Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Joint Resolution Authorizing a Study of Motor Vehicle Insurance

May 22, 1968

Secretary Boyd, Chairman Magnuson, Chairman Staggers, distinguished Members of Congress, Miss Furness, ladies and gentlemen:

The automobile has changed the face and changed the character of our country. It has brought farms and factories and beaches and mountains closer to the cities. It has given jobs and new convenience to millions of our people. For far too many of our citizens each year, however, it is the instrument of a great deal of suffering and loss to them.

Less than 2 years ago, we acted to try to make cars and highways safer. We passed what were called the traffic safety and highway safety acts of 1966.

We take another forward step today, with the automobile insurance study resolution. It is the first effort of the Federal Government to work for the consumer in this matter of daily concern to every American.

Auto insurance is important, not only to the 100 million Americans who drive autos, but to every passenger and to every pedestrian.

In my State of the Union and consumer messages to Congress, I have called for the first comprehensive study of the automobile insurance system. The resolution authorizing this study is before us here today. Now, we are going to find out:

--why insurance premiums have jumped so suddenly; they are up 44 percent in the last 10 years;

--why thousands of policy holders are left helpless when insurance companies fail, as at least 80 have done since 1961;

--why the courtrooms are jammed with auto liability suits, with delays in some places of almost 5 years before they can come to trial;

--why equal access to auto insurance is not available to all Americans; and

--why compensation of accident victims is often unequal and unfair.

These are difficult questions. There is little of the dramatic in them. Their answers will not come easily or quickly. But the step we are taking today is a beginning and we are moving forward.

Some day, history and every American will thank the farsighted and compassionate Members of Congress, like Senator Magnuson, and Congressman Staggers, and Congressman Moss, and many others who have launched this newest advance in protection for the American consumer.

Of course, I think history will long remember and treat kindly Miss Furness for coming here and assuming the leadership in the executive department for what we are doing.

Note: The President spoke at 11:46 a.m. in the Fish Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Alan S. Boyd, Secretary of Transportation, Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Representative Harley O. Staggers of West Virginia, Chairman of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, and Betty Furness, Special Assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs. At the close of his remarks he referred to Representative John E. Moss of California, member of the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.

As enacted, the joint resolution (SJ. Res. 129) is Public Law 90-313 (82 Stat. 126).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Joint Resolution Authorizing a Study of Motor Vehicle Insurance Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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