What’s with FMCSA and all the Friday shutdown announcements?

By Dean Smallwood on

When I was in charge of handling CCJ’s day-to-day online news coverage, I became pretty familiar with which organization or agency was responsible for a particular news announcement, and I also grew to know the timing of those announcements like the proverbial back of my hand. Granted, there’s no way to plan for breaking news developments that can happen at any moment, but for the most part, posting news announcements on CCJDigital.com was a fairly predictable affair.

The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report comes out on the first Friday of each month at 7:30 a.m. CT, the Department of Energy’s diesel fuel price report is released Monday at 2 p.m. CT, the Freight Transportation Services Index is posted the second Wednesday of every month at 10:30 a.m., etc., etc. … I could go on and on and on, but that’d get really boring, and you probably see what I’m getting at anyway.

Even the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s shutdown orders grew to be a safe bet. The agency may argue the point, but it seemed to me that the majority of its announcements that it was shutting down a trucking company, driver, bus firm or household goods mover would be made late Friday afternoon. It happened so frequently that I joked with my boss about it: “I wonder what trucking firm the agency is going to shut down today?” I said to him after lunch on Friday one day.

Now, if a trucking company is conducting unsafe business practices and is endangering the American driving public with its reckless actions, it should be shut down, and that’s one of FMCSA’s primary responsibilities. I’m just saying the timing of the agency’s announcements of those actions grew to be a little unsurprising, that’s all.

Over the last two weeks, FMCSA made no fewer than six shutdown announcements. Admittedly, all of them weren’t on Friday, but check them out:
• Friday, Nov. 23: Illinois-based C & D Transportation Inc. (This one was on Black Friday, which goes to show you someone in the agency press office probably isn’t into the bargain-hunting shopping scene);
• Friday, Nov. 30: Georgia-licensed truck driver Johnny Felton Jr. of DOT Transportation (FMCSA said Felton was involved in an incident the previous Tuesday);
• Wednesday, Dec. 5: Peace of Mind Relocation Inc. (even though this one was announced on a Wednesday, FMCSA went so far as to say in its announcement that it issued the out-of-service order the previous Friday);
• Wednesday, Dec. 5: Trusted Moving and Storage d.b.a. Nationwide Top Movers (Trusted Moving and Storage) of Santa Clara, Calif. (this one broke the trend after FMCSA said it revoked Trusted Moving and Storage’s operating authority registration on Tuesday, Nov. 27);
• Friday, Dec. 7: Gordon Enterprises LLC d.b.a. Gordon’s Tree Service of Slidell, La.; and
• Friday, Dec. 7: LEX Express Inc. d.b.a. Lincolnland Express) of Champaign, Ill.

Let me be the first to say that I applaud FMCSA for doing its job, and obviously over the past few weeks, it’s done it very well. But if you’re a trucking firm conducting business in an unscrupulous manner, you might not wanna answer the phone Friday afternoon.

Dean Smallwood

Dean Smallwood is managing editor of Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive. He has more than two decades of journalism experience, with nearly half of that spent covering the transportation industry. Daytime Phone: 800-633-5953, ext. 1039

4 comments
Gordon A
Gordon A

Unfortunately many of the reasons for being shut down  the companies do not know about until something like an accident happens. For instance ,the Truck train accident in Nevada.  Several killed including the driver.  Check out the drivers history. 30 jobs in 10 years. License revoked twice and several accidents. The trailers he was pulling had many  problems. Several Brakes not working . wires cut or missing on ABS and plastic ties hold some up. Did the company really know about this or did the drivers not fill out their PTI correctly or honestly and avoided telling the company of the problem?  Unfortunately again when the Government gets an idea in it's collective heads NOTHING is going to sway them from  their version of the truth no matter what.. They get  school girl giddy when they shut down a business and put people out of work. Being safe or unsafe means nothing to them from a layman's  point of view.  Blame the driver when appropriate and then the company. The truth can be painful and the Govt doesn't like pain. Part of problem is that few of the so called experts and investigators are really qualified to do the job of investigating a serious accident. involving a commercial vehicle.  Mr La Hood is the first on the list.

David McQueen
David McQueen

I suppose it's like firing people on Friday.  Gives them a cooling-off weekend?  Wouldn't want the citizens to get angry at the federal government, would we?

fireanrain
fireanrain

It sort of makes sense to do it Friday afternoon.  That's when most trucks are already in. 

DOTDoctor
DOTDoctor

If the company is so doing so poor a on safety that it has to be shut down, why wait until Friday?  Shouldn't it be shut down immediately?  I guess it takes until Friday to wrap up all the paperwork and make it official.