Friday, December 2, 2011

Maryland Trucking Company Declared "Imminent Hazard to the Public"

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared Maryland-based trucking company, Gunthers Transport, LLC, an imminent hazard to public health and ordered the trucking company to immediately cease all transportation services. FMCSA issued an imminent hazard out-of-service order against Gunthers following an exhaustive review of the company's operations, which found multiple hours-of-service and vehicle maintenance violations. "Safety is our number-one priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Commercial truck companies that recklessly disregard federal safety regulations will be shut down and removed from our roadways."

Gunthers was immediately shut down after FMCSA safety investigators found patterns of hours-of-service and vehicle maintenance violations that substantially increased the likelihood of serious injury or death to the motoring public. FMCSA discovered that the company allowed its drivers to falsify their hours-of-service records and exceed the 11-hour limit for daily driving. In addition, Gunthers did not require its drivers to perform pre-trip vehicle safety inspections, operated trucks that were in such poor condition they were likely to break down and posed a high crash risk based on its on-road performance record. One Western Maryland man, injured 17 years ago as a result of truck accident involving Gunthers' tractor trailer, was left crippled suffering from severe brain damage. The Western Maryland man, who is now 49 years old and living in a nursing home, won a lawsuit where a jury awarded him $13 million for his care. He has not seen a penny of that money because Gunthers declared bankruptcy and reformed under another name.

There is a new proposal for trucking regulations that involves decreasing the amount of consecutive hours that a trucker can drive from 11 to 10. Lobbyist from both sides have been arguing their case in Washington, D.C., including a Maryland man who lost his wife as a result of a truck accident. In addition to the loss of his wife, both of the Maryland man's sons were seriously injured as a result of the truck accident. Somehow the argument has become a partisan issue. Republican lawmakers and pro-trucking lobbyists argue that a reduction of the hours from 11 to 10 could cost the trucking industry millions of dollars during an already difficult economic time. The families of those who have lost loved ones, as a result of a tractor trailer accident, argue that the issue is not a Democrat/Republican issue but an issue of public safety.

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