Four Bus Companies Shutdown Following Multi-State Strike Force Investigation

Following a four-month, multi-state investigation, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced that it has revoked the operating authority registration of four commercial bus companies for “willfully failing to comply with federal safety regulations.”

Specifically, each of the four passenger carriers was found to have intentionally provided a misleading and/or a false physical address as its principal place of business.

Federal safety regulations prohibit a registered motor carrier from falsely designating its physical address/principal place of business when the motor carrier is not engaged in business operations related to the commercial transportation of persons or property at that location.

The Companies Shutdown:

The bus companies who had their USDOT operating authority registration revoked are:

  • Homewood, Alabama-based AKAI LLC, USDOT No. 2444704
  • Norcross, Georgia-based Luxury Express Bus Company LLC, USDOT No. 2442687
  • Waltham, Massachusetts-based Magnum Coach Lines, LLC, USDOT No. 2489680
  • Raleigh, North Carolina-based Hermes Luxury Coach LTD, USDOT No. 2430448

A motor carrier found to be operating without possessing valid USDOT operating authority may be liable for federal civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each violation.

Safety Tips for Passengers:

Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA’s multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist by clicking here.

The FMCSA’s SaferBus mobile app also gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The app, available for iPhone, iPad, and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage at

The agency urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle, or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA’s consumer complaint website.

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Public Input Sought on how Sleep Apnea Impacts Commercial Drivers

It is estimated that 22 million men and women could be suffering from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a respiratory disorder characterized by a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep.

That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced that it’s seeking public input during the next 90 days on the impacts of screening, evaluating, and treating rail workers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers for OSA.

“It is imperative for everyone’s safety that commercial motor vehicle drivers and train operators be fully focused and immediately responsive at all times,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “DOT strongly encourages comment from the public on how to best respond to this national health and transportation safety issue.”

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep.

As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.

How it impacts driving:

Undiagnosed or inadequately treated moderate to severe OSA can cause unintended sleep episodes and deficits in attention, concentration, situational awareness, memory, and the capacity to safely respond to hazards when performing safety sensitive service.

For individuals with OSA, eight hours of sleep can be less refreshing than four hours of ordinary, uninterrupted sleep, according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

The size and scope of the potential problem means that OSA presents a critical safety issue for all modes and operations in the transportation industry.

Public input details:

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is also seeking public input. The joint Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) is the first step as both agencies consider whether to propose requirements specifically on OSA. FRA and FMCSA will host three public listening sessions to gather input on OSA in Washington, DC, Chicago, and Los Angeles. For more details, click here.

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FMCSA: California Truck Driver Tests Positive for Meth, Ordered to Stop Driving

Pictured: Crystal Meth Rock (Via Wikimedia Commons)

Pictured: Crystal Meth Rock (Via Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared California-licensed truck driver Edward Herbert Crane to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. Crane was served the federal order on February 9, 2016.

In May 2015, an FMCSA investigation revealed that Crane, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was medically unqualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. During the investigation, it was found that Crane had tested positive for the use of prohibited controlled substances, amphetamines or methamphetamines, on three separate occasions since 2012.

Additionally, the results of a test that was still pending during the investigation received by the carrier on May 12, 2015, subsequently was positive for methamphetamines.

In June 2015, Crane was disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by order of FMCSA.

Since his first positive controlled substances test in 2012, Crane has been evaluated by multiple substance abuse professionals; however, he failed to comply with the follow-up testing requirements and he failed to obtain a certificate of completion from any substance abuse program provider.

On January 8, 2016, Crane lost control of the commercial vehicle he was operating resulting in the vehicle leaving the highway, striking a concrete barrier and overturning as it was reentering the roadway. Crane was cited by local law enforcement officers for failing to maintain control of his vehicle.

Following the crash, Crane was instructed by his employer to undergo drug and alcohol testing and was provided with the address of a facility. Crane has failed to report to this facility and has refused to submit to a post-crash drug and alcohol test.

Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order by a CDL holder may result in civil penalties of not less than $2,750 and disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle for not less than 180 days for a first offense. A second offense may result in civil penalties of not less than $5,500 and disqualification from operating a commercial vehicle for not less than two years.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the imminent hazard out-of-service order may also result in criminal charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Troopers: FedEx Driver Wrecks after Falling Asleep in Mississippi

Via FedEx

Via FedEx

Lack of sleep yet making the conscious decision to get behind the wheel is one of the most dangerous things you can do as a driver. Studies have shown that driving while sleepy is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

We’ve seen it time and time again where crashes could have been prevented had the driver had adequate sleep. A recent crash in Jackson, Mississippi proves this point well.

