The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the ability to declare transportation companies and trucking companies as imminent hazards to public safety and order trucking companies to immediately cease operations and provision of services. They can obtain Orders for imminent hazard “out-of-service” and this is usually done after a review of the company’s operations.

The standard that appears to be used by the FMCSA is particularly focused on commercial truck companies that recklessly disregard the Federal Regulations. It is advisable when considering claims against a transportation or trucking company that an appropriate search be conducted through the Department of Transportation/FMCSA to determine whether there have been prior safety audits or other investigations into compliance with the FMCSA Regulations or perhaps even orders to cease operations in the past.

As an example, in early February the FMCSA ordered U&D Service, Inc. of Indianapolis to cease operations declaring that the company was an imminent hazard to the public safety. That followed an exhaustive review of the company’s operations with determination that there were multiple safety violations including the use of drivers without valid CDLs, the use of drivers that do not meet Federal English Proficiency requirements to safely operate a commercial vehicle, violated vehicle weight limits and per tire load weight limits; all of which were determined to be imminently hazardous.

The proficiency in English is critical since the Federal Regulations at 391.11(b)(2) mandates that drivers read and speak the English language sufficiently to be able to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs in English, highway traffic signals in English and to respond to inquiries by law enforcement or other officials and to make proper entries on their reports and other records mandated by the regulations. Investigating the history of companies to be sure that they were not subjected to these imminent hazard Orders is a critical component to any pre-suit investigation conducted or discovery effort.

Jeff Krawitz is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Krawitz.