Digging through public records, NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit discovered FedEx has been involved in hundreds of accidents. Elyce Kirchner reports in a video that aired on April 11, 2014.
The Investigative Unit has found that drivers for FedEx Freight, a division of FedEx, have been in 730 accidents in the past two years, and have been cited more than 679 times for unsafe driving.
The collision near Orland between a FedEx truck and a bus carrying high school students has the Investigative Unit wondering about the company’s driving history. Records NBC Bay Area obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show that out of 679 violations they recorded, nearly half were for speeding. Other violations include “failure to obey traffic control device” (81) and improper lane changes (57). 47 violations were issued for using a cell phone or texting while driving.
Traffic accidents are even more common than traffic violations. Over the past two years, FedEx drivers have been involved in 730 nationally 43 of those incidents happened in California, which include two fatalities prior to Thursday’s accident.
The accident on Thursday was the worst FedEx has experienced since November of 2012 when it was involved in a 100-vehicle pileup in east Texas.
It’s important to keep in mind that FedEx Freight is just one part of the larger FedEx. The company is massive and has more than 20,000 vehicles and 35,000 employees. And as with all companies who employ drivers of truck and buses, their employees undergo drug and alcohol testing.
However, when compared to other freight companies, Fedex Freight racks up violations more frequently and is involved in collisions more often than its peers.
In terms of company size, the tour bus involved in the accident, Silverado Stages, is a much smaller carrier. It’s based in San Luis Obispo and has fewer than 2,000 employees. It’s never been involved in a fatal accident.
NBC Bay Area also took a long look at the road where the accident occurred [map]. The collision happened on a stretch of I-5 roughly 160 miles north of San Francisco near the city of Orland. California Highway Patrol data NBC Bay Area analyzed showed there have been just nine accidents along that stretch of roadway since 2008. However none resulted in severe injuries. The majority of those accidents occurred with a mile of Thursday’s fatal accident.
None of the nine recorded accidents were head-on collisions like the one involving the tour bus on Thursday. The closest head-on collision on I-5 since 2008 was over 10 miles away from the FedEx crash site.
FedEx expressed their “deepest personal sympathies and the condolences of over 300,000 other FedEx team members” in a written statement from CEO Frederick Smith. Smith cautioned that it would take some time to determine exactly how and why the accident occurred, but pledged the company’s willingness to comply with investigators.
Investigators have estimated that it could take anywhere from three to six months to determine a cause.