Small-fleet owners charged for log app tampering, lying to investigators after fatal crash

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, March 4, 2021: 

Trucking fleet owners charged with falsifying logs, lying to investigators after fatal crash
Two former owners of a since-closed trucking company, Westfield Transport out of Massachusetts, have been indicted on charges of falsifying the fleet’s log records, instructing drivers to falsify their logs and lying to investigators in the wake of a fatal crash that killed seven in June 2019

The two men face up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $1.5 million if found guilty. Dunyadar Gasanov, aka Damien Gasanov, 36, was indicted on one count of falsification of records, one count of conspiracy to falsify records and one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator. Dartanayan Gasanov, 35, was indicted on one count of falsification of records. Authorities allege that, in the weeks leading up to the crash, the Gasanovs falsified their drivers’ logbooks and instructed at least one other employee at Westfield to falsify logs, too.

A new entrant audit conducted of Westfield by the U.S. DOT in 2016 shows that the company at that time was operating eight power units. 

A report issued in December by the National Transportation Safety Board says the driver, 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovzkyy, was operating a 2016 Dodge pickup towing a car-hauling trailer. The NTSB report indicates he was under the influence of “multiple drugs” and alcohol at the time and had a history of impaired driving. NTSB concluded Zhukovzkyy should have had his CDL revoked by the state of Massachusetts before the crash occurred.

Zhukovzkyy was running a paper log at the time of the crash, but the company broadly employed KeepTruckin’s e-log app at the time in AOBRD form. The crash occurred prior to the December 2019 date by which all drivers were required to transition from AOBRD- to ELD-spec devices. NTSB says the company manipulated KeepTruckin’s hardware and software so as to falsify their logs.

The FMCSA conducted a compliance audit of Westfield two months after the crash and cited the carrier for AOBRD violations.

The board went on to recommend in its December report that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration remove KeepTruckin from the list of certified ELD vendors until the company could “ensure its product meets federal regulations.”           

KeepTruckin has strongly pushed back on that recommendation, noting that NTSB seems confused by the difference between AOBRD- and ELD-spec requirements.

The company hired an expert in FMCSA regulations, Dave Osiecki, president of Scopelitus Transportation Consulting, to review the case. After reading the NTSB docket, Osiecki concluded that the NTSB investigator did not have a firm grasp of the ELD rules, and called the recommendation to remove KeepTruckin from the FMCSA registry “baseless.”

The company says it’s confident that FMCSA will not remove it from the ELD device registry.

New Kenworth battery-electric trucks eligible for Calif. vouchers
 Three new electric trucks from Kenworth are eligible for vouchers to qualifying California purchases from the California Air Resources Board.

The new Kenworth K270E Class 6 and K370E Class 7 battery-electric trucks qualify for an $85,000 voucher, while the new Kenworth T680E qualifies for a $120,000 voucher. For drayage fleets, the T680E is eligible for $150,000 vouchers as part of CARB’s Project 800 initiative for the state’s ports.

The new Project 800 initiative aims to support the deployment of zero emissions trucks serving California ports by setting a goal of 800 zero-emission drayage truck orders in 2021. The increased voucher amount will only be available for a limited time.

The incentives are offered through the 2021 CARB Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).

The Kenworth K270E and K370E battery electric vehicles offer direct-drive motors rated at 355 hp for the K270E and 469 hp for the K370E. The electric powertrain is available with high-density battery packs of 141kWh and 282kWh that deliver up to 100- and 200-mile range, respectively. 

Designed for pickup and delivery, regional haul and drayage applications, the T680E is initially available as a day cab as either a tractor or straight truck in a 6x4 axle configuration. The new model is offered in 54,000 lb. and 82,000 lb. gross vehicle weight ratings.

Flatbed freight added to Loadsmart freight-matching platform
Digital freight broker Loadsmart has added flatbed freight to its service offerings, the company announced Wednesday, with loads available with dynamic pricing and instant booking. Flatbed loads join existing dry van and reefer freight, as well as less-than-truckload and drayage, available via Loadsmart's freight-matching platform. The company says The Home Depot has already joined as a shipper customer pushing flatbed freight to Loadsmart's system. 

Averitt boosts starting pay for regional truckload, flatbed drivers
To help celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021, Averitt Express is boosting pay for its newly hired regional truckload and flatbed drivers.

Regional drivers will now start at 50 cents per mile, or $1,200 over five days weekly. Pay will increase to 52 cents per mile after one year with a hazmat endorsement, the company says.

Regional flatbed drivers will start at 52 cents per mile, or $1,375 over five days weekly, and will increase to 54 cents per mile after a year with a hazmat endorsement.

Additional pay items that make up Averitt’s “More Than Cents Per Mile” package include minimum mile pay, per diem, layover, multi-stop and detention pay, plus additional amounts for assisting within Averitt’s LTL linehaul network.

Averitt also offers a driver referral program that pays up to $2,750 for the hiring of a referred candidate, and a rewards program that incentivizes positive actions such as achieving operational goals and safe-driving milestones.