Federal officials this month ordered a Wisconsin limousine service to “immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations” after an investigation found the company’s noncompliance with critical safety rules posed “an imminent threat to public safety.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said it served Mary and Patrick Lyons, who do business as Lyons Limousine LLC, an order to cease all business operations.
The government’s order was primarily based on what it found investigating a fatal March 25 crash of a Lyons limousine in Elgin, Ill. The driver of the single-vehicle crash, which killed one passenger and injured several others, was 20 years old. Federal regulations require interstate commercial drivers to be at least 21 years old.
When the FMCSA officials looked further into Lyons Limousine, they found the company regularly used underaged drivers. They also discovered that Lyons failed to conduct required pre-employment background checks on its drivers, failed to keep any records of maintenance, and failed to require its drivers to keep hours-of-service (HOS) records – a key safety rule designed to prevent fatigued driving.
Moreover, the company did not possess safety and operating authority registration or maintain the required levels of public liability insurance.
According to the FMCSA, the 20-year-old driver and Mary Lyons both drove passengers in the limousines, but both of them had poor driving records and neither of them had a medical examiner’s certificate as required by law to drive a commercial vehicle.
The 20-year-old driver’s personal driver’s license had been suspended by the state of Wisconsin in September 2015 for failure to pay a fine. This individual had been convicted on five separate occasions beginning April 11, 2012, through June 7, 2015, for: speeding, obstruction of traffic in a property damage crash, following too closely in a property damage crash, failing to obey a traffic sign or signal, and failing to fasten a seat belt.
Between May 1, 2013, and Aug. 14, 2014, driver Mary Lyons was convicted for: failing to fasten a seat belt on one occasion and speeding on two other separate occasions. On Sept. 4, 2013, Mary Lyons’ personal driver’s license had been suspended by the state of Wisconsin for failure to pay a fine.
Lyons Limousines allowed them to drive limousines, however, despite their botched driving records.
In addition to the company’s failure to monitor its’ drivers working hours, the FMCSA also found that two of the company’s drivers had other jobs, and that the hours worked in those jobs were not taken into consideration during the work shift. As a result, its drivers could have worked well beyond the maximum limits set for commercial drivers to mitigate their risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
All interstate passenger carriers are required to register with USDOT/FMCSA and file proof of and maintain $1.5 million in liability insurance. At the time of the March 25 crash, Lyons Limousine had been operating in violation of the federal operating authority registration requirements for more than three years, its safety registration had been inactivated for failure to file a required report, and the company did not have any public liability insurance on file with FMCSA.
“Lyons Limousine’s use of unqualified and underaged drivers with poor driving records, lack of inspection, repair, and maintenance records, and complete disregard of the hours-of-service regulations substantially increases the likelihood of death or serious harm to drivers, passengers, and the motoring public if not discontinued immediately,” the FMCSA wrote in its order to Lyons Limousine.