USDOT Greenlights Dangerous Drivers’ Animal Transport

For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

PETA has uncovered egregious government indifference—and willful inaction—in the face of damning data.

We obtained records revealing that transport truck drivers involved in horrific animal-killing accidents had accumulated past convictions for as many as nine driving-related crimes and driving while intoxicated (DWI). One had even killed animals in a prior crash. (The full details of these drivers’ records appear below my signature.)

We shared these findings with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and submitted a petition seeking to block convicted drunk, reckless, and speeding drivers from hauling live farmed animals for long periods. However, the agency responded by defending the status quo and denying the petition, a move that gives drivers with horrific records and histories of crashing free reign to continue hauling trucks filled with hundreds of animals. Shockingly, USDOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cited its outreach material, instructional videos, and required “training” for truckers as “more effective” and “appropriate” responses to “addressing unsafe driving behavior” than disqualifying dangerous drivers from hauling livestock.

Below, you’ll find summaries of some of the incidents of prior reckless driving that PETA cited in its petition—and you’ll note that the incidents reveal systemic, long-term problems in USDOT’s monitoring of drivers’ records, which we must conclude that the agency sees no need to improve.

  • During 2019 and 2020, PETA found that an annual average of at least 87 animal transport truck crashes had occurred in the U.S., representing a more than 200% increase over the annual average of crashes between 2000 and mid-2006.
  • Lacy Louis King Jr. crashed while carrying at least 160 pigs in Suffolk, Virginia, on November 13, 2020. He ran off the road and rolled the trailer onto its right side, trapping the crying pigs for at least four hours and injuring at least eight so severely that they had to be shot on site to relieve their suffering. King had been found guilty in March 2007 of reckless driving by speed and, two months later, of traveling 47 mph in a 35-mph zone.
  • On April 17, 2018, Nathan Reiss crashed a truck full of cows in Broome County, New York, killing four of the animals, and was cited for operating at a speed unsafe for the conditions. Only four days earlier, he had pleaded guilty in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, to two citations for operating a vehicle in unsafe conditions. Three months earlier, a judge had found him guilty of driving at an unsafe speed in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
  • Brian D. Crockett crashed a tractor-trailer with more than 170 pigs aboard near Smithfield, Virginia, on January 10, 2018, killing at least 10 animals. In the five years preceding that crash, Crockett had been convicted of nine driving-related crimes and infractions, including traveling at 74 mph in a 60-mph zone and traveling at 70 mph in a 55-mph zone.
  • On April 24, 2013, Mark Robert Nepsa crashed while hauling nearly 1,000 turkeys for Circle S Ranch Inc. in Henry County, Virginia, killing many of the birds. He was cited for failure to maintain proper control of the vehicle, and he had been charged with at least 12 traffic offenses in North Carolina and South Carolina since 1986. In July 2003, he was convicted of DWI and his driver’s license was revoked—for at least the second time. He had also been convicted of driving while his license was revoked and of speeding, after being charged with traveling 63 mph in a 45-mph zone in Union County, North Carolina.
  • David Earl Lambert crashed a tractor-trailer in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, on April 19, 2013, while hauling 184 pigs. Several pigs were ejected, and 55 of them were killed on impact and in the hours that followed because of severe injuries. Lambert was cited for failure to maintain his lane of travel. He had been charged with at least 15 traffic offenses across nine North Carolina counties since 1995, including reckless driving, speeding (five citations), using a radar detector, operating an uninsured vehicle, and seeking to evade federal motor-carrier safety regulations.
  • On June 7, 2010, Jonathan Daniel Leggett crashed a tractor-trailer in Chesterfield County, Virginia, killing approximately 46 pigs. He was cited for reckless driving and failure to maintain control. Only three months earlier, he’d crashed a tractor-trailer in Harnett County, North Carolina, killing approximately 35 cows. He was cited for failure to reduce speed as well as for improper passing, after allegedly rear-ending another vehicle, sending it down an embankment and its driver to the hospital. In the year preceding this crash, he was accused of traveling 56 mph in a 35-mph zone and of failing to obey a traffic signal and was fined in both matters.

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