WASHINGTON — The House Thursday defeated an amendment by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., that would have struck from the FY16 Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill language that prevents the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from proceeding with any rulemaking that would lead to higher liability insurance minimums for motor carriers.
Cartwright has long supported a higher minimum and in July 2013 introduced legislation that would have raised the required insurance minimum for motor carriers from $750,000 to $4,422,000 per truck, an increase of almost 500 percent.
The proposal never made it to the House floor.
Congress established the current insurance minimum in1980.
Before being elected to Congress in 2012, Cartwright was a member of the law firm of Munley, Munley and Cartwright, a firm that specializes in accident and injury claims. After Cartwright was elected, he resigned from the firm, which is now called Munley Law.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association immediately lauded the House defeat of the amendment.
“Congress never intended financial requirements to be tied to increases in medical inflation or to cover the worst-case crashes, and the legislative and regulatory history on that is clear,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA. “In a worst-case crash, FMCSA’s own report admits that there is no requirement high enough to cover all damages. But there may be other ways to address covering the damage costs of catastrophic and worst-case crashes.”
The association has long pointed out that FMCSA’s own data shows that more than 99 percent of crash damages are covered under the current requirements. Even by increasing requirements by 500 percent or more, only a fraction of a percent of crashes would be affected, showing that these requirements are covering all but worst-case crashes.
OOIDA and other industry stakeholders had sent a letter last month to Congress urging them to stop the FMCSA from advancing a rule that would harm small trucking businesses and other transportation providers.
Spencer said FMCSA’s efforts have been proceeding largely based on a very flawed study which focused on increased health care costs and did not even consider the entire passenger carrier segment. This action comes despite data from the agency and insurance claims showing that current requirements cover damages in more than 99 percent of all crashes.
The agency is responsible for ensuring that an undue burden is not placed on small businesses and that there is no disruption to transportation services.
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