New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced in a news release that his office’s investigation found UPS was inspecting and passing its own trucks despite poor conditions.
“UPS knowingly endangered not only the lives of their own employees but the lives of the driving public,” he said. “By keeping these rotting and decaying trucks on the roadways, UPS was an accident waiting to happen, and this office has zero tolerance for anyone who knowingly poses a serious and significant risk to New Yorkers.”
The settlement resulted from an investigation that began in upstate New York, but was quickly discovered to be a statewide problem. A UPS mechanic advised the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) that despite having personally removed four package delivery trucks from service at the Watertown, New York facility in March 2006 because they all had cracked frames, UPS allowed those trucks to remain in service without being repaired.
UPS had an internal procedure for the annual assessment and review for its truck fleet, referred to as the Annual Vehicle Retirement Process, as well as the ability to certify the safety of its fleet, but failed to carry through with those safety standards, according to the OAG press release. Through this process, UPS determined which, if any, of its trucks needed to be removed from service and disposed of due to a number of factors, including the age of the truck, condition and odometer reading. In addition, because of the size of its truck fleet, UPS received a license from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct New York State vehicle inspections on its own trucks.
The OAG investigation revealed that in 2004, at least 23 delivery trucks were identified by UPS supervisors during the vehicle assessment process as having “cracked” or “rotted” frames. None of these trucks, however, were taken out of service. Instead, all 23 trucks were kept in regular, continuous service for months, and in some instances, for up to two years. These trucks also logged a significant number of miles in the process, without the required frame repairs.
As part of the agreement, UPS has not only paid the State of New York $1.3 million in penalties, fees and costs, but for the next five years, it will bear the expense of retaining an OAG-approved independent inspector to conduct New York State vehicle inspections of UPS trucks in service within New York State.
UPS has also agreed to graduated penalties for any future violations ranging from $500 for the first violation within a one year period and up to $10,000 for a fourth or any subsequent violation within a one year period.