This week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filed an official agency report with Congress regarding the responsibility that the commercial trucking industry and insurance carriers that provide insurance coverage to commercial motor vehicle owners and operators, confirming that it’s not enough. FMCSA has informed Congress that the current regulatory minimum amounts required for these factions of the trucking industry need to be increased.
FMCSA Reporting to Congress That Trucking Industry Needs to Be Required to Handle Greater Financial Responsibility for Truck Crashes
The current financial minimums are not enough and FMCSA wants these monetary minimums to be raised. Why? FMCSA research shows that the current minimums simply are not enough to protect victims of these often fatal truck accidents. Huge commercial vehicles on the roads, when they are in accidents, are often the cause of serious injuries and wrongful deaths of innocent victims sharing the road with these heavy and powerful vehicles.
According to FMCSA, the financial reality of these major commercial vehicle crashes are costs over $1 million per crash. The present regulatory requirements for things like minimum insurance policy coverage limits are not high enough to cover this kind of expense. They were set years ago, and medical expenses and other costs have risen over time.
FMCSA therefore is reporting to Congress that the numbers need to be updated to reflect today’s realities. This would then be implemented by Congress in future transportation laws.
The result? Better coverage and compensation available for accident victims in these big trucking accidents which is a good thing.
Already, FMCSA is moving forward here to form new regulations to up the financial responsibilities for trucking companies, commercial motor vehicle operators, and other in the trucking industry to better protect those injured or killed in a major commercial motor vehicle accident or crash.
On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141). Section 32104 of MAP-21 directed the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives on the appropriateness of the current minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers of property and passengers, and the current bond and insurance requirements for freight forwarders and brokers.
Section 32104 also directed the Secretary to issue a report on the appropriateness of these requirements every 4 years starting April 1, 2013. The Secretary delegated the responsibility for this report to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Interstate motor carriers and transportation intermediaries, as well as certain intrastate hazardous materials carriers, are required by law to maintain minimum levels of financial responsibility. This report explains the history of these requirements, examines the current minimum insurance levels for the different sectors, provides background on the motor carrier industry, and summarizes the findings of a recent FMCSA-sponsored study on the adequacy of the Agency’s current required minimum levels of financial responsibility, as well as findings from other reports on minimums. The report does not examine the current bond and insurance requirements for freight forwarders and brokers since MAP-21 mandated these requirements to be $75,000 effective October 1, 2013, and the Agency will report on the appropriateness of these levels after it has had the opportunity to observe their impacts.
The legislative history of minimum insurance requirements for commercial motor vehicles (CMV) indicates that Congress recognized that crash costs would change over time and that DOT would periodically examine the levels and make adjustments as necessary. A variety of recent studies indicate that inflation has greatly increased medical claims costs and related expenses. In conclusion, FMCSA has determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are due for re-evaluation. The Agency has formed a rulemaking team to further evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and has placed this rulemaking among the Agency’s high priority rules. The FMCSA will continue to meet with the stakeholders, including impacted industries, safety advocacy groups, and private citizens, as it moves forward with developing a proposed rule.