Press Release: Safe Streets Coalition Slams HB 19 for Making Roads More Dangerous
Proposed legislation up Thursday on the floor would limit liability for operators of commercial vehicles, put lives at risk
For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 29th, 2021
More information contact: Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, 214-244-4709
AUSTIN, Texas -- A bill that the state House will hear Thursday could put millions of Texans at risk on the road. House Bill 19, introduced by Rep. Jeff Leach, would alter state laws concerning citizens’ rights following a crash with a commercial vehicle. The bill would essentially shield careless corporations from the consequences of their actions when they put fleets of commercial vehicles on the roads.
Texas owns the dubious distinction of having more large truck crashes than any other state in the nation in each of the last four years. In 2019, Texas had more large truck crashes than the neighboring states of Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi, Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico combined. The number of truck crashes in Texas increased 27 percent from 2016 to 2019. Texas tops other states in number of truck wreck fatalities (2019): Texas had 685 fatalities. Next closest was California at 463 and Florida at 282.Texas has had the most large truck crashes in the country for the last five years running, from 2016-2020.
Bay Scoggin, who helped organize a Safe Streets Webinar as director of the consumer advocacy organization TexPIRG, added that this bill would pervert the incentives designed to keep companies accountable, “Litigation is consumers’ last resort, but it’s currently our most important deterrent to deadly negligence and wrongdoing by commercial vehicle companies.”
“Every Texan has grave concerns about HB 19’s effect on Texas families, especially working families who can least bear the costs of a horrible truck crash,” stated Luis Figueroa, Legislative and Policy Director for Every Texan, formerly CPPP.
Adrian Shelley, Director of Public Citizen Texas, added, “This bill turns its back on the hundreds of Texas families who experience tragedy in commercial truck accidents each year. It limits corporate liability and throws roadblocks into the recovery process for grieving families. Texas has a series truck crash problem, but HB 19 is far from a solution.”
Ware Wendell, Executive Director of Texas Watch, stated, “Texas already has the most dangerous roads in the nation. This legislation will only put all of us at greater threat. We need to improve safety, not give careless corporations less incentive to follow the rules of the road.”
TexPIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. TexPIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being.
TexPIRG’s role is to find common ground around the commonsense solutions that will make our future healthier, safer and more secure. We are part of a federation of Public Interest Research Groups in 25 states. Learn more at www.texpirg.org.