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FMCSA declares Georgia trucking company to be an imminent hazard to public safety

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WASHINGTON — The Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered an Acworth, Georgia-based trucking company Daya Trucking to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations after investigators found the company to pose an imminent hazard to public safety.  Daya Trucking, which operates 39 trucks hauling general freight, was served the federal order on April 23, 2018.

In March 2018, after receiving information that Daya Trucking may be a reincarnated and/or an affiliated entity of Ekam Truck Line, FMCSA initiated a compliance investigation.  In 2017, Ekam agreed to enter into a consent order as a condition of upgrading its proposed FMCSA safety rating from unsatisfactory to conditional.

Ekam’s proposed unsatisfactory safety rating had resulted from a federal compliance investigation revealing numerous safety violations.

The 2017 consent order required Ekam to take specific actions to improve safety – and it prohibited Ekam, its owners and/or any individuals related to Ekam from applying for U.S. Department of Transportation/FMCSA registration as another motor carrier.

Ekam Truck Lines, however, failed to comply with virtually all provisions in the consent order and instead evaded the consent order by applying for USDOT/FMCSA registration as Daya Trucking, LLC.

On March 24, 2018, FMCSA reinstated Ekam’s unsatisfactory safety rating placing the company out-of-service.  Following discovery of the reincarnation, FMCSA also merged and consolidated the federal safety and enforcement records of Daya Trucking and Ekam Truck Lines.

The compliance investigation into Daya revealed numerous serious violations of federal safety statutes and regulations, including:

  • Failing to properly monitor the dispatch of its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum Hour of Service limitations to prevent fatigued driving. Daya does not review its drivers’ records-of-duty-status (RODS) for falsification, completeness, accuracy or violations of HOS regulations.

Daya uses non-compliant automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRD) system in which drivers can alter their RODS and can manually input odometer readings, violations of federal safety regulations.  Between January 1, 2018, and February 28, 2018, Daya’s AOBRD system recorded 4,802 hours of unidentified driving time resulting from 51 instances of drivers unplugging or disabling the recording mechanisms.

Investigators found an instance in which a Daya driver recorded his off-duty time commencing in Orangeburg, South Carolina.  After disconnecting the AOBRD, the driver continued operating his vehicle.  Global positioning system (GPS) records showed the vehicle leaving South Carolina, passing through Georgia and Florida, before arriving in Brewton, Alabama, where the driver reconnected the AOBRD.  The following day, the same driver, after crossing Mississippi and now near Ruston, Louisiana, again recorded that he was commencing his off-duty time, however, he again disconnected the AOBRD and continued driving through Louisiana and across Texas before arriving in New Mexico, as documented by GPS records.

  • Failing to ensure the company has negative pre-employment controlled substances/alcohol tests results prior to dispatching its drivers. Investigators found that Daya allowed seven drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle before receiving negative pre-employ tests as required by federal safety regulations. Four drivers known to have tested positive for controlled substances were found to have been dispatched by Daya.
  • Failing to comply with certain driver qualification requirements, including ensuring that its drivers were properly licensed to operate a CMV, or were medically qualified. Investigators found instances of five drivers without a current commercial driver’s license or in possession of a suspended CDL, nevertheless, being allowed to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, repaired and met minimum safety standards.

In the past 12 months, Daya vehicles have been placed out of service at a rate of 46 percent and cited for inoperable required lamps, exposed tire fabric, defective brakes, broken or missing axle position components, and oil or grease leaks from hubs.

FMCSA’s investigation found that Daya’ Trucking’s “complete and utter lack of compliance” with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and its effort to avoid the 2017 consent oder to Ekam Truck Lines “…substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for its drivers and the motoring public if the operations of Daya are not discontinued immediately.”

Daya Trucking may be assessed civil penalties of up to $26,126 for each violation of the out-of-service order.  The carrier may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $10,450 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $14,739 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary USDOT registration.

If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year.

FMCSA is also considering civil penalties for the safety violations discovered during the investigation and may refer this matter for criminal prosecution.

A copy of the Imminent Hazard Out-of-Service Order is available here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/imminent-hazard-out-service-order-daya-trucking-llc

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The Nation

9 semis involved in accident on I-80 in Nebraska

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Of the 30 crashes reported to the Nebraska State Patrol Wednesday morning, the biggest took place near Aurora, Nebraska where 11 vehicles, nine of the big rigs, were involved in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 (Courtesy: NEBRASKA STATE PATROL)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — At least three people were injured in a large-scale accident on Interstate 80 Wednesday morning that involved nine semi-trucks and two passenger vehicles, The Grand Island Independent reported Thursday.

The vehicles were involved in multiple crashes on I-80 between Giltner and Aurora.

The paper’s report said five vehicles took part in a chain-reaction crash and that because of the pileup, I-80 was closed to eastbound traffic for about three hours while emergency crews worked at the scene and cleared the road.

Weather conditions were a factor in the crashes.

The paper said that at about 9:10 a.m., Hamilton County received a 911 call that two semi-tractor/trailers had crashed and jackknifed, blocking eastbound traffic near mile marker 328. As troopers and officers were en route to the scene, additional vehicles became involved in a chain-reaction crash. The first crash scene involved four semis and one passenger vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee.

After the initial incident, a pair of semis that were traveling together came upon the scene and were unable to stop. One struck the other, pushing it into the Jeep Cherokee.

Both occupants of the Cherokee were transported to the hospital in Aurora, but the passenger, Jason Palmer, 29, of Indiana, was flown to Kearney with life-threatening injuries. The driver was evaluated and has been released from the hospital.