According to WTVM-TV, an 18 wheeler for FedEx overturned recently, causing traffic to back up until the wreck could be cleared.

Troopers say the driver of the semi wrecked after falling asleep behind the wheel. The driver, whose name hasn’t been released, suffered only minor injuries. Fortunately, no one else was involved.

What the Research Says

According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowsy driving is a major problem in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013. Drowsiness:

  • Makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road.
  • Slows reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly.
  • Affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions.

Final Thought

Now it’s not known if this FedEx driver was in compliance with the government’s HOS rules. We can only assume. With that said, he’s very lucky that no one else was injured during the accident.

The moral of the lesson is simple. Just as you wouldn’t drink behind the wheel, driving while drowsy is also just as potentially deadly. It’s just not worth the risk.

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Car vs. Semi: Whose fault? Three People Killed, Two Injured in Iowa

car v semiI often report about car v. truck collisions on this blog that are the fault of the truck driver. However, it’s important to know that a majority of car v. truck collisions are the fault of the car. My career—and passion—is to make the road safer when the truck driver is at fault. I strive to hold truck companies responsible when, for example, it requires its drivers to drive beyond hours of service or fail to give required drug screens.

Once in a while, a truck driver will write me and ask “do you hate truck drivers?” The answer is NO. My dad was high school teacher who drove a tractor trailer during the summer. I represent many truck drivers who are injured when other trucks on the road don’t follow the rules and injure them. When I find a truck company that doesn’t follow the rules or a driver who was at fault, I aggressively pursue the interests of my client and the interests of justice.

According to Iowa authorities, there was a recent tragedy that at first glance appears to be the car drivers fault. Should that not be the case, please let me know and I will correct the post, just as I have others when people reach out. The Iowa crash involved two vehicles on Highway 63 just south of New Hampton left three people dead and two injured recently.

The Iowa State Patrol identified the dead as Latorris S. Duffie, 24; Keith A, Demry, 29; and Devin Gordin, 25. The official report did not list hometowns for the deceased.

Troopers stated that a car driven by 22-year-old Bertha Smith was traveling westbound on 240th Street and failed to yield to a northbound semi. The car was broadsided by the semi, in turn, ejecting one of the people in the backseat was ejected.

Smith and another passenger in the car, Shaun N. Anderson, 25, were taken to Mercy Medical Center-New Hampton before being transferred to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City, authorities stated.

The crash occurred at around 6:20 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 63 and Chickasaw County Road B-54 near New Hampton Red Power.

Law enforcement officers stopped traffic in the southbound lanes of Highway 63 for about 25 minutes and redirected northbound traffic onto Linn Avenue.

Troopers said the accident remains under investigation.

Assisting at the scene were the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office, the New Hampton Police Department, the Chickasaw County Rescue Squad and the Chickasaw Ambulance Service.

The driver of the semi was not injured.


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Meet Scott Darling—a Nominee to Lead FMCSA—Who Wants to Make the Trucking Industry Safer

Pictured: Scott Darling (Via FMCSA)

Pictured: Scott Darling (Via FMCSA)

Recently, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a confirmation hearing to consider the President’s nomination of T.F. Scott Darling, III to serve as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator.

This would be a position that comes with great responsibility if selected. The FMCSA presently oversees over 4 million active commercial drivers’ license holders, more than 12,000 bus companies and 500,000 motor carriers, including trucking companies, household goods movers, and hazardous materials carriers.

Since the FMCSA was established 15 years ago, the number of lives lost in commercial motor vehicle-related crashes has decreased 26 percent. These numbers represent progress, but the sad fact remains that more than 4,000 people die each year in crashes with large truck and buses. If chosen to lead the agency, Darling says he hopes to change that and continue striving to make America’s roadways even safer.

If you’ve not heard of him until now, here’s some background information on a man who’s dedicated his life to public safety:

  • On August 5, 2015, President Obama nominated Darling, III to be the Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • He joined FMCSA in September 2012 upon his appointment by the President as Chief Counsel.
  • He joined the FMCSA from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the public transit agency serving the greater Boston area, where he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant General Counsel.
  • He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Clark University, a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Tufts University, and a Juris Doctor’s degree from Suffolk University.

During the confirmation hearing, Darling laid out his goals for the future if selected to fulfil the role of the FMCSA’s administrator. They are to:

  • Work to put in place dozens of FAST Act provisions to establish new programs and procedures, create working groups, and conduct research.
  • Streamline the agency’s grant programs to give states increased flexibility to tailor funding to conditions on the ground.
  • Continue taking comments from stakeholders and the public on an incentive program to encourage carriers to adopt cutting edge safety technology and practices.
  • Continue helping the country’s veterans successfully transition out of the military to careers in transportation.

