A bus company involved in a fatal crash in Arkansas last month has been declared an “imminent hazard” by the Federal Motor Safety Administration and must cease all commercial operations immediately. The order was served to Dallas-based Tornado Bus Co. by FMCSA officials on Friday, Dec. 21.
“Based upon your present state of unacceptable safety compliance and your failure to adequately establish safety management systems and oversee your drivers’ duty status and hours of service, your motor carrier operation poses an ‘imminent hazard’ to public safety,” the FMCSA document states. The order is “binding upon Tornado and each of its officers, directors, successors and assigns.”
On Nov. 25, a Tornado bus struck a pickup truck and a tractor-trailer near Earle, Ark., killing three bus passengers and the driver of the pickup. An initial review of the Tornado driver’s records of duty by FMCSA investigators revealed that the driver had exceeded the maximum hours of service allowed and had falsely listed the presence of a co-driver when none existed. As a result of the crash, FMCSA on Nov. 26 initiated a compliance review at the company’s Dallas headquarters.
Since 2001, Tornado Bus Co. Inc. has been the subject of four compliance reviews, which resulted in fines totaling $57,680 for violating hours-of-service requirements and falsifying driver duty records, according to FMCSA. In addition, the company since 2001 has been fined on four separate occasions totaling $5,410 for driver hours-of-service violations discovered during routine roadside inspections, FMCSA says.
“Despite the imposition of these penalties, Tornado’s method of operation remained unchanged,” the FMCSA document states. “The immediate and severe hazard to safety stems from Tornado’s egregious indifference to the hours-of-service requirements.”
FMCSA’s investigation of the crash and the company’s federally required safety compliance records is continuing. The order can be viewed by clicking here.