Albuquerque, NM- Trucking safety is a very an important issue and the challenge to enforce. It’s a job federal and state agencies take seriously, but there are flaws in the enforcement system which allow trucking companies that should be taken off the road to continue to operate under the radar.
When a trucking company is involved in a terrible accident or has a history of unscrupulous operating practices, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the power to shut down a trucking company.
A recent example is the Total Transport, which was shut down for numerous reasons including their involvement in an accident that left five women dead in June. Following the accident, the FMCSA found that Total Transport had been involved in 85 accidents that resulted in injuries in the two prior years. They received hundreds of citations for not maintaining their vehicles and drivers for the company were cited 107 times for speeding. This was a trucking company that was not operating with safety foremost in their minds and were shut down because of it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still put trucks on the road in the future
Once the order to shutdown has been issued, a trucking company can pay their fines and make substantive changes to their operations and reopen with the approval of the Department of Transportation. But some trucking companies bypass this entire procedure by simply changing the name of their company, their name, address or name a different owner. Trucking companies that use this tactic to continue operations are called chameleon carriers and there are thousands of them operating in the U.S.
According to the Government Accountability Office, in 2010 the Department of Transportation received 1,136 new applications from trucking companies that the agency suspected were chameleon carriers. Additionally, the GAO found that chameleon carriers had an 18 percent greater chance of being involved in a major crash, compared to only 6 percent of non-chameleon carriers, CNBC reported.
These chameleon carriers can be hard to catch and can easily change morph into new companies when they are discovered. But it is finding them that is difficult and even though the FMCSA tries to keep up with these chameleon carriers, they just can’t catch them all.
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