Truck Safety Act
Senator Cory Booker
Congressional Record: 114th Congress
July 16, 2015
Mr. BOOKER. Mr. President, trucking is critical to the movement of goods to consumers across the country. The trucking industry is a vital part of our economy. But we must also strive to ensure that goods are moved as safely as possible.
Each year, nearly 4,000 lives are lost due to truck crashes on our Nation's highways. Research by the National Transportation Safety Board has shown that many of these crashes could have been prevented. We owe it to the individuals and families affected by these tragedies to take every step possible to reduce the risks and prevent needless crashes.
That is why I have introduced the Truck Safety Act of 2015, legislation that will modernize our truck safety standards and embrace new technologies that can help reduce crashes across the country.
This legislation includes a provision to require collision-avoidance technologies in commercial vehicles involved in interstate commerce. Many of the fatalities that occur today are the result of rear-end collisions that could have been prevented with current technology. The technology can detect an impending collision or unsafe lane departure and automatically apply corrective action if a human operator is unable to do so. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been working on this issue for several years and many companies have adopted these technologies. It is far past time that these lifesaving devices were required in all new trucks.
This legislation also updates the minimum liability insurance for trucking companies in order to ensure victims of crashes are able to fully recover the cost of their damages. In a report to Congress, the Department of Transportation found compelling evidence to reevaluate the current minimums. In some crashes, the costs to the victims far exceed the current minimum of $750,000. This can leave the victim uncompensated for damages. Minimum insurance levels have not been raised since the 1980s, so my legislation requires an immediate increase to the trucking minimum insurance level, requires annual adjustment for inflation, and requires the Department of Transportation to evaluate whether minimum insurance levels need to be increased further.
Another provision in this legislation would allow the Secretary to require trucking employers to compensate drivers for time spent on duty but not driving. Currently, drivers are compensated for miles driven, not hours worked. This sets up an unsafe incentive structure in which drivers are penalized for taking the rest they need in order to drive safely. Drivers in this country play a critical role in ensuring Americans get the products they rely on for everyday life. They should not be forced to choose between resting to ensure their safety and feeding their families at home.
The Truck Safety Act is an important step to protect our truck drivers, individuals, and families traveling on our Nation's highways. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation that will improve the lives of New Jerseyans and individuals across the country.
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