The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered a Tumwater, Washington-based trucking company, Even Flo Logistics, LLC, USDOT No. 2948660, to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations after investigators found the company to pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
A separate imminent hazard order was also served by FMCSA to Even Flo Logistics’ truck driver Shawn Roberts, a state of Washington commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder. The federal order prohibits Roberts from operating any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
In August 2017, the Washington State Patrol’s Motor Carrier Safety Division conducted a compliance investigation of Even Flo Logistics following roadside inspections occurring in multiple states since January 2017 that revealed repeated serious safety violations requiring that its truck driver Shawn Roberts be placed out-of-service at rate more than 13 times the national average.
Numerous serious violations of federal safety statutes and regulations were discovered, including:
* Failing to comply with certain driver qualification requirements, including ensuring that its drivers were properly licensed to operate a CMV. Investigators discovered that on at least two occasions when Roberts possessed a CDL learner’s permit only, the company allowed him to operate a truck without a licensed CDL driver with him as required. During October 2017 when Roberts’ CDL had been suspended and/or withdrawn by the State of Washington, Even Flo Logistics allowed Roberts on at least one occasion to operate a truck in interstate commerce.
* Failing to properly monitor its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum hours-of-service (HOS) requirements prohibiting fatigued operation of CMVs. Since January 2017, Even Flo Logistics’ driver Roberts has been subjected to 12 roadside inspections. Roberts was cited for HOS violations in 10 of these inspections.
*Failing to ensure it has negative pre-employment controlled substances/alcohol tests results prior to allowing drivers to operate CMVs; failing to ensure its drivers are tested within the required period when selected for controlled substances/alcohol random testing; failing to require post-accident controlled substances/alcohol testing of its driver.
* Based on the violations discovered during the Washington State Patrol investigation, the motor carrier was issued a final federal safety rating of “Unsatisfactory” and ordered to cease operations effective October 10, 2017. The motor carrier subsequently operated on at least two occasions in violation of this federal order.
The FMCSA imminent hazard out-of-service order to Even Flo Logistics stated that the carrier’s ongoing noncompliance with federal safety regulations, combined with the company’s demonstrated lack of safety management controls “…significantly increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to its drivers and the motoring public and establishes an imminent hazard.”
Among other driver violations of federal safety regulations, Shawn Roberts has been cited for operating a CMV in violation of conditions of his CDL learner’s permit; operating a CMV without a valid CDL; being on-duty while under the influence of a narcotic drug/amphetamine, and; possession of an intoxicating beverage while on-duty or driving. Roberts is also facing drug-related criminal charges in both Arizona and Wyoming. Since January 2017, while operating a CMV, Roberts has been involved in four crashes. In May 2017, Roberts reportedly posted a photograph on social media of a 12-year-old operating a CMV. In July 2017, Roberts reportedly posted a photograph on social media of a clamp attached to the gas pedal along with the caption, “When your cruise control brakes [sic] the fix.”
The FMCSA imminent hazard out-of-service order to Roberts stated that his “…. blatant disregard of [federal safety regulations] and continued disregard for the safety of the motoring public …. substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and/or to the motoring public.”
Even Flo logistics 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 $10,000 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.
Separately, Roberts may be assessed civil penalties of up to $1,811 for each violation of operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of the imminent hazard order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal penalties.