WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives has passed an amendment that aims to block an increase to minimum levels of financial responsibility for commercial motor vehicle carriers.
The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) supported the measure, which Rep. Steve Daines and Rep. Sam Graves introduced as an amendment to the fiscal year 2015 transportation appropriations bill.
In April, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a study mandated by MAP-21 that made recommendations on significant increases to current minimum insurance levels for truck and bus carriers. According to NSTA, the study did not review any school bus crash data or consult with any passenger insurance carriers. Upon release of the study, FMCSA announced its plans to pursue a high-priority rulemaking proceeding to increase insurance limits.
"The FMCSA study did not even analyze school bus safety data, let alone demonstrate a link between increased insurance levels and better school bus safety,” NSTA President Tim Flood said. “Given the school bus industry's sterling safety record year after year … NSTA does not believe an increase in minimum insurance limits is warranted. The amendment offered by Congressmen Daines and Graves, when enacted into law, will stop the administration's pursuit of massive increases that would be very damaging to the industry and potentially decrease safety by reducing the availability of school bus service across the nation."
NSTA joined other transportation groups, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the United Motorcoach Association and the American Bus Association, in writing a letter in support of the amendment to all House offices. NSTA also urged its members on Tuesday to call their representatives and ask them to support the measure.
The efforts appear to have paid off: The House passed the amendment on Tuesday afternoon by a narrow margin, 214-212.
“The small businesses that make up the majority of the truck and bus industries not only provide jobs for thousands of Americans, they play an important role in moving goods and people and supporting our economy,” Rep. Daines said. “It flies in the face of common sense to put people’s livelihoods at risk without any evidence that it would improve the safety of our roads or better meet the needs of catastrophic accident victims. I’m glad the House joined me in supporting this measure to protect small businesses and the jobs they provide.”