Direct-Action Rule Addressed in New Georgia Bill

yellow semi with white trailer

A legislative push is unfolding at the Georgia statehouse in response to a special panel’s recommendations aimed at addressing the concerns of truck drivers in the state. Over a dozen state senators are sponsoring a bill seeking to repeal Georgia’s direct-action statute, a topic emphasized by a legislative panel investigating factors contributing to a truck driver shortage.

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King highlighted Georgia’s unique direct-action law, allowing plaintiffs to take direct legal action against responsible insurance companies.

“Georgia does not allow any insurer to be named as a defendant in any other business except trucking,” King said. “Only the trucking industry is subject to these kinds of requirements.”

The proposed Senate Bill 426, sponsored by Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, seeks to eliminate this law, imposing limits on lawsuits related to truck-related incidents. Exceptions would apply, such as instances involving trucking operations in bankruptcy.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch expressed confidence in the bill’s approval, citing concerns over rising insurance costs for truck drivers affecting the state’s competitiveness.

“Georgia is at a competitive disadvantage … because of the cost of their insurance here in Georgia,” he said.

The legislation is set to begin consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Senate Study Committee on Truck Driver Shortages met four times in the lead up to the regular session. They were tasked with addressing how this issue can affect the entire supply chain. They were also charged with addressing an “instructional opportunity gap” in training new drivers.

The Owner Operators Independent Association (OOIDA) rejects the notion that there is a shortage of CDL drivers.

“The common thread with all these efforts to create new drivers will be incentives from taxpayers,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA.

He added that standards need to be developed for measuring performance – leading to safe drivers staying on the job.

“If the standards are not met, the money must be paid back,” Spencer said.

Recommendations from the Senate Study Committee included streamlining insurance application processes, supporting veterans in obtaining commercial driver’s licenses, enhancing education on trucking career opportunities for young adults, and exploring a CDL training program for inmates nearing release. The committee also emphasized the need for expanded truck parking options, urging collaboration with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The legislative session, scheduled to conclude on March 8, provides an opportunity to implement these recommendations and address issues impacting the trucking industry in Georgia and possibly beyond.



Source: Land Line