Not a Happy New Year for Two South Carolina Trucking Companies

by Jana Ritter - Published: 1/01/2014

While many of us were ringing in the New Year, two South Carolina trucking companies got off to a very bad start. The (FMCSA) has declared CER Trucking, Inc., USDOT No. 196777, and Edward Risher Trucking, USDOT No. 685781, as well as its owner-driver, Clarence Edward Risher, Jr., to be imminent hazards to public safety and has ordered all three entities to immediately cease interstate commercial operations.

Court gavel

CER Trucking, owned by Clarence Edward Risher, was served a federal shutdown order Dec. 17, 2013.  The second company, Edward Risher Trucking, owned by Risher's son, Clarence Edward Risher Jr., was served a federal shutdown order Dec. 20, 2013.  Commercial driver Clarence Edward Risher, Jr., was served a federal shutdown order Dec. 10, 2013. The two small trucking companies transport refrigerated foods and general freight in the southeastern United States.

On Nov. 27, 2013, Clarence Edward Risher Jr., then employed as a driver for his father's company, CER Trucking, was operating a tractor-trailer on Virginia State Route 5 in Henrico County, when he lost control of the truck, crossed the center line and collided with a passenger vehicle resulting in the death of the driver.  At the time of the crash, Risher Jr., was prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle. His commercial driver's license (CDL) had been suspended since 2010 and was later revoked by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for numerous violations of state and federal safety regulations.  Virginia State Police investigating the crash have charged Risher Jr., with driving without a driver's license, reckless driving, operating a commercial motor vehicle while disqualified, possession of alcohol and other violations.

Following the crash, FMCSA safety investigators initiated a separate investigation into CER Trucking.  The federal investigators found that the company failed to ensure that its drivers were qualified to operate commercial motor vehicles.  Besides Risher Jr., who did not possess a CDL, another CER Trucking driver had been convicted of marijuana possession while on duty, thereby invalidating his CDL, and a third driver was not medically qualified to operate a commercial vehicle.

The investigation further revealed that CER Trucking failed to monitor and ensure that its drivers complied with federal hours-of-service requirements and controlled substances and alcohol use testing regulations.  The company was unable to produce any drivers' records of duty status or supporting documentation during the investigation.  Federal investigators found that the company failed to routinely inspect, maintain and repair its vehicles to ensure they were safe to operate.

FMCSA's imminent hazard out-of-service order for Risher Jr., is based upon his multiple violations of federal safety regulations.  As sole proprietor of Edward Risher Trucking, the imminent hazard conditions outlined in the federal order to Risher Jr., as a commercial driver, extend to the operations of the company he owns.

"There is no higher priority than safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  "Truck and bus companies and commercial drivers who willfully disregard safety regulations will not be allowed to operate on our highways and roads."