Trucker's drug-related fatal accident leads to shutdown by feds

Updated Feb 27, 2022
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A Texas-based trucker has been declared an "imminent hazard" by federal authorities and cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration earlier this week declared Christopher M. Savannah to be an “imminent hazard” to public safety and ordered him to immediately cease operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.  Savannah was served the federal order on Feb. 17.

The FMCSA explains:

On Feb. 3  Savannah was operating a commercial motor vehicle on Interstate 75 in Loudon County, Tennessee southwest of Knoxville when he was involved in a fatal injury crash. 

Savannah failed to stop his CMV upon encountering a roadblock conducted by Sergeant Chris Jenkins of the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.  Sergeant Jenkins activated the emergency lights in his patrol vehicle to retrieve a ladder that had fallen onto the interstate.  Savannah struck two vehicles that stopped ahead of the roadblock and then struck Sergeant Jenkins who had exited his patrol vehicle.  Sergeant Jenkins was killed, and the driver of another vehicle sustained injuries.

Savannah was subsequently issued multiple traffic citations and the State of Tennessee has filed criminal charges against him.  During the post-crash investigation, Savannah admitted to using marijuana the morning of the crash, and marijuana was also found inside the vehicle.  A drug influence evaluation conducted after the crash determined that Savannah was under the influence of marijuana and not able to operate a vehicle safely.  

Additionally, at the time of the crash, Savannah did not have a record of duty status for that date and the previous seven days as required.

Follow-up investigations by FMCSA revealed Savannah previously tested positive for marijuana during a pre-employment controlled substances test on March 31, 2020.  As a result, he was prohibited from operating a CMV in interstate and intrastate commerce and was designated as “prohibited” in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  

His commercial driver’s license was also downgraded because he failed to maintain a current medical certificate as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations.  Despite all these prohibitions, Savannah continued to operate a CMV in blatant disregard of federal and state regulations and the safety of the motoring public.  

FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Savannah’s “blatant and egregious violations of the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations] and disregard for the safety of the motoring public demonstrated by these actions substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and/or the motoring public.”      

Failing to comply with the provisions of the federal imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $1,951 per violation.  Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties.