The trucking industry helps keep the whole supply chain moving from coast to coast. It’s only natural that something so critical is highly regulated. If a trucking company has too many safety violations and their drivers cause too many accidents, the government is supposed to put them out of service.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of “chameleon carriers” out there who – while not great at safety protocols – are excellent when it comes to avoiding the consequences of their actions.
What are chameleon carriers?
Chameleon carriers are basically “reincarnated” trucking companies that deliberately engage in deceptive practices to avoid industry regulations and their legal obligations. Legitimate carriers know that they have to adhere to regulations involving driver safety, truck maintenance, insurance requirements and more – but chameleon carriers don’t care. They flout the rules, use unqualified drivers for excessive hours and overlook safety regulations so that they can undercut their competition’s price.
Essentially, once these rogue carriers get a safety violation record that’s “too hot to handle” and they’re facing stiff fines or other penalties, these carriers go through the paperwork process to close their business. Then, they just reopen under a new (but similar) name. That makes it possible for them to apply for new DOT numbers for their trucks with the U.S. Department of Transportation. That way, they get a clean slate and avoid accountability and industry enforcement actions.
How bad is the problem?
Unsurprisingly, data used by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that chameleon carriers were three times as likely to be involved in serious accidents than other carriers. Worse, data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that looked at the increase in these chameleon carriers between 2005 and 2010 indicates that the problem is actually growing – and efforts to stop them are ineffective.
If you or your loved one falls victim to a wreck caused by a chameleon carrier, don’t expect them to play fair when it comes to compensating you for your losses. They’re pros at shifting their responsibilities onto other people’s shoulders. You can fight back, however, by seeking experienced legal guidance.