Proposed Rule Would Shut Down Unsafe Reincarnated Tractor-Trailer Companies
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently proposed new rules targeting “reincarnated carriers” – truck and bus companies that reincorporate as new business entities or re-register with the agency to leave behind a history of safety violations. The new rules would allow the FMCSA to prevent reincarnated tractor-trailer companies from operating. The rule also targets equipment providers, brokers and other companies in the trucking industry with a “history of failing to comply with statutory or regulatory requirements.”
Reincarnated tractor-trailer companies have posed problems for years. By reincorporating and re-registering, carriers that are shut down or fined for safety violations can continue operating without fixing safety problems or paying fines. Other companies use affiliates to continue operating under the same control and with the same fleets. In each case, because a new company or affiliate legally owns and operates the same fleet, past violations and fines don’t prevent it from operating.
The proposed rule provides the FMCSA with authority to issue out-of-service orders to tractor-trailer companies with a history of violations or truck accidents. The agency can consolidate the records of new companies with their predecessors after a comprehensive review process to determine if a new carrier is a reincarnation of an existing violator. New organizations will have an opportunity to challenge this determination. Further, tractor-trailer companies cannot remove violations from their records simply by paying a fine in full without admitting liability.
The proposed rule would close a loophole that has allowed unsafe tractor-trailer companies to continue operating fleets of trucks and buses on roads across the country. Enacting the rule would likely have immediate safety benefits. For example, the rule would have prevented a 2008 crash that killed 17 passengers of a bus operated by a reincarnated carrier.
Victims of automobile accidents, including trucks and buses, should contact an attorney for legal advice and representation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help identify responsible parties, including tractor-trailer companies that violate federal road safety rules.