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Bills would up insurance minimum to $4.9M, require automatic emergency brakes

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The “Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019” would raise the minimum liability insurance for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $4.9 million. (Associated Press: CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE/Erie Times-News)

WASHINGTON — Three Democratic representatives have introduced two pieces of legislation they say are critical to road safety.

Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois, Hank Johnson of Georgia and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania joined the Truck Safety Coalition and truck crash victims at a press conference Wednesday to place in the hopper bills related to liability insurance minimums and braking equipment requirements on commercial motor vehicles.

García and Cartwright introduced the “Improving National Safety by Updating the Required Amount of Insurance Needed by Commercial Motor Vehicles per Event (INSURANCE) Act of 2019” which the two said would ensure minimum insurance requirements for motor carriers are periodically adjusted to the inflation rate of medical costs, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Minimum insurance requirement currently is $750,000 for most carriers. Others may face higher minimum based on the type of cargo carried.

The INSURANCE Act says according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of $750,000, set in 1980 would have the same purchasing power as $4,923,153.29 in 2019, if the amount was raised to account for medical-cost inflation.

Therefore, the INSURANCE Act would set the minimum at $4,923,154 and require the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to adjust the minimum every five years for inflation relating to medical care.

Most carriers purchase the $750,000 per event minimum, some carry $1 million.

A previous proposal to raise the minimum did not materialize.

On its November 28, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning financial responsibility (translated liability insurance minimums) for motor carriers, freight forwarders, and brokers.

FMCSA sought public comment on whether to exercise its discretion to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility, and, if so, to what levels. After reviewing all public comments to the ANPRM, FMCSA determined that it has insufficient data or information to support moving forward with a rulemaking proposal, at this time and on June 5, 2017, withdrew the proposal.

Sources tell The Trucker the INSURANCE Act will never make it out of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit to which it was referred.

“Thousands of families are suffering in silence, saddled with crippling medical care costs resulting from catastrophic crashes,” García said. “The inadequacy of the current minimum insurance requirement, left unchanged for 40 years, only further prolongs the suffering and financial strain on families that have already lost so much. The INSURANCE Act ensures that families are adequately compensated to cope with their losses and prevents taxpayers from footing the bill for negligent trucking businesses and drivers.”

Cartwright said with trucks getting bigger and highways becoming more crowded, the country has experienced too many horrific truck accidents that change Americans’ lives forever.

“And since the minimum liability insurance for trucks hasn’t changed in nearly four decades, we’ve seen how victims, their families, hospitals, and our strained social safety net are forced to foot the bill for irresponsible driving,” he said. “This bill will raise that minimum, providing necessary relief to surviving victims and to the families whose lives are shattered by a truck accident.”

García and Johnson also introduced the Safe Roads Act, which would require automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology to become standard features commercial motor vehicles.

“Automatic braking systems are a simple, common-sense solution to deploy proven crash-avoidance technologies,” Garcia said. “Rep. Johnson and I agree that we should always operate on a safety-first basis. Any further delays to implement this important, life-saving technology will only result in more preventable, tragic deaths and catastrophic injuries. We shouldn’t be in the business of putting a price tag on life – passing the Safe Roads Act is simply the right thing to do.”

“Tragically, the simple installation of automatic braking systems on all commercial motor vehicles – a $500 safety feature – might have prevented these deaths and countless others across the country,” Johnson said. “America’s roads and highways should be safe for all drivers.  Taking full advantage of technologies that are available and proven to anticipate and prevent crashes will save lives.”

The bill was also referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Both the Safe Roads Act and the INSURANCE Act are endorsed by the Truck Safety Coalition and the INSURANCE Act has the additional endorsement from the American Association for Justice, the bills’ sponsors said.

 

 

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  1. Rob Jones

    July 20, 2019 at 11:46 am

    As a driver of over 20 years, I agree that insurancehave should have more coverage for accidents, especially due to higher medical care costs. One another subject,truck drivers should get full social benefits at age 62, their spouse should get 80% too at age 62, even if she/he is older than their spouse. Truck driving is dangerous, careless drivers, drunks, crazies, doing dangerous things on the road.
    If, that driver has worked 20 years or more,he/she should have the right to retire in full at age 62. They deal daily with weather hazards, un-safe truck parking areas, thieves, unhealthy work conditions ie: robbers, not being able to excercize, heart conditions,diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, stress of being on time with their load,and of missing g weddings, graduations, funerals, and missing out on life while being on the road. truck drivers are often found dead in their trucks from heart problems, stroke, and other “natural causes”, but life insurance on truck drivers only covers accidents, not natural causes, and that needs to change too,insurance should cover both,and just high stress levels. Not all drivers will do this, but some will.
    I want to see a bill that mandates that social security, will be given at age 62 to all truck drivers, not covered by a company pension,(having an IRA or 401k won’t count as a pension, because it isn’t).
    Automation is coming to replace drivers, foreign drivers are coming in and truck drivers deserve a good retirement, closer to $3,000 a month for themselves at retirment age 62 or older. Maybe if, getting all of their social security benefits at age 62 or 63, will prompt more people to go into truck driving and stay 20 years. There was no truck driver shortage when drivers had pensions or could qualify social security at age 62 at 80% or higher. To get people to go into trucking and stay for years, they need incentive, and sign-on bonuses will not do it! That is just a gimmick, it is insulting to most truck driver,you don’t the lump sum because taxes on lump sum bonuses will eat it up. It is paid out as “miles” over a few years, and that is bull puckey. Let’s get going on passing a bill like this, that bill allowing truck drivers with 20 plus driving years to retire at full benefits at age 62, needs to cover all drivers, who have 20 years or more worked as a Truck driver now.