Darling also told the Senate committee that this year’s priorities include addressing the controversial hours of service (HOS) restart, creating a national drug clearing house, proceeding with rulemaking on speed limiters for tractor trailers and looking at a new safety evaluation and rating system.

So far, the committee has not yet voted to confirm Darling. Some have praised him for his quick work in implementing portions of the FAST Act, such as removing CSA scores from public view while the system is being revamped, and encouraged him to continue to work in implementing all aspects of the legislation. A few days ago, Commerce Committee Chairman Jon Thrune told American Trucking Association newspaper Transport Topics that some senators have questions about Darlings “depth of experience.”

In our opinion, Darling would be an excellent choice to head the FMCSA. He is a man who’s proven that he’s dedicated to helping save lives and making the roads Americans drive on less dangerous.

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Semi Driver Arrested for Vehicular Homicide, Under the Influence of Drugs in Washington

Pictured: Image taken from the crash scene (Via Deborah Horne/Twitter)

Pictured: Image taken from the crash scene (Via Deborah Horne/Twitter)

According to troopers with the Washington State Patrol, two people were killed and five injured recently in a serious crash involving eight vehicles that closed westbound I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass for several hours.

When troopers arrived on scene, they found two semi-trucks and six other vehicles had crashed.

Dramatic video footage from the scene showed one smaller car completely smashed between larger vehicles. Troopers placed a yellow tarp over the car. A State Patrol photo also showed a pickup truck on its top against the side of a semi trailer.

Two people, identified as Richard Slightam, 49, and Carmen Lang, 50, died at the scene. Five people were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Authorities say the driver of one of the semi trucks involved in the crash while towing a car hauler was later arrested for investigation of vehicular homicide.

In a report by KING-TV, WSP trooper who is a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) contacted the driver and later determined the driver was under the influence of drugs.

“We had a drug recognition expert interview and evaluate this driver, and through that evaluation it led to calling for a blood warrant and he was placed in custody for investigation of vehicular homicide,” Trooper Rick Johnson told KOMO-TV.

Troopers say they believe the driver of the car carrier was traveling west and lost control before veering across all lanes of traffic and coming to rest in the roadway. This caused a chain-reaction crash that completely blocked all westbound lanes of the freeway.


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Is it Safe to Pass a Snow Plow?

At least 17 people, from North Carolina to New York, have already died in the winter blizzard of 2016. However, the U.S. isn’t the only region battling the snow and taking it seriously.

Recently, under Ontario, Canada’s “Highway Traffic Act,” a trucker there was charged with passing a snow plow in an unsafe manner.

It was a motorist who contacted authorities to report that a tractor trailer was being driven in a dangerous way.

Police were able to determine that a plow was working on Hwy. 23 between Monkton and Bornholm, and travelled at a speed of 40 km/h. There were several vehicles behind the plow, including two tractor trailers.

The last tractor trailer pulled out and passed the vehicles behind the plow, forcing the other tractor trailer onto the west shoulder.   The tractor trailer then passed the plow and continued south towards Mitchell.

A short time later, police pulled over the tractor trailer in Mitchell. The driver, a 62-year-old-man from Hanover, was charged with passing when the roadway was not clear.

The “Highway Traffic Act” regulates the classification of traffic offenses, administration of loads, classification of vehicles and other transport related issues.

Our Thoughts

In the United States, while it is not illegal to pass a snow plow, it certainly increases the risk of an accident, especially when on a single lane road in each direction. Along with the snow, other objects can get thrown by the plow which could impact a driver’s ability to see clearly. It’s just not worth the risk.

All drivers, including truckers, must practice responsibility on the road. When the weather conditions are less than ideal, patience is crucial.

If you must pass, you need to be able to do so in a safe manner. Ideally, drivers should be attentive, take their time, drive safely for conditions and avoid passing other vehicles—especially snow plows—when conditions are dangerous. It only increases the chances of an accident occurring.

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FMCSA Launches Online Unified Registration System Aimed at Boosting Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched the Unified Registration System (URS), a new, simplified, online registration process. It will be used by truck and bus companies, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, and cargo tank manufacturing, inspection and repair facilities as part of a requirement for USDOT registration.

What It Will Do

Primarily, the URS strives to do the following:

  • Unify registration data housed in multiple FMCSA systems into one authoritative database, thus reducing the possibility for conflicting registration data between FMCSA systems.
  • Streamline manual processes and combine several forms into one unified online registration form. According to the FMCSA, this will improve efficiency, reduce errors and, most importantly, strengthen safety for the motoring public.

