Truckers mobilize to protect insurance provision in highway bill

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Thursday, October 29, 2015

Editor's note: This article has been changed to reflect a date adjustment on the anticipated floor debate on the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015. As of Friday, Oct. 30, debate was now expected to begin Wednesday, Nov. 4 at the earliest.

With a short-term, three-week extension in place, the pressure is on the U.S. House of Representatives to pass their version of a long-term highway bill. 

The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 was released on Oct. 16, by the leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. It was passed out of committee on Oct. 22 – setting the stage for consideration in the House. That is anticipated to happen next Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the earliest.

The House version of the legislation is designed to be a three-year bill, with three more years of policy legislation depending on funding availability.

As with any highway bill, in addition to funding roads and bridges, the bill contains legislative language that will direct agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on various issues and regulations.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is zoned in on two key sections that, if passed into law with the full bill, will prevent the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from unjustly raising the liability insurance requirements on motor carriers.

Sections 5501 and 5503 of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 – or STRR Act for short – work in tandem to make sure FMCSA has adequately researched and proven that an increase to the liability insurance requirements on truckers will improve highway safety.

OOIDA has pointed to FMCSA’s own research showing that more than 99.7 percent of all crashes are more than adequately covered by the current $750,000 requirement. Additionally, the Association says all of the research and attempts at justifying an increase have not proven that the roads will actually be safer. All attempts are purely economically motivated, the Association leadership says.

The Association called on its membership to call their representatives in the House and tell them to support sections 5501 and 5503 – and block any amendments attempting to water down the language or strip it altogether.

“While truckers have successfully blocked previous attempts in Congress to mandate an increase, it just seems that there are some who haven’t gotten the message yet,” said OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill-Kaumo. “There isn’t a correlation between safety and insurance in the trucking industry. If that were the case, those that self-insure would never have an accident. There isn’t much of a need to increase the liability insurance requirements and we need some strong opposition to these efforts. Calling your lawmakers now will help protect the current insurance levels.”

For more information on the Call-To-Action issued by OOIDA visit FightingForTruckers.com.

Copyright © OOIDA

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