FMCSA Cracks Down on Unsafe Trucking Operators

FMCSA Cracks Down on Unsafe Trucking Operators

For the third time in as many months, federal regulators shut down an unsafe trucking company, ordering J&A Transportation out of service on April 9.

The Newark, N.J.-based trucking outfit represents an “imminent hazard” to the public, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said on Monday.

The company showed “blatant disregard for safety,” racking up multiple hours-of-service and vehicle maintenance violations and operating without authority.

If J&A fails to comply with the FMCSA out-of-service order the company could be fined up to $16,000 a day and its owners could face time in prison.

The FMCSA’s enforcement branch appears to be on a roll, moving against several motor carriers under investigation for safety violations in rapid succession.

The latest out-of-service order follows the closure of Reliable Transportation, a Utah-based carrier, in March and U&D Services of Indianapolis in February.

In addition to trucks, the agency has targeted bus operators, shutting down Heartland Charters & Tours on April 6 and Double Happyness Bus in December.

In November, the FMCSA shut down Gunther Transport and Clock Transport, two trucking companies operated by members of the same Maryland family.

“FMCSA takes seriously its responsibility to remove unscrupulous truck companies off the road,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement.

In fact, the FMCSA often has difficulty getting companies to obey out-of-service orders. J&A Transportation kept operating even after its authority was revoked. “J&A Transportation has repeatedly defied FMCSA out-of-service orders and has not allowed FMCSA, investigators to conduct mandatory inspections,” the agency said.

The New Jersey trucking operator is a small enterprise — it only employed two drivers, according to the FMCSA out-of-service order.

The company failed an initial safety audit as a new motor carrier in July 2010 because it lacked basic safety management controls, the FMCSA said in its order.

J&A lost its operating authority on Nov. 1, 2010, but continued to operate. The carrier submitted a safety management plan that the FMCSA rejected as inadequate.

The agency said it tried unsuccessfully to schedule safety inspections, and finally deactivated J&A’s DOT number in September 2011. But J&A kept on rolling.

From last September through February, J&A was cited five times for doing business without operating authority. Drivers also have been cited for safety violations.

The company exceeded intervention thresholds in three of seven of the FMCSA’s BASIC safety categories: unsafe driving, fatigued driving and vehicle maintenance.

The out-of-service order includes the company’s owners and drivers — a sign the regulators want to ensure they can’t restart operations under a new name.

Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wbcassidy_joc.