Two related Texas trucking companies have been effectively shut down by federal regulators due to numerous safety violations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared Texas Interstate Express LLC, and PAC Express LLC, related motor carriers located in the Houston area, to be “imminent hazards” to public safety and ordered the motor carriers to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations, according to a statement from the agency. The motor carriers were served the federal order on Nov. 11.
PAC Express LLC began operating after the FMCSA began attempting to conduct a compliance investigation on Texas Interstate Express LLC. FMCSA said it identified Texas Interstate Express for investigation based on the carrier’s widespread violations documented by FMCSA and its partners during roadside inspections.
FMCSA said Texas Interstate Express had more than double the national average vehicle out-of-service rate and almost 10 times the national average driver out-of-service rate. Texas Interstate Express shifted its operations over to PAC Express and operated as PAC Express despite the fact that Texas Interstate Express had been issued an out-of-service order for failing to comply with a demand to produce the records required to conduct a compliance investigation.
During a subsequent FMCSA review of PAC Express, FMCSA said it found the motor carrier to be egregiously noncompliant with multiple federal safety regulations, including violations in the following parts: Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing; Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Driver Qualification; Parts and Accessories Needed for Safe Operations; Hours of Service of Drivers; and Vehicle Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance.
FMCSA said roadside inspections conducted on Texas Interstate Express demonstrated egregious violations such as using drivers who were prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, using drivers who had no commercial driver’s license, using drivers who had no records of duty status, and allowing drivers to violate roadside out-of-service conditions. In signed statements, two of Texas Interstate Express’ drivers stated to FMCSA that motor carrier official(s) at Texas Interstate Express and/or PAC Express instructed them to disregard being placed out-of-service for hours-of-service (HOS) violations and continue on with trips after the roadside inspectors were no longer monitoring them.
FMCSA said the same two drivers stated that they were also instructed to avoid inspections and bypass scales and that they would be dispatched on trips that could not be made within HOS rules and without speeding. As suggested by the findings of the roadside inspections on Texas Interstate Express and then PAC Express, PAC Express did not have a program to detect and deter the use of controlled substances by its drivers, did not have an effective program to ensure its drivers were qualified and licensed, did not have a program to control its drivers’ hours of service, and did not have a program to ensure its vehicles were appropriately inspected and repaired.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Texas Interstate Express’ and PAC Express’ “…avoidance of compliance with the (safety regulations) and the Out-of-Service Order substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for your drivers and the motoring public if your operations are not discontinued immediately.”
Failing to comply with the provisions of the Federal imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $29,893 for each violation. Motor carriers may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $11,956 for providing transportation in interstate commerce without operating authority registration, and up to $16,864 for operating a CMV in interstate commerce without USDOT Number registration. Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties.
A copy of the imminent hazard order issued to Texas Interstate Express and PAC Express is available here.