For the fifth time so far in 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ruled a trucking company to be so unsafe and such an imminent threat to public safety that its trucks were immediately taken off the road.
In April, Mortise Trucking, based in South Carolina, was shut down for egregious and repeated violations. The list of Mortise Trucking’s violations reads like a horror story of hazardous trucking.
Out of 12 recent safety inspections of Mortise Trucking trucks, 11 found violations.
- In six of those inspections, inadequate and poorly maintained brake systems were found, the FMCSA said.
- A Mortise truck was once cited for driving with worn tires.
- Another inspection found a Mortise truck with brake and steering parts contaminated with oil.
- Leaks have been found in Mortise truck wheel hub seals.
These rampant safety failures triggered a full investigation of Mortise Trucking in March, which found the company to shockingly have:
- No maintenance records
- No maintenance program
- No log books to record driver hours
- Insufficient alcohol and drug testing
If this all sounds like a worst-case scenario, that’s because it is. Even if reputable truck companies are operating more and more safely, outfits like Mortise Trucking continue to prove that disasters are waiting happen on roads close to us. That Mortise was operating so close to the roads we and our families drive in Atlanta and around Georgia is especially frightening.
A look at Mortise’s violations and those of other truck companies that have been shut down this year sheds light on trucking hazards very close to our homes, while also offering a glimpse into how regulators work to curb dangerous trucks.
‘Compliance is Not Optional’
One of FMSCA’s out-of-service orders in 2015 came right here in Georgia. In March, truck driver Robert Lee Turner was ordered off the roads after he tested positive for cocaine following a crash with police. Turner was driving a truck in the Port of Savannah when he struck a port police officer. The officer suffered serious injuries. Turner then tested positive for cocaine and was charged criminally with driving under the influence of a controlled substance. He was also stripped of his commercial driver’s license.
Three other FMCSA shut downs came in February. Colorado-based Sorbon Transport was found to repeatedly not have maintained, inspected or fixed its trucks. Sorbon also failed to produce any documentation showing how long its drivers had been on the roads, and also did not properly comply with drug and alcohol testing, the FMSCA said.
JDJD Transportation in Las Vegas was taken off the roads after it failed to produce copies of drivers’ service time records and was found to have no safety management system in place. JDJD also did not make sure its drivers were properly licensed and did not test adequately for alcohol or drugs, the FMCSA said.
And in South Dakota, Lonnie Roth, a commercial truck driver, was found to still have been driving a commercial truck despite having been stripped of his commercial driver’s license in 2014 for testing positive for alcohol.
“Any vehicle, especially a large commercial vehicle such as a truck and trailer that is not maintained or repaired and allowed to become a serious public hazard, is absolutely unacceptable,” said FMCSA Chief Counsel Scott Darling after the agency shut down Mortise Trucking. “Safety regulations exist to protect everyone. Compliance is not optional. If a motor carrier does not adhere to the safety regulations, we will see that it does not operate.”
Taking Dangerous Trucks Off the Road
The FMCSA revoked Mortise Trucking’s operating authority and suspended its USDOT number. This means Mortise trucks won’t be sharing our roads for a long time.
Shutting down a trucking company, even if its violations are blatant, is not easy work. In some cases, investigations take months, if not years to complete. Companies will also often challenge FMCA out-of-service rulings, as was the case last year with a cargo truck company that was shut down after an explosion killed one mechanic and injured another.
Keeping track of trucking companies that skirt the rules is difficult as well. There are currently thousands of trucks on the road from companies that have no safety rating at all, as the only time a safety rating is awarded is after a FMCSA inspection.
Out-of-Service Orders in Georgia
There are literally hundreds of active out-of-service orders in Georgia alone. The FMCSA keeps an active database online. Here is a complete listing. For a more precise listing, you can also sort here by DOT number, carrier name and more.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, check the database to see if there is an active out-of-service order issued to the trucking company or driver that caused your injury. Be sure to also check databases from other states as well, as most trucks are traveling cross-country. If a driver was banned from operating a commercial vehicle and caused an accident that hurt you or a family member, you may be in line for a substantial settlement.
If you have any questions about a potential case, contact the attorneys at Fried Goldberg. We literally wrote the book on truck accident law. Rest assured we are better prepared than any lawyers in the country to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (404)-591-1800 or contact us online. Consultations are always free and without obligation.