WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recognizing the tragic consequences that truck-related accidents can have, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced the Truck Safety Act, legislation that seeks to modernize truck safety standards on our nation’s roadways. Booker is the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure which has jurisdiction over truck safety.
“Truck drivers work extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on and keep our economy moving, but too often this comes at the expense of their safety and the safety of other drivers,” Sen. Booker said. “We can significantly reduce the number of accidents on our nation’s highways by harnessing new technologies, and better protect victims of truck accidents by raising insurance minimums for trucks that haven’t changed in over 30 years. The Truck Safety Act will protect all drivers and make our nation’s highways safer.”
Truck Safety Act provisions include:
- Minimum Insurance – Increases the minimum levels of insurance trucks must carry from $750,000 to $1.5 million. Insurance minimums have not been raised since the 1980’s and the current amounts do not provide adequate compensation for victims. The bill also increases insurance levels to keep pace with inflation, and gives the Secretary of Transportation discretion to raise minimum levels if deemed necessary.
- Collison Avoidance Systems – Requires a rulemaking for commercial motor vehicles to have crash avoidance systems, such as forward collision warning systems and lane departure warning systems. The NTSB found that these advanced systems are critical to preventing rear-end collisions, thus saving lives and reducing injuries.
- Speed Limiting Devices – Requires the Secretary of Transportation to finalize regulations requiring commercial motor vehicles to have speed limiting devices to prevent speeding. Safety advocates have estimated that the rule could prevent more than 1,000 fatal crashes.
- Driver Compensation – Requires the Secretary of Transportation to mandate that employers compensate truck drivers for hours worked. Unfortunately, standard industry practice is for truck drivers to be paid based on miles driven and not hours worked, causing truckers to be overworked which creates perilous safety conditions on the nation’s roads.
- Excessive Commuting – Would require a study on the effects of excessive commuting. There are concerns that far too often, truck drivers commute several hours to and from their base of operation, only adding to the grueling schedules many of them already work.
Each year, a significant number of crashes occur on American roads involving commercial motor carriers. Each year, there are nearly 4,000 people killed and more than 100,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks. Despite overall decreases in fatalities on our highways, truck fatalities have remained relatively stagnant.