July 10, 2015 1:00 PM, EDT

Sen. Cory Booker Introduces Trucking Safety Legislation

Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) unveiled legislation July 10 that would increase minimum levels of insurance trucks must carry and called on the secretary of Transportation to mandate that truckers get paid for hours worked.

The Truck Safety Act would raise minimum insurance levels for trucks from $750,000 to $1.5 million. And aside from calling for truck drivers to be compensated for hours worked, it would require the secretary to finalize regulations requiring trucks to have speed limiting devices. The legislation also would require DOT to propose a rule for trucks to have crash avoidance systems, such as forward-collision warning systems and lane departure systems.

“Truck drivers work extremely long days to deliver the goods we depend on and keep our economy moving, but too often this comes at the expense of their safety and the safety of other drivers,” said Booker, the ranking member on the Commerce Committee’s Surface Transportation subpanel. The bill, he added, “will protect all drivers and make our nation’s highways safer.”

“ATA appreciates Sen. Booker’s shared interest in the speedy completion of a rulemaking to mandate the use of speed limiters. ATA first petitioned FMCSA and NHTSA to implement such a requirement almost a decade ago. However, we are concerned by the bill’s language requiring an immediate increase in minimum insurance limits, subsequent increases tied to the CPI, and future rulemakings. None of these steps are supported by existing data or analyses, including FMCSA’s own study,” said Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at the American Trucking Associations.

The legislation has been referred to the Commerce Committee. On July 15, the committee has scheduled a markup of a six-year transportation bill that calls for reforming certain regulations covering the trucking industry.