Land Air Express of New England’s Authority Reinstated

Posted On 9th January 2016
DOT had shut down this regional carrier for violations it had failed to address driver drug and alcohol violations given in late October.  Allegedly Land Air had failed to conduct random tests at the required rate, had failed also to test after accidents, continued to employ a driver who had tested positive for some controlled substance, and continued to employ a driver who didn’t have all the proper licensing.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the details beyond that but it is hard to imagine that Land Air really employed a driver who showed up intoxicated to work.  I would bet they did not EVER actually put the public safety at risk.  However, the system as now set up is, for better or worse, extremely inflexible and does not allow reasonable discretion or authority with carriers, even carriers like Land Air who are extremely responsible, serious and honorable in the way they conduct business. 

Can’t the DOT interpret the laws in such a way as to allow reasonable discretion in the hands of Carriers like Land Air who basically have a long history of compliance?   For instance, should a Carrier be required to fire a driver who never showed up intoxicated but had one marijuana violation after 30 years of reliable service to the company?  For that matter, should they be required to fire a driver who has worked for the company for 5 or 10 years, fails one test but never showed up or drove under the influence?  The rules are a bit too arbitrary and we may lose good and responsible drivers and actually replace them with drivers who are MORE of a risk on the road.  The final decision to hire or fire should be the decision of the carrier’s owner ultimately, not the DOT - on all “borderline cases” at least.  The laws need to allow for some discretion, some compassion,and some humanity.  We are in this together we all need to remember.

Other carriers have complained to me recently that they have had to fire excellent office employees  – dispatchers and customer service agents and billers,  who are in the terminal always and not driving a truck, for the same reason.  They failed a drug test (recreational use of marijuana will do this) and were fired as a result.  We are going too far and again, discretion should be left in many cases to the Terminal Manager as to the action the carrier must take.  It also isn’t fair that small trucking companies basically avoid this level of scrutiny, whereas the larger companies seem unable to escape it.

Drivers cannot be on the road while under ANY influence, we all agree.  But we must temper safety and legal concerns with fairness issues, and also the practical concern that we need good drivers!  If a driver is a good driver and shows up sober, alert, and able in every way to drive safely and work well, frankly I don’t care if two days ago he smoked dope or was drunk.  I urge the DOT to regulate the industry in as responsible way as possible and thus also consider the privacy concerns of the industry’s drivers, whether or not a driver ever showed up at work under the influence so the circumstances,  and the business concerns that we want every able driver to drive as long as he is not under the influence while he is at work. 

Shutting down an entire company like Land Air over a few violations seems going too far.   The DOT needs to know that companies make mistakes and that especially large carriers need a bit more time to correct them. There is no evidence that the DOT  presented that the public safety was ever at immediate risk and, therefore, the DOT should have other tools, less drastic and more surgical, to correct the problem. Punishing ALL the driver s and customers of Land Air is too much

Tom
FreightRun CEO

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