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4 Kan. trucking companies told to stop operating

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered four suburban Kansas City trucking companies to stop operating after determining the four companies were simply renamed versions of the first company and an attempt to get around safety regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a release Thursday that the Olathe-based companies — Royal Transport Inc., Nationwide Inc., Freight Inc. and Midwest A Inc. — have to stop interstate transportation service immediately because the FMCSA found that three of the companies were essentially "reincarnated chameleons" for Royal Transport.

FMCSA said its investigators found Nationwide Inc., Freight and Midwest A, were created in order to continue the business of Royal Transport, which had a history of non-compliance with federal regulations and had received a conditional safety rating. FMCSA said it had recently discovered the carriers were operating the same vehicles, using the same drivers and maintaining the same operational and management structure as Royal, which the agency had deemed unsafe.

"Safety is our top priority," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the release. "Trucking companies that attempt to dodge safety regulations or hide a history of violations by hiding behind a new name have no place on our nation's roadways."

A man who answered the phone for Royal Transport Inc., which was also the same phone number for Nationwide Inc., and Freight Inc., declined to give his name, but said he would have a lawyer return a call to answer questions about the FMCSA decision. He did not provide the lawyer's name before hanging up.

A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Midwest A Inc. in Olathe also hung up without answering questions.

"Today's action is another step toward raising the bar for commercial vehicle and roadway safety," FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in the release. "It sends a strong and important message that companies that attempt to evade safety regulations by reincarnating will be found and removed from the road."