Supply Chain Liability

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Supply Chain Liability

TSC adamantly opposes efforts to limit shipper and broker responsibility/liability. Safety cannot be accomplished until the entire supply chain is accountable.  In recent efforts on behalf of shippers and brokers, legislation has been introduced that would set a standard for shippers and brokers at such a low threshold that it would actually serve to reduce safety accountability. The three actions required are so easily attained that many high-risk and chameleon carriers would qualify under this set of criteria.

Shippers and brokers who seek to limit their responsibility to merely ensuring that a carrier is registered with and (if applicable) authorized to operate as a motor carrier or household goods motor carrier by FMCSA; has the minimum insurance coverage required by federal regulation; and does not have an “unsatisfactory” safety rating issued by FMCSA, in force at the time of the verification, are not using all of the tools and data at their disposal to make an informed hiring determination.  If shippers and brokers are permitted to do the bare minimum of due diligence in their hiring practices, safety will be reduced and a race to the bottom will ensue.  The entire supply chain, including shippers and brokers, must be held accountable in order to elevate safety in the industry.

None of the criteria specified reflect on the current safety performance of a carrier. If safety is removed from the hiring decision, as it would with these pathetically low standards, it would lead to low-cost, unsafe carriers being selected, exposing the public to physical and financial risk. With low insurance coverage for the carrier and liability protections for whoever made the carrier selection, damage costs will go uncovered and the taxpayer will have to pick up the costs.

As to what data should be allowed in a civil action, it is for a judge to determine what is relevant to a case. Otherwise, the proposed changes would result in families and other affected parties (local city or county) not having access to critical information, and therefore adversely impacting their access to justice.

Safety Concerns:

Safety should be the focus for the entire supply chain and effort to limit supply chain liability would take safety out of the equation for the decision making process.

We should be elevating standards for carrier selection, not lowering them. This was the purpose of many of the MAP-21 provisions, which included amended financial security requirements for property brokers and created new requirements for freight forwarders by setting a minimum financial security of $75,000 and extended the bond requirement to freight forwarders. The language in the house bill is a huge step backwards.

Minimum levels of insurance for trucks and motor coaches have not been increased in over 35 years and are woefully insufficient. Bare minimum compliance should not be accepted as a standard of safety.

  • The minimum amounts set by Congress as the absolute floor are too low. They do not provide the intended underwriting supervision and protection for the public. 
  • The low original minimum amounts have provided less coverage for truck crash related damages as inflation, and especially medical care inflation has increased.
  • Truck size, weight, and speed have also increased during this time period, which can lead directly to increased crash severity (higher kinetic energy).

A satisfactory rating assigned at one point in time is just the bare minimum that allows a carrier to operate. A carrier or driver that has not yet been prohibited from driving cannot be assumed to uphold safe practices. Many ratings are 10 or 15 years old. It does mean that their background or recent performance based data should be ignored during the selection process. Shippers and brokers should be looking at and considering all information available to them in determining the safety of a carrier, rather than relying on criteria that does not reflect the safety of current operations.  A review of safety should include:

  • the last two years of violations that have a high correlation to crash risk, such as unsafe driving and hours of service data;
  • crash history including the number and severity of crashes;
  • carrier out of service rates for both vehicles  and drivers;
  • credit ratings and references;
  • safety audit results;
  • company safety and fatigue management plans.



Truck Driver Compensation

A large portion of the trucking industry is paid by the mile rather than by the hour. Truck drivers work nearly twice the hours in a normal workweek, for less pay than similar industries. As a result of their pay structure and because they are not paid for all hours worked, there is an incentive to drive longer and faster in order to increase their earnings. Paying truck drivers for every hour worked will promote safer trucking by removing incentives to dangerous driving behaviors.

Truck Driver Health and Safety and Compensation Structures

Truck driving is dangerous for truck drivers as well as the driving public. Truck driving is consistently listed in the top 10 most dangerous jobs, and constantly ranks among the deadliest jobs. Due to the nature of the job and exposure to diesel exhaust, whole body vibration, excessive noise, constant shift changes, and roadway dangers, some studies estimate that truck driving can shorten a person’s life by more than ten years.  Additionally, truck drivers face a high health risk for: personal injury, high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, obesity, cancer, liver, kidney, bowl and bladder issues, sleep abnormalities and hearing loss, among other diseases and physical injuries.

Truck drivers are being pushed beyond the limits of human endurance. The demands of the job, force truck drivers to spend up to 70 hours a week behind the wheel, and then work additional hours, for less pay than similar industries. As a result of their pay structure, being paid by the mile or the job rather than by the hour, they are incentivized to drive longer and faster in order to make more money at the expense of their own personal safety, as well as everyone with whom they share the roads.

