A subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill on April 29. Tucked in the pages of the subcommittee draft text of the bill was a provision that would allow 18-wheeler trucks to pull trailers up to 33 feet long, 5 feet longer than what is allowed now:
Section 31111(b)(1)(A) of title 49 is 14 amended by striking ‘‘or of less than 28 feet on a 15 semitrailer or trailer operating in a truck tractor- 16 semitrailer-trailer combination,’’ and inserting ‘‘or, not- 17 withstanding section 31112, of less than 33 feet on a 18 semitrailer or trailer operating in a truck tractor- 19 semitrailer-trailer combination’’ (page 33).
FedEx and other large trucking companies spent a lot of money to get this provision in the bill, according to Bloomberg and the Washington Post.
“This is yet another example of the trucking industry putting potential profits ahead of safety. How many more lives should we sacrifice in the name of more efficient transportation of goods?” said Eric Hageman has won millions for clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against trucking companies.
The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 2 percent, from 3,825 to 3,906 from 2012 to 2013, the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Trucking deaths keep increasing every year, but instead of agreeing to measures which would make our roads safer, the trucking industry wants to put even more dangerous trucks and truck drivers on the road.”
With added danger does not come added responsibility on the part of the trucking companies. Instead, the bill prohibits any funds being used to increase the amount of insurance these businesses need to carry:
SEC. 134. None of the funds made available by this 2 Act may be used to develop, issue, or implement any regulation that increases levels of minimum financial responsibility for transporting passengers or property as in effect 5 on January 1, 2014, under regulations issued pursuant 6 to sections 31138 and 31139 of title 49, United States 7 Code (page 39 of the subcommittee draft text of the bill).
Current law requires the following insurance:
- Freight:–$750,000 – $5,000,000, depending on commodities transported; $300,000 for non-hazardous freight moved only in vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs.
This is not nearly enough to cover medical and other expenses in a case where there is catastrophic injury.
The bill will most likely pass the House because it provides needed funding for fiscal year 2016 for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. It will still have a long way to go to become law, so we are asking readers to contact their Congressmen and Senators and let them know that trailers should not be over 28 feet and that trucking companies should be required to have enough insurance to fully and fairly compensate people injured by a semitrailer.
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Our law firm has a national practice in the area of commercial vehicle accident litigation. Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman, two of our lead lawyers in this area, have won millions for our clients. The firm has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can click here now to contact Fred and Eric.