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'Chameleon' trucking companies pose hazards on Texas roads

Accidents involving semi-trucks are all too common in Texas and have claimed many innocent lives. In many cases, truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for the accidents, either because of negligent operation or negligent maintenance of the 18-wheelers.

Oftentimes, negligent trucking companies are shut down following serious accidents by federal officials. But what's scary is that a recent report shows that these companies are easily able to change their name and apply for a new U.S. Department of Transportation number. In some cases, they are able to get back on the road in days.

In recent years, fatal accidents involving tour buses have resulted in federal officials cracking down on that industry, but commercial trucking companies are often guilty of the same safety violations and have been largely left unchecked. In fact, 98 percent of applications submitted by freight carriers for DOT numbers are not crossed checked.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office refers to carriers that get into trouble and change their names to keep operating as "chameleon attributes." A recent federal audit by the agency reveals that these "chameleon" companies are three times as likely as other new carriers to be involved in a serious accident.

The audit indicated that chameleon semi-trucks were involved in accidents that killed 217 people and left more than 3,500 injured in the United States over just five years. Just last year, the U.S. Transportation Secretary said that shutting these chameleon trucking companies down means saving innocent lives, but the audit revealed that little is being done to stop them.

Hopefully, the DOT takes this issue more seriously before additional lives are lost in trucking accidents caused by negligent truck drivers and trucking companies.

Source: WRAL.com, "'Chameleon' truckers creating dangerous driving conditions,"
Oct. 29, 2012

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