Closing Chameleon Carrier Loophole Could Prevent Denver Semi-Truck Crashes

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Closing Chameleon Carrier Loophole Could Prevent Denver Semi-Truck Crashes

Safety regulations apply to both commercial trucking companies and to individual truck drivers. Following these regulations is essential to protect the public on the roads in Denver, Steamboat Springs, Greenwood Village and surrounding areas. Some trucking companies and drivers, however, use loopholes to try to skirt the rules and remain operational even when there are serious safety issues.

Closing Chameleon Carrier Loophole Could Prevent Denver Semi-Truck Crashes

A truck accident lawyer knows that there are consequences when rules are broken. The public could be put at risk due to negligent or careless truckers; drivers who violate the rules of the road; and trucking companies that don’t follow maintenance standards or other safety precautions. Chameleon carriers are some of the companies endangering the public in this way.

Chameleon Trucking Companies Can Increase Collisions

Chameleon carriers is a term that is used to refer to transportation companies that repeatedly close shop and open under a new name. The trucking companies, which may have safety violations or which may be accused of unsafe behavior, will artificially close down. The owners or management will then form a new company that is not encumbered by the poor safety record of the old one.

According to Landline Magazine, this new company will often have the same unsafe vehicles that were part of the previous fleet, and which may have been a reason for violations. The company likely will have the same drivers, many of whom are unfit to actually operate the vehicle safely. The company will also generally continue cutting corners and otherwise violating the rules in a way that could lead to accident risks.

Senator Chuck Schumer is urging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make some changes that prevent these chameleon companies from reopening. The FMCSA has started the process but has not gone far enough.

The FMCSA created a new rule on Patterns of Safety Violations earlier this year. The rule is a supplement to a 2012 requirement mandating that reincarnated chameleon companies have their enforcement history records consolidated and their out-of-service orders transferred to the new company.

Schumer applauded the process the FMCSA has made in vetting motor carriers and trying to identify patterns of companies repeatedly closing to avoid safety issues. However, the current regulations do not go far enough. The new proposal is for the FMCSA to add driver information to the algorithm the agency uses to identify chameleon companies.

The pool of new companies applying to FMCSA to become motor carriers has had an increasing number of chameleons. In 2005, just 759 companies applying for licensure had chameleon attributes such as a poor safety record. In 2012, this number had jumped to 1,136 carriers that may have closed and reopened just to avoid following the safety rules.

If carriers can get away with this and dangerous trucks with unfit drivers remain on the streets, it’s a serious public safety issue. The FMCSA needs to do what it can to try to solve the problem, and adding driver information to algorithms used to vet motor carriers may be a step in the right direction.

Contact Bell & Pollock at (877) 744-5900 to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer in Denver, Greenwood Village and Steamboat Springs Colorado. 

December 23rd, 2014|Categories: Hot Legal Topics, Motor Vehicle Accidents|