Mexican trucker barred from operating in US

A Mexico-based driver involved in a multivehicle crash in Georgia has been prohibited from operating commercial trucks in the U.S. by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

Commercial driver Mario Alberto Leal-Salas was deemed an imminent hazard to public safety and prohibited from operating any commercial motor vehicle in the U.S., according to an FMCSA release.

FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Leal-Salas’ “blatant and egregious violations of the federal safety regulations and ongoing and repeated disregard for the safety of the motoring public substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and the motoring public.”

The crash occurred Nov. 16. Leal-Salas, who holds a U.S.-accepted Mexican commercial driver’s license (CDL) was operating a commercial truck on State Route 96 in Taylor County, Georgia, when he failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of State Route 3. 

Leal-Salas’ truck caused “a multi-vehicle, chain-reaction crash and fire,” according to the FMCSA. Three people, including Leal-Salas, suffered severe injuries. Leal-Salas was employed by Laredo, Texas-based W Freight Services LLC at the time.

A subsequent FMCSA investigation found that approximately three weeks prior to the crash, Leal-Salas, who was then under consideration for employment by a different trucking company, had tested positive for a cocaine metabolite, benzoylecgonine, during a mandatory pre-employment drug and alcohol screening.

“Any driver who fails any drug and alcohol test, or refuses to submit to testing, is immediately prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle, with that information recorded in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse — Leal-Salas’ drug test failure included,” according to the FMCSA.  

FMCSA investigators also discovered that two weeks following the crash in Georgia, around Dec. 4, and again on Dec. 17, although prohibited, Leal-Salas continued to operate a commercial vehicle. The investigation revealed multiple instances of Leal-Salas exceeding federal hours-of-service limitations as well.

Leal-Salas was served the FMCSA order in Mexico with the assistance of the Mexican government on Jan. 2.

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