• State releases recommendations on Ride the Ducks vehicles

    By: KIRO 7 STAFF


    SEATTLE - The state of Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recommends that Ride the Ducks vehicles return to the road with half of its amphibious-vehicle fleet.

    Staff of the Utilities and Transportation Commission identified 442 violations of motor carrier safety rules or laws, and recommended monetary penalties be levied against the company. The commission is authorized to penalize Ride the Ducks up to $1,000 per violation, according to a commission statement. The commission is holding a hearing to resolve the current suspension of Ride the Ducks at 9:30 a.m., Monday, Dec. 21.

    The ducks have been off the streets since September’s fatal crash on the Aurora Bridge. Company staff said the vehicles will not return to the Aurora Bridge.

    Five North Seattle College students were killed when a Ducks vehicle collided with a bus. Follow this link to read the full commission investigation report.

    >> PHOTOS: Scene images from Ride the Ducks vehicle, bus crash

    If approved by the three-member commission, the company would be allowed to put its 10 Truck-Duck vehicles back into service under the following conditions, according to the commission:

    • Per federal motor carrier safety rules, the company must improve its safety rating from unsatisfactory to conditional by Jan. 29, by correcting specific violations found by staff in the course of the investigation. If on Jan. 30, the company has not adequately complied, the company will be prohibited from operating.
    • The company must provide a safety management plan that provides a detailed description of the corrective actions taken to address each violation.
    • Commission staff must approve the company’s safety management plan before the company’s safety rating is upgraded to conditional.
    • The company must undergo follow-up compliance investigations and vehicle inspections in six months, and again in twelve months, to determine if the company is following its safety management plan and to verify compliance with state and federal safety requirements.
    • After two years, commission staff will conduct a compliance review and issue a safety rating based on the outcome of that investigation.

    The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause. The written statement below was released by Ride the Ducks shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    We appreciate the UTC’s exhaustive work in completing the report.

    During the course of the three-month investigation, we anticipated the UTC would find minor issues from our nearly 20 years of operations. While the total number of issues they have identified appears large, it is important to note that the vast majority of the findings deal with recordkeeping issues – many of which we have already corrected.

    The report cited just one mechanical issue with the type of vehicle we plan to use when we restart operation – a cracked tie rod end grease boot on just a single vehicle. When the UTC brought this problem to our attention, we completed all the repairs that day. 

    The vast majority of the remaining UTC finding involved bookkeeping issues. For example, of the 442 violations, 51 were for our failure to record employees’ dates of birth on their employment applications. In fact, the UTC describes 304 of the violations as ‘non-acute/non-critical’ recordkeeping violations.

    When we meet with the UTC on December 21, we will demonstrate our plans to meet all of their conditions within the timeframe they’ve set.

    Want to talk about the news of the day? Watch free streaming video on the KIRO 7 mobile app and iPad app, and join us here on Facebook.

    Next Up: