They're large commercial trucks and they're on our roads, potentially putting all of us in danger.
Fox Undercover searched the federal database for information about Massachusetts-based trucking companies and found that company after company is scoring poorly on safety.
Commercial trucks were involved in 2,310 crashes in 2008 alone -- accidents that resulted in 20 deaths.
"You don't want an 80,000-pound to 100,000-pound piece of machinery going down the road that doesn't have any brakes," says Trooper Steve Bedard of the Massachusetts State Police Truck Team.
The Truck Team inspects 18,000 large commercial vehicles a year, all over Massachusetts. The inspection results are forwarded to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which gives companies two scores -- one for their trucks and the other for their drivers. The scores run from zero to 100. The higher the number, the worse the score.
"Most carriers fall within the 40 to 60 range; the problem carriers will be anywhere from 75 to 100," says State Police Sgt. Norman Anger, who has been on the Truck Team for 25 years. "We have carriers, and not many of them, but we have certain carriers that we know consistently have maintenance issues, driver issues, problems in their operation."
Anger says there are some companies that do not appear to be concerned with safety. "We get the impression that all they're concerned about is making a delivery and getting the product where it's going," he says.
The State Police are not naming names, but we searched the federal government's database and identified companies with 40 or more trucks that have the worst safety scores for their vehicles. Remember, the highest and worst score is 100. The five worst are:
Inspectors forced each of those five companies to stop driving some of their trucks in the last 30 months because of brake problems.
"It is the key issues," says truck safety consultant Joe Mokrisky. "If the vehicle can't stop, you know, we've got a real severe problem."
The violations at U.S. Seal Coat were so serious that inspectors ordered 17 of its vehicles taken off the road in the last 30 months. A recurring problem was brakes not working properly.
"It tells me that the maintenance program for that company needs to improve because you shouldn't get that many of that type of violation," says Mokrisky.
We also identified companies with 40 or more trucks that have the worst safety records for drivers. The five companies with the worst scores all had drivers taken off the road by inspectors over the last 30 months. They are:
Consolidated Lumber had a whopping 278 drivers taken off the road in the last 30 months; nine were caught driving without a commercial driver's license; and two were caught using or possessing drugs.
The biggest problem for Consolidated Lumber? Drivers behind the wheel for too many hours. That tells Mokrisky the company is "not as safe as they should be and that the company doesn't do anything to monitor what their drivers are doing."
The State Police say there is good news: the number of people dying in commercial truck crashes in Massachusetts is down. They also stress that most of the crashes involving large commercial trucks are not caused by the trucks themselves, but by other vehicles.