On the evening of November 9th,  2016 a semi-truck struck an Oregon man on I-84 in Idaho. The State Police reported that 24-year-old Matthew Martin, of Ontario, Oregon, had hit a guardrail. His Toyota ended up in center lane, where he exited the car and was hit by a semi-truck.

Martin later died in an Idaho hospital.

The semi-truck— a 2012 commercial Freightliner—was operated by Idaho truck driver Justin Dennis.

Initially, the media coverage of this story sounds like a simple “accident”: two drivers in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, the FMCSA news release tells a different story—and we know that most crashes aren’t “accidents”.

FMCSA_Report_Dangerous_Trucker

 

This week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) declared Dennis an “Imminent Hazard to Public Safety”, issuing a federal order prohibiting him from operating a commercial truck.

 

 

What FMCSA investigators found:

  1. At the time of the crash, Dennis had exceeded both driving and on-duty hours-of-service (HOS) limits—the federal rules established to prevent truckers from becoming excessively tired behind the wheel;
  2. The trucker admitted to ingesting methamphetamine “a few days” prior;
  3. Dennis also admitted that he was texting while driving shortly before the crash;  and,
  4. Last but not least, Dennis was disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the crash.

He had been suspended in January 2015 after testing positive for methamphetamine in a random controlled substances test, required by USDOT. FMCSA states he was “immediately terminated” by his (unnamed) employer at that time. If a licensed CMV driver fails a drug test, they must undergo a substance abuse evaluation before driving again. Dennis did not submit to an evaluation, and was therefore disqualified from driving a commercial truck.

Missing details in truck crash reports

This new information leads to more questions, which—so far— have not been addressed by reporters or investigators:

  1. Who owned the truck that Dennis was operating?;
  2. Who hired him to drive it after he had been suspended for testing positive for meth … and was disqualified from driving?; and,
  3.  Did the carrier know he was violating HOS rules? Had this happened before?
Fatal-truck-crash-highway-I84

Local news reports, like this one from KBTV, do not mention the truck owner or carrier – or anything about the trucker’s record.

A simple Internet search indicates that the motor carrier is Caldwell-based Cheney Transport, but this has not been confirmed by media reports.

Every fatal crash is a life-changing tragedy, for everyone involved. Regardless of the circumstances related to the victim, this is damning evidence of a dangerous trucker.
For more information, see the Idaho State Police release, detailing the fatal truck crash on I-84.