For years now, the trucking industry has been the target of so-called “nuclear verdicts” in court rulings. Nuclear verdicts are when traffic accidents occur and the courts rule in favor of the car driver, and seek the maximum monetary fines or compensation from trucking companies. However, there is growing evidence that distracted car drivers are a growing cause of traffic accidents, giving the trucking industry more footing in court cases, saving carriers from hundreds of thousands of dollars to tens of millions.
From 2006 to 2019, the American Transport Research Institute (ATRI) studies traffic accidents. In the first five years of data, ATRI noticed there were 26 cases where nuclear verdicts of over $10 million were awarded. However, in the last five years (2014 to 2019), ATRI pointed out that there were 300 such verdicts. The drastic increase indicated a negative perception of the trucking industry, but that was a subjective conclusion. The more tangible impact was that carriers that were on the receiving end of nuclear verdicts lost a lot of money and had their insurance premiums raised. The larger impact was that insurance companies started raising their base premiums in a sector where insurance was already high.
Distracted Car Drivers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people are killed annually because of distracted driving. Distracted driving includes everything from listening to music while not paying attention to the road, driving while texting, taking phone calls while on the highway, and really anything that can keep a driver from paying attention to other vehicles, pedestrians, and road hazards. Unfortunately, distracted driving verdicts result in fines of only a few hundred dollars, exposing a big disparity between how car drivers and truck drivers are treated. Yet the number of distracted driving cases is on the rise, giving carriers and owner-operators a better defense in court cases. By contrast, truck drivers go through extensive safety training and have to adhere to protocols that average car drivers do not. Additionally, ELDs and other equipment assist driver safety to prevent accidents as much as possible. The same cannot be said for the average car driver, who can text, call, or drive while distracted with little to no repercussions.
The results of a September 2022 survey from Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF), the perception of trucking since the pandemic has drastically shifted. Truckers are perceived as essential workers. They kept shelves stocked in grocery stores and delivered goods while most of the country was under lockdown. 75% rated the trucking industry’s safety record as good or excellent. More importantly, 78% believe that the trucking industry has higher safety standards than in other sectors, not to mention private citizens. Ultimately, the trucking industry has a favorable impression among people, hovering around 87%.
Pushing for a Change
ATRI’s Senior Vice President, Dan Murray, pointed out that over 70% of traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles and cars are the fault of the car drivers. This has raised the point that distracted drivers are a rising threat to truck drivers, as well as others people on the road. Carriers and industry representatives agree that there needs to be a change in how courts handle crashes and traffic accident cases where trucking companies are fined heavily while the distracted drivers – who are usually found to be at fault – receive virtually no penalties whatsoever. Insurance companies also need to adjust premiums for trucking companies to make them more affordable. After all, truck drivers have to adhere to higher safety standards and regulations, yet end up paying more for insurance when they are less likely to be at fault for crashes and accidents.
At Single Point Capital we offer a deferred insurance down payment program for clients who take advantage of our factoring services. We can defer up to 50% of your insurance down payment, so you can run and grow your trucking company without experiencing a strain on finances. Our 3-step process is easy, and the balance owed is repaid from a percentage of factored invoices, allowing you to retain more revenue. If you want to learn more about deferred insurance payments, contact the team at Single Point Capital today.