Carrier placed out of order after letting teen drive interstate

February 10, 2021

Land Line Staff

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered any motor carriers operated by Matthew Tabner, including two Belgrade, Mont.-based companies, to immediately cease all interstate and intrastate transportation operations.

The agency’s imminent hazard order follows state and federal investigations that found Tabner’s companies had “widespread violations of numerous federal safety regulations,” including allowing a 16-year-old to operate a vehicle exceeding 26,001 pounds.

Tabner’s companies include Vallise Automotive Group, USDOT No. 3547547, and Central Logistics Inc., USDOT No. 3549608. According to the FMCSA’s Company Snapshot, the two companies had a total of five drivers and four power units.

Tabner was served the federal order on Jan. 23.

FMCSA said its investigation of Vallise Automotive Group conducted with the Montana Department of Transportation revealed:

  • Failure to have a systematic vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance program to prevent unsafe commercial motor vehicles from operating on public roadways.
  • Failure to ensure that only qualified drivers with proper CDLs operate on public roadways.
  • Failure to implement an alcohol and controlled substances testing program required by federal law for drivers who must hold a CDL.
  • Failure to properly monitor the dispatch of its drivers to ensure compliance with the hours-of-service regulations.

Faulty brakes

In November, a truck and trailer operated by one of Tabner’s companies were ordered out of service by New York State Police after a roadside inspection revealed deficient brakes on the truck and inoperative brakes on the trailer. Despite the out-of-service order, FMCSA said the truck and trailer were moved, resulting in two more citations by the New York State Police.

Teenager driving

According to the FMCSA, investigators also found on numerous occasions that a 16-year-old Tabner employee operated a vehicle exceeding 26,001 pounds without a CDL, commercial learner’s permit or a medical examiner’s certificate. FMCSA said the teenager continued to drive after receiving multiple citations by law enforcement officers as far away as Minnesota and New York.

The “unacceptable safety compliance” by Tabner’s motor carrier companies “significantly increase the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately,” FMCSA said.

Fines

Tabner and his companies may be assessed civil penalties as much as $27,813 for each violation of the out-of-service order. The carriers 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 U.S. DOT registration.

If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed. That includes a fine as much as $25,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

FMCSA said it also is considering civil penalties for the safety penalties discovered during the investigation. LL

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