State commission finds 442 violations for 'Ride the Ducks, Seattle'

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- An analysis of Ride the Ducks, Seattle, LLC found 442 violations of motor carrier safety rules or laws, according to the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

In a report released Tuesday, the commission recommended the company be allowed to resume operations with half of its amphibious vehicle fleet.

The UTC will hold a hearing Monday morning in Olympia to determine if Ride the Ducks will be allowed to return to service.

The commission is authorized to charge the company up to $1,000 for each violation.

Attorneys for a Seattle tour company involved in a deadly crash say there will be full cooperation into the accident that killed five people, and said that if ultimately returned to the road, the boats will no longer use the bridge that was the site of the crash.

Duck officials promised never to use the Aurora Bridge again, if the duck vehicles were allowed back on the road.

Four international college students died at the scene of the Sept. 24 crash, and a fifth – a 20-year-old woman – died days later.

They were among about 45 students and staff from North Seattle College who were on the charter bus when the tourist-carrying duck boat swerved into it on the Aurora Bridge, a six-lane span with no median barrier.

Here's what the UTC recommended:

"Each of the company’s 10 “Truck-Duck” vehicles passed federal Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspections.

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:

• 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.

If Ride the Ducks does not meet those requirements, the company will be put out of service."