The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has plans over the next two years to improve identification of chameleon carriers. Chameleon carriers, also called reincarnated carriers are motor carriers that shut down, often due to outstanding fines related to safety compliance, and reform as another company. In the past, the new company started with a clean slate and could start breaking the law again. I have handled many cases like this and have taken several to trial. In one, a family was repeatedly forced to close down their trucking companies for failure to conduct random drug tests, as required by federal regulation. They formed a total of 13 different companies before I took the case to trial in which one of their drivers was high on crystal meth and killed another truck driver.
The FMCSA is in the early stages of using its new system ARCHI (Application Review and Chameleon Investigation). Using information from the FMCSA’s Licensing and Insurance database, new carrier applicants are screened using all available data fields to spot chameleons–including address, phone number, applicant name, employer identification number and more. ARCHI algorithm also considers whether the prior carrier was in bankruptcy, was involved in a fatal or serious injury crash, was fined by the FMCSA, ever issued an out-of-service order or received an unsatisfactory safety fitness rating.
Now that ARCHI has been implemented, the FMCSA plans to spend the next year analyzing data and quantifying false-negative and false-positive results.