An Advocate for a Safer America: Have you signed the Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition yet?

We are asking for 100,000 Americans to sign our new Traffic Safety Ombudsman petition on WhiteHouse petition site. Once we get 150 signatures, it will become searchable on their website.

If we are able to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days — by July 31, then the White House has promised that they will respond to our new petition, which calls on President Obama to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman, who will be an Advocate for Safer Roads.

Why on earth am I asking for another government-funded worker — a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman? And whatever would that person do anyway? Read more here:


PLEASE NOTE: If you sign the petition, be sure to go to your email. We the People will send you an email which will say this in the subject line:  “Almost done! Verify your account.” Follow the instructions to verify your signature.




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. Tesla crash fatality could have been stopped by side guards. Tell NHTSA to require them on trucks.The U.S. has been talking about the tragedies of side underride and the possibility of using side guards on trucks since 1969. The recent Tesla S underride crash fatality could quite likely have been prevented if there had been a side guard on the tractor-trailer it collided with. So why is NHTSA still not requiring side guards on trucks? Tell NHTSA to require them; make a Public Comment on the Federal Register here. (Click on the Comment Now button ; then select Public Comment Category.) See a recent crash test of an innovative side guard:
  2. PETITION: End preventable crash fatalities/Appoint Nat’l Traffic Safety OmbudsmanWe are asking for 100,000 Americans to sign our new petition on WhiteHouse petition site. Once we get 150 signatures, it will become searchable on their website.

    If we are able to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days — by July 31, then the White House has promised that they will respond to our new petition, which calls on President Obama to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman, who will be an Advocate for Safer Roads.


  3. Knights of the Underride Roundtable: Finding Some Common Ground to Protect Travelers! On June 24, 12 people from diverse backgrounds met around a table at the IIHS offices in Arlington, Virginia, to continue the good work begun at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016. This time, we rolled up our sleeves and hammered out a written recommendation for better rear underride guard requirements for tractor-trailers. To save lives.
  4. Important Follow-up to the Underride Roundtable, June 24 at IIHS: The Work Continues
  5. To read posts which I wrote as a follow-up to the Underride Roundtable, go here:  Underride Roundtable Follow-up Posts
  6. 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). . .
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. “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:
  11. 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. . .
  12. 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. . .
  13. 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. . .
  14. What is justice as it relates to traffic safety? Here is a timely article by Ralph Nader on the topic of Justice. . . 
  15. 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. . .
  16. A second round of side guard crash tests: Just got home from the latest side guard crash test. Watch it here!
  17. 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. . .
  18. 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. . .


Casualties of the car safety wars

My grandson just turned 10 years-old. Lately I’ve been noticing little things that show me how much he is maturing and taking responsibility. And I keep thinking how proud AnnaLeah and Mary would be of him. They both spent so much time with him from the time he was born.

gertie 264Minolta DSC

One thing Marcus asked me about the other day was when he saw my copy of the book Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov. Car safety wars, he asked?  So I had to try and explain it. I asked him what a war is and what happens in a war. And we talked about how it’s a war because while we’re “fighting for” some things to make cars and roads safer, other people are fighting against them.


AnnaLeah would have been 21 now and Mary would be turning 17 in a few weeks. But they’re not. And at least part of the blame for their deaths by preventable vehicle violence can be attributed to “car safety wars”. They, and countless others, paid the price. Casualties of the traffic safety war.

Car Safety Wars

“Our grandma wants to make the roads safer.” Remembering 2 girls in the aftermath of a truck crash

So why is protection from vehicle violence not listed on the Democratic Party Platform?

The 2016 Democratic Party Platform is quite lengthy and I am sure contains many things of interest to many Americans. But the federal government has one role that is unquestionable: to protect its citizens.

. . . the right to protection was not merely a matter of constitutional theory, but a doctrine with concrete legal meaning. In the common law tradition, the protection of the law implied both the recognition of fundamental rights by law, and the enforcement of such rights by government. The paradigmatic instance was the government’s duty to protect individuals against violence. By the middle of the nineteenth century, this duty was understood to include not only the enforcement of civil and criminal law with respect to injuries already committed, but also the responsibility to prevent violence before it occurred. THE FIRST DUTY OF GOVERNMENT: PROTECTION, LIBERTY AND THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT

So why is the protection of American citizens from vehicle violence not listed on the Democratic Party Platform? 2016