The current regulation does not sufficiently protect these drivers, who should be afforded the same respect as other workers, work reasonable hours, and be permitted to have sleep patterns that are in accord with normal human needs. Given these factors, it should not come as a surprise that the poor working conditions and low pay perpetuate the extremely high rate of truck driver turnover, which is above 90 percent.

The compensation structure for truck drivers, in which drivers are paid by the job or by the mile, incentivizes drivers to drive long and fast in order to make a living. Truck drivers are not paid for time spent in detention, in traffic, or time spent attending to maintenance repairs. In short, to repeat a well know truck driving slogan “only turning wheels are earning wheels.”

Congress should mandate a study of what would need to be done to address the exemption to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) including consideration of making piecemeal pay illegal and eliminating the overtime exemption. The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

The Truck Safety Coalition supports efforts to improve working conditions of truck drivers, including increasing the availability of rest areas, adding detention time pay, and ensuring health and wellness education.


Entry Level Driver Training

Requiring Comprehensive Training for All Entry-Level Commercial Driver License Applicants Is Long Overdue

One of the first curricula on entry level driver training (ELDT) for commercial motor vehicle drivers was developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the mid-1980s. Yet it was not until 1993, that the agency published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Following this initiation of the rulemaking process, regulatory action stalled again until 2002, when the agency that is now responsible for this regulation – the FMCSA – was sued by safety advocates.

In response to the lawsuit, the agency produced an inadequate final rule in 2004. The training requirement was 10-hours of classroom instruction on four topics; there was no BTW training required. And once again, safety advocates sued the agency – this time for producing a capricious rule. The court agreed with plaintiffs and remanded the FMCSA to produce an ELDT final rule that included behind-the-wheel training. The agency finally published a Notice of Propose Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2007, however, the FMCSA once again failed to promulgate a final rule.

ELDTAC Brought Together Parties with Different Interests and Arrived at a Consensus

The ELDTAC was formed to negotiate a proposed rule to establish entry level driver training requirements. The committee consisted of 26 members, all of whom have varying interests in and ideas about entry level driver training, to work together and with the agency to craft the rulemaking. Members included family members of truck crash victims, safety advocacy groups, motor carriers, driver organizations, state licensing agencies, training schools, labor unions, state enforcement agencies, and several other parties. In the end, 24 members of the ELDTAC agreed that there should be a required amount of time for BTW training; the two dissenting members represented industry interests.

The Curricula Requires Knowledge of Skills and Minimum Hours that Will Ensure Truck Drivers Are Adequately Trained

The negotiated rulemaking will outline the requisite skills that candidates applying for a Class A or B CDL should have in order to be certified as a professional driver that is capable of operating his or her vehicle. The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased that both curricula require that candidates learn more than 19 different topics while on the range and/or road. We also agree with the agency’s assessment that “…a hybrid approach combining minimum BTW hours requirement with detailed curriculum requirements is the best way to ensure that drivers will be adequately trained in the safe operation of Class A and Class B CMVs.”9  

The minimum hours requirement for BTW will help the agency make sure that CDL applicants have sufficient time to learn the wide array of topics in the proposed curriculum. This commonsense move will modernize the trucking industry to be more in-line with other licensed professions that use hours-based entry-level training or continuing education to promote best practices and reduce bad actors. In addition, requiring that candidates receive a minimum amount of BTW training is not something new to the industry. Leading CDL training schools, certain states and the largest trade association, The Commercial Vehicle Training Association, all mandate a minimum number of BTW hours.  

Standardized Training Will Improve Safety Outcomes

Given that some training schools only cover some topics, while not requiring BTW, and other schools require BTW training, while not covering as many safety issues as other training schools, setting a standard curriculum will reduce truck crashes because the drivers will be better trained to operate a truck. TSC is pleased that all A and B Class CDL applicants will need to study fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions to name a few of the topics, and then demonstrate how knowledge of that topic translates to safe operations.

Moreover, harmonizing various driver training facilities and establishing a database of training providers will also help the FMCSA enforce this rule. The NPRM requires the agency to set up a registry of the facilities that meet the proposed qualifications. This will help the FMCSA identify training schools that are more concerned with money than with graduating safe driver by allowing them to remove CDL mills responsible for churning out inadequately trained truck drivers who cause injurious and fatal crashes.

