Injuries and fatalities involving large trucks have steadily risen over the years. In its latest published data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) reports that in 2012, approximately 3,921 persons were killed and 104,000 persons were injured in traffic crashes involving large trucks – as compared to 3,686 persons killed and 80,000 persons injured in 2010. (NHTSA's statistics include all persons: the occupants of the large trucks and the other vehicles, as well as non-occupants such as pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.
In contrast, the minimum insurance limit for large trucks, buses, and most tractor trailers has remained exactly the same since 1980. Commercial motor carriers are only required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage. This limit has not been adjusted to account for nearly 35 years of increased traffic crashes and expansion of commercial activity involving large trucks, as well as inflation and soaring health care expenses.
This has vast implications for everyone. Once motor carriers responsible for the crashes are not held financially accountable, the innocent victim and taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicaid and Medicare usually get stuck paying the huge medical bills. This goes without mentioning the emotional aftermath of a traffic crash, particularly when there are severe injuries and even fatalities involved. Such consequences are tragic, but preventable.
Call to Action : The Federal Motor Career Safety Administration (FMCSA) is drafting a rule to increase the minimum insurance limits that motor carriers are required to carry. FMCSA is now seeking a wide range of public comments on this issue. Everyone who travels public roadways is at risk of being severely injured or killed by underinsured commercial trucks. Rourke & Blumenthal encourages everyone to visit www.SaferHighways.com to learn more about this danger and take action to change the minimum insurance limits for commercial trucks.