WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will conduct a compliance review on an Alabama trucking company involved in a crash that killed 11 people in Kentucky last week as a direct result of the accident, the agency said today.
Even though the company had a driver safety evaluation area value of 88.4, which is 13.4 points above what FMCSA considers deficient, the FMCSA would not normally have conducted a compliance review under current criteria.
Under those criteria, the FMCSA will conduct a compliance review on a carrier if the carrier is deficient in at least three of the four Safety Assessment Areas (accident, driver, vehicle, safety management), is deficient in two areas when one of those areas is accidents, or if the carrier had a score of 95 or above in the crash area.
Hester did not meet any of those criteria, the FMCSA said, so it would not have been targeted for a compliance review, although FMCSA criteria do call for carriers found deficient in only one safety assessment area to be continuously monitored for safety performance, including prioritizing the carrier’s vehicles for roadside inspections using the Agency’s Inspection Selection Software.
However, under the agency’s new national safety enforcement program CSA 2010, any carrier found deficient in even one of the seven assessment areas outlined in CSA 2010, the FMCSA will target that carrier for an intervention to address the specific safety problem.
If intervention measures do not work, then a full compliance review could be conducted.
According to FMCSA criteria, if Hester, or any other carrier, is found to be unfit during a compliance review, the carrier can be put out of service.
FMCSA records show that in the past 30 months, the agency has conducted 194 driver inspections on Hester drivers with 21 being put out of service for log book violations, exceeding the 11-hour driving limit or the 14-hour on duty limit.
The company’s 10.8 percent out-of-service rate for driver inspections would be considered high among carriers, according to FMCSA data reviewed by The Trucker.
The driver of Hester tractor-trailer, 45-year-old Kennenth Laymon of Jasper, Ala., crossed the median of Interstate 65 in central Kentucky on Friday and slammed into a van, killing 10 people and himself, Kentucky State Police said. The others who died were Mennonites traveling to a wedding in Iowa. Two young children survived the crash.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.
"We'll be examining their record, their accident to incident history, their safety culture, training program and fatigue management," Knudson said.
Scott Hester, the owner of the Fayette, Ala., trucking company, declined comment Wednesday.
Hester hadn't had a fatal accident since at least 2007, federal records showed.
During that time, the company had three wrecks, just one involving injuries. The report does not include the names of drivers or their safety records.
The tractor-trailer Laymon was driving had been cited for problems with its lights, brakes and emergency equipment during six roadside inspections since 2008, according to the records. The truck had no citations in 2009 or 2010, including a clean roadside stop about a month before the fatal wreck, records show.
Knudson said the NTSB's on-scene investigation should be complete later this week.
After that, investigators will await toxicology reports on Laymon.
Investigators are still trying to determine if there is a vehicle recording device that would indicate whether the truck's speed was a factor.
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Associated Press sources contributed to this article.