The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has effectively shut down two related motor carriers based in the Houston, Texas, area after numerous safety violations were discovered, the agency reported.
PAC Express LLC began operating after FMCSA began attempting to conduct a compliance investigation of Texas Interstate Express LLC. The agency had selected Texas Interstate Express for investigation following violations documented by FMCSA and its state 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.
According to FMCSA’s SAFER website, Texas Interstate Express had 10 trucks and 10 drivers, while PAC Express opened up with seven trucks and five drivers.
Calls to the companies Friday morning were not returned as of Friday afternoon. This story will be updated if more information becomes available.
FMCSA said Texas Interstate Express shifted its operations over to PAC Express and operated as PAC Express, even though 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 review of PAC Express, FMCSA found the motor carrier to be “egregiously noncompliant” with several federal safety regulations, including violations related to required drug and alcohol testing and prohibitions on use, CDL standards, driver qualifications, hours of service and various vehicle-related violations.
“Roadside inspections conducted on Texas Interstate Express demonstrated egregious violations such as using drivers who were prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse,” FMCSA alleged, “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.”
FMCSA added that two drivers for Texas Interstate Express said in signed statements they were instructed by Texas Interstate Express and/or PAC Express “to disregard being placed out-of-service for hours-of-service violations and continue on with trips after the roadside inspectors were no longer monitoring them.”
The same two drivers added 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 without speeding.
Based on findings of roadside inspections on the two companies, FMCSA said PAC Express did not have a program to detect and deter the use of controlled substances by its drivers. Neither did it have an effective program to ensure drivers were qualified and licensed, nor a program to control its drivers’ hours of service.
Failing to comply with the provisions of the federal imminent hazard order could result in civil penalties of up to $29,893 for each violation, FMCSA noted. The carriers could also be assessed civil penalties of at least $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.