The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered two Texas motor carriers to immediately cease operations after one of the companies shifted operations to the other company following an out of service order.
The FMCSA declared Houston-based carriers Texas Interstate Express LLC and PAC Express LLC to be imminent hazards to public safety and ordered the companies to immediately cease interstate and intrastate operations. The companies were served a federal out of service order on November 11, 2022.
The FMCSA began a compliance investigation into Texas Interstate Express due to the fact that the company had “more than double the national average vehicle out of service rate and almost ten times the national average driver out of service rate.”
During this compliance investigation, the FMCSA says that Texas Interstate Express shifted operations over to PAC Express and operated as PAC Express despite the fact that Texas Interstate Express had been issued an out of service order for failing to comply with a demand to produce the records required to conduct the investigation.
When the FMCSA began to investigate PAC Express, they found the carrier to be “egregiously noncompliant” with federal regulations. FMCSA investigators uncovered violations of regulations including Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing, Commercial Driver’s License Standards, Driver Qualification, Parts and Accessories Needed for Safe Operations, Hours of Service of Drivers, and Vehicle Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance.
From the FMCSA:
Roadside inspections conducted on Texas Interstate Express demonstrated egregious violations such as using drivers who were prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, using drivers who had no commercial driver’s license, using drivers who had no records of duty status, and allowing drivers to violate roadside out of service conditions. In signed statements, two of Texas Interstate Express’ drivers stated to FMCSA that motor carrier official(s) at Texas Interstate Express and/or PAC Express instructed them to disregard being placed out of service for hours of service (HOS) violations and continue on with trips after the roadside inspectors were no longer monitoring them.The same two drivers stated that they were also instructed to avoid inspections and bypass scales and that they would be dispatched on trips that could not be made within HOS rules and without speeding. As suggested by the findings of the roadside inspections on Texas Interstate Express and then PAC Express, PAC Express did not have a program to detect and deter the use of controlled substances by its drivers, did not have an effective program to ensure its drivers were qualified and licensed, did not have a program to control its drivers’ hours of service, and did not have a program to ensure its vehicles were appropriately inspected and repaired.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Texas Interstate Express’ and PAC Express’ “…avoidance of compliance with the [safety regulations] and the Out-of-Service Order substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for your drivers and the motoring public if your operations are not discontinued immediately.”