Continued Delays and Removal of Minimum Hours of BTW Training 

The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers, many of whom are families of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, are extremely disappointed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA, agency) final rule requiring entry-level driver training for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

After languishing for 25 years after it was mandated by an Act of Congress, we were hopeful that the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), which brought together law enforcement, safety advocates, and members of the industry, would be able to produce a negotiated rulemaking that included a minimum number of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours. After meeting several times throughout the past year, the ELDTAC negotiated a proposed rule that included both a theoretical curriculum as well as a minimum number (30 hours) of BTW training hours. Unfortunately, the years of waiting and the participation of the ELDTAC members has been for naught. The final rule will not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it.

Without a minimum BTW training hours requirement, the agency will not be able to ensure that CDL applicants have adequate time to learn the wide range of topics in the proposed curriculum. Given the overlap between trucking companies and training programs and an industry turnover rate above 90 percent, the FMCSA is naïve to think that a “BTW training standard based solely on a driver-trainee’s proficiency in performing required range and public road maneuvers is a more flexible, and thus less burdensome option than required minimum hours because it recognizes that driver-trainees will complete BTW training at a pace that reflects their varying levels of individual ability.” The driver-trainees will not complete the BTW training at their own pace, they will complete it at the pace of the training school they attend or the trucking company that runs it, which is how the current, safety-deficient system operates.

The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training for CMV drivers has been a colossal waste of time. This final rule is both insufficient in terms of advancing safety and an insult to the memories of those killed in crashes caused by inexperience and untrained truck drivers. In particular, our thoughts are with Ron Wood, who served on the ELDTAC and at each meeting revisited his grief associated with losing his mother, sister, and three nephews in a terribly tragic truck crash in Texas in 2004.  




Oppose Longer Trucks

Proposals to Allow Longer Trucks on Our Nation’s Roadways Will Jeopardize Safety, Further Damage Our Infrastructure, and Disregard Public Opinion on Truck Size

Thirty-three-foot double-trailer trucks are 10 feet longer than the existing double configurations they would replace and are 17 feet longer than the 53-foot single-trailer trucks on the road today. A mandate by Congress for these longer trucks would override the laws of most states. Moreover, public opinion polls show that the American public has consistently affirmed their overwhelming support for truck size limitations. A nationwide survey conducted by Harper Polling in January 2015 found that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks. This reaffirmed findings from a public opinion poll conducted by Lake Research Partners in May 2013 that found 68 percent of Americans oppose heavier trucks and 88 percent of Americans do not want to pay higher taxes for the damage caused by heavier trucks.

Longer Trucks Will Be More Dangerous to Motorists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists and Pedestrians

The annual cost to society from crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) is estimated to be over $112 billion.
Nearly all of the large multi-trailer combination trucks, as well as single unit trucks, examined in the 2000 Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study had worse roll stability,  and in some instances by wide margins, than the standard five-axle semitrailer combination loaded to 80,000 lbs.
A study conducted by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC) shows that double-trailer configurations have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.

Longer Trucks Compromise Operating Characteristics

As truck length increases, passing and merging become more difficult—increasing the odds of failure to pass.
Increasing 28-foot double-trailer trucks to 33-foot double-trailer trucks results in a 33 percent increase in low-speed off-tracking and a 22 feet longer stopping distance. This means greater hazards to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists in their path, as well as more damage to infrastructure.

Longer Trucks Will Cause More Damage to Our Fragile Infrastructure

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $143 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions and performance.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation a grade of D+ on our infrastructure.  Our roads were graded D and bridges, C+.

Longer Trucks Will Result in Increased Costs to Tax Payers

Unintended Costs Will Result from Longer Trucks:
Highway hardware –  costs to assess guard rails, crash pads, rail crossings, etc. and the costs for replacement when assessment determines the hardware is insufficient;
Accessory infrastructure –  costs to assess bridge and roadway ratings and capacity, to produce and install signs and warnings, to make improvements to accommodate larger trucks, to repair pavement torsion caused by non-steering axles (also called tire scrubbing), and to maintain roadway and bridge infrastructure at increased rates of wear and damage;
Truck facilities – cost for improvements necessary to accommodate larger trucks, new or modified weight scales, new and modified parking and fuel facilities.
According to the 2007 Transportation for Tomorrow report, mandated by Congress, heavy trucks are underpaying their fair share for highway use. The report also found that user fee fairness could be achieved through weight-distance taxes and heavy trucks should pay an infrastructure damage fee. Moreover, Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, which only contributes $1 billion annually to the Highway Trust Fund—had not been changed since the early 1980s.

