October 19, 2013 6:00 PM, EDT

TCA Considers Insurance, Driver Coercion Issues

ORLANDO, Fla. — Officials with the Truckload Carriers Association said they are evaluating how to address potential federal government changes to insurance limits, the issue of driver coercion and expanding the interstate driver corps to include 18-to-21 year olds.

Chris Burruss, president of the Truckload Carriers Association, said proposals to raise minimum insurance standards to at least $4 million from $750,000 could cause problems. A bill to raise insurance miminums was introduced in the House in July.

 “The concern is that whatever becomes the minimum is where the judgments are going,” Burruss said, referring to damage awards.

He and TCA Chairman Tom Kretsinger spoke here with Transport Topics on Oct 19.

Kretsinger, president of American Central Transport, based in Liberty, Mo., said driver coercion issue is a little-known provision in last year’s MAP-21 transportation funding law, which requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to address that issue in a rulemaking proposal.

Kretsinger said TCA has to determine how to respond.

“We certainly know not to abuse our drivers,” said Kretsinger.

Meanwhile, TCA and other groups tried before, but failed, to convince FMCSA to allow those younger truck drivers.

Currently, states can decide individually whether to allow drivers under 21 to operate heavy trucks.

TCA is hoping to refine its strategy between now and its March annual meeting, focusing on more intensive training. “The goal is the same as in 2000,” Burruss said. “We can’t find qualified drivers.”