Federal regulators have shut down Land Air Express of New England Ltd., a Williston, Vt.-based regional carrier with 330 trucks, 344 drivers, and operations in eight states, making it possibly the largest carrier the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the subagency of the Department of Transportation that regulates carrier safety, has ever put out of service.
FMCSA said yesterday that the truckload and less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier was notified in late October that it would receive a "proposed unsatisfactory" safety rating following an agency compliance review. Property carriers have 60 days following the notification to submit an acceptable corrective action plan to FMCSA, or to appeal or contest the proposed safety rating, the agency said. That time period expired Dec. 29 without any action by Land Air, at which time FMCSA issued the out-of service order. As of this writing, the carrier remains shut down.
The carrier may still appeal or contest the safety rating, or work to provide an acceptable corrective action plan to FMCSA, the agency said. According to a published report, the carrier is waiting for guidance from the agency, and is working with customers and carrier partners to cope with the shutdown, according to the report. Land-Air is part of the "Reliance Network," a group of seven regional LTL carriers knitted together to provide service across the U.S. and into Mexico. The Reliance Network includes such carriers as Pittsburgh-based Pitt Ohio Express, whose seven-state network connects with Land Air's, and Cookeville, Tenn.-based Averitt Express Inc., which covers 12 U.S. states and Mexico.
The FMCSA's action is unusual in that out-of-service orders are usually issued to smaller truckers, and they are typically outlined in an agency press release. In this case, however, there has been scant public information. An FMCSA spokesman declined to comment on whether Land Air has been in touch with the agency other than to refer to the written guidelines that outline the courses of action the carrier can take.
According to the FMCSA database, the carrier has undergone 327 inspections during the past two years. In 167 of those, inspectors found violations that were used in the agency's "Safety Measurement System" grading methodology. By law, FMCSA is required not to disclose details on the seven categories that comprise a carrier's safety score.
The carrier's out-of-service rate for vehicle inspections is in line with the national average, and for drivers is significantly less than the national average, although out-of-service orders related to hazardous materials inspections are more than three times higher than the national average, according to the agency's database. Land Air had 47 reportable crashes in the previous 24 months, none fatal.