There was another significant finding in the analysis of government data referred to above. Current minimum insurance requirements for truckers were found to be inadequate. According to the FMCSA, more than 4,000 people die every year in collisions with trucks and 80,000 more are seriously injured. Even though trucks make up less than 4% of all passenger vehicles on U.S. roads, they are involved in 12% of all motor vehicles fatalities.
The report concludes that the minimum insurance requirements for commercial trucks are “completely inadequate to compensate those who have been seriously injured in a collision involving multiple vehicles or multiple injured individuals.” It should be noted that Congress set the minimum level of insurance to $750,000 in 1980. When adjusted for inflation, $750,000 is only $292,000 in 1980 dollars. While large trucking companies may carry more than the required level of coverage, quite often smaller companies carry just the bare minimum. The analysis of the U.S. trucking industry found that 87% of the companies in violation of safety standards are small companies that have fleets of ten trucks or less.
Many folks don’t realize that lots of deadly accidents involving unsafe trucks are never recorded as safety violations. A 2005 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that nearly one-third of commercial motor vehicle crashes that states are required to report to the federal government were never recorded. Additionally, state crash reports were not always accurate. The analysis by the American Association For Justice follows a GAO study in July 2009 which found that more than 1,000 commercial trucking firms that were ordered out of service because of federal safety violations evaded compliance by operating under a different name, but often using the same owner, address and employees. Congress should increase the minimum insurance limits for commercial trucking companies to at least $5 million per incident.
Source: American Association For Justice
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