FMCSA shuts down two Montana motor carriers

FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered two carriers owned by the same person to cease all operations after the agency uncovered a slew of safety violations.

Two Belgrade, Montana-based companies — Vallise Automotive Group, USDOT No. 3547547, and Central Logistics, Inc, USDOT No. 3549608 — were declared an imminent hazard to public safety as part of a federal order to cease operations served to company owner Matthew Tabner on January 23, 2021.

The FMCSA order applies to any motor carrier owned by Tabner.

The order was issued following an investigation into Vallise Automotive Group by the Montana Department of Transportation and the FMCSA.

The FMCSA says that investigators uncovered numerous and widespread safety violations, including:

  • Failure to have a systematic vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance program to prevent unsafe commercial vehicles from operating on public roadways.  In November 2020, a truck and trailer operated by one of Tabner’s companies were ordered out-of-service by New York State Police after a roadside inspection revealed deficient brakes on the truck and inoperative brakes on the trailer.  Despite the out-of-service order, the unsafe truck and trailer were moved, resulting in two additional citations issued by the New York State Police.
  • Failure to ensure that only qualified drivers with proper commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) operate on public roadways.  Drivers of commercial vehicles requiring a CDL in interstate commerce must be at least 21 years old.  Federal safety regulations also require all holders of a CDL, or a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), to possess a medical examiner’s certificate.  Investigators found that on numerous occasions, a        16-year-old Tabner employee, who did not possess a CDL, CLP, or medical examiner’s certificate, nevertheless was allowed to operate a vehicle exceeding 26,001 lbs. – even after the individual received multiple citations by law enforcement officers as far away as Minnesota and New York.  
  • Failure to implement an alcohol and controlled substances testing program required by Federal law for drivers who must hold a CDL.
  • Failure to properly monitor the dispatch of its drivers to ensure compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) limitations to prevent fatigued driving.  Vallise Automotive Group was found to have no programs in place to review its drivers’ records-of-duty-status (RODS) for falsification, completeness, accuracy, or driver violations of HOS regulations.

In addition to the out of service order, the FMCSA is also considering issuing civil penalties to Tabner/Vallise Automotive Group/Central Logistics, Inc for the safety violations uncovered during the investigation.