New York senator looking to ban 'chameleon' truck companies

Federal loophole keeps hundreds of dangerous companies on the road

A U.S. Senator from New York says he wants to close a federal loophole that allows so-called "chameleon" truck companies to operate, according to the Albany Times-Union. Chameleon carriers are trucking companies that change their names in order to avoid inspections or safety fines. Because of a lack of background checks during the permit process, the companies are able to operate and drive on the nation's highways. Such companies have already been implicated in numerous accidents, including a fatal truck accident in Ithaca earlier this year.

Same company, different name

The chameleon carriers are able to operate through a loophole in federal safety regulations. When a trucking company has received safety violations and is threatened with being shut down, some of them, instead of paying their fines and correcting safety issues, dissolve themselves and apply for a new permit under a different company name. While the owners, drivers, vehicles, and equipment all remain the same, the company is allowed to operate as though it were brand new simply because it has changed the name it operates under.

The senator bringing attention to this loophole says that much of the problem could be solved if federal officials performed background checks on individuals, like owners and drivers, when a company applies for a trucking permit. Such background checks would help ensure that dangerous companies aren't able to skirt the law by continuing to operate.

Dangerous companies a hazard

New York is hardly immune to the problem and, according to WRVO Public Media, more than 500 chameleon carriers operate in the state. Nationwide, over 1,000 permit applications showed signs of being submitted by chameleon carriers in 2012, a significant increase over previous years.

A fatal accident in Ithaca earlier this year shows just how dangerous these companies can be. In that accident, the trucking company had recently changed its name after it had acquired dozens of safety violations under its old name. In total, about 10,000 truck accidents happen across New York every year. Making sure the most dangerous companies are kept off the roads would help bring down those statistics, analysts say.

Truck accident advice

Although truck accidents can be caused by numerous factors, including fatigue, impaired driving, or in-cab distractions, the result is often the same: catastrophic damage that leaves innocent victims and their families devastated. The massive size of many of these trucks simply means that smaller vehicles and their occupants usually suffer serious damage and injuries when involved in a truck accident.

For those who have been the victims of a truck accident, it is vital to talk to a personal injury attorney right away. Truck accidents, as the above story shows, are often caused by drivers and carriers cutting safety corners in order to turn a profit. An experienced attorney can help victims move on after an accident and help hold any negligent driver and company accountable for the damage they may have caused.