Longer Doubles are Premised on “Junk Science” and Flawed Analysis Conducted by Industry-Funded Research

The Woodrooffe study, on which many of the safety and efficiency claims for double 33s are based, was produced under contract to Federal Express (FedEx) and ConWay. It contains three serious flaws:
It makes the spurious assumption that two trailers of different lengths (28 v 33 feet) would both be filled to equal weights despite carrying different volumes of freight;
It ignores the fact that 33 foot trailers would weigh more when empty than 28 foot trailers, which would decrease the calculated efficiency estimates on those portions of trips when operating below capacity or empty; and,
It miscalculates the comparative increase in payload (volume) of 33 foot trailers as compared to 28 foot trailers.

Both Law Enforcement Officers and Truck Drivers Consider Longer Trucks More Dangerous

In the MTIC study, 21 Officers were interviewed and 20 officers indicated “that longer and heavier trucks would be ‘more dangerous’ because the additional length and weight would add new factors to an already complicated chain of events.”
Likewise, surveyed truck drivers are consistent in their opinion that heavier and/or longer trucks impact safety. Eighty-eight percent believed that a higher use of longer combination vehicles (LCVs) would negatively impact highway safety.

Oppose Heavier Trucks

Proposals to allow 91,000 pound and heavier, overweight trucks on our nation’s roadways will jeopardize safety and further damage our infrastructure

Public opinion polls show the American public has consistently affirmed their overwhelming support for truck weight limitations, and firm opposition to holding taxpayers responsible for paying for infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks. A survey conducted in April 2013 noted that a strong majority of Americans oppose efforts to change the law and allow heavier trucks on our roads and that this opposition spans almost every major demographic, geographic, and partisan group.

Heavier Trucks Will Be More Dangerous to Motorists, Motorcyclists, Bicyclists and Pedestrians

Big rigs carrying loads close to the current Federal Limit (65,000 to 80,000 lbs.) are already twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as trucks carrying less than 50,000 lbs.

Heavier trucks will increase the rate of wear and amplify the severity of collisions occurring when brakes under-perform from lack of maintenance.

The Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study found that heavier trucks in three states have 47 to 400 percent higher crash rates. The report also found that heavier trucks have higher rates of brake violations compared to lighter trucks, which is a common reason for higher out-of-service violations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded in 2016 that a truck with any out-of-service violations is 362 percent more likely to be involved in a crash.

Heavier Trucks Will Cause More Damage to Our Failing Infrastructure

Overweight trucks disproportionately damage the already deteriorated roads and bridges. An 18,000 lb. truck axle creates over 3,000 times more damage to pavement than a passenger vehicle axle.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation a grade of D+ on our infrastructure.  Our roads were graded D and bridges, C+.

The U.S. has 614,387 bridges, almost four in 10 of which are 50 years or older. 56,007 (9.1%) of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, and on average there were 188 million trips across a structurally deficient bridge each day.

A mere 20 percent increase in weight for a heavy truck increases bridge damage by 33 percent.

Heavier Trucks Will Result in Increased Costs to Tax Payers

The annual cost to society from crashes involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) is estimated to be over $112 billion in 2014.[x]

The most recent study to look at federal government subsidies of heavy truck operations revealed that taxpayers contribute almost $2 billion every year.

The trucking industry underpays its roadway user fees and receives special interest subsidies, ensuring that they do not cover all the damages they inflict on roadway and bridge infrastructure, contributing to a chronic deficit. The FHWA reported that trucks weighing more than 80,000 lbs. only pay between 40 and 50 percent of the costs for which they are responsible

Heavier trucks will produce higher maintenance and replacements costs due to the reduced bridge life span resulting from increases to stress repetition and the rate of stress repetition. Adding a 6th axle will not mitigate increased wear and strain on bridges.

The projected one-time costs of bridges with posting issues (i.e. the need for strengthening or replacing a bridge) caused by raising truck weights to 91,000 pounds is $1.1 billion. This weight increase is expected to produce 4,845 bridges with posting issues.

The FHWA estimated the investment backlog for bridges is $123 billion.

Heavier Trucks Will Result in More Trucks, Not Less

Increases to truck size and weight will not decrease the number of trips, result in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. The number of trucks and miles traveled on U.S. highways has consistently grown over the past few decades even after several increases in both the sizes and weights of large trucks.

A 2010 study on freight diversion concluded that increasing truck weights to 97,000 pounds would result in a net increase of nearly 8 million more trucks on our roads and bridges, a 56 percent increase.

Any So-Called “States Option” For Heavier Trucks is a De-Facto Nationwide Increase

Legislation to increase truck size and weight limits state-by-state is merely a back door attempt by trucking interests to come back to Congress in a few years and push for heavier truck weights nationwide.

