Truck driver shut down by FMCSA after crash, failed breathalyzer tests

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021:

FMCSA shuts down truck driver for testing 5x legal alcohol limit following crash

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has effectively shut down Massachusetts-licensed truck driver William Edward Dearth Jr., after he crashed his truck and later failed three breathalyzer tests.

On Aug. 25, Dearth was operating his tractor-trailer on Vermont Route 108 in Lamoille County when his truck left the highway and hit a telephone pole. Dearth left the scene of the crash on foot and was later located by a Vermont State Police K-9 unit and taken into custody.

A preliminary breathalyzer test on Dearth showed a blood alcohol content of 0.217, more than five times the legal limit for commercial vehicle operators. Approximately one hour later, two additional breathalyzer tests, taken within five minutes of each other, resulted in a BAC of 0.20, and 0.197, respectively.

Possessing an alcohol concentration of greater than 0.04 while operating a commercial vehicle weighing more than 26,001 pounds and requiring a CDL is a violation of federal safety regulations. 

During the subsequent inspection of Dearth’s truck, Vermont State Police officers discovered an opened can of beer in the driver’s cup holder, multiple empty beer cans in the trash, and nearly a case of unopened beer elsewhere in the cab.

Dearth has been charged by Vermont State law enforcement with Driving Under the Influence, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Negligent Operation. 

Failing to comply with the provisions of the FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in civil penalties of up to $1,951 for each violation.  Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties. 

Dearth cannot drive a commercial motor vehicle until he successfully completes the statutorily required return-to-duty process overseen by a substance abuse professional.

Virginia-based fleets begin transition from diesel to electric

Sister fleets Fleetmaster Express and Englander Transportation, based in Roanoke, Virginia, are making the transition from diesel to electric through a partnership with Volvo.

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The companies have 10 electric trucks on order with Volvo, which will operate out of Fleetmaster’s Fort Worth, Texas, terminal. Fleetmaster says the fuel savings will outweigh the cost in electricity “by a substantial amount.”

Fleetmaster recently tested the trucks at Volvo’s Greensboro, North Carolina, plant. The company and Volvo have engineering teams that have been able to track the performance and efficiency of the electric trucks during these studies and will continue to perform more along the way.

Fleetmaster Express’s goal is to have a total of 18 units deployed by the end of next year and to keep the progress moving forward.