Three-truck fleet shut down following numerous violations, fatal wreck

Trucking shutdown order

A Connecticut-based, three-truck fleet has been effectively shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for various driver- and vehicle-related safety violations.

According to FMCSA, the agency found during a compliance investigation that Orange, Connecticut-based Alvarez Transport LLC had “extensive acute and/or critical violations in almost every part of the FMCSRs that they reviewed,” including 49 CFR Part 382 (Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing), 49 CFR Part 383 (Commercial Driver's License Standards; Requirements and Penalties), 49 CFR Part 391 (Qualifications of Drivers), and 49 CFR Part 396 (Vehicle Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance).

“Cumulatively, these violations demonstrated the motor carrier’s lack of effective safety management controls and significantly increased the likelihood of death or serious injury if not discontinued immediately,” FMCSA said.

An attempt to reach Alvarez Transport by phone went unanswered Monday morning.

While the compliance investigation was ongoing, on or about June 2, Alvarez Transport dispatched driver Dante C. Elliott to drive a commercial motor vehicle for which a CDL is required in interstate commerce from New Haven, Connecticut to Williamstown, Vermont. At the time of dispatch, the motor carrier had in its records a copy of Elliott’s driver's license that showed it was expired.

While attempting to navigate a sharp curve on Vermont Route 64 in this truck, Elliott left the roadway and the truck slid into a ditch, overturned, and then came to a position of uncontrolled rest on its roof. Both Elliott and his passenger were killed in the crash.

Witnesses reported that the truck’s brakes were smoking before the crash, and a post-crash inspection discovered several out-of-service vehicle conditions, including cracked brake linings, inoperative brakes, and chafed service and emergency brake air hoses. Local law enforcement is still investigating the crash, FMCSA noted.

According to FMCSA, over the last two years, Alvarez Transport had a vehicle out-of-service rate of 81.8% (the industry average is slightly more than 20%. The agency said during that time period, the company was subject to six roadside inspections -- four of which involved a vehicle inspection. Three of those four inspections resulted in at least one out-of-service violation. During the six inspections, Alvarez’s drivers were cited for 23 vehicle maintenance violations, including inoperative required lamps and turn signals, inoperative or defective brakes, and air leak in the brake system.  

Failing to comply with the provisions of the federal imminent hazard order could result in civil penalties of up to $29,893. Knowing and/or willful violations could also result in criminal penalties.

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