The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Georgia-based trucking company Industrial Transit to cease all interstate and intrastate operations after a truck hauling Takata airbag components exploded, killing a person and leveling a home.
On Aug. 22, 2016, an Industrial Transit truck traveling in Maverick County, Texas was transporting airbag components from the Japanese company Takata. The truck approached a curb at an unsafe speed and traveled off the roadway, striking a culvert and rolling over.
The truck caught fire and the Takata airbag components in the truck exploded, destroying a nearby home and garage and damaging multiple houses in the area. The occupant of the leveled house was killed in the blast. The Industrial Transit truck's team drivers and a couple in a nearby car were injured.
According to a report by The York Times, the truck was carrying ammonium nitrate, a propellant used to trigger airbag deployment and a very combustible material that's often used in explosives.
An FMCSA investigation determined the company to be in violation of multiple federal safety statutes and regulations and found an egregious lack of standards and oversight of its drivers and vehicle maintenance.
The company completely failed to comply with any driver qualification requirements, including ensuring that its drivers were properly licensed and physically qualified to operate a commercial vehicle. Within the last two and a half months, the company allowed two drivers to operate a vehicle without having a valid CDL.
Industrial Transit also lacked a sufficient drug and alcohol testing program for drivers with FMCSA investigators finding that the company allowed a driver to operate a vehicle containing explosive material despite refusing to submit to random drug testing.
Takata Corporation has been hit hard in recent years for its own airbag safety scandals. While faulty airbags were not indicated as a reason for the incident by FMCSA, it’s worth noting that the company was involved in series of major recalls on its airbags in cars from Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, and others .
The FMCSA investigation also uncovered the following violations:
- Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, repaired, and met minimum safety standards. During the last ten vehicle roadside inspections, all of the company’s commercial vehicles were placed out-of-service or cited for safety violations. During FMCSA’s investigation, major safety defects discovered included out-of-adjustment and contaminated brakes, oil leaks, loose steering system components, inadequately working slack adjusters, and an unsecured fire extinguisher.
- Failing to properly monitor its drivers to ensure compliance with maximum hours-of-service requirements prohibiting fatigued operation of commercial motor vehicles.
- Failing to provide any of its hazardous materials employees with function-specific HM training or in-depth security training. Such training covers the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities each driver needs to perform HM transport tasks properly and safely.
- Failing to comply with other related federal safety regulations involving required HM shipping paper information. Such documentation is required to be in the possession of the driver and includes the quantity, weight, and net explosive weight of the HM, identifies the explosive shipped as a HM product, and includes an emergency response telephone number and additional information for emergency responders. Industrial Transit also failed to notify the National Response Center within 12 hours of the crash.
- Failing to have HM security or communication plans in place, therefore not satisfying the conditions for receiving a HM safety permit.