GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said Monday it adamantly opposes recently-introduced legislation that would drastically increase insurance costs for the nation’s small-business truckers.
The association said in a letter to members of Congress that the “Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019” would effectively put countless small business truckers out of business.
The association also pointed to a possible conflict of interest between one of the bill’s sponsor and his family law firm and called the American Association for Justice (AAJ) an ally of the bill’s sponsors.
Introduced by Reps. Chuy Garcia, D-Ill., and Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., on July 16, the INSURANCE Act would require truckers to carry nearly $5 million per vehicle in liability coverage. The current requirement is $750,000, although most truckers have at least $1 million in coverage.
“There’s no correlation between insurance coverage and highway safety,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer, President. “This bill would do nothing more than make trial lawyers even wealthier at the expense of our nation’s small-business truckers.”
In the letter, OOIDA pointed to a report conducted by the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center, which was commissioned by FMCSA and required by MAP-21, that funded surface transportation programs at over $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
“Volpe concludes that more than 99 percent of truck-involved crashes are covered by today’s limits,” Spencer wrote in the letter. “And in some cases, those that exceed today’s limits are usually covered by additional insurance or assets.
Reps. Garcia and Cartwright, along with the AAJ, have no reputable research indicating it would. And they never will, because there is no correlation between insurance coverage and highway safety. In fact, increasing insurance minimums would likely force many owner-operators — who are collectively among the safest, most experienced drivers on the road — out of the industry because premiums would become unaffordable.”
Spencer said OOIDA is always concerned about blatant conflicts of interests that are all too common in Washington.
“Rep. Cartwright’s family law firm boasts about suing trucking companies for gobs of money. That’s what they do,” he said. “Considering trial lawyers generally receive 30 to 40 percent of a settlement – and in some cases much more than that – his interest in this issue is crystal clear: money.”.
OOIDA contends there’s plenty of other issues Congress could tackle that would actually improve highway safety.
“There are so many other proven ways to reduce crashes and improve safety without eviscerating the livelihood of our nation’s hard-working, small-business truckers. As a reminder, 96% of registered motor carriers in the U.S. are small businesses,” Spencer said.
OOIDA noted in the letter that it is the largest, national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 159,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.
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