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Is Congress Addressing Truck Accident Safety Issues in the Infrastructure Bill?

There have been extensive national discussions over the past several years about the need for Congress to pass an infrastructure bill that will address the crumbling systems and facilities that are supposed to support the running of the country. After much political wrangling, there are currently two bills making their way through the United States legislative branches, one in the House and the other in the Senate. The Senate recently passed their version of the bill. The bill includes $550 billion in new federal investments in America's infrastructure over a five-year period, providing resources to rebuild and repair electrical grids, bridges, roads, and more.

As is the case in most bills that go through the process, there are differences between the recently passed Senate version and the version the House is currently debating. Of great concern for safety advocates are the major gaps in the Senate version that would address safety issues for commercial truck drivers and those they share the nation’s roads with. Steps that should be included to help stop the high number of truck accidents have been removed.

Commercial Motor Carriers Liability Insurance

The majority of drivers in the country are required to carry some amount of vehicle liability insurance to cover damages. While the minimum amounts for passenger vehicles are set by the state the owner lives in, it is the federal government that sets the minimum amount of liability insurance for commercial motor carriers.

That amount is currently set at $750,000 and has been that amount since 1980. There has been no increase ever implemented in the past four decades, despite the skyrocketing costs of medical treatment and other expenses associated with damages a truck accident victim may pursue.

In the House’s version of the infrastructure bill, there is a proposed increase to $2 million, however, the Senate removed this provision from the version they just approved.

Truck Parking Crisis

The Senate version also removed any federal funding that would have helped with the current truck parking crisis that many commercial truck drivers are facing. Having a safe place to park is critical for truck drivers who need to pull over and park their trucks in order to rest. With no place to stop and rest, there is a very real danger the truck driver could begin to show signs of fatigued driving and cause a truck crash.

Multiple surveys of truck drivers reveal that 90 percent of truck drivers have a difficult time finding a safe and available location to park their rigs at night. More than 75 percent say they regularly have issues with finding a safe place to park when they need to stop and rest during the day.

A report published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) determined that there are only 300,000 parking spots in the continental U.S. for commercial truckers to safely park their vehicles, with 272,000 at private truck stops and 36,000 at public rest areas.

This leaves many truckers either parking their vehicles in unauthorized areas or staying behind the wheel despite their fatigue. Either choice creates a potentially deadly hazard for both truckers and other commuters.

Contact a Virginia Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, you are no doubt facing exorbitant medical bills, loss of income, and other losses. A Virginia truck accident attorney from Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn can evaluate your case and determine what legal recourse you may have.

Truck accident cases can be complex and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many truck accident victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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