Groups call on Congress to 'halt' action to increase insurance minimums

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Tuesday, October 07, 2014

A group of eight associations are urging Congress to step in and “halt” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rush to increase the minimum required liability insurance on motor carriers and passenger coaches.

Currently, Section 425 of the Department of Transportation fiscal year 2015 appropriations contains a provision that would prohibit the agency from moving forward with increasing the required minimum level of liability insurance.

The groups sent a letter in support of Section 425 to Tom Latham, chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations, as well as Ranking Member Ed Pastor.

Signing onto the letter are the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; National School Transportation Association; United Motorcoach Association; American Bus Association; National Federation of Independent Businesses; Petroleum Marketers Association of America; American Truck Dealers; and National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

FMCSA has fast-tracked what it has deemed a “high priority” rulemaking to increase the current minimum levels of liability insurance. Currently motor carriers are required to carry $750,000. Hazmat operations must carry $1 million.

“The department announced in April 2014 that it was moving forward with the development of regulations to increase minimum financial responsibility requirements for truck and bus companies. This is despite the fact that the department’s own data shows that less than 0.2 percent of truck-involved accidents result in damages that exceed the current requirements,” the groups wrote in the letter.

“What is especially troubling about this rulemaking is that the Department cannot show any connection between higher minimum insurance requirements and improved safety performance by a truck or bus company.”

In spite of this, an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget. FMCSA anticipates the proposal will be under review for less than 12 days – far less than the typical 30-, 60- and 90-day reviews for regulations and proposed regulations.

“This rulemaking action, described as ‘high priority,’ has been taken up by the department without direction from Congress, and is moving forward while other actions with a direct impact on motor carrier safety languish with little to no action by the department,” the letter states.

“At the very least, the department should halt this action until the issue can be fully examined by Congress through hearings and legislative direction, as occurred when the current minimum financial responsibility requirements were enacted into law.”

For truckers who want to contact their lawmakers in opposition to increasing the minimum required insurance, visit www.fightingfortruckers.com.

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