The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered a LaGrange, Georgia-based trucking company to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations after a federal investigation found the company to pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
Industrial Transit Inc., was served the federal order on Oct. 4, 2016. The fleet operates five commercial trucks and principally transports automotive parts across the country, including passenger vehicle air bags and related air bag components — some of which are federally designated hazardous materials (HM) products that are volatile and potentially highly explosive.
On Aug. 22, 2016, an Industrial Transit truck traveling in Maverick County, Texas, transporting Takata air bag components, approached a curve at an unsafe speed, traveled off the roadway, striking a culvert, and rolled over.
The truck caught fire and the Takata air bag components being transported in the vehicle exploded, leveling a nearby house and garage and damaging multiple houses in the area. The occupant of the leveled house was killed. The Industrial Transit team drivers and a couple in a nearby car were injured.
A post-crash investigation conducted by FMCSA safety investigators 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. Within the last two and a half months, the company allowed two drivers to operate its vehicles without possessing a valid commercial driver’s license
- Failing to sufficiently implement a random alcohol and drug-testing program for its drivers. In one instance, FMCSA investigators found that Industrial Transit had allowed a driver who had refused to submit to a random controlled substances test to continue to operate a commercial truck hauling explosive HM
- Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, repaired, and met minimum safety standards. During the last 10 vehicle roadside inspections, all of the company’s commercial vehicles were placed out-of-service or cited for safety violations. During FMCSA’s investigation, major safety defects discovered included out-of-adjustment and contaminated brakes, oil leaks, loose steering system components, inadequately working slack adjusters, and an unsecured fire extinguisher
- Failing to properly monitor its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum hours-of-service requirements prohibiting fatigued operation of commercial motor vehicles
- Failing to provide any of its hazardous materials employees with function-specific HM training or in-depth security training. Such training covers the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities each driver needs to perform HM transport tasks properly and safely
- Failing to comply with other related federal safety regulations involving required HM shipping paper information. Such documentation is required to be in the possession of the driver and includes the quantity, weight, and net explosive weight of the HM, identifies the explosive shipped as a HM product, and includes an emergency response telephone number and additional information for emergency responders
- Failing to have HM security or communication plans in place, therefore not satisfying the conditions for receiving a HM safety permit.
FMCSA’s investigation further found that Industrial Transit, “does not have safety management controls in place to ensure drivers are qualified to operate its [commercial motor vehicles], drivers operate its CMVs safely, and its CMVs are properly inspected, repaired, and maintained.”
Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in a penalty of up to $25,705, operating without necessary authority may result in a fine of not less than $10,282, and operating without a USDOT number may result in a civil penalty of up to $14,502. A violation of this order may also result in a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment 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.