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1/27/2004
SPECIAL REPORT: FMCSA investigating Swift Transportation

Shares of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation fell Jan. 26 amid concerns that federal regulators could lower the company's safety rating - a move that could lead to high insurance costs and bar Swift from hauling hazardous materials.

Additional details were expected after the market's close Jan. 27, when the company releases its year-end and fourth-quarter earnings. The company's stock fell Jan. 26 nearly 13 percent to $19.04.

Meanwhile, an FMCSA spokesman told Land Line, "The agency will not comment on an ongoing investigation." The agency declined to provide a reason for the investigation of Swift.

However, a Dow Jones Newswire report said federal regulators found that 87 of 816 driver logbooks checked by regulators were false. In one instance, a journey from Phoenix to Los Angeles was reportedly done in 45 minutes, which would have meant the driver was going an average speed of about 500 mph. The company has disputed that logbooks were falsified.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed in 2001 and again in 2003 that the trucking company's safety rating be lowered to "conditional."

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, new legal documents show the FMCSA has disagreed with Swift's petition to stay the conditional rating, a move that might lead one to predict an actual downgrade, said A.G. Edwards analyst Donald Broughton.

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