Dept. of Transportation Declares Texas Motor Carriers to be Imminent Hazard to Public Safety
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Texas Interstate Express and PAC Express LLC related motor carriers located in the Houston area, to be an “imminent hazard” to public safety and ordered the motor carriers to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations. The motor carriers were served the Federal order on November 11, 2022.
PAC Express LLC began operating after the FMCSA began attempting to conduct a compliance investigation on Texas Interstate Express LLC. FMCSA had identified Texas Interstate Express for investigation based on the carrier’s widespread violations documented by FMCSA and its partners during roadside inspections. Texas Interstate Express had more than double the national average vehicle out-of-service rate and almost ten times the national average driver out-of-service rate.
Texas Interstate Express shifted its 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 a compliance investigation. During a subsequent FMCSA review of PAC Express, FMCSA found the motor carrier to be egregiously noncompliant with multiple Federal safety regulations, including violations in the following parts: 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.
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.
Failing to comply with the provisions of the Federal imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $29,893 for each violation. Motor carriers may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $11,956 for providing transportation in interstate commerce without operating authority registration, and up to $16,864 for operating a CMV in interstate commerce without USDOT Number registration. Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties.