Contact: Beth Weaver
FMCSA Report Verifies Financial Responsibility Requirement Deficiency
Safety Groups and Truck Crash Victims Urge FMCSA To Act Quickly To Increase Requirement Level
Families and Taxpayers Should Not be Forced to Bear Uninsured Costs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 22, 2014) – Truck crash victims and safety advocates responded positively to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report on commercial motor vehicle financial responsibility requirements, Examining the Appropriateness of the Current Financial Responsibility and Security Requirements for Motor Carriers, Brokers, and Freight Forwarders – Report to Congress, and at the same time rejected the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) claim that increases are unnecessary. The report, directed by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112 – 141, Section 32104), found that current financial responsibility minimums are inadequate, and supports efforts by Members of Congress, safety groups and responsible truck industry participants to secure an increase in financial responsibility requirements.
“Over 30 years ago, Congress set the minimum insurance rule for trucks and motor carriers at $750,000 to cover everyone impacted in a crash, whether it’s two, ten or twenty people killed and injured,” said Kate Brown, Illinois Volunteer Coordinator, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and Member, Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee, whose son was severely injured in a truck crash. “The amount of coverage has not changed in over 30 years. During that time, trucks have gotten bigger and heavier, inflation has gone up, medical care costs have skyrocketed and many truck crashes now result in damages that exceed several million dollars. When the insurance coverage falls short, the American public is left to foot the bill for these injuries and losses like I had to do when my son was injured.”
In 1980, the Motor Carrier Act was passed in response to deregulation of the trucking industry, setting financial responsibility levels for motor carriers to “assure that public safety is not jeopardized,” and to reduce concerns that safe drivers would be pressured to cut costs in order to be competitive “…by operating in violation of minimum safety standards.” Financial responsibility levels were to be set at a level “sufficient to require ‘on site’ inspection by the insurance company, with minimums to be updated regularly.” Unfortunately, levels were not set high enough to accomplish this goal, and regular updates have never occurred. In effect, this lowered the minimum required, and allowed undercapitalized carriers to enter the market with minimal or no underwriting from insurance companies, which is the complete opposite result that was intended when the federal government set a minimum level.
Jackie Novak, TSC North Carolina Volunteer, whose son Chuck Novak and his girlfriend Theresa Seaver were killed in a crash in Henderson County, North Carolina said, “The total number of fatalities and injuries in the crash that killed Chuck was 15. The motor carrier that caused the crash only held a $1 million policy, slightly higher than the minimum now required, which had to be split among five families who lost loved ones and ten injured, as well as all other parties who had a claim to the settlement, such as emergency responders. The insurance did not come close to covering medical costs, or providing for surviving families and children, like my grandson.” Novak added, “The American people unknowingly subsidize the uninsured costs of the trucking industry through programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. When financial responsibility is set so low, and costs are passed on to the victims, there is no deterrent for unsafe behavior.”
Marianne Karth, who lost her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary nearly one year ago in a truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, said, “I couldn’t believe it when I learned how low financial responsibility requirements were set and that they hadn’t been increased in decades. No one, and that includes truck drivers, should have to deal with astronomical medical costs and potential personal financial ruin on top of the tragedy of losing family members. I ask OOIDA to reconsider their position on this issue, and to acknowledge that they sell truck insurance and are therefore not themselves a neutral party.” Karth continued, “My family and I have launched our ‘AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety’ petition to urge Secretary Foxx to immediately increase minimum insurance levels to, at the bare minimum, account for 30 years of medical care inflation, as well as, to address outstanding truck safety improvements. We hope to personally present him with over 15,000 signatures in a couple of weeks, and that the message we bring will prevent other families from unnecessarily suffering when there are readily available solutions to truck safety issues.”
To add your signature to the “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety” petition, please go to: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/957/501/869/stand-up-for-truck-safety/
The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policymakers and media about truck safety issues. More information is available at www.trucksafety.org.