WASHINGTON — Alabama-based carrier Woods Dependable Towing LLC has been declared an imminent hazard to public safety by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The company was served the federal order March 8.
A separate imminent hazard order was also served by FMCSA to Woods Dependable Towing truck driver Samuel Lee Wren, who holds an Alabama-issued commercial driver’s license (CDL). The order prohibits Wren from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. Wren was served the federal order March 3.
During a compliance investigation conducted by the FMCSA on Woods Dependable Towing, numerous serious violations of federal safety statutes and regulations were discovered, including:
- Failing to have a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program for its vehicles.
In the past 24 months ending January 2021, Woods Dependable Towing’s vehicles were subject to 31 unannounced roadside inspections; on 16 occasions (a rate greater than 50%) Woods Dependable Towing trucks were immediately ordered out of service for serious safety violations. The national average for commercial vehicles ordered out of service following roadside inspections is 20.7%.
The safety violations listed against Woods Dependable Towing included inoperable lights, deficient braking systems, and flat and/or worn tires with exposed fabric, ply or structural belt material.
In reviewing the carrier’s maintenance records, FMCSA investigators found no evidence that vehicles were periodically inspected as required. In two instances, annual periodic inspection forms were found to be falsified.
- Failing to systematically monitor its drivers as required to ensure compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations to prevent fatigued driving.
Investigators found evidence that drivers had submitted falsified records-of-duty-status. In the instance of driver Samuel Lee Wren, evidence was found that he routinely disabled his mandatory electronic logging device (ELD).
While driving for Woods Dependable Towing, within a span of approximately three weeks in the fall of 2020, Wren had two separate single-vehicle crashes, one in Tennessee and the other in Ohio. In both instances, Wren received driving citations from state law-enforcement officers. FMCSA investigators found that prior to and on the day of the Tennessee crash, Wren had exceeded the allowable on-duty driving hours and that he had falsified his records-of-duty-status.
- Failing to ensure its CDL drivers are qualified.
During its compliance investigation of Woods Dependable Towing, FMCSA investigators found that in May 2020, even though driver Samuel Lee Wren had been informed that he tested positive for a controlled substance, which prohibits him from operating a commercial motor vehicle, the carrier permitted Wren to continue to drive its trucks.
The FMCSA imminent hazard out-of-service order to Woods Dependable Towing states that the carrier’s “complete and utter disregard for ensuring compliance with (federal safety regulations) substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for your drivers and the motoring public if your operations are not discontinued immediately.”
Woods Dependable Towing may be assessed civil penalties of up to $27,813 for each violation of the out-of-service order. The carrier may be assessed civil penalties of not less than $11,125 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $15,691 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary DOT 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.
Wren may not operate a commercial vehicle until such time as he successfully completes the statutorily required return-to-duty process overseen by a substance abuse professional.
Wren may be assessed civil penalties of up to $1,895 for each violation of his federal imminent hazard order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal penalties.
A copy of the imminent hazard order to Woods Dependable Towing can be viewed here.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.