The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Payson, Illinois-based Rhino Displays and Hampton, Georgia-based Prudential Carriers, Inc., to immediately shut down following two separate federal investigations that revealed numerous widespread violations of critical safety regulations.
According to officials, in July 2010, Rhino, a fireworks display company, informed FMCSA in writing that it had closed the commercial fireworks transportation portion of its business.
However, on May 30, 2015, FMCSA safety investigators discovered that Rhino had transported fireworks to a baseball stadium in Hannibal, Missouri. After further investigation of the cargo, the driver and the truck, multiple safety violations were uncovered.
Authorities say they discovered opened and improperly secured packages of fireworks; absence of a federally required fire extinguisher in the vehicle; presence of alcohol in the vehicle; the driver not possessing a commercial driver’s license (CDL), a hazardous materials endorsement, or a valid medical certificate; no records of duty status; no Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP); no hazmat placarding on the vehicle; and absence of required shipping papers.
The federal out-of-service order dated June 4, 2015, states “These widespread violations substantially increased the likelihood of serious injury or death to Rhino Display’s drivers and the public.”
In late May 2015, FMCSA safety investigators initiated an investigation of Prudential following the carrier’s recent involvement in several crashes, including a May 12, 2015, incident in which the company instructed the driver to continue operating a truck that was transporting a damaged, leaking load of canola oil onto Interstate 75 in Georgia.
Four separate vehicle crashes resulted from the extremely slick and hazardous road conditions caused by the leaking oil before the driver was stopped and arrested by law enforcement officers.
The federal out-of-service order dated June 5, 2015, states that the investigation “… uncovered widespread regulatory violations demonstrating Prudential’s repeated and egregious non-compliance with (federal safety regulations) and a management philosophy indifferent to motor carrier safety.”
These violations included: failing to ensure its leased and company-owned vehicles were systematically inspected, repaired and maintained; failing to ensure its drivers complied with federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigued driving; failing to comply with driver qualification requirements and allowing unqualified drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle; and failing to comply with FMCSA-mandated random alcohol and controlled substances testing of its drivers.