FMCSA Crash Reporting Expansions

This year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced plans to expand crash types as well as reporting guidelines. According to carriers, owner-operators, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the new reporting guidelines do little to protect drivers and their employers and presume guilt on the part of truck drivers unless sufficient evidence is provided. The bigger picture is that the new crash list may lead to more nuclear verdicts and higher insurance premiums for the trucking industry.

The Crash Preventability Determination Program

The new Crash Preventability Determination Program, or CPDP, is designed to help drivers and the FMCSA understand the difference between accidents where the driver is at fault versus incidents where others are at fault, as well as accidents that were nonpreventable. The expanded categories include new zones for impact, degrees of damage sustained, and more information that must be gathered in order to accurately report accidents.

Unnecessary Responsibilities for Truck Drivers

There is no doubt that truck drivers already have a lot of responsibilities. In addition to paying attention to the road and monitoring their shipments, they much follow federal guidelines, understand the ins and outs of the technology they use to navigate, pay attention to their ELDs and hours of service, and any other new skill requirements that come down the line. One of the biggest issues with the new crash reporting system is that it places even greater responsibility on drivers in situations that normally require specialists. The CPDP requires carriers to wait 90 days for a ruling on a submitted report. If a ruling is outstanding due to incomplete information or a backlog in the system, it could threaten the ability of smaller carriers to do business. But why would reports have incomplete information? When an accident occurs, truck drivers are required to submit crash reports. This means the truck driver – on top of their day-to-day responsibilities – needs to stop driving and assume the role of an accident inspector. A driver needs to be part insurance adjuster, part forensics specialist, and understand the information that the FMCSA wants to see on the submitted form.

Until Proven Innocent?

The major problem with the new accident categories is that they do very little to protect drivers, according to the OOIDA. That leaves truck drivers and carriers exposed to more nuclear verdicts in accident decisions, when in reality professionals who understand the system should be submitting reports instead of placing the onus on drivers. The end results – unless drivers know how to navigate the CPDP – are unfavorable verdicts, a loss of money and employees, and skyrocketing insurance premiums. If technology integrated into trucks advances to record accidents, carriers may not have to rely on drivers or 90-day waiting periods, but until then, carriers, and especially smaller trucking companies, are financially and legally vulnerable.

Nuclear Verdicts and Trucking Insurance

Nuclear verdicts in the trucking industry have become increasingly common, and it’s having a significant impact on insurance rates. These large jury awards are often awarded to plaintiffs who have been injured due to the negligence of commercial drivers or trucking companies. This kind of award can be devastating for an organization, as it can result in hefty fines, lost business opportunities, and skyrocketing insurance premiums. As such, it is important for any company that transports goods via trucks to remain aware of their legal obligations and take steps to minimize risk. By taking proactive measures such as providing comprehensive driver training programs and maintaining vehicles according to best practices, organizations can reduce their exposure to nuclear verdicts and help keep insurance costs under control. Additionally, they should look into purchasing additional insurance coverage to protect their business against large awards. In this way, trucking companies can ensure that they are adequately protected and prepared for any kind of future legal action. It is also essential to remain up to date on federal regulations regarding trucking operations. Companies must adhere to the rules established by the DOT in order to avoid potential liability issues. They should also have protocols in place that address any safety or compliance concerns that may arise. Finally, trucking companies should work with experienced legal counsel to ensure they are taking the right steps to protect their business from potential nuclear verdicts.

Get the Coverage You Need

At Single Point Capital, we provide insurance coverage to protect new, small, and medium-sized trucking companies. From vehicles to drivers, loads, and more, we can give you the best rates and offer the guidance you need to keep your premiums low. Contact our team today to learn more.