Trade groups call on House Democrats to reject insurance increases

Updated May 7, 2021

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 6, 2021: 

OOIDA, other groups petition House Democrats to reject insurance increases
More than 60 organizations representing the trucking, agriculture, construction, manufacturing, materials and towing industries are petitioning members of the U.S. House of Representatives to reject an increase of motor carriers’ minimum liability insurance requirements.

In letters sent to the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally-responsible Democrats and the Problem Solvers Caucus – both of which seek commonsense solutions to various issues – the coalition explains that an insurance increase “is wholly unnecessary” and “would do nothing to improve highway safety and would have a severe negative impact” on their members due to significantly higher operational costs.

The letters state that federal research indicates the current $750,000 minimum requirement covers damages in 99.4% of crashes involving commercial vehicles.

The letters are in response to efforts to increase the insurance minimum to as much as $4 million.

“Rejecting calls for increases in insurance coverage will help protect American jobs and businesses, including countless small businesses, from an unnecessary and excessive policy designed to further line the pockets of trial lawyers at the expense of truckers, farmers, construction firms, manufacturers and more,” the letter concludes. Among groups that signed the letters are the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, numerous state trucking associations and more.

[Related: Dozens of trucking groups discourage liability insurance minimum hikes]

An insurance-minimum hike to $2 million was also on a laundry list of trucking-related measures OOIDA last month called on House Democrats to forgo in any draft infrastructure bill to emerge after the Biden proposal. The measures had been in included in H.R. 2 in the last Congress, the Association said, and included: 

  • An increase in federal liability insurance requirements from $750,000 to $2,000,000
  • Time and/or distance caps on personal conveyance
  • Expansion of tolling authority via congestion pricing and diversion of revenue to non-highway programs
  • Automatic emergency brakes on all new trucks
  • Sleep apnea screening and testing rules
  • Publication of flawed CSA safety data
  • First steps toward a side underride guard requirement

“The Highway Bill is supposed to promote growth, not destroy small businesses,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer, singling out tolling and insurance as the most important provisions to eliminate from consideration.  

[Related: Liability insurance hike: Guess who would benefit]

New custom shorepower module to meet e-reefer needs | Mission Critical Electronics and subsidiary Purkeys announced a system that allows fleets, distribution centers, and trailer manufacturers to safely and easily connect hybrid-electric reefer units to shorepower, meeting the California Air Resources Board zero emission reefer (facilities are required to have connecting tech by 2024) and other anti-idling regulations. The system will be sold and serviced through Purkeys. Called SAFX, the customizable system (diagram of how it works above) is designed with redundant safety features to deliver reliable connection and disconnection of 480 VAC shorepower. Once plugged in, the system automatically detects when the cable is connected to the trailer and allows power to flow with the simple touch of a button. When the vehicle brakes are engaged prior to starting the motor, an exclusive Auto Eject mechanism installed on the trailer instantly ejects the cord, and simultaneously the Auto Safe feature turns off the power, ensuing safety of people, goods, and property. Unique and patent-pending custom cable management options are available to purchasing trailer owners. These options, ranging from manual cable retraction to Auto Reach, will allow truckers to choose the best fit for their needs. These options will retract the power cord back to its original position, preventing potential tripping hazards and related liability issues, as well as avoiding property damage to the trailer and facility during the drive-off maneuver.New custom shorepower module to meet e-reefer needs | Mission Critical Electronics and subsidiary Purkeys announced a system that allows fleets, distribution centers, and trailer manufacturers to safely and easily connect hybrid-electric reefer units to shorepower, meeting the California Air Resources Board zero emission reefer (facilities are required to have connecting tech by 2024) and other anti-idling regulations. The system will be sold and serviced through Purkeys. Called SAFX, the customizable system (diagram of how it works above) is designed with redundant safety features to deliver reliable connection and disconnection of 480 VAC shorepower. Once plugged in, the system automatically detects when the cable is connected to the trailer and allows power to flow with the simple touch of a button. When the vehicle brakes are engaged prior to starting the motor, an exclusive Auto Eject mechanism installed on the trailer instantly ejects the cord, and simultaneously the Auto Safe feature turns off the power, ensuing safety of people, goods, and property. Unique and patent-pending custom cable management options are available to purchasing trailer owners. These options, ranging from manual cable retraction to Auto Reach, will allow truckers to choose the best fit for their needs. These options will retract the power cord back to its original position, preventing potential tripping hazards and related liability issues, as well as avoiding property damage to the trailer and facility during the drive-off maneuver.

Wyoming working to add parking, truck lanes to I-80
Wyoming is about to start work on a section of Interstate 80 to provide more truck parking and truck passing lanes.

WYDOT on Wednesday reported its crews have resumed work on what it is calling the I-80 Winter Freight project between Rawlins and Laramie. Workers are adding truck climbing lanes to the heavily-traveled interstate. One will be on eastbound I-80 over Halleck Ridge, and the other will be on westbound I-80 between Copper Cove and Quealy Dome Road.

DOT officials have said the truck passing lanes will help keep traffic moving efficiently and help prevent secondary crashes when the interstate reopens following a road closure.

Crews will also build 100 truck parking spaces each in two locations: near Quealy Dome and Fort Steele.

The work is being performed on a 45-mile section of I-80 that is notorious for its bad winter weather. WYDOT has said this section of the interstate has four times the number of truck-involved crashes during the winter months than during the summer months.

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