'Chameleon carriers': Death by big rig
Difficulty pinning down the California trucking company involved in a fatal Nov. 24 crash on Interstate 70 in Washington County suggests federal authorities too long failed to put the brakes on sloppy practices that let hazardous trucks roll.
State police say the DC Trucking rig was speeding and had poor brakes when it crossed I-70's median, killing a Maryland mother and daughter. The driver is charged with homicide by vehicle. Authorities suspect DC Trucking is a “chameleon carrier” — one that, looking to avoid penalties or shed a bad reputation or record, shuts down, then resumes operations with a new name and federal ID number.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's DC Trucking probe is too little, too late for the victims and their loved ones, especially because a Government Accountability Office report warned in March of agency problems regarding “chameleons.”
It's been focusing on “chameleon” for-hire passenger carriers and household goods carriers, thinking they pose greater risks than freight carriers such as DC Trucking. Yet the GAO found freight carriers were 98 percent of the agency's new 2010 applicants — and 1,082 freight applicants had “chameleon attributes,” versus just 54 applicants of other sorts.
Foot-dragging on tighter freight-carrier vetting — a life-and-death issue — is intolerable, requiring an immediate fix. But unless federal officials who let hazards such as that DC Trucking truck roll are held accountable, too, more such fatal accidents are all too likely.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- The IRS scandal: Do the Lois Lerner emails still exist?
- U.N. watch: The missiles question
- Merging school districts? Some fundamental criteria