Reckless automobile drivers who end up with revoked or suspended licenses aren’t able to go to the local DMV for a new license, but amazingly, owners of problem trucking companies can do just that. If a trucking company has had numerous on-the-road violations, insurance issues, serious accidents or problems because of unlicensed drivers, it may be forced to shut down. Just as some retail businesses can close one location and open in another spot under a new name, rogue trucking firms can quickly reappear.
Easy To Do
Trucking concerns with bad reputations and sub-standard equipment have found loopholes in the federal bureaucracy that make it relatively easy for them to close, change their names, reapply for a new USDOT number, and start rolling down the highway again. This process can be accomplished sometimes within only a few days.
A passenger carrier, moving company or a freight carrier must apply to the USDOT for a number that allows them to operate on Georgia highways. Over 66,000 applications are received per year, and only two percent are cross-checked. This situation allows companies with problems to cease operations under their old name and resume almost immediately under a new one. Trucking companies that do this have been called chameleon carriers, because although they may change their legal names, their troubled trucks and sub-standard drivers remain the same.
The US Government Accountability Office studied a recent five-year period and found that
chameleon truckers were involved in numerous crashes that killed 217 people and injured over 3500 more. The auditors were easily able to identify chameleon carriers because of identical names, phone numbers and addresses. They then checked the carriers for past safety or financial issues, and the connections became obvious.
Officials at the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration claim they lack resources to do the necessary cross-checking. Auditors disagree, as they were actually able to create a computer program that did efficient cross-checking.
With such an obvious problem, Georgia drivers need to be aware that they share the road with sub-standard chameleon carriers. This is a particularly dangerous situation, and anyone who has an accident with a suspect trucking company should contact a qualified and licensed Macon, Georgia trucking accident attorney.