Why You Should Care

When fully implemented in 2016, URS will enable FMCSA to more readily identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies seeking to evade Agency enforcement actions, including civil penalties, by attempting to regain USDOT registration by registering as a purported different, unrelated business entity.

In a nutshell:

  • FMCSA estimates URS will ultimately reduce costs to industry by approximately $9 million in time saved and fees incurred over a 10-year period.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), large trucks accounted for 3,964 fatalities in 2013. The new registration process should help reduce those numbers even further.
  • Fatal accidents involving 18-wheelers cost Americans more than $20 billion each year, $13.1 billion of which is the cost associated with loss of quality of life. URS, if properly enacted, should lower those costs.
  • This measure will also improve FMCSA’s ability to locate small and medium-sized private and exempt for-hire motor carriers when enforcement action is necessary.  Working with designated process agents will help FMCSA investigators locate and/or serve documents on hard-to-find motor carriers.

Our Thoughts

It’s important to note that the initial phase of URS will only affect new registrants. Later phases in 2016 will affect all regulated entities.  According to the 2016 phase schedule, additional motor carrier compliance will begin in September.

While we would prefer it be sooner, it’s certainly better late than never. The URS is certainly a welcoming addition in helping promote safety along America’s highways. It is our hope that under the new registration process, fatalities and injuries will be significantly reduced and reckless commercial drivers kept off the roads once and for all.

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Trucking Industry to Benefit from Driverless Car Push

Pictured: Future Truck 2025 (Courtesy: Daimler)

Pictured: Future Truck 2025 (Courtesy: Daimler)

The future of driverless trucks is inching closer to reality. This is largely due, in part, to the aggressive push being made for autonomous cars. According to Wolfgang Bernard with Diamler, by the time federal laws are implemented and regulation is finished, his company will be ready with the first autonomous tractor-trailer. Bernhard made the announcement recently during a press conference after Daimler’s launched production of its Detroit-branded DT12 automated manual transmission in the United States.

Future Truck 2025

Last year, Diamler unveiled its Future Truck 2015 in Magdeburg, Germany. Ultimately, the company hopes to make safer, greener, and more efficient robotic trucks that are also more attractive to prospective drivers.

Based on Mercedes Benz’s previous work on driver assist and autonomous systems for upmarket passenger cars, it allows trucks to operate with complete autonomy on public roads at speeds up to 53 mph.

The Potentials Benefits of ‘Driverless Trucks’

  • Could eliminate the shortage of drivers
  • Better fuel economy
  • New safety systems in place designed to offset common driver issues, such as drowsy driving, that impact road safety.
  • Could allow truckers to take on new roles while still in the cab of a truck
  • Could reduce the number of fatal bus and truck crashes

Critics Skeptical of ‘Driverless Trucks’

Though widespread deployment of autonomous trucks is still a ways off, the seeds have already been planted. To learn more, Software Advice, a company that researches and reviews fleet management software, conducted a survey of 385 adults in the United States to see what people think about this technology. Most people surveyed do not trust these type of vehicles on the ride. Other findings include:

Over two-thirds of survey respondents said they would feel less safe sharing the road with driverless semi-trucks.

  • Women were more likely than men to think that vehicles piloted by driverless technology would be less safe than vehicles operated by human beings.
  • The majority of respondents would be uncomfortable with driverless semi-trucks, even if it meant cheaper consumer products or reduced carbon emissions.

Obstacles Ahead

No shortage of hurdles remains for autonomous truck to hit the highways in numbers. Diamler reps have stated that:

  • Local laws must first take effect, allowing drivers to let go of the steering wheel.
  • The FMCSA will have to implement/write new rules drivers must follow when operating  autonomous trucks

Our Thoughts

While welcome opportunities in technology that promote and increase highway safety, the verdict is still out on autonomous tractor trailers. Before these futuristic semis ever hit the road, they must be 100 percent reliable. Drivers in passenger vehicles must feel confident and unafraid when sharing the road with them.

In theory, driverless vehicles would put personal injury attorneys out of business.  After all, manufacturers tout they will drastically reduce collisions. Fewer collisions mean few civil lawsuits. But, nonetheless, accidents will likely be inevitable—despite the advanced technology.

With that said, what happens when a driverless 18-wheeler kills someone? Robots cannot exactly be charged with a crime. Or less drastically, who pays the ticket when it doesn’t notice a stop sign or traffic light, or when an error sends it the wrong way down a one-way street?

Bottom line, there are still so many unknowns. As robots become more integrated into our every day life and society as a whole, lawmakers will have to wrestle with how to manage machines and hold software accountable.

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