After a truck crash killed our daughters, AnnaLeah (17) & Mary (13), on May 4, 2013, we discovered that there are many problems with truck safety-- including inadequate trucking liability insurance. In 1980, Congress set the level of liability insurance for trucking companies at a MINIMUM of $750,000. If that were adjusted for inflation, it would be $2,225,643 in 2017. Yet, DOT has not once raised that level in 37 years -- thereby jeopardizing the safety of the traveling public.
Congress also recognized that crash costs would change over time and mandated that DOT periodically make adjustments as necessary. In fact, studies indicate that inflation has greatly increased medical claims costs and related expenses. And, in an April 2014 report, FMCSA determined that the current financial responsibility minimums are due for re-evaluation.
But, on June 2, 2017, FMCSA announced that they were going to stop working on a rule that would increase the trucking liability insurance from the 1980 level. This is unacceptable.
Given that it has been over 30 years since the current level was set and the FMCSA has had adequate time to act and report on this rulemaking, it now seems prudent to:
1. Call upon Elaine Chao, as the Secretary of Transportation, to act upon her authority to set a new minimum level of financial responsibility for the motor carrier industry and immediately raise it from $750,000 to $2,225,000.
2. Following that decisive action, FMCSA should:
* Ask Congress to hold a public hearing to obtain information from the insurance
* Subpoena the insurance industry to provide the required information.
* Then immediately proceed with NPRM rulemaking – setting it as a top priority to determine future actions which should be taken to raise the minimum levels according to other calculations besides adjustment for inflation, both now and in the future.
If we do nothing to address this problem, then we will continue to expose the traveling public to greater risk of truck crash tragedies. Who should we hold responsible for the resulting deaths? And who will bear the economic burden of this negligence?
Jerry and Marianne Karth