After causing multiple collisions or racking up numerous violations, a trucking company attracts the attention of regulatory agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Eventually the company might be forced to stop doing business if the agency determines the company is too unsafe to remain in business.
However some of these companies have taken the dishonest approach of changing their names and applying for new Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers. These trucking companies are referred to as chameleon carriers because their name change allows them to blend in with the other carriers.
What’s in a Name?
But a new name does not mean a new way it conducts its business. In the typical scenario, the trucking company has a clean slate that helps it stay under the radar, allowing it to continue its unsafe practices. Up to its old tricks, the chameleon carrier may not get caught until it is slapped with numerous new violations or its driver injures or even kills other motorists.
Out-Foxing the Feds
The strategy is simple. Once regulatory agencies have taken notice, the company seemingly disappears. The no-longer-existing company, thus, avoids fines and liability. The new company avoids scrutiny.
How have government agencies permitted this to happen? The DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should go after companies that have multiple violations, not allow them to scurry off into the night with no consequences. In doing so, these agencies are more likely to catch chameleon carriers before they have the chance to injure others. Perhaps use the fine money collected from these noncompliant trucking companies to fund further enforcement.
Nothing Changed Except Ineptitude
Forrest Rangeloff could not get a satisfactory rating from FMCSA so opened a new company called Range Transportation, which subsequently received a conditional rating. Even after one of its truck drivers fell asleep at the wheel and killed somebody in a horrific accident, the company reinvented itself as Range-It Express. Eventually, Range-It Express was shut down for failing to pay fines.
Elite Freight Systems was shuttered in 2009 following safety troubles. Somehow regulators didn’t notice that Elite Freight Systems Incorporated was the same company. Two employees from this “new” company died in 2012 when their truck blew a tire and careened off the road. Then in 2014, Elite Freight Systems Incorporated trucks ran cars off the road in two incidents. The company then filed as Spurlin Trucking and slowly transferred Elite Freight Systems Incorporated assets to Spurlin Trucking.
There is absolutely no reason regulatory agencies cannot track these companies. A company with existing violations should not be allowed to file for a “new” company. A basic tracking software system would be a good start.
It is time to take action to put dangerous carriers out of business.