Steven A. Morrison
Thomas M. Corsi, Michael S. Dukakis (Michael Stanley) 1933-
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
College of Arts and Sciences. Law, Policy, and Society Program.
Fatalities, Federal, Financial Responsibility, Motor Carrier, Policy, Safety
Law | Law and Society | Public Policy
Each year about 5,000 fatal, 50,000 injury and 100,000 property-damage crashes involve large trucks resulting in social costs exceeding $32 billion. Social costs for fatal crashes are large ($6 to $8 million per crash) yet rare (two to three occurrences per 100 million miles traveled). Federally-mandated liability insurance requirements established in 1983 intend to motivate safety and ensure adequate compensation for damages; hence scrutiny of the $750,000 minimum insurance requirement is warranted and timely.
Commercial motor vehicle safety policy is designed to reduce losses--particularly the loss of life--while addressing issues of equity and efficiency. Each year more than 1,000 federal employees and $550 million are dedicated to implementing policy ensuring large truck safety. Regulations combined with post-crash liability impact safety decision-making.
My hypothesis is that firms that boost their financial commitments to reduce crash risk will experience fewer crashes. I use a unique panel data set to test this hypothesis. The data follow 2,100 firms from 1998-2004 and include operational and financial information, crash information and government safety measures for individual motor carriers. Using well-defined motor carrier behavioral models, multivariate econometric analysis provides explanation of variability in crashes using financial and operating characteristics.
Strong evidence supports clear recommendations for federal motor carrier safety policy. These recommendations are: 1) raise the minimum insurance requirement; and, 2) improve the measurement of management safety practices. For the largest portion of the trucking industry, the general freight truckload sector, I found that increases in insurance premiums and claims paid yield decreased fatal crash rates in the future. This evidence suggests that an increase in the minimum insurance requirement will improve safety and reduce the gap between the cost of crashes borne by injured parties and the motor carrier. Safety scores for drivers and vehicles are closely related to crashes, yet an effective management safety score is absent. An accurate and widely-available management safety score would also improve safety, equity and efficiency.
Robert D. Pritchard
Pritchard, Robert D., "Federal motor carrier safety policy: reducing fatalities with increased financial responsibility" (2010). Law, Policy, and Society Dissertations. Paper 26. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20002803
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