Connecticut House OKs truck crash bill

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The Connecticut House of Representatives gave final approval last week to a bill that toughens state laws governing insurance coverage for trucking companies. The bill, which passed 130-11 on Thursday, Oct. 27, stems from a fiery 20-vehicle crash in Avon that killed four people last July.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell, appearing before the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, told attendees she will sign the bill into law. Lawmakers estimate that about 9,000 businesses in the state will be affected.

The bill creates a new Class D felony for the owner of a commercial vehicle who knowingly and willfully operates it without insurance. Such a crime is punishable by up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Commercial vehicle owners also must file evidence of insurance with the state Department of Motor Vehicles at least every six months. The House defeated an amendment that would have focused the new law only on heavier trucks, such as interstate trucks with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or more.

Last month, the Avon crash survivors learned the owner of the dump truck that caused the wreck did not have liability insurance for that vehicle; court documents indicated that American Crushing and Recycling of Bloomfield suspended coverage in January. The company has insisted, through an attorney, that its policy was in effect at the time of the crash.