Falsified driver logbooks raised red flags for federal agents conducting a compliance review of a Kansas City, Kan.-based steak-hauling operation last month.
Last week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down two linked Kansas meat-hauling trucking companies, citing driver hours violations.
The action against the companies, both named HP Distribution and linked to Hitching Post Steak Co., was the latest step in an ongoing crackdown by the FMCSA.
Over the past year, the agency has closed more than 10 unsafe carriers, including several “reincarnated” carriers attempting to avoid out-of-service orders.
This time, the FMCSA investigators in Kansas didn’t have to dig very deep to uncover violations. They simply checked HP Distribution’s Rapid Logs software.
The FMCSA claims HP Distribution allowed drivers to “flagrantly” falsify their logs to flout federal regulations limiting truckers to 11 hours of daily driving time.
The company had a history of non-compliance stretching back to 2006, the FMCSA said. The agency conducted compliance reviews at HP in 2006 and 2009.
According to data on the FMCSA’s Web site, the 62-truck carrier had been involved in 12 tow-away accidents since 2010, seven of which involved injuries.
In 2009, HP Distribution received a conditional safety rating and was fined $63,000 after FMCSA investigators uncovered a 34 percent driver log violation rate.
A third compliance review was launched Aug. 8. Reviewing company records for eight drivers, the FMCSA found seven of them falsified 25 percent of their logs.
The agency expanded the investigation and determined 72 percent of the drivers whom a special agent audited falsified their logbooks at least 10 percent of the time.
The company was “fully aware” of the violations, the FMCSA said, having installed GPS tracking equipment and log management software after the 2009 review.
The company promised to reform at that time, but “the violations continue unabated,” the FMCSA said.
HP had CSA scores above thresholds in four categories: 87.4 in Fatigued Driving, 72 in Unsafe Driving and 80.2 in Vehicle Maintenance as of Aug. 24, and a Crash Indicator score, mentioned in the out-of-service order, of 82.8.
HP Distribution LLP is owned by Craig Cunningham, also founder of Hitching Post Steak Co. In May, Hitching Post changed its name to HP Distribution LLC.
The FMCSA found both trucking companies shared the same address and phone numbers and that drivers were being transferred from one carrier to the other.
Hitching Post was founded in 1999, and according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek it filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 in U.S. bankruptcy court in Kansas in 2009.