The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared an Alabama tow company and driver to be an imminent hazard to public safety.
The FMCSA says that Birmingham, Alabama-based Woods Dependable Towing, LLC. was ordered to cease all interstate and intrastate operations. The federal order was served March 8, 2021.
On March 3, Woods Dependable Towing driver was issued a separate federal order preventing him from operating a CMV in interstate commerce.
The orders were issued in the wake of a March 2021 FMCSA compliance review on Woods Dependable Towing that uncovered multiple regulation violations, 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, or at a rate of greater than 50 percent, Woods Dependable Towing trucks were immediately ordered out-of-service for serious safety violations. (The average nationally for commercial vehicles ordered out-of-service following roadside inspections is 20.7 percent.) The safety violations included: inoperable lights; deficient braking systems, and; flat tires and/or tires dangerously worn 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 – and in the instance of driver Samuel Lee Wren – evidence 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 occurring 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 even though driver Wren in May 2020 had been informed that he tested positive for a controlled substance, thus prohibiting him from operating a commercial motor vehicle for which a CDL was required, the carrier permitted him to continue to drive its trucks.
Wren must complete the statutorily required return-to-duty process overseen by a Substance Abuse Professional before he can return to driving trucks.