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FMCSA finally shuts down dangerous truck company with 17 citations in two years

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 17th, 2013

Highway Star involved in a terrible Kentucky crash that left six dead is ordered to cease operations

Last month, we weighed in on a tragic truck accident in Kentucky that left six people dead.  The crash was caused by a truck driver following too closely behind a Ford SUV.

Astonishingly, the company, Highway Star, had been issued 17 citations for various traffic violations over the preceding two years.  Somehow, they were still operating.  As a group of lawyers who practice trucking injury law and have come together because of our concerns about truck safety – and specifically how bad companies and unfit drivers from our cases continue to operate and cause more and more carnage – we were outraged.

Well, not anymore.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revoked Highway Star’s authorization to operate in late March following this tragic crash.  Under 49 U.S.C. § 521 (b)(5)(A), the FMCSA has the power to immediately enjoin any offenders it deems to be an “imminent hazard to safety” to stop operating immediately. The FMCA ordered the Highway Star driver, Ibrahim Fetic, off the road, and further ordered Highway Star itself to cease operations.

Following an FMCSA investigation of the Kentucky crash, it was revealed that Highway Star:

  1. Failed to require its drivers to comply with the FMCSA hours of service rules;
  2. Failed to monitor driver compliance with the hours of service regulations; and
  3. Encouraged drivers to falsify their records of duty status (and also conveniently failed to preserve these records).

The investigation also revealed that prior to the fatal Kentucky crash, Fetic was driving his truck well in excess of the hours of service limitations, and had falsified his records of duty logs, unsurprisingly.

This is a shining example of a bad truck company that puts profit above everything else; even the safety of other innocent drivers, and its own drivers who are pressured to break laws. The practice of motor carriers encouraging their truck drivers to drive past hours and lie on their log books is appalling, but it’s nothing new. We believe the FMSCA did good in this case by shutting down Highway Star, but that is what the federal organization is supposed to do. For every Highway Star, there are countless trucking companies who are engaging in the same negligent manner.

Speaking of the FMCSA orders, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that “safety is our top priority.”  He continued, “Truck companies and drivers who choose to operate unsafely have no place on our nation’s roadways.”

Let’s temper that last statement just a bit. Let’s not forget that this is the same FMCSA that allowed this dangerous commercial transportation company – which blatantly violated mandatory  rules on safety –  to operate in the first place.  If you recall, Highway Star and its fleet of dangerous truck drivers incurred 17 citations in only a two year span.  It is very sad that it took killing six people to finally get this dangerous company off the highway.

Hopefully the FMCSA will learn from this terrible tragedy.  Maybe next time a trucking company like this one will be shut down before people get hurt or killed in a completely foreseeable – and thus completely preventable – crash.

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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