Fatal wreck investigation reveals carrier's clock fraud, safety violations

| 9/17/2007

Dispatchers for one Pennsylvania trucking company repeatedly clocked out drivers who were over hours but kept working, and the company has tallied 92 safety violations in the past two years.

Those results and others were reported this week following a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration investigation of 973 company files maintained by L&H Trucking – which employs 204 drivers who logged 14.6 million miles in 2005, according to FMCSA.

L&H Trucking, of Hanover, PA, first came under scrutiny in February when company driver Raymond Green Jr. crashed into a car in Providence, RI, killing Joyce St. Laurent. It was later revealed that Green had falsified his logbook and had equipment violations.

According to The York Daily Record newspaper in Pennsylvania, L&H Trucking was fined $7,400 for 10 falsified clock records and “aiding, abetting, encouraging or requiring” employees to violate federal safety regs when drivers were over or out of hours under the hours-of-service regulations.

L&H Trucking had 18 crashes between 2005 and 2007, including two fatalities yet the company has maintained a “satisfactory” safety rating by FMCSA.

The Government Accountability Office recently reported that FMCSA identifies carriers that pose “high crash risks” and conducts throughout compliance reviews but “does not assess maximum fines as often as required by law.”

The GAO recommended to Congress that FMCSA revise its policy for assessing maximum fines and select certain high-risk carriers for compliance reviews.

Tony Hippensteel, who once worked at L&H Trucking with Green, said the company began pushing truckers past their limits after Glenn Longstreth took over as CEO from his parents, Larry and Helen Longstreth.

Glenn Longstreth began sending drivers on routes they couldn’t possibly deliver on-time without breaking hours of service regs, Hippensteel told Land Line in March.

Hippensteel said he first contacted FMCSA in 2006 to warn the agency about L&H’s hours-of-service problems, but was frustrated when he was told they needed specific times and dates of violations.

“An individual had to die before they would take action,” Hippensteel told Land Line at that time.

Larry Moul, L&H’s director of safety, told the Daily Record the company is moving on and said Green is still employed with the company.

When the federal agency investigates, “they can always find something,” Moul told the newspaper.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer