Recent Posts on Important Safety Advocacy Events & Issues

A lot has been happening recently in our safety advocacy efforts. In order to make that information readily available, but not take up too much space on the Home Page, I will list some of the posts as links here:

  1. To read posts which I wrote as a follow-up to the Underride Roundtable, go here:  Underride Roundtable Follow-up Posts
  2. Media Coverage of the first Truck Underride Roundtable held at IIHS on May 5, 2016 You will find multiple links below reporting on the Underride Roundtable, which took place on May 5, 2016 at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville Center, co-hosted by them with the Truck Safety Coalition, and our family (AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety). . .
  3. With the Underride Roundtable coming up soon, I put together a post with links to just about everything I have ever found out about underride. I hope that someone makes good use of the information provided: Underride Roundtable To Consider Underride Research From Around the Globe.Also included is an Dragon Underride Protector Wish List form which I hope people will fill out and send to me.First photo is of a German researcher. I included an article about his work, with a link to help you translate it from German to English. Just tryin’ to be helpful!
  4. An impressive group headed for the Truck Underride Roundtable at IIHS May 5. I heard from Andy Young today. He will be the Moderator for the Panel Discussion at the Underride Roundtable next week. He is eagerly anticipating that event after just returning from attending  “The Commercial Vehicle” show in Birmingham England. He said that he has lots to share from that experience. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.I am also happy to be able to say that at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, over 65 representatives from the trucking industry, government, safety advocates, engineers, crash reconstructionists, attorneys, and media will be on hand at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center to “sit down at the table together” and discuss and demonstrate truck underride crashes.
  5. May Day: Remembering Our Butterfly Girls–Full of Life, Frozen in Time Last year, I saw this statue of two young girls excited about a butterfly in a jar. It reminded me so much of AnnaLeah and Mary. We decided to get it this year to help us as we remember the 3rd anniversary of our truck crash, on May 4, 2013, which took Mary and AnnaLeah from us.
  6. “Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.” If you are at all concerned about the possibility of you, or someone you know, being in a truck crash, READ this Huffington Post (April 16, 2016) article: Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress. . . April 22, 2016 UPDATE:
  7. What will it take to make a significant reduction in the number of people who die on our roads?  Today, I watched some of  the live streaming of NHTSA’s conference, Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety. As I listened to the various speakers and panel discussions, many thoughts and questions went through my mind. . .
  8. Tell Obama you are standing with us in this: “Family Continues Fight for Trucking Safety” Please read the news report by our local reporter, Brie Handgraaf, about our recent delivery of 20,000+ Vision Zero Petitions to Washington: Family continues fight for trucking safety.Then, contact President Obama online and ask him to read the Vision Zero Petition Book, which was delivered to him at the White House yesterday. . .
  9. Delivery of a Vision Zero Petition to Washington; What I have learned in our battle for safer roads  I  am having a difficult time getting this post started. I shared about it briefly here and Russell Mokhiber graciously shared our story as well. Now I want to give a more in-depth report of our trip to Washington, DC, on March 3 and 4 to deliver over 20,000 Vision Zero Petitions. I want to be able to report that I am hopeful about the impact of our Vision Zero Petition. But I am mostly frustrated and angry. . .
  10. What is justice as it relates to traffic safety? Here is a timely article by Ralph Nader on the topic of Justice. . . 
  11. Witnessed safety defect in action at underride crash tests; this is what snuffed out my daughters’ lives. We have been following the progress of Aaron Kiefer’s development of an innovative side/rear underride guard, which he has designed on his own time when not working as a crash reconstructionist or spending time with his family. So we eagerly welcomed his invitation to help out in his MacGyver-style crash test this past Saturday. (By the way, I am a big fan of MacGyver–watched every episode on DVD with Mary & AnnaLeah.)Aaron wanted to take this opportunity to test his design and find out what changes might be needed to make it a marketable and affordable option for trailer owners to install as a retrofit safety improvement. We joined a crew of his family, friends, and fellow crash reconstructionists at a junkyard in the Triangle area. . .
  12. A second round of side guard crash tests: Just got home from the latest side guard crash test. Watch it here!
  13. Are you aware that Death by Motor Vehicle is one of the leading causes of death?32,719 people died in U.S. traffic crashes in 2013.  Two of those people were my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13). That number decreased to 32,675 deaths in 2014–down by 44, but still far too many deaths in my book. In fact, early estimates show 2015 trending higher.And how many of those deaths were due to truck underride and could have been prevented by a stronger, more effective underride protection system? Underride deaths are preventable and unnecessary and now is the time to take extreme action to reduce these deaths–no matter who caused the crash!I survived a horrific truck crash in which our car was pushed by a truck into the rear of another truck. Backwards. My daughters in the back seat were not so fortunate; they went under the truck and the truck broke their innocent bodies. . .
  14. Do it, President Obama, for We the People of this United States of America! #VisionZero  I firmly believe that, in order to move as a nation Toward a Vision of Zero Crash Deaths, it will take take a commitment to a National Vision Zero Goal and a coordinated endeavor of government, private industry, workers of every skill imaginable, and informed citizens. Anything short of this will be disjointed and less effective, which translates into — not simply unmet project goals but — people dying. It is not an impossible dream but it will require sacrifice and will be well worth the effort. . .


Side Guard Crash Test #3: Successful Prevention of Truck Underride Once Again!

This Saturday morning found us helping out at Aaron Kiefer’s third crash test of his side guard prototype. We managed to complete two crash tests–both successful with no Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI). People in the car would probably have survived.

  1. The first crash resulted in the car bouncing back with no part of the vehicle going under the truck. We concluded that the car being in neutral allowed it to be sent backward after the collision. If the car had been in gear, then it probably would not have done that. Because the hood was bent, we took off the broken front bumper to get the hood up in order to charge the battery on the car to prepare it for the second test.
  2. The second crash still had no PCI but the side guard tore at two points–quite likely from sharp parts of the car where the bumper had been taken off. Because the guard tore, it allowed the car to go under the truck up to the point of the A-pillar–although still leaving the passenger compartment totally intact.

Another successful crash test day with promising results for future underride protection which can be manufactured for trailers and single unit trucks. Aaron envisions kits for retrofitting existing trucks, at around 200 pounds for maybe $1,000/truck.

The biggest failing of the day was my crash test video on the first crash; I held my camera at the wrong angle so you’ll have to tip your head to view it properly (audio also seemed to be muted at some points). Thankfully, my bloopers had no impact on the success of the underride prevention technology!

Photo Album from the Crash Test Day:

Here is a video of the preparation and aftermath analysis:

Side Guard Crash Test May 2016 030 Side Guard Crash Test May 2016 018

Previous crash testing of Aaron Kiefer’s side guard prototype (March and April 2016: Witnessed safety defect in action at underride crash tests; this is what snuffed out my daughters’ lives.

Protected: Virtual Flash Mob to Flood the White House with Vision Zero Message to President Obama

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If Sec. Foxx & DOT are embracing Vision Zero, why do we have to fight to get a strong Underride Rule?

Secretary Anthony Foxx talks here about DOT embracing Vision Zero:

We embrace the vision of Toward Zero Deaths; it provides an overarching and common vision that drives and focuses our efforts to achieve our shared goal to eliminate injuries and fatalities on our roadways. The U.S. Department of Transportation will do our part by aggressively using all tools at our disposal – research into new safety systems and technologies, campaigns to educate the public, investments in infrastructure and collaboration with all of our government partners to support strong laws and data-driven approaches to improve safety.
–U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Is it just meaningless words or are there some teeth to that statement?

If that is really happening, then why do we have to fight so hard to get an Underride Rule which will be as safe as possible? When a preliminary cost/benefit analysis calls lives saved “not significant”, how is that embracing a vision of Toward Zero Deaths?

And why does the deadly problem of tired truckers get left to the mercy of a political tug-of-war? If we truly had Vision Zero as a NATIONAL goal, these things would get addressed more effectively.

After our truck underride crash, as I engaged in safety advocacy efforts — calling, emailing, and meeting with legislators — I quickly realized that all too-often it was 2 steps forward 3 steps backward. I began to ask, “Why is it so difficult to get anything done to save lives?”and “Why isn’t the best possible protection being adopted?”

I learned that one of the biggest obstacles was that public policy and more specifically DOT rulemaking is impacted by a requirement for cost/benefit analysis which tips the scale in the favor of industry lobby and the almighty dollar and makes a mockery out of the word safety. Human life becomes devalued in the process when a safety measure is rejected because it “may not have significant safety consequence.”

This is illustrated in the history of Federal rulemaking on truck underride guards outlined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it was indicated that in

1974: US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.

I determined to battle such an inconceivable, incomprehensible, and unconscionable attitude and determined to find a better way to protect travelers on the road. After talking with numerous engineers who either were convinced that safer underride guards could be made or had already designed ones, I also discovered a global movement that calls for the reduction of crash deaths and serious injuries: Vision Zero – An ethical approach to safety and mobility.

That is when we launched the Vision Zero Petition to call for a paradigm shift in this country’s approach to traffic safety. Yes, there are cities and communities and organizations here and there across the country working on Vision Zero. But I am calling for us to unite as a nation and make it a priority to work together in a collaborative effort to reduce crash deaths.

Do it, President Obama, for We the People of this United States of America! #VisionZero

Here is our book with over 20,000 signatures which we delivered–in print–to President Obama in March. Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition And he still has not responded to our petition.

Adopt a Vision Zero Policy 047

Adopt a Vision Zero goal and sign an Executive Order to Save Lives Not Dollars

Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

So WHY is it that this country does not have a National Vision Zero Goal?

In my humble opinion, a multitude of traffic safety issues including tired trucker tragedies and seat back failure fatalities could be aggressively and comprehensively addressed with the granting of our AnnaLeah & Mary Vision Zero Petition Requests to President Obama and Secretary Foxx:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order which would pave the way for a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy.

So WHY is it that this country does not have a National Vision Zero Goal? And don’t tell me that DOT embraces Toward Zero Deaths and that that is the same as what I am calling for!!!

Vision Zero Goal11wjd2

See Lou Lombardo’s latest email:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Crash victims demand safety
1..Media educates the public.  Watch video
Progressive legislators provides pressure.  See letters

  1. Reporters investigate.

  1. Auto Safety Advocates Build the Case

It is now up to citizens to voice their views as voters and consumers.

The tragedies will continue until the pressure builds to ends these senseless deaths and injuries.


Please read the news report by our local reporter, Brie Handgraaf, about our recent delivery of 20,000+ Vision Zero Petitions to Washington: Family continues fight for trucking safety. The story is also told by Care 2: Mom Continues to Fight for Truck Safety After Daughters’ Tragic Death.

If you have not already signed the petition, it will remain open until a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy is adopted. So sign here: Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy. Then share the petition with someone who has not yet heard about it.

Then, contact President Obama online and ask him to read the Vision Zero Petition Book, which was delivered to him at the White House yesterday.

(Note: When the Contact Form asks you for a Subject, click on Transportation.)

Letter to President Obama from the Karth Family

Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition

LIKE this law firm’s facebook page & they will donate $2 to AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety (May only)

Here is a simple way to help AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety. During May, LIKE this law firm’s page: For each LIKE, Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy – Cleveland, Ohio will donate $2 to ALMFTS (up to $1,500). We could really use this for our truck safety/underride efforts.

Please LIKE & then SHARE! Thanks!

ALMFTS logo on truck

Reflections from a bereaved dad on the Underride Roundtable & what that means for rulemaking

Jerry Karth submitted some additional comments on the proposed underride rule–with reflections on what was learned through the Underride Roundtable. These comments have now been posted on the Federal Register: Additional Comments on Underride Rulemaking by Jerry Karth, May 19, 2016

He included the following important points:

After participating in the Underride Roundtable, I would like to offer these additional comments (also attached as pdf with clickable links):

1. When the Karth family petitioned Secretary Foxx on May 5, 2014, we requested an upgrade in rear underride guards. At the time, we requested that the U.S. guards meet or exceed the Canadian standard. Since that time, having done extensive online research, we have come in contact with researchers who have shown that much more is possible given existing or proposed underride research.

2. One of the questions raised at the Underride Roundtable was whether underride protection could be produced to prevent underride at higher speeds. In the Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation of the NPRM, NHTSA requested information about underride guard crash tests at higher speeds (than the 35 mph currently being proposed). In fact, underride research has been conducted for decades which has demonstrated that it is possible to prevent underride crashes at higher speeds. It is research which has been available and known to regulators and the industry. For example, the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Australia tested energy-absorbing guards to 75 km/h or 47 mph in the early 1990s.

3. The image of a MUARC energy-absorbing underride guard can be seen in the attachment.

4. The U.S. final underride rule should, at minimum, copy the new Australian/New Zealand proposed rule published in April 2016 as the next underride guard rule rather than the present Canadian rule which is 11 years old. The Australian rule mentions test speeds under the heading Test Requirements on p. 60, Clause G7.3: “Current vehicle crashworthiness technology indicates that occupants will not suffer serous injury in an equivalent frontal impact speed of up to around 64 km/h into a deformable barrier if the car is a modern five star Australian New Car Assessment (ANCAP) vehicle. . . The development of effective energy absorbing TUBs [Truck Underrun Barrier] would both reduce the serious injury to vehicle occupants and increase the effect frontal impact speed DeltaV above the 70 km/h test speed compared with a rigid TUB.”

5. It is technically feasible to develop an improved underride guard in less than a year, as the VA Tech Students demonstrated.

6. The consumers of the trailers have requested and received, from 4 of the trailer manufacturers (Wabash, Manac, Vanguard, Stoughton) improved underride guards.
7. Four of the major trailer manufacturers were more than willing to step up and provide a better underride guard (successfully tested at 35 mph for a 30% offset crash).

8. It is cost-effective to design and build a better underride guard.

9. The Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA ) used in this rulemaking is faulty as clearly demonstrated by some of the manufacturers’ willingness to step up and provide a better underride guardeven without regulation. (Truck Safety Marketplace)

10. It is possible to bring all of the parties involved into the process, to have meaningful conversation, and to make progress.

These attachments were included:

Jerry submitted his original public comment regarding the proposed underride rulemaking on February 16, 2016. A Bereaved Dad Takes a Close Look at the Flaws in Underride Regulatory Cost/Benefit Analysis

Underride Roundtable Timeline74 gertie 2314PetitionHeader_option2Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 141

“Visualizing Rulemaking”: Ordinary citizens use highly visual tools to effect change in regulatory realm

Just this weekend, we started the ball rolling for the next step after the Underride Roundtable. I posted about our idea and then sent out an email to the people who attended that event–inviting them to a follow-up meeting to hammer out a specific and comprehensive underride rule proposal to submit, as a group, to NHTSA in hopes of shaping their final underride rule to be as effective as humanly possible.

Yesterday, I was struggling with feelings of uncertainty about what-did-I-think-I-was-doing?! Who-do-I-think-I-am to try to make things happen like that? Then, I went and got the mail and found a thick manila envelope addressed to me from the School of Law at the University of Washington in Seattle. I thought, What’s this? I haven’t been in contact with anyone there.

After I opened it and started reading the cover letter, I started crying and thanking the Lord for His guidance to our family over these last three years as we have worked relentlessly to put an end to preventable crash deaths. This letter was a gentle but powerful affirmation that He has indeed been using our family (with all of our strengths & weaknesses) as His vessels to bring about needed change. May it be so.

University of Washington School of Law Letter

This is an excerpt from that letter:

We are law professors at the University of Washington in Seattle, and we are writing because we have been deeply moved by your website in memory of your daughters and inspired by your campaign to improve truck safety by mandating new underride protections. Between the two of us, we have five children, and we now never drive on the highway without thinking about your family’s accident and the need for increased safety measures.

We found your website when we were researching and co-authoring a law review article titled “Visualizing Rulemaking,” which discusses the way that people are harnessing the power of visual images and social media to influence the federal administrative rulemaking process. We describe your rulemaking campaign as an excellent and powerful example of ordinary citizens using modern, highly visual tools to effect change in the regulatory realm. Kathryn Watts and Liz Porter

The two photos which they want to use:

Mary and AnnaLeah at Battle Park, Rocky Mount, NCIMG_4464

The professors included a copy of the draft of their 95-page article, which will be available digitally in a few weeks and published in the NYU Law Review in November. I will share the links when they are available.

Here we are with another way that Mary is getting her wish, “I want to be famous someday. I don’t know how, but I just do,” Mary wrote to herself a few weeks before her crash.

Washiington Vision Zero Petition photos 013Petition Photo Bags at DOT, best



Imagine an Executive Order propelling us toward zero crash deaths. What are we waiting for?

When I read Lou Lombardo’s Care for Crash Victims email this morning, it reminded me of what I keep thinking about the proposed underride rule. . . the regulatory analysis needs to include the cost of the lives lost (and injuries sustained) in the past — all the years of too-weak or non-existent guards even when they knew that better could be made — and all the lives which could be saved into the future.
What conclusions would the analysts then draw? Would they deem spilled blood too great a price to pay?

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

As we think about Benefits and Costs we need to think about Who gets the Benefits and Who gets the Costs.  People’s lives vs. Corporate monies.


Think about the power of Presidents and their responsibilities as OMB is a key arm of government in the White House.

See OMB Draft Report at

Imagine an Executive Order directing the Justice Department to require all settlement agreements to include payments to the government commensurate with the costs in lives lost in the past and projected into the future – and the benefits of sentencing executives to the elimination of vehicle violence forevermore – Vision Zero. 
Thanks, Lou, for your always-thoughtful questions and comments.
Adopt a Vision Zero Policy 047

A Bereaved Dad Takes a Close Look at the Flaws in Underride Regulatory Cost/Benefit Analysis

Jerry Karth submitted some additional comments on the proposed underride rule–with reflections on what was learned through the Underride Roundtable. These comments have now been posted on the Federal Register: Additional Comments on Underride Rulemaking by Jerry Karth, May 19, 2016

Jerry submitted his original public comment regarding the proposed underride rulemaking on February 16, 2016. Here is an excerpt from that which addresses NHTSA’s preliminary cost/benefit analysis:

I would like to respond to the utilitarian logic approach that NHTSA has appeared to have applied to this issue. Their utilization of a cost/benefit analysis (called for by Executive Order 12866) is sadly lacking moral and ethical depth on the benefits side.

This type of logic was applied in 2000 by the Philip Morris Company in the Czech Republic when they funded a research study on the costs/benefits of smoking in the Czech Republic. The study concluded that it would be more beneficial for the people of the Czech Republic to smoke than not. What was this startling conclusion based on? A cost/benefit analysis.

The results are summarized in Figure 1:

Figure 1: The public finance balance of smoking in the Czech Republic in 1999 is estimated at +5,815 mil. CZK

Income and positive external effects 21,463 mil CZK
  Savings on housing for elderly 28,mil CZK
  Pension & soc. expenses savings due to early mortality 196 mil CZK
  Health care costs savings due to early mortality 968 mil CZK
  Customs duty 354 mil CZK
  Corporate income tax 747 mil CZK
  VAT 3,521 mil CZK
  Excise tax 15,648 mil CZK
Smoking related public finance costs 15,647 mil CZK
  Fire induced costs 49 mil CZK
  Lost income tax due to higher mortality 1,367 mil CZK
  Days out of work related public finance costs 1,667 mil CZK
  ETS related health care costs 1,142 mil CZK
  Smoking (first hand) related health care costs 11,422 mil CZK
NET BALANCE +5,815 mil. CZK

The study concluded that $1,227 was saved in pensions, health care, and housing every time a smoker dies. [Photo and caption from ]

$1,227 ?

That’s how much a study sponsored by Philip Morris said the Czech Republic saves on health care, pensions and housing every time a smoker dies.

photo: American Cancer Society full-page SF Chronicle advertisement 2aug01

In comparison, let’s look at how this approach could be applied to the underride issue. This type of cost/benefit analysis could lead us to conclude that it is not beneficial to require stronger underride guards because the benefits of keeping weak and ineffective standards for underride guards are greater than the cost of upgrading them to the best possible protection. What might those benefits be?

  1. Save the trucking industry money by holding down manufacturing and installation costs.
  2. Save the consumer money by holding down shipping costs.
  3. Reduce medical costs by killing people at a younger age (and avoiding costly medical costs of the elderly population).
  4. Preserve the Social Security fund by decreasing the number of people who draw from their account due to early Death by Motor Vehicle.
  5. Improve the job market due to the decrease in the workforce from the elimination of workers through Death by Motor Vehicle.

In both cases, the conclusions lack common sense. I hope that we can agree upon that.

In other words, this kind of analysis could potentially require that we decide whether we are willing to fork over money to protect people from Death by Motor Vehicle. It forces us to choose between saving a life or saving costs. When that life is one of your loved ones, what would you choose?

In contrast, a cost-effectiveness approach may be a better solution because it compares the relative costs and outcomes (effects) of two or more courses of action. “Cost-effectiveness analysis is distinct from cost-benefit analysis, which assigns a monetary value to the measure of effect.” In this situation, the desired outcome of both courses of action would be an underride guard which did not fail upon collision with a vehicle. The two solutions could be compared based upon cost, but a performance standard of a successful crash test would guarantee that lives would be saved.

Cost.Benefit Analysis

Mary, full of joy, wrote to herself, “I hope that I will be living every day as if it were my last.”

AnnaLeah and Mary loved their niece and nephew to the moon and back (except when they were fussy!). They would have loved their brand-new precious nephew as well.

Jerome with Gertie
Photo by The Karths, Naomi & Sam

I have to admit when I saw this photo of him today–one month old–I couldn’t help but think how cheated we all were. They will never know him here. He will never know them. But I am very grateful for this new bundle of joy brought into our family.

Photo Album of Mary & Gertie’s Namesake: Our For-Real St. Bernard

I will never forget what Mary wrote to herself, “I hope that I will be living every day as if it were my last.” And she and her sister did–full of laughter and joy. Loving. . .