For Immediate Release: April 28, 2009
Contact: Kerri Axelrod or Jen Fuson
202-965-3500, ext. 369
Removing Speed Bumps to Consumer Safety on the Road
Updates to Insurance and Other Safety Measures Needed in Transportation Debate
Washington, DC─ Today, as lawmakers focus on the nation’s ailing transportation system, Congress must strengthen its commitment to reducing highway fatalities and injuries by focusing on enhancing critical safety measures for the commercial vehicle industry, according to the American Association for Justice (AAJ).
Both the U.S. House and Senate will hold hearings today relating to transportation policy and the reauthorization of highway funds.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation there were 4,808 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks and 322 fatalities in crashes involving buses in 2007, the latest data available. Additionally, there were approximately 100,000 injuries in crashes involving both large trucks and buses.
“Stricter safety standards, including roof crush resistance, added seatbelt standards and enhanced driver fatigue monitoring, could protect consumers by reducing the severity of motor carrier accidents,” said AAJ Director of Regulatory Affairs Gerie Voss. “The brakes have been on vehicle safety standards for too long. Safety features are not a luxury, we hope this administration will accelerate consumer safety to reduce fatalities and injuries.”
For example, there are no roof crush standards for commercial motor vehicles, including trucks and buses, and the standard for automobiles has not been updated in nearly 30 years. The auto-standard was slated for April 30, 2009 by the Bush administration. It is estimated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) more than 12,000 lives could be saved by having commercial vehicle roof crush standards.
Another issue of concern to consumers is out of date insurance requirements. The minimum insurance requirements for trucks and buses were set nearly three decades ago and have never been raised. Today, those minimum levels of insurance are inadequate to compensate those who have been seriously injured in a collision involving multiple vehicles or multiple injured individuals. Adjusting the minimum insurance requirements for inflation would ensure increased coverage for the significant health care costs injured individuals can incur.
“Insurance is a safety feature like air bags and seatbelts, you don’t think about it until you are in an accident and need the protection,” added Voss. “The current minimum insurance requirements are woefully inadequate and punish injured consumers twice by leaving them to bear the burden of uncovered health care costs.”