FMCSA Declares Tennessee Truck Driver to be an Imminent Hazard to Public Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Tennessee-licensed truck driver Randall J. Weddle to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. Weddle, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was served the federal order on June 22, 2016.
On March 18, 2016, Weddle was operating a large commercial truck for Tennessee-based R&E Logistics, Inc., USDOT No. 942198. At approximately 4:47 p.m., while traveling on Route 17 in Knox County, Maine, the trailer portion of Weddle’s rig crossed the centerline, tipped over, and began scattering its load of lumber across the roadway. At the time of the crash, Weddle’s truck was traveling approximately 80 miles-per-hour in a posted 55 miles-per-hour speed limit zone.
As the truck and trailer and its load of lumber continued to slide down the roadway at a high rate of speed, a pick-up truck, an SUV, and a minivan, in turn, were struck. The pick-up truck was crushed, killing its driver. The collision with the SUV caused it to roll over once before it collided with another vehicle. The minivan hit by Weddle’s truck was also partially buried under the lumber load; a fire ensued, engulfing the minivan. The sole occupant of the minivan was killed. Two additional crash victims were airlifted to the hospital.
A field sobriety test conducted on Weddle by Maine State Police at the scene of the crash detected the presence of alcohol. State Police also found a bottle of Crown Royal Canadian Whisky in Weddle’s truck.
Investigators also discovered that at the time of the crash, Weddle’s CDL had been revoked by the state of Virginia for a conviction of driving while intoxicated.
Investigators further found that Weddle was in violation of multiple federal hours-of-service regulations, which are designed to prevent fatigued driving.
Before departing on the March 18, 2016, trip, a family member joined Weddle as an unauthorized passenger, in violation of federal regulation. The subsequent multiple fatality crash occurred shortly after Weddle and his passenger departed the Searsmont, Maine, lumber yard.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order to Weddle states that his “ … blatant disregard of (federal safety regulations) and continued disregard for the safety of the motoring public demonstrated by these actions substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and/or the motoring public.”
Weddle also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the agency’s safety regulations.
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 civil penalties. Civil penalties of up to $3,100 may be assessed for operation of a commercial motor vehicle in violation of the order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal charges.