Congress and the Obama Administration can do more to help the nation’s trucking industry serve the U.S. economy safely and efficiently. That should be the trucking industry’s message in 2015, according to Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Chairman of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (aka Trucking Alliance) Board of Directors.
Williams recently met with Acting Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Scott Darling, U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), senior staff members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and other transportation safety stakeholder groups to share the Alliance objectives. Joining Williams were Mark Brockinton, CEO for the Transportation and Logistics Practice of Aon Risk Solutions, a leading insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm, and Lane Kidd, the Alliance’s Managing Director.
Priorities for the Alliance in 2015 include:
• Accelerate the 2012 congressional mandate that requires electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial trucks to verify on-duty truck driving hours;
• Raise the minimum liability insurance level for trucking companies;
• Recognize hair testing to meet federal truck driver drug testing regulations;
• Keep in public view the federal government’s safety ratings for trucking companies;
• Support truck speed limiters and new standards for commercial vehicle safety technologies;
• Pass long-term transportation funding that includes more money for commercial vehicle law enforcement.
“The Alliance is committed to safety objectives that make sense for our country first, the trucking industry second, and our companies third,” said Williams. “For example, we shouldn’t tolerate 300,000 trucking accidents that kill upwards of 4,000 people each year, and 600 of those fatalities are truck drivers. We can do more to lower risk for all motorists and help our truck drivers do their jobs and arrive home safely.”
According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 3,602 people killed in large truck accidents in 2013, of which about 600 were truck drivers and another 100,000 people were injured, including 24,000 truck drivers. In 2012, Congress directed the Secretary of Transportation to determine the appropriateness of the current minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers of property and passengers to compensate accident victims. The Secretary is undertaking that study.
“Trucking company owners can keep the public’s trust by supporting a higher minimum liability insurance level,” said Kidd. “In 1980, Congress set the minimum at $750,000.00 specifically to compensate the victims of trucking accidents but that level is no longer adequate to cover the medical costs for motorists or truck drivers who are injured in a catastrophic accident.”
Brockinton, a 30-year executive whose career is exclusively focused on trucking and transportation insurance, said, “Aon provides services to many commercial trucking companies, and our advice to clients is always to purchase insurance limits adequate to protect their assets and reasonably ensure their business can survive the financial impact of a severe vehicle accident.”
Brockinton added that higher liability insurance limits can be expensive, “but we can often mitigate the expense by helping to improve safety and claim procedures and by providing guidance on first-dollar risk assumption via deductible programs.”
The Alliance will also urge the Dept. of Transportation to reconsider an agency staff announcement last week that the electronic logging device mandate would be delayed (again) until November 2015. “ELD technology is already in the field now and Congress directed the agency last December to accelerate the ELD mandate sooner than later,” said Kidd. “ELDs will stop the endless debate over truck driver hours of service rules.”
Kidd also said bipartisan legislation would soon be introduced in Congress to recognize hair testing as an approved method for meeting federal commercial truck driver drug testing requirements. “Hair testing is a much more effective way for trucking companies to identify life-style drug users so they can keep them out of trucks and off the nation’s highways,” said Kidd.
Created in 2011, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (aka The Trucking Alliance) is a coalition of progressive, like minded freight transportation and supporting businesses that include Maverick USA, Knight Transportation, J. B. Hunt Transport, Dupre Logistics, Boyle Transportation, Fikes Truck Line, Continental Transportation, Rand McNally, DriveWyze, Psychemedics, Omnitracs, and PeopleNet.