The “state option” was tried once before and history reveals that it resulted in heavier trucks in every state.

In 1974, trucking interests went to Congress and lobbied for bigger trucks as a state option. Eight years later, in 1982, trucking interests came calling again and this time complained about several states not allowing 80,000 lbs. trucks. As a result, Congress preempted states and increased weights to 80,000 lbs. in every state.

Both Law Enforcement Officers and Truck Drivers Consider Heavier Trucks More Dangerous

In a survey conducted by the Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium, 20 of the 21 Officers who were interviewed indicated that longer and heavier trucks would be “more dangerous” because the additional length and weight would add “new factors to an already complicated chain of events.”

Likewise, surveyed truck drivers are consistent in their opinion that heavier and/or longer trucks impact safety. In fact, 90 percent of those surveyed believed that the increased use of 97,000-lb., six-axle trucks would negatively impact highway safety.

Truck Weight Fact Sheet – TSC 2017

Minimum Insurance Levels for Motor Carriers

The Minimum Level of Insurance Required for Large Trucks was Set in 1980 

The Required Amount of $750,000 Has Never Been Increased


In 1980, as Congress deregulated the trucking industry, there was great concern regarding the imminent increase in the number of trucking companies that was sure to follow the removal of the barriers to entry into the industry. Congress believed it would be difficult for the federal regulators, alone, to provide effective oversight for safe operations for such a large number of companies. Congress intended the Secretary of Transportation to set insurance minimums at a level significant enough to provide an appropriate means of compensation to truck crash victims if crashes occurred and also to cause the insurance companies to provide effective, on site underwriting so that the insurance market would provide incentives for safe operations of motor carriers.

Congress set the absolute minimum level of insurance to be applied to motor carriers of property and of hazardous materials at $750,000 and $5,000,000, respectively, and gave the Secretary of Transportation authority to increase such amounts to appropriate levels that would achieve the intended purpose.  Unfortunately, the minimum amounts set by Congress as the absolute floor were too low to provide the intended underwriting supervision and too low to provide protection for the public. Nonetheless, in spite of an exponential growth of the number of authorized motor carriers (approximately 27,000 prior to deregulation compared to more than 500,000 in existence today), the Secretary has never increased the bare minimums set by Congress, and the low original minimum amounts, over the past 35 years, have provided less and less of an incentive to operate safely and have become almost insignificant when compared to the damages caused by the huge trucks now allowed on public highways.  Indeed, many “minimum” policies are already written at the $1,000,000 level because the $750,000 amount is so absurdly low.

Crash Costs

When the above numbers were set as part of the deregulation process, the amounts were considered to be the absolute minimums necessary for protection of the public. Since then, not only have all of the expenses associated with truck crashes increased dramatically, the sheer disparity in size between cars and trucks has increased resulting in more severe crashes. In that same time, trailers were allowed to expand first to 48’ in length, and then to 53’. Truck weight increases, both across the board and through exemptions, have also occurred. Combined with the increase in crash expenses and damages, such as lost income and medical expenses, the lack of any adjustment since 1980 has caused a greater disparity between the original amount and current costs.

The common approach by an insurance company for a trucking company with only the required minimums in liability coverage, when the trucking company causes a catastrophe with damages that far exceed the insurance, is to “interplead” the insurance limits. This is done by the insurance company suing all of the people injured and the families of those killed in one suit, with the insurance company offering to pay the ridiculously low limits of the policy into court and to require those injured and those who have lost loved ones to fight (or “interplead”) among themselves as to who should get what. The number of interpleader actions has risen dramatically as the required minimum insurance levels have fallen significantly short of the damages actually caused by truck crashes.

The effect of the lack of adequate insurance is that the damages caused by certain segments of the industry are not borne by those causing them. The damage caused by the underinsured are spread out among the innocent motorists who are killed and injured, who frequently have no effective recourse against the companies that caused their losses.

A common type of truck crash involves a fatigued truck driver who crashes into traffic that has stopped on the highway due to congestion, a prior crash or a construction zone. These crashes typically involve multiple vehicles, multiple deaths, and multiple injuries. The total damages caused in such cases can easily exceed $20,000,000, but an insurance company with minimum limits will simply sue everyone involved in an interpleader action and the unprotected crash victims are left to do the best with what they have to try to put their lives back together. Frequently, the injured and disabled end up relying on Medicaid, Social Security or other government programs because smaller trucking companies do not have to pay for the cost of the damages they cause. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for the companies that don’t carry enough insurance to cover the damages they cause, while adequately insured companies bear such expenses as part of their business.

