Anyone who has ever traveled on the interstate has at one point or another driven lane to lane with a tractor-trailer. These massive vehicles tower above passenger cars and drivers have a right to be cautious and wary. The average passenger car weighs only 3,250 pounds, where as a fully loaded semi comes in at 80,000 lbs. This makes truck vs. car accidents extremely deadly and why the House has proposed the Safe Haul Act. As a Virginia (VA) truck accident injury attorney I know that almost four thousand people were killed in truck crashes in 2011. The extent of these crashes are so deadly that they often cost over $4.3 million in medical expenses, wrongful death cases and property damage but federal law only requires cargo truck drivers to maintain insurance policies for $750,000 dollars. Injured motorists and taxpayers are left to pay the difference.
Since 42 percent of the dollar settlements paid by trucking companies between 2005 and 2011 for motor vehicle accidents exceeded the minimum insurance requirement holding trucking companies accountable is the main purpose for the Safe Haul Act. The bill proposes that the required insurance minimum for motor carriers be raised from $750,000 to $4,422,000. The bill would also tie the future insurance minimum requirement to the cost of medical care inflation. This legislation protects the American public as well as trucking companies by ensuring sufficient coverage is available to cover the total costs of commercial vehicle accidents.
Owner-Operators of trucks argue that the bill would see a huge increase in their minimum insurance coverage and therefore also their costs. Many trucking companies also have disputed findings about the costs incurred by tractor trailer injuries. Raising the insurance minimum is a great start to keeping our roads safer though the minimum coverage dollar amount may need to be adjusted or implemented in steps to ease the transition for drivers. The current minimum was enacted in 1980 and is long due for an adjustment.