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Friday, April 23, 2021

Truck Driver Deemed Imminent Hazard Prohibited from Operating Commercial Motor Vehicles

If there was ever a story that has to have the other side told, this is one. It’s not one I’m prepared to tell but I have had experiences in the industry that would cause me to ask many questions.

The following is word for word, the press release issued by FMCSA Vermont Division.

“Investigators from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Vermont Division served commercial truck driver Inderjit Gill, age 26 from Brampton, ON with a Federal Imminent Hazard Operations Out Of Service Order which prohibits Gill from operating any commercial motor vehicle in the United States in interstate commerce. Gill, who is an employee of Highway Secure Transport Inc., of Brampton, ON, was making a delivery in the Town of Essex, VT when he was located by Vermont DMV Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit.

“This Out of Service Order was the result of a joint investigation between Vermont DMV – Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit, New York State Police – Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that combined were able to determine the following facts: On March 4, 2016 at 8:35 A.M., the New York State Police received complaints of a tractor trailer truck being operated in an erratic manner. A New York State Police Trooper stopped this vehicle in Clinton, NY and identified the operator as Gill. The Trooper placed Gill out of service for 10 consecutive hours for driving beyond what is allowed without taking a mandatory rest break. Later that day at 10:50 A.M. the Vermont State Police began receiving 911 calls reporting a tractor trailer truck was operating erratically weaving in and out of traffic, across lanes, into the median and almost striking several vehicles. Some of the callers were yelling into the phone as they feared this vehicle was going to cause a collision. Vermont DMV Commercial Vehicle Inspector Corporal Matthew Nesto located the tractor trailer and witnessed the driver, who was identified as Gill, making unsafe lane changes prior to stopping him at Exit 14W on I-89 southbound in South Burlington. Corporal Nesto completed a safety inspection and determined Gill had been operating the commercial motor vehicle for approximately 18 hours without taking a required rest break; Nesto was unaware at this time that Gill had just been inspected and placed out of service in New York State prior to his stop. As a result of this stop Gill was arrested and transported to the Vermont State Police Barracks in Williston where he was issued a citation to appear in Franklin Superior Court, Criminal Unit, in St. Albans on April 25, 2016 to answer to the charge of Negligent Operation. Gill was placed out-of-service (unable to drive a commercial motor vehicle) for 8 consecutive hours. In addition, he was issued one traffic ticket for operating a commercial vehicle in excess of the maximum driving limits. The truck and trailer were towed from the scene of the traffic stop. Gill ignored the second out of service order and video surveillance from the tow company shows Gill departing the towing facility driving the tractor trailer truck approximately 4 hours after being placed out of service. On March 8, 2016 Gill was subject to a roadside inspection at the Massena, NY Port of Entry. Gill was ordered out of service for 10 consecutive hours as he had falsified his records of duty status in an attempt to conceal the March 4, 2016 out of service orders.

“At this time various vehicle violations addressing parts and accessories necessary for safe operation were also noted. Gill again ignored this out of service order and was stopped approximately 4 hours later by the New York State Police for speeding and it was determined he had again falsified his record of duty status in an attempt to conceal the out of service order. In the State of New York violation of an Out of Service Order is a criminal violation and Gill was arrested by the New York State Police.

“It was determined in the past 34 months Gill has been involved in 3 commercial motor vehicle accidents. On May 2, 2013 he was involved in an accident in Oregon involving a parked vehicle. On February 12, 2014 he was involved in an accident in Tennessee for which the accident report indicates he engaged in careless and erratic driving. On April 30, 2015 he was involved in an accident in South Carolina for which the accident report indicated the cause of the accident was Gill “driving too fast for conditions and fatigue.”

“Gill was issued three Vermont Civil Violation Complaints, totalling $3,419.00 for hours of service violations, driving on roadways laned for traffic and violation of an out of service order. Highway Secure Transport Inc. was issued one Vermont Civil Violation Complaint in the amount of $1,197.00 for operating without a required International Fuel Tax Agreement License. The truck and trailer were towed from the stop in Essex. The truck and trailer was secured until the company could make arrangements for a valid operator to retrieve the truck and trailer.

“The Federal Imminent Hazard Operations Out Of Service Order indicated that Gill, “engaged in an ongoing, egregious, willful, dangerous pattern of conduct while operating a commercial motor vehicle that places you and the motoring public at extreme risk of death or serious injury.”

For Additional Information, Contact Lt. Adam Pockette (802) 793-9093 – Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles – Enforcement & Safety Division – 120 State Street – Montpelier, Vermont 05603-0001”

The questions that must be asked are, at the very least:

Should this man ever be employed in the trucking industry anywhere on the planet?

How much pressure did he get from his company to proceed even though he’d been placed out of service?

Has the FMCSA Vermont Division contacted the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario suggesting a facility audit?

If not, will Ontario take action to carry out a facility audit, forthwith?

Will the US charges against the company and this driver be available to the insurance company for this trucking company? And, why shouldn’t the insurance premium for this trucking company not be tripled?

How can the trucking industry rid itself of such people and companies?

How can other jurisdictions thwart efforts to simply close up shop in one justification and start afresh in another albeit under a different corporate name?

In an industry in the US and Canada with 62 jurisdictions, in many cases, not communicating with one another, how can these problems be addressed and resolutions crafted?

While the actions of this driver are reprehensible, one has to ask the question of what’s behind his actions? How much responsibility must the employer share? Is this just a symptom of a larger issue within this particular company, within the trucking industry as a whole? There is no possible way this is an isolated case.