Falsified Logs and Slew of Maintenance Violations Trigger Two New Out-of-Service Orders
Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has dropped the hammer on an auto-hauling company and one of its truck drivers.
The FMCSA ordered Birmingham, AL-based Woods Dependable Towing, LLC., and one of its truck drivers, Samuel Lee Wren, to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate operations after investigators found both to be an imminent hazard to public safety.
The company was served the federal order on March 8, while Wren was served on March 3, the Agency said in a statement.
During a March 2021 compliance investigation of Woods Dependable Towing, FMCSA investigators found numerous serious violations of federal safety statutes and regulations, including:
1. Failing to have a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program for its vehicles;
2. Failing to systematically monitor its drivers as required to ensure compliance with federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations to prevent fatigued driving; and
3. Failing to ensure its CDL drivers are qualified.
“In the past 24 months ending January 2021, Woods Dependable Towing’s vehicles were subject to 31 unannounced roadside inspections,” the FMCSA said. “On 16 occasions, or at a rate of greater than 50 percent, Woods Dependable Towing trucks were immediately ordered out-of-service (OOS) for serious safety violations.”
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.
Even worse, FMCSA investigators found no evidence that vehicles were periodically inspected as required, and in two instances, annual periodic inspection forms were found to be falsified, the Agency informed.
Further, investigators also uncovered evidence that drivers had submitted falsified records-of-duty-status and asserted Wren “routinely disabled” his 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 citations from State law enforcement officers.
In addition, 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.
Moreover, FMCSA investigators determined that Woods Dependable Towing allowed Wren to continue operating one of its trucks despite the fact Wren had been informed in May 2020 he had tested positive for a controlled substance.
According to FMCSA data, Woods Dependable Towing employs six drivers and operates four trucks.
The company may be assessed civil penalties of up to $27,813 for each violation of the OOS order, the Agency said.
The carrier may also be assessed civil penalties of not less than $11,125 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $15,691 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary USDOT registration.
If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year.
As for Wren, he may be assessed civil penalties of up to $1,895 for each violation of his federal imminent hazard order and he may not operate a commercial vehicle until such time as he successfully completes the statutorily required return-to-duty process overseen by a Substance Abuse Professional.