It isn’t difficult to understand why commercial vehicles are a danger to others on the road. Their size and weight give them much more momentum than smaller vehicles and also make them harder to control. They can cause a devastating collision while suffering minimal damage themselves in the wreck.
Given the tragic results of the wrecks these vehicles sometimes create, there are many federal regulations in place to protect the public and keep the roads as safe as possible. There are rules about who can obtain and maintain a commercial driver’s license, as well as rules about insurance and operating practices for trucking companies.
Most commercial transportation companies and their employees go to great lengths to remain compliant with federal safety laws. Unfortunately, a small number of bad actors can increase the risk for everyone on the road. Chameleon carriers may be a tiny minority of transportation companies, but they create outside risk because of how they operate their businesses.
What are chameleon carriers?
The chameleon is a lizard that changes its appearance to avoid predation and to sneak up on its own prey. A chameleon carrier is a transportation company that tries to change its image to avoid enforcement efforts.
There are some trucking businesses that will happily ignore and violate transportation safety rules. If they get caught, they will face citations and will potentially need to cease operations. Chameleon carriers may close or dissolve a business after citations or a loss of insurance.
The same people will then start a new business, likely with the same employees and equipment, without actually adjusting the practices that led to their citations initially. They increase the risk for everyone on the roads by operating in ways they know are unsafe and actively try to avoid the consequences of their actions.
You can hold a chameleon carrier accountable
Commercial vehicles often have more insurance coverage because of how much damage they can cause. Those hurt in a crash can frequently file an insurance claim to recover their losses. When insurance isn’t enough, a review of a company’s safety records and business history could help you determine if the company might be a chameleon carrier.
A history of infractions and attempts to avoid responsibility for them could make a company look suspect to the civil courts. Learning more about what contributes to your risk for a commercial truck crash can improve your safety and ability to appropriately respond to any wreck that does occur.