The term “chameleon” refers to one that is subject to quick or frequent change, especially in appearance.
Chameleons change in order to hide.
Hiding from safety
In the trucking industry, The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) use a DOT number to identify every company that operates semi-trucks.
Theses DOT numbers are important: they track drivers’ records, vehicle maintenance and accidents. It’s how we identify bad drivers and irresponsible trucking carriers, in an effort to make our public roads safer.
But irresponsible trucking companies have found a loophole. They register under a new name – and get a new DOT number – to skirt liability or penalties after numerous crashes or safety violations.
A company that registers under a new name is known as a “chameleon carrier”.
1,136 new applicants were suspected of being “chameleon carriers”, according to the Government Accountability Office’s most recent study.
While these “chameleon carriers” should be shut down, they must first be caught.
Sadly, they are almost always caught only after a serious injury or death has been caused by another fatal truck crash.