The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered a Houston-based freight carrier to cease operations on Feb. 16 after FMCSA discovered numerous safety violations by the carrier and its predecessor and following a Utah crash on Feb. 7 in which one of the carrier's drivers was killed.
The motor carrier, Houston-based 4 Life Transport, was placed out of service from interstate and intrastate operations after a review by FMCSA found that the driver and the truck he was operating were previously associated with another carrier, Adversity Transport, which also was based in Houston and also was ordered out of service as an “imminent hazard” on Jan. 25.
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According to an FMCSA release, a review by the agency—started the day that 4 Life’s connection to Adversity was discovered—found the carrier to be “egregiously noncompliant” with multiple federal safety regulations, including those governing controlled substances and alcohol use and testing, commercial driver’s license (CDL) standards and driver qualification, parts and accessories necessary for safe operations, driver hours of service, and vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance. On Feb. 11, 4 Life Transport was served the federal order.
So-called “chameleon” carriers sometimes follow the practice of “reincarnating” by changing their names and gain new U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) numbers after they have racked up numerous violations that start to draw the attention of federal authorities.
According to the FMCSA, 4 Life Transport’s vehicle out-of-service rate was 100%, compared to the national average of 21%, and its driver out-of-service rate was 67%, also way above the national average of 6%.
The agency said the case demonstrates that 4 Life Transport failed to ensure its vehicles were safe and that multiple roadside inspections of the carrier’s equipment revealed vehicle maintenance issues, including unsafe tires.
FMCSA also alleged that the carrier failed to ensure that its drivers are qualified and drive safely—for example, its drivers have been cited for speeding and driving with suspended licenses—and it failed to ensure that its truck drivers complied with federal hours-of-service limits and recording requirements.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that 4 Life Transport’s “complete and utter disregard for the [federal safety regulations] substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death for your drivers and the motoring public if your operations are not discontinued immediately."
Representatives of 4 Life Transport could not be reached for comment.
FMCSA’s acting administrator, Robin Hutcheson, in the agency’s release said, “Safety is FMCSA’s top priority, and there is never a more urgent task for the agency than removing an imminent hazard motor carrier such as 4 Life from our nation’s roadways.”
Failing to comply with the imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $28,142 for each violation. According to FMCSA’s release, 4 Life Transport also may be assessed civil penalties of no less than $11,256 for providing interstate commerce transportation without operating authority registration and penalties up to $15,876 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without USDOT number registration. Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties, according to FMCSA.