Large trucks and other commercial vehicles can pose significant dangers on the road. But if they belong to what’s known as reincarnated carriers, the odds for catastrophic accidents increase greatly.
When a trucking company or bus company is cited for a safety violation by the Department of Transportation, it faces a fine that can range from $1,000 to $20,000. It may also be ordered to close, especially if it is a repeat offender. Rather than pay the fine or shut down, a reincarnated carrier simply reopens under a new name and never addresses the safety issues.
A company seeking to operate buses and trucks across state lines must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a subordinate of the Department of Transportation. The FMCSA issues a number to the company. Those seeking to transport passengers must also pay a fee and provide proof of insurance.
In 2009, the Government Accounting Office released a report that found 20 bus companies and 1,073 trucking companies that most likely registered under false pretenses over a two-year period.
Enhanced Efforts to Stop Unsafe Truck and Bus Companies
With tens of thousands of new companies registering each year, the FMCSA has argued in the past that it cannot look into each one to identify those with previous safety violations. However, in December 2011, the FMCSA announced an increased effort to identify reincarnated carriers.
Provisions of this new campaign include:
• An increase in the fine for operating illegally from $2,000 a day to $25,000 per violation
• Allowing the FMCSA to conduct safety inspections of buses at rest stops
• Requiring new motorcoach companies to undergo a complete safety audit before being allowed to operate
• Streamline the current registration system to make it easier to track companies