owner of the fuel truck that crashed and exploded Jan. 13, killing four
motorists on Interstate 95 in Howard County, MD, has an accident record "worse
than 96.6 percent of the carriers" examined by the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration, an agency official told The Washington
2003, FMCSA reviewed Texas-based Petro-Chemical Transport Inc. and found
no fault with the upkeep of its 175 trucks or with driver performance,
said agency spokesman Andy Beck. But Beck said officials determined that
Petro-Chemical vehicles were getting into accidents with unsettling regularity.
the reviews that we've done, its rate was worse than 96.6 percent of
the carriers that we visited," Beck said in a Post interview.
accidents included at least one other recent fatal crash, involving a
Petro-Chemical tractor-trailer on a Utah highway in 2002, according to
agency records that are available online. The records also show that
one of Petro-Chemical's sister companies, North Carolina-based Kenan
Transport Inc., has an accident rating worse than 83.3 percent of the
nation's trucking fleet.
tank trucks have been involved in at least four wrecks in which four
people were killed since 2000, the records show. One of those involved
a tank truck that crashed and exploded after swerving out of control
on the Florida Turnpike west of Boca Raton.
accident rate was viewed "only as a red flag" by regulators,
who conducted four separate, intensive reviews that uncovered "no
acute or critical safety violations" at the company, Beck said.
defends safety record
on behalf of both companies, the president of National Tank Truck Carriers
Inc., an industry association, said Petro-Chemical and Kenan have exemplary
Cliff Harvison, said the statistics kept by federal regulators are notoriously
unreliable and potentially misleading because they do not factor in blame
when tallying the number of wrecks. Harvison said he was speaking for
both companies, because investigators have asked Petro-Chemical not to
give out information to the news media. Petro-Chemical and Kenan are
among eight trucking subsidiaries of Ohio-based Kenan Advantage Group
has been my experience, at least, that [Petro-Chemical and Kenan] are
very well regarded in the industry as being safe carriers," Harvison
told The Post.
the explosion west of Boca Raton and a second fatal crash in Florida,
Kenan tankers have been involved in deadly accidents in South Carolina
and Alabama since 2000, according to the federal agency's records, which
do not indicate who was at fault in the crashes.
said yesterday the crash investigation is in an early stage and that
no evidence has emerged to suggest that Petro-Chemical was at fault.
But the company's safety history has emerged in an effort to determine
why the tanker vaulted off an overpass and exploded into flames on the
northbound lanes of I-95.
for the National Transportation Safety Board said its investigators conducted
interviews with Petro-Chemical officials Jan. 15. Beck said his agency,
which is working with the safety board, is again putting Petro-Chemical's
safety record under a microscope.
this is a carrier we're taking a close look at, at this point, because
of the accident," he said.
identified the tanker driver as Jackie M. Frost, 64, of Finksburg in
Carroll County, MD. Frost had been employed by Petro-Chemical for 11
years. Relatives and co-workers said yesterday that he was a seasoned
professional behind the wheel and a gentle soul who kept his work hours
short enough to leave ample time for his family.