DOT adds raising carrier insurance minimums to regulatory calendar, pushes Safety Fitness rule back

| May 19, 2014
Roll-over crash scene

FMCSA wants to increase the liability insurance minimums for carriers from $750,000 to an undetermined higher figure.

An official timeline for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s push to raise liability insurance minimums for carriers has been released by the Department of Transportation, and it signals the agency plans to begin work on the regulation quickly in hopes of publishing a proposed rule in November. 

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FMCSA: Current insurance minimums for carriers ‘inadequate,’ new rule coming

The current $750,000 minimum liability insurance required to be held by carriers is too low, said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this week, and ...

The agency released a report in April saying it found the current $750,000 liability insurance minimum for carriers to be “inadequate.” It also said then it planned to make upping that minimum a high priority. 

In its monthly regulatory update released last week, the DOT says FMCSA hopes to send the insurance minimum rule proposal to the Office of the Secretary June 30 and to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Aug. 1. The timeline says a proposed rule could be published Nov. 12. 

Neither the DOT’s may report nor FMCSA’s April report, however, set a target number for the new minimum — which hasn’t been increased since 1985. FMCSA did say in April that if minimum insurance had kept up with the core consumer price index, a measure of inflation, it would be $1.62 million. If it had kept pace with the medical consumer price index, it would be $3.18 million. 

Both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations reject the agency’s claims that the current minimum needs changing, citing studies that show just 1 percent of all crashes exceed $750,000 in claims. 

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FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee is holding meetings this week in Alexandria, Va., to begin work on the rule. 

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In other rulemaking updates in the report, the agency’s timeline for producing a speed limiter rule for heavy trucks was unchanged, and FMCSA said it expects to send a proposed rule to the Office of the Secretary this week. It expects to publish a proposed rule Oct. 1 for public comment.

The timeline for the long-awaited Safety Fitness Determination rule, though, has been pushed back from Sept. 16 as a projected publication date to Dec. 17. 

The Safety Fitness Determination rule would allow the agency to use a similar data set it uses for its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s Safety Measurement System rankings to produce a score for carriers it could then use to target unsafe carriers for intervention. 

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