Cartwright Introduces Legislation to Keep Highways Safe and Protect Victims’ Rights
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright introduced the Safe and Fair Environment on Highways Achieved through Underwriting Levels Act (H.R. 2730) or “A SAFE HAUL.” The bill would raise the required insurance minimum for motor carriers.
Congress established the current insurance minimum in 1980 at $750,000. This minimum requirement has not been raised in more than 30 years. In present dollars, adjusted for the increase in the cost of medical care, it takes more than $4.4 million to provide for the equivalent of the $750,000 in the original law.
“This is a matter of public safety. Tragically, more than 100,000 people have been killed in commercial vehicle collisions since 1980,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This legislation is essential to protecting our nation’s highways and ensuring that victims receive the proper amount of compensation for their losses.”
The current minimum of $750,000 fails to perform the basic functions that Congress intended: to promote safe operations by holding insurers responsible for inspecting trucking operations prior to underwriting policies and to protect the public.
Additionally, according to a recent study conducted by the Trucking Alliance, 42 percent of the dollar settlements paid by trucking companies between 2005 and 2011 for motor vehicle accidents exceeded the minimum insurance requirement.
"Outdated trucking insurance limits shift the burden of crash costs to injured motorists, taxpayers, medical insurance carriers, and Medicare. This legislation is long overdue," said American Association for Justice President Mary Alice McLarty.
Specifically, the bill would increase the required insurance minimum for motor carriers 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.
Rep. Bruce Braley [IA-1], Rep. Chaka Fattah [PA-2], Rep. John Lewis [GA-5], Rep. Grace Napolitano [CA-32], Rep. Bobby Scott [VA-3] and Rep. Albio Sires [NJ-8]