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The Nation

Drivewyze adds new mountain corridor safety notification service

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With the mountain alerts, Drivewyze subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections, and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. (Courtesy: DRIVEWYZE)

GOLDEN, Colo. — Drivewyze has added to its Drivewyze Safety Notifications service with the launching of mountain corridor safety alerts.

The new service, free to current Drivewyze customers, was released in conjunction with a Colorado Department of Transportation’s news conference that launched its “The Mountain Rules” truck safety campaign.

The conference was held Tuesday near the Mount Vernon Canyon runaway truck ramp, near Golden.

“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.  “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission – to get everyone home safely and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”

“I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors,” said Col. Matthew Packard of the Colorado State Patrol. “Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.”

With the alerts, Drivewyze subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps. Colorado is Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety Notifications package, with 22 more states to follow by the end of August.

According to Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze, Colorado’s I-70 west, which goes from Vail Pass from the west, through Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158) to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east, represents 60 miles of difficult driving.

“It’s a challenge for truck drivers, with steep grades and heavy traffic, especially for those new to mountain driving,” Mofford said. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”

I-70 is known as having one of the country’s most difficult passes for truck drivers. A runaway truck in April slammed into stopped traffic near Lakewood, killing four people. Other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route. The Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp along westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months.

“The goal is to not have to use the ramps at all, by having drivers better prepared,” Mofford said. “Our alerts will keep safety front and center and prompt drivers to check their brakes, allowing them to cool down, and remind them to downshift to a lower gear.”

In addition to I-70, Drivewyze is providing alerts for Rabbit Ears Pass, Loveland Pass, Monarch Pass, Slickrock Pass, Wolf Creek Pass and Coal Bank Pass.

The mountain corridor alerts join two other Drivewyze Safety Notifications that were introduced last month. Rollover alerts, on targeted exit ramps and curves, are geofenced at 500 locations in 32 states, while l,500 low-bridge warnings are given to drivers approaching bridges in the United States, with 300 more just added on Canadian roadways.

Both the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass application, and the Drivewyze Safety Notifications service, are available to carriers on supported ELDs and other in-cab devices, through the Drivewyze partner network. Subscribers interested in deploying the Drivewyze safety notifications service should contact their ELD or in-cab device provider, or their Drivewyze customer success manager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

CDL Meals offering special promotion for driver appreciation week

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CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean that focuses on nutritious offerings for truck drivers, is offering a special promotion to help transportation companies celebrate National Driver Appreciation Week.

For National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), fleet operators can purchase discounted meals and receive free Hot Logic heating bags.

There is a minimum purchase of 50 meals required to receive the free bag. Purchases of 100 meals receive two free bags.

Companies can also purchase gift cards for drivers to buy meals at their convenience. Orders are being taken through August 30.

The annual NTDAW, taking place this year September 8-14 commemorates and honors all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment to one of the country’s most demanding jobs.

“We are proud to support drivers across the country with delicious food that encourages better health,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “This special promotion gives fleets a chance to support their drivers with something that’s good for them, too.”

The nature of truck driving can also lend itself to a less than healthy lifestyle, which is why CDL Meals focuses solely on this underserved profession.

CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. The meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed any time. Along with the meals, CDL provides a driver wellness education booklet with tips and suggestions to improve your health with easy lifestyle changes. Meals are $10 each for purchases up to 100 meals, with cost savings when purchasing more than 150 meals.

CDL Meals was launched earlier this year and was a beneficial part of the healthful transformation for Danny Jewell, 2018 Owner/Operator of the Year, who lost more than 25 pounds with the meal plan and coaching from Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer.

With more than 50 years on the road and 6 million miles without an incident, Jewell was recognized for his professionalism and commitment to the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Safety council says motor vehicle deaths in 2019 projected to go below 40,000

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The estimate for 2019 caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

ITASCA, Ill. — Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the four-year upward trend in motor vehicle deaths that began in 2015 is ebbing with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2019 dropping 3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2018.

An estimated 18,580 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June of this year, compared to the council’s revised estimate of 19,060 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2018 six-month projections.

The estimate caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s.

A total of 118,315 people died on the roadways between 2015 and 2017, and an estimated 40,000 additional people perished last year.

However, drivers still face the same fatality risk this year as they did when fatalities were eclipsing 40,000 annually, because the estimated annual rate of deaths per miles driven has remained stable – NSC estimates 1.2 deaths per every million vehicle miles traveled, unchanged from 2018 rates.

“While the numbers indicate a slight improvement, the rate of deaths remains stagnant, and 18,580 deaths so far this year is unacceptable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept death as the price of mobility. We urge all drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively.”

The council’s early estimates indicate significant progress in some states. In the first half of this year, several states have experienced at least a 10% percent drop in motor vehicle deaths, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah. A sample of states with increases through the first six months include Kentucky (6%), Hawaii (20%), Oregon (6%) and New Mexico (15%).

A complete list of state results is available here.

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. Visit nsc.org for defensive driving tips.
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Visit DriveitHOME.org for resources.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Visit MyCarDoesWhat.org for information.
  • Fix recalls immediately. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
  • Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
  • Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of more than 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050. Visit nsc.org/roadtozero to join.

The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Supplemental estimate information can be found here.

The NSC defines “serious” injuries as those requiring medical attention.

The National Safety Council uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics – an arm of the CDC – when calculating its estimates, because these data are the most comprehensive and inclusive numbers available.

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