous safety deficiencies, including inoperative/defective brakes and dangerously worn tires. Federal safety regulations prohibit any vehicle placed out-of-service from being operated until and unless all the safety violations have been repaired; Mora had repairs done on the tractor, but not on the trailer.
Using global positioning system (GPS) to reconstruct Mora’s trip, which began June 11, 2018, in El Paso, Texas, FMCSA investigators estimated Mora had been driving continuously for at least 38 of the 45 hours prior to the June 13, 2018, crash. Investigators found Mora has either disabled or deactivated the electronic logging device (ELD) equipped in his truck in prior trips.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Mora’s continued operation of any commercial motor vehicle “… substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately.”
Failure to comply with the provisions of a federal imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for equitable relief and punitive damages. Civil penalties of up to $1,811 may be assessed for each violation of operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of the order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal penalties.
Mora also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the Agency’s safety regulations.