The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Grand Ridge, Fla.-based Ken’s Trucking, LLC, USDOT No. 1050616, to immediately shut down following a federal investigation that revealed numerous widespread violations of critical safety regulations. The company, which was declared an imminent hazard to public safety, operated a fleet of 33 truck-tractors transporting general freight, including refrigerated food, in the southeastern United States.
A broken driveshaft fell in the road
In August, FMCSA launched a safety investigation into Ken’s Trucking, which is owned and managed by Kenneth Branch. In the past year, trucks operated by Ken’s Trucking were involved in five recordable crashes, with at least two of the crashes attributable to maintenance deficiencies, including a broken driveshaft that fell onto the roadway and caused a collision with a passenger vehicle. In another recent crash, the driver for Ken’s Trucking had a suspended commercial driver’s license (CDL) for previously testing positive for methamphetamines.
Run-ins with the law
In the past 12 months, Ken’s Trucking’s 29 commercial drivers received 15 citations for speeding and 10 additional citations for other traffic citations.
The FMCSA safety investigation found the following violations of federal regulations:
- Failing to properly oversee and maintain driver qualification files, including medical certification and driving violation records. Mr. Branch, himself a CDL driver for the company and who was involved in a 2014 crash attributable to vehicle maintenance deficiencies, failed to maintain even his own driver file.
- Allowing drivers who tested positive for drugs, in possession of suspended CDL, or in possession of an expired medical certificate to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. In the past year, Ken’s Trucking dispatched two drivers who had tested positive for controlled substances during random tests and two other drivers who tested positive in pre-employment drug tests without requiring the drivers to undergo proper return-to-duty procedures. For a period of 17 months, Ken’s Trucking continually dispatched a driver whose CDL had been suspended for speeding violations. Mr. Branch, who was in charge of Ken’s Trucking’s safety compliance, did not himself participate in federally mandated random drug and alcohol testing of CDL drivers.
- Failing to properly monitor drivers to ensure compliance with federal hours-of-service (HOS) limitations to prevent fatigued driving.
- Failing to systematically inspect, repair and maintain its commercial vehicles. Drivers for Ken’s Trucking were not required to conduct inspections of their commercial vehicles or submit driver inspection reports. During the past 12 months, 42 roadside inspections were conducted on Ken’s Trucking vehicles resulting in 112 safety maintenance violations.
“Complying with federal safety regulations for commercial truck and bus companies is critical because in an instant, a seemingly minor infraction can result in a needless crash with tragic consequences,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling III. “Our message is this: companies that choose to run outside the law and put the public at risk will be put out of business.”
The order directs Ken’s Trucking to cease all commercial motor vehicle operations, including all interstate and intrastate transportation, from all dispatching locations or terminals.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/Kens-Trucking-IHOOS