Two weeks ago, this blog posted about the death of New Yorker Julie Stratton. Truck driver Thomas Wallace recently pled guilty to second degree manslaughter after admittedly driving 27 hours on 4 hours sleep (a blatant HOS violation) and crashing into Mrs. Stratton’s car as it sat disabled on the side of the road, awaiting roadside assistance.
Last week, there was a post on a tragedy much closer to home. Grovertown’s Adele Nielsen died in a tragic accident at Indiana 49 and Vale Park Road, where the truck driver has admitted to law enforcement investigators that he “dozed off” shortly before rear-ending Mrs. Nielsen’s sedan, shoving it over 450 yards before coming to a stop atop the car itself.
Within two weeks, two tragic examples of sleep deprivation and its impact upon commercial truck drivers and those who share the roadways with them. But what about the trucking companies?
Trucking Companies and Big Rig Crashes
News stories tend to focus upon the people involved in a crash. Media coverage barely mentions the carrier involved in the trucking accident. However, it’s clear that under the law and in the eyes of federal and state agencies, the carrier itself is a key player in any trucking accident – especially when the wreck involves the trucking company’s sleep deprived truck drivers.
So, what can we learn about the trucking companies involved in New York’s Julie Stratton big rig crash and Indiana’s Adele Nielsen semi truck fatality?
FMCSA Online — S & H Transportation
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides the following online information regarding S & H Transportation, Inc., which was reported to be the trucking company involved in the Indiana crash.
Headquartered at 475 Pearl Drive, O’Fallon, Missouri, S & H Transportation is an interstate motor carrier, operating since 1981. It operates 179 semi tractors and has 220 truck drivers. The company traveled 19,945,157 miles in 2008.
S & H Transportation Reported Violations and Fines
On May 7, 2009, an investigation into logging violations was closed and settled. S & H Transportation settled 62 counts relating to false record of duty status (driver logs). The settlement required S & H to pay $44,640.00 fine.
In the 30 months ending April 23, 2010, S & H Transportation:
a. was reported to have been involved in 40 crashes (8 were in Indiana; 13 in Illinois);
b. 30 of its drivers were found to be “Out of Service” during commercial driver inspections;
c. 173 moving violations (including 6 for failure to obey traffic control devices; 1 failure to yield right of way; 11 following too closely; and 149 for speeding); and
d. 42 of its vehicles were found to be “Out of Service” during commercial vehicle inspections (of those OOS inspections, 27 involved brake components).
FMCSA Online — Millis Transfer
FMCSA’s Company Snapshot of Millis Transfer provides the following online information regarding the trucking company involved in the New York crash.
Headquartered at 121 Gebhardt Rd, Black River Falls, Wisconsin, Millis Transfer is an interstate motor carrier, operating 724 semi trucks with 728 truck drivers. The company traveled 79,000,000 miles in 2008.
In the 24 months ending June 7, 2010, Millis Transfer:
a. was reported to have been involved in 75 crashes;
b. 73 of its drivers were found to be “Out of Service” during commercial driver inspections;
c. the company was cited for 173 moving violations; and
d. 42 of its vehicles were found to be “Out of Service” during commercial vehicle inspections.
Let’s hope these incidents are a wake-up call to these trucking companies and other motor carriers that safety must be a priority.