One of the semi drivers, Jeffrey Clark, 56, of Colorado, was also transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The paper reported that as traffic was stopped for the first crash scene, another semi jackknifed while attempting to avoid the stopped traffic. Moments later, another crash occurred a short distance to the west involving two more semis and a minivan. No injuries were reported in those crashes.

In total, there were nine semis and two passenger vehicles involved in the incidents near mile marker 328.

The State Patrol said within 24 hours after the storm began, troopers handled 166 motorist assists, responded to 30 crashes and assisted other agencies with 17 incidents. Motorist assists can include slide-offs, flat tires, etc.

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The Nation

White House ends California talks on mileage standards

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Democratic Sen. Tom Carper said the Trump administration's negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been "superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst." (Courtesy: U.S. Senate)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration broke off vehicle mileage standards talks with California on Thursday, moving the two closer to a possible court battle that threatens to unsettle the auto industry.

The White House said in a statement that the administration, which wants to freeze mileage standards, would now move unilaterally to “finalize a rule later this year with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles.”

California officials and the Trump administration each accused the other of failing to present any good compromise proposal in the mileage dispute, which comes as President Donald Trump feuds with the Democrat-led state over his proposed border wall and his threats to take back federal money.

The administration announced last year it wanted to freeze what would have been tougher, Obama-era mileage standards for cars and light trucks. It would be one of a series of rollbacks targeting Obama administration efforts against pollution and climate change.

Under the administration proposal, the standards would be frozen after slightly tougher 2020 levels go into effect, eliminating 10 miles per gallon of improvement to a fleet average of 36 miles per gallon in 2025.

As part of the proposed mileage freeze, the administration threatened to revoke California’s legal authority to set its own, tougher mileage standards, a waiver granted that state decades ago to help it deal with its punishing smog. About a dozen states follow California’s mileage standards.

Lawmakers and automakers have urged the two sides to settle, warning that a split could divide the auto market, bring years of court battles and raise costs for automakers.

“This administration’s negotiations with the State of California over fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards have been superficial and not robust at best, or duplicitous and designed to fail at worst,” Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the top Democrat in the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement late Wednesday, as the formal negotiations breakdown loomed.

“Litigation is not the best option here. It wastes time, money, creates uncertainty for American automakers, and harms the environment,” Carper said.

California officials say the administration never offered any compromise and that it broke off any contacts around December.

“We concluded at that point that they were never serious about negotiating, and their public comments about California since then seem to underscore that point,” said Stanley Young, spokesman for the state’s air board.

It’s the latest shot by the White House in its escalating feud with California. The Trump administration earlier in the week said it planned to cancel nearly $1 billion for California’s high-speed rail project and would seek the return of $2.5 billion more. Gov. Gavin Newsom said it was political retribution for the state’s role in leading a 16-state lawsuit against Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to get funds for his proposed wall at the southern border.

Since it takes several years to design vehicles, automakers have been planning to meet higher mileage requirements under Obama-era standards, as well as those in other countries.

For now, “essentially the industry is ignoring what Trump wants to do,” auto-industry analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research said. “We know at least until this thing gets settled in the courts, we have to deal with California and the other states and have product that can sell there as well as products that can sell overseas.”

 

 

 

 

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Ohio governor’s administration proposes gas tax increase

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Ohio's Department of Transportation director, Jack Marchbanks, introduced the governor's $7.43 billion transportation budget proposal to the House Finance Committee. (Courtesy: OHIO DOT)

CINCINNATI — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration on Thursday recommended increasing the state gas tax by 18 cents a gallon beginning July 1 and annually adjusting that tax for inflation to provide sufficient funding for maintenance of roads and bridges.

Ohio’s Department of Transportation director, Jack Marchbanks, introduced the governor’s $7.43 billion transportation budget proposal to the House Finance Committee. The gas tax included in the two-year budget would be adjusted annually with the consumer price index to ensure sufficient funding going forward, Marchbanks said.

He said revenue raised the first year, by increasing the current 28-cent tax to 46 cents, equates to roughly $1.2 billion and will be split between the department and local governments.

Marchbanks told legislators that without more revenue in the face of the “impending transportation crisis,” there will be no funds for any highway improvement projects in the state and roads will deteriorate. Statistics show that deteriorating road conditions lead to more crashes, which lead to more fatalities, he said.

“Governor DeWine understands that maintaining the integrity of our roads and bridges is not only important to our economy; it is important to the health and welfare of our citizens,” Marchbanks said.

If the Legislature approves the recommendations, the proposal would provide the department in fiscal year 2020 with $750 million additional dollars in revenue to pave roads, fix guardrails, fill potholes, clear snow and ice, maintain bridges, and improve safety, Marchbanks told the committee. He said it also will provide local governments with a significant increase in the funding, including $1.6 million for every county in the state.

Marchbanks has previously said that contracts for road maintenance that totaled $2.4 billion in 2014 may drop to $1.5 billion in 2020, and a $1 billion gap remains in the department budget.

A transportation crisis is looming despite “all of ODOT’s multi-million dollar cost-saving efforts to make our agency leaner and more efficient,” he told committee members Thursday.

The department realizes that asking Ohioans to pay higher fees for roadway use is “no small task,” but hopes that most will understand the importance of responsible and sufficient transportation funding, the director said.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Tom Balzer, president of the Ohio Trucking Association, and Grace Gallucci, president of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils, commented on a potential tax increase in testimony to legislators this week.

Balzer said that the state and local governments have immediate transportation needs, and the gas tax raises immediate revenue.

Gallucci pointed out that while questions remain about whether the gas tax is the fairest way to assess users of Ohio roads, it is a way to get needed money right away.

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