FMCSA: Florida company involved in five crashes ordered out of service

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Florida general freight hauler has been declared an imminent safety hazard and ordered out of service after investigators say the motor carrier was involved in five recordable crashes during the past 12 months.

The order affects Ken’s Trucking LLC of Grand Ridge, Fla., and its owner, Kenneth Branch. The company operates a fleet of 33 truck-tractors and 29 drivers. The order directs Ken’s Trucking to “cease all commercial motor vehicle operations, including all interstate and intrastate transportation, from all dispatching locations or terminals.”

According to a report published Thursday, Sept. 18, by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an investigation of the motor carrier was launched in August. Investigators found that trucks operated by Ken’s Trucking were involved in five recordable crashes within the last 12 months, including at least two crashes attributable to maintenance deficiencies.

Branch, who also serves as a CDL driver for the company, was involved in a 2014 crash attributable to vehicle maintenance deficiencies, according to the FMCSA report.

The report states that a May 20 crash involving one of the trucks occurred when the driveshaft fell off the vehicle and caused an accident with a passenger car. The company has had 42 vehicle inspections in the last 12 months, resulting in 112 vehicle maintenance violations, according to the FMCSA report.

“Ken’s Trucking’s ineffective maintenance program fails to systematically inspect, repair and maintain its CMVS and contributes to the substantial likelihood that its continued operations will result in injuries and/or deaths,” the report stated. “Ken’s Trucking is unable to articulate a comprehensive preventative maintenance program, does not require drivers to prepare driver vehicle inspection reports, and has a vehicle out-of-service rate during roadside inspections significantly above the national average and even the rate FMCSA uses to define ‘high risk’ carriers.”

According to FMCSA’s SAFER database, Ken’s Trucking has a 34.7 percent out-of-service rate for vehicle inspections, compared with the national average of 20.72 percent. The company’s drivers are also ordered out of service during inspections at a rate of 9.9 percent, nearly double the national average of 5.51 percent.

The investigation also states that the company has a “High Crash Risk Carrier” designation, with an accident rate of 1.95 accidents per million miles driven. In the past 12 months, the company’s drivers received 15 citations for speeding and 10 additional citations for other traffic citations.

In a news release announcing the order, the FMCSA stated that other violations found by investigators include violations of the following regulations:

  • Failing to properly oversee and maintain driver qualification files, including medical certification and driving violation records. Investigators found that Branch failed to maintain even his own file.
  • Allowing drivers who tested positive for drugs, were in possession of suspended CDL, or were in possession of an expired medical certificate to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. In the past year, Ken’s Trucking dispatched two drivers who had tested positive for controlled substances during random tests and two other drivers who tested positive in pre-employment drug tests without requiring the drivers to undergo proper return-to-duty procedures. For a period of 17 months, Ken’s Trucking continually dispatched a driver whose CDL had been suspended for speeding violations. In addition to those violations, investigators found that Branch did not himself participate in federally mandated random drug and alcohol testing.
  • Failing to properly monitor drivers to ensure compliance with federal hours-of-service limitations to prevent fatigued driving.
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