The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered a North-Carolina-based company out of service that blatantly ignored federal safety regulations, from drivers having commercial licenses to driver logs to maintaining vehicles.
The agency ordered Hendersonville, N.C.-based Leslie Erickson, doing business as Les’s Tree and Stump Inc., USDOT No. 2512204, to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations after a federal investigation found the carrier to pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
The company fails to adequately maintain its vehicles, lacks a preventive vehicle maintenance program, and has a vehicle out-of-service rate dramatically above the industry average, notes the out of service order. It allows unqualified drivers to operate its vehicles, does not maintain complete driver qualification files, and has an almost non-existent drug and alcohol testing program. The company doesn't require drivers to keep hours of service logs or have any management practices in place to make sure drivers are operating within the hours of service.
It's not the first time the agency has shut down this carrier.
In June 2014, FMCSA approved Les's Tree and Stump's registration to operate in interstate commerce and told the copany it needed to conact FMCSA to schedule a new entrant safety audit. Despite repeated reminders, the company never contacted the agency, so the following February its regisration was revoked and the company was ordered to cease all interstate transportation
In July last year, FMCSA approved the company's reapplication for new entrant registration and again informed the carrier it must immediately contact FMCSA and schedule a new entrant safety audit.
The following month, one of the carrier's drivers crashed into four cars stopped at a traffic lightl. The following investigation found the driver did not possess a valid commercial driver’s license, and seven of 10 brakes on the vehcle were inoperative or out of adjustment.
After the accident, it took repeated attempts for the agency to do a compliance investigation. Finally, in February the agency was able to do the investigation.
Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in a penalty of up to $25,000, operating without necessary authority may result in a fine of not less than $10,000, and operating without a USDOT number may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000. A violation of this order may also result in a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/Leslie-Erickson-IHOOS.