When “Protecting” Drivers is Actually Harmful

The Senate currently is considering the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015, which is perhaps the most disingenuously named bill in our nation’s history. In addition to not being comprehensive, the bill actually may put policies in place that will endanger citizens rather than actually protecting them.

As a result of intense lobbying from the trucking industry and a cadre of politicians who seem more willing to cater to business interests than safeguarding the people who voted them into office, the current version of the controversial bill would strip away many protections for drivers while shielding irresponsible truckers and trucking companies.

In addition to lowering the minimum age from 21 to 18 in order to secure a commercial driver’s license, which we previously highlighted here, the proposed bill would prevent accident victims or other members of the public from accessing information on safety violations committed by trucking companies. This is an important dynamic since accident victims would not be able to present a trucking company’s safety history if a lawsuit results from an injury crash.

Other troubling aspects of the proposed bill include:

  • Allowing trucking companies to remove accident reports from their records when another motorist is partially at fault. This, too, would prevent accident victims from presenting such reports in civil trials.
  • Lowering the hiring standards for trucking companies, which will put countless inexperienced truck drivers on the road.
  • Maintaining the $750,000 minimum insurance required for trucking companies, which has been the same since the 1980s and has been discussed here before.
  • Expanding the amount of time that truck drivers are allowed to operate their tractor-trailers, semis and other big rigs, creating dangerous situations where truckers are operating their vehicles when they should be getting some rest.

Despite these disheartening elements of the proposed bill, there is still hope since the Senate could strip away these harmful provisions before sending the legislation to the President for his signature. Rather than shielding corporate interests at the expense of protecting the public, let’s hope that the Senate does the right thing. Fortunately, we can all reach out to the senators from our states who are considering this bill and let them know that the current version needs some serious work. Click here for contact information.