Unfair Competition

The low limits allowed by law are frequently carried by trucking companies that have minimal owned assets; companies that lease their terminals and equipment or otherwise leverage their operations. Even if an injured person obtains a legal judgment in excess of the low insurance limits, the companies have simply gone out of business and the owners have started up a new business under another name. This dangerous practice, referred to as reincarnating or chameleon carriers, was described in a July 2009 report by the GAO.

Larger, nationwide companies, which are adequately capitalized on the other hand, have much higher limits. It is common for the larger carriers to carry multiple layers of coverage, sometimes with a significant self-insured retention, with totals exceeding $30,000,000. These companies carry adequate amounts because they have “something to lose” and they know too well the significant damages that can be caused when a commercial truck hits a passenger vehicle or vehicles.

The larger companies have significant incentive to make their operations as safe as possible rather than simply gamble against the risk of a catastrophic crash. As a result, they have higher insurance overhead costs to protect against potential losses, yet they have to compete with companies that have nothing to lose (and others willing to put the public at risk) that carry the minimum basic coverage. The companies with “nothing to lose” are effectively subsidized by the victimized motoring public and government programs that absorb the uninsured losses. The low limits, then, create exactly the opposite effect that minimum insurance levels were intended to provide. Rather than increasing overall safety within the industry by creating an economic incentive to operate safely, the low levels create a more dangerous situation through unfair competition by allowing the losses of the most irresponsible companies to be subsidized by the public while responsible companies pay the full amount of the damages they cause.

Minimums That Should be Required

The industry should have to absorb the losses it causes. Crashes involving multiple deaths and injuries, along with any property/infrastructure damage, with total combined damages far exceeding the current minimums happen every week. In order for the minimums to serve the purpose for which they were intended, the limits need to be set sufficiently high to give the insurance companies a reason to set realistic underwriting standards that would reward safe companies and identify unsafe operations. The limits should also reflect the real devastation and damages that are caused when an 80,000 pound truck slams into traffic stopped or slowed in a construction zone. In order to have these effects, property-carrying motor carriers should be required to carry at least $10,000,000 per occurrence. If inflation alone were to be addressed the amount would need to be $2.2 million.

FMCSA Report on Minimum Financial Responsibility

In April 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a report on its review of minimum financial responsibility that found current levels to be inadequate. It found that costs for severe and critical injury crashes can easily exceed $1 million.  The study only identified a small number of crashes that exceeded minimum insurance levels due to the lack of available settlement data. Insurance settlements for amounts that exceed the minimum levels often contain a nondisclosure agreement, and this information is not publicly available. In summary, the report noted that current limits do not adequately cover catastrophic crashes and acknowledged that medical care inflation would increase levels to at least $3.2 million.

Findings from Other Reports on Minimum Financial Responsibility

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) – This report found that the upper range for liability awards involving death or catastrophic injury is $9–10 million, and recommended that DOT set limits per crash of at least $10 million.

Trucking Alliance Review of Crash Settlements – Member companies of the Trucking Alliance voluntarily tracked 8,692 accident settlements between 2005 and 2011. According to the Trucking Alliance, 42 percent of the injury claims could have had no avenue for offsetting all medical costs.


Congress’ concern of an explosion in the number of motor carriers and the consequential inability of regulation and enforcement to keep our highways safe has become a reality. The intended protective mechanism of federally-required minimum levels of insurance, however, has never adequately performed its intended function.  The amount was never set at a sufficiently high level to require insurance companies to seriously underwrite motor carriers and require safe operations before agreeing to insure them and, over time, the minimum amount has become totally inadequate. Death and catastrophic injuries have become accepted as part of the cost of doing business, with most of that cost being shifted to non-industry members of the motoring public and to the American taxpayers. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority and the responsibility to ensure the Congressional intent of the required financial responsibility is achieved.  The Secretary should exercise her authority in this regard and set the minimums at responsible levels that will encourage safe underwriting and safe operations as was intended by Congress.


Minimum levels of insurance for trucks have not been increased in over 35 years and are woefully insufficient.

Consequently, a large portion of the damages and losses caused by motor carriers at or near the minimum is imposed upon the American motoring public.

The underinsured segments of the industry are effectively subsidized by American taxpayers through unreimbursed social welfare programs including Medicaid and Social Security.

If all of the industry were required to absorb more of the losses they cause, significant changes in the industry would occur, resulting in safer highways for all.


