The fight to keep a measure to increase the minimum insurance requirement for motor carriers out of the next highway bill has found a powerful ally in the construction industry.
The Transportation Construction Coalition, which includes 33 national associations and construction unions representing hundreds of thousands of individuals, made its opposition to an increase known in a recent letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Offering its recommendations for the next highway bill, the TCC asked that last year’s measure to increase motor carriers’ minimum liability insurance from $750,000 to $2 million be removed. The House T&I committee is expected to release its 2021 version of a highway bill soon. The current surface reauthorization bill expires in September.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been ardent in its fight against an increase, but the construction coalition’s opposition indicates the far-reaching negative effects such a measure could have.
“We knew all along that opposition to this unnecessary, controversial and harmful proposal would continue to grow,” said Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of government affairs. “The support of an organization like TCC is huge in our efforts to prevent an increase. We hope the committee begins to realize just how destructive this proposal would be countless American industries and small businesses as more begin to voice their opposition.”
The TCC’s 33 organizations includes the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America. Recognizing that everything is moved by truck, the organizations that build roads see that a 167% increase to the minimum insurance requirement would lead to more expensive road projects and, ultimately, make the lack of money in the highway trust fund an even larger issue.
In addition to the construction coalition, OOIDA is leading a group of more than 60 organizations in the trucking, agriculture, materials, manufacturing and towing industries to fight any potential increases.
OOIDA contends that an increase is unnecessary and would not improve highway safety. Motor carriers’ minimum insurance levels adequately covers damages in all but 0.6% of crashes, an FMCSA-commissioned report said. In addition, the industry norm is to carry $1 million in coverage. All but 0.3% of the crashes were adequately covered by $1 million in coverage. The cost of the average crash was about $18,000, the report said.
“What studies haven’t shown is any improvement to safety associated with increasing insurance requirements,” OOIDA wrote in its recent letter to the T&I committee. “There is no reputable research indicating an increase of any amount would help reduce crash rates.” LL