The trucking industry is closely regulated for good reason. Large commercial vehicles carry extremely heavy loads at high rates of speed, and a momentary mistake on the part of a truck driver can have catastrophic consequences. That is why truck drivers are required to log their hours of service, take breaks to avoid fatigue and regularly conduct vehicle maintenance checks.
One area of truck industry regulation that needs improvement is the minimum insurance requirement. As of now, trucking companies are required to carry only $750,000 in insurance, despite the fact that many truck accidents result in damages that cost well beyond $4 million in damages. The current minimum hasn't been changed since the 1980s, and this situation leaves covering the difference up to injured victims and taxpayers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is aware of the problem. In April the FMCSA advised Congress to make changes to the minimum insurance requirement, and legislators in the House have responded with the Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act of 2013. The SAFE HAUL Act, as it is known, would raise the minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers to catch up with inflation rates and today's medical costs. The bill would also require ongoing adjustments for future inflation.
The recent truck accident that seriously injured Tracy Morgan has brought the problem of trucking negligence into sharp focus. It should be remembered, though, that everyday Americans also face serious physical and financial burdens after collisions with tractor-trailers and other large trucks. If passed into law, the SAFE HAUL Act would be a step in the right direction toward getting injured motorists the compensation they need.
Source: Take Justice Back, "Outdated Trucking Law Hurts Crash Victims," Katie Gommel, July 15, 2014