Fatigue / Electronic Logging Devices

 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule in Effect on December 18, 2017

Implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Law, MAP-21 (P.L. 112-141) required FMCSA to issue a rule mandating ELDs in all commercial vehicles within one year, by July 2013. The final rule for ELDs was issued on December 16, 2015 and requires compliance starting on December 18, 2017. TSC looks forward to the full implementation of this rule and opposes any calls for delays or exemptions.

Preventing Exemptions to HOS Regulations Exemptions to federal motor carrier safety regulations compromise safety, erode uniformity and weaken enforcement efforts. Safety is not unique to certain types of commercial motor vehicles, carriers, cargo or routes. Allowing industry-specific exemptions to safety regulations is not only dangerous, but it also sets an unsafe precedent for other industries to request similar exemptions. TSC opposes exemptions to HOS regulations through the legislative process for these reasons.

Assuring Truck Driver Fitness TSC supports rulemaking for sleep apnea screening to ensure medical examiners are testing for and monitoring this fatigue related condition. We urge the review and regulation of legal Schedule II prescription drugs and/or use of any substance that impairs cognitive or motor ability.

Supporting Changes to Truck Driver Compensation – A large portion of the trucking industry is paid by the mile rather than by the hour. Truck drivers work nearly twice the hours in a normal workweek, for less pay than similar industries. As a result of their pay structure and because they are not paid for all hours worked, there is an incentive to drive longer and faster in order to increase their earnings. Paying truck drivers for every hour worked will promote safer trucking by removing incentives to dangerous driving behaviors.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.

A study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

In spite of the industry wide safety issue of truck driver fatigue, in 2003, the truck driver hours of service rule (HOS) was changed, increasing the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel from 10 to 11 consecutive hours in a 14-hour work window.

Electronic Logging Device Final Rule

Speed Limiters

On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost annually to speeding Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs)

Speeding (i.e., exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions) was a contributing factor in 7.5 percent of all reported large truck crashes in 2015.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 22.9 percent of large trucks involved in all types of crashes, and 15.2 percent of large trucks involved in a two vehicle crash with a passenger car, were coded as traveling/driving too fast for conditions.

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) supports a rule requiring all large trucks with existing speed limiting technology to be capped at a maximum speed of 60 mph because this technology:

Has Been Built into Most Trucks Since the 1990’s,

Can Save 162-498 Lives Annually,

Can Reduce the Crash Rate of Speeding Trucks by More than 70 Percent, and

Does NOT Contribute to an Increase in Truck Drivers Involved in Other Types of Collisions, Including Rear-End Crashes. In Other Words, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST WORSE COLLISION OUTCOMES FOR LARGE TRUCK DRIVERS OPERATING SPEED-LIMITED TRUCKS.





Require Side Underride Guards

Side Underride Crashes:

NHTSA has reported that large truck side impacts comprised 17 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection. As the length of a truck increases, so does the size of the blind spot area. These interactions can occur when a truck is turning or making an illegal U-turn, and the cab or trailer obstructs the driver’s view.

Side Underride Crash Test:

The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.

The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent.

In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.

In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.


Truck Underride Roundtable

Underride Protections

Rear/ Side Underride and Front Override Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear, side, and front underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. These crashes can be catastrophic because the car rides under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment sensors; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs. The safety benefits of underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, five of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the proposed federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph.
For several years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards, for side underride protection systems, and front underride guards. In addition, NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.
On July 10, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would grant the petition brought by Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and the Karth family to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers. Additionally, NHTSA has started an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks, and will continue to evaluate side and front guards.

Rear Underride Crashes:

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. IIHS crash tests demonstrated that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly, and that there are available underride guards that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

Rear Underride Crash Tests – IIHS ToughGuard Winners:

Great Dane





Truck Underride Roundtable


Electronic Stability Control

Federal Mandate in Effect on December 2017

Prevent 40-56 Percent of Rollovers

Prevent 1,800-2,300 Crashes Annually

Prevent 649-858 Injuries Each Year

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) seeks to reduce crashes by applying selective braking to prevent rollovers and mitigate loss of control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that ESC on large trucks would prevent 40 – 56 percent of rollovers and 14 percent of loss of control crashes. The agency also estimates that the ESC final rule has the potential to prevent 49- 60 fatalities, 649- 858 injuries, and 1,807- 2,329 crashes annually. The final rule takes effect in December 2017, and all trucks manufactured after December 2019 will be required to have ESC. TSC supports the full implementation of the life-saving technology.

Link to Federal Register:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) technology is a proven highway safety technology that could and will save countless lives and prevent injuries.  Unfortunately, after years of study and successful use by leading motor carriers, this technology has yet to be required for commercial motor vehicles.  As the public endures continued delays to require equipment that is readily available, families across the nation have had to pay the ultimate price.
In order to prevent these needless deaths and injuries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should mandate AEB technology on all large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. While the agency granted the petition submitted on February 19, 2015 by the Truck Safety Coalition, Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Center for Auto Safety this past October, action is long overdue and we call on NHTSA to produce a final rule.
On average, each year, 4,000 people are killed and another 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. Sadly, these losses are mounting, which is why it is so important for the government to take action. Each year an AEB Final Rule is delayed, more Americans will be killed in large truck crashes.
NHTSA estimates that current generation AEB systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year and that future generation systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually. Every year a full implementation of AEB is delayed, research estimates that 166 people will unnecessarily die and another 8,000 individuals will suffer serious injuries.
To save these lives, prevent injuries, reduce costs, and ensure families remain whole, we call on Congress to immediately mandate AEB technology in all large trucks.

Crash Avoidance Technologies Fact Sheet


ARLINGTON, VA (May 10, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.

The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent. In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.

In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.


With more than 2,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes in which the passenger vehicle strikes side of the tractor-trailer between 2009 and 2015, there is a clear need to address this fatal problem. It should also be noted that the aforementioned fatality figure greatly underestimates the true extent of people killed in side underride crashes as it does not include crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, multi-vehicle crashes, and any crash that happened in a jurisdiction that does not record whether underride occurred.

At a time when truck crash injuries and deaths continue to climb, up 57 percent and 20 percent respectively between 2009 and 2015, the industry and regulators should share our sense of urgency to reverse these trends. We need more innovation, action, and collaboration.

When we do work together, like at the first ever Truck Underride Roundtable, we can make real advances in truck safety. In fact, that meeting of industry leaders, government officials, and safety advocates helped lead to the creation of this side underride guard that successfully prevented a side underride crash at 35 mph.

This side underride guard would have made a big difference in many of our lives, and we are proud that our advocacy will help prevent others from sustaining a major injury or losing a loved one in a side underride crash. We call on our Members of Congress and federal regulators to ensure that this technology is fully adopted by the trucking industry by requiring all trailers to be equipped with side underride guards.


State Fact Sheets

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Michigan Fact Sheet

Minnesota Fact Sheet – 2017

Mississippi Fact Sheet

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Tennessee Fact Sheet

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Utah Fact Sheet

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West Virginia Fact Sheet

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Wyoming Fact Sheet

Harlingen woman [Debra Cruz] tries to make difference for truck safety

By LISA SEISER Editor | Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 8:56 pm

HARLINGEN — Nine years ago, her life changed. An accident with an 18-wheeler while on her way home left Debra Cruz permanently disabled.

At that time, nobody thought she would now be telling her story to politicians and their staffs on Capitol Hill as part of the “Sorrow to Strength” event held by the Trucking Safety Coalition.

Cruz recently returned after several days in Washington D.C. where she had a one-on-one discussion with Congressman Filemon Vela and was able to meet with the staff of Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Their jaws just dropped when I told them my story,” Cruz said.

She talked about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use and proper testing and licensing.

Debra said the people she met with were very interested in her story.

Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition, said Vela was engaged during the 20-minute discussion with Debra.

“You could see it in his eyes,” Debra said about Vela as she explained what happened to her.

Adler said the discussions can result in new laws and efforts to improve safety.

“He was very interested in submitting something,” Debra said about a possible bill.

Adler said Vela appeared to be interested in backing and supporting any bills coming forward that would improve truck safety.

“To hear from one of his constituents about their story is what will motivate him to do something,” Adler said. “He was moved by Debra’s experience.”

Debra was among about 60 to 70 families from about 20 different states who attended the event aimed at making lawmakers aware of changes that could be made to the industry to make it safer.

Many of those who attended were family members of those killed in truck accidents.

Debra also was able to see and briefly talk with Ted Cruz for a few minutes, even grab a picture with him.

Adler said she was disappointed Cruz was not in their meeting, but as they were leaving, he happened to be coming around the corner.

Debra and Cruz were able to speak for a few minutes about her story and then take a picture together.

Overall, while she wasn’t able to speak to all the lawmakers in person, Debra said the visit went well.

It was her second time in Washington. The Truck Safety Coalition paid for her trip and organized the meetings.

“It went really well,” she said.

Sorrow to Strength 2017 Press Page

Press Release:


TSC Report:

Truck Crash Fatality Rate per Million – Infographic


Fact Sheets:

Statements and Letters:

Truck Safety Award Recipients