Armored Trucking Company GardaWorld Cut Corners & Traded Lives for Profits, Investigation RevealsMay 25, 2020
Like a Wrecking Ball: How GardaWorld Compromised Lives & Safety to Muscle Its Way Up in the Armored Truck Industry
Since 2008, GardaWorld (Garda) armored truck accidents have killed at least 19 people. More than 63% of these crashes were caused by a preventable mistake made by a Garda driver or by some type of mechanical failure with a Garda truck. Most of those killed were unsuspecting drivers or pedestrians going about their daily lives.
Tragically, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
From February 2014 to July 2016, Garda trucks averaged close to 100 wrecks every month, hurting upwards of 320 people. That’s about one injury every three days over a 29-month period.
All of this was revealed by a year-long investigation conducted by the Tampa Bay Times. It included 90 interviews with current and former Garda employees, as well as extensive record reviews. The findings indicate that Garda routinely and, at times, aggressively compromised safety, leaving carnage behind.
Garda’s Rise in the Armored Truck Industry: Brief Background
GardaWorld, an international security contractor, entered the American armored truck industry in 2005. Over its 15-year history, it quickly grew, rising to become a major competitor with Brink’s and Loomis, which have been operating for more than 100 years.
As it skyrocketed to the top of the industry, Garda won contracts with several huge businesses, transporting cash for Walmart, Starbucks, Chase Bank, McDonald’s, and others. Today, Garda has about 135 offices across the U.S. that operate armored vehicles.
The Shadow Behind the Rise: How Garda’s Shortcuts Destroyed Lives
Garda’s extraordinary success in the U.S. armored truck industry came at the cost of safety and lives, Times reporters found.
In fact, through court records, government inspection records, internal company documents, police reports, and information from employees, reporters found that Garda, rushing to compete with industry heavyweights, put untrained or error-prone drivers in unsafe trucks. Specifically:
- Garda performed minimal truck maintenance: Maintenance requests were regularly ignored, with only the bare minimum to keep a truck being done, former Garda employees say. They also revealed that upper management would question maintenance costs whenever repairs were made. These actions resulted in fleets of trucks with bald tires, defective steering systems, shoddy brakes, broken speedometers, and bungee cords for seatbelts. If drivers refused to operate one of these unsafe trucks, they could be sent home with zero pay for the day.
- Garda provided little to no driver training: Half of those interviewed in the Times investigation said they had little to no training before they were tossed the keys and put to work. In a 2012 trial, two Garda drivers testified that their only training was, “Here are the keys. Don’t kill anyone.” To put this in context, Brinks reportedly sends new employees to a week of training before letting them drive armored vehicles.
- Garda let drivers with multiple crashes continue to operate trucks: Traffic citations and crashes were not a bar to drive for Garda, company records show. In fact, their records indicate that more than 40 different drivers had crashed at least twice. One had been in nine wrecks.
- Garda pressured drivers to work frantically: The company not only created unrealistic schedules for drivers but it also reportedly threatened to dock drivers’ pay for going too slow. One driver faced threats of being fired after his truck broke down for several hours. Consequently, drivers were commonly violating traffic laws by blowing through red lights and speeding. Over nine months in 2013 alone, drivers in the Dallas area received 21 citations for running red lights.
When Garda’s Director of Risk Management discovered some of these problems—and ways to stop preventable crashes—she sent an email to her supervisor about them. The next day she was laid off. Soon after, the company eliminated the risk management department.
Garda Responds to the Investigation
While Garda has called the findings of the Times investigation “baseless,” the company has also claimed that it follows “industry-standard processes to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations.” Garda has also claimed that the Times’ investigation presents the company in “a false light that is not reflective of our current operations.”
Despite Garda’s claims, however, there’s no disputing the numbers:
- There were 321 Garda truck accidents from 2014 through 2019.
- Over that same period, there were 263 Loomis truck wrecks and 253 Brink’s truck crashes.
- Since Garda trucks didn’t drive as much as the Brink’s or Loomis trucks over these 5 years, adjusting the numbers per mile traveled indicates that Garda crashed about 80% more than Loomis and about 46% more frequently than Brink’s.
In the wake of the Garda investigation, it remains to be seen whether and how the company may have to answer for the crashes, injuries, and deaths linked to its shortcuts.
Hurt in a Truck Wreck? Get Answers About Your Rights
If you’ve been harmed in a truck wreck or any traffic accident, contact the Amaro Law Firm to find out more about your rights and recovery options. Companies that cut corners when it comes to safety—like Garda reportedly has—can be liable for the harm the cause of their dangerous choice, and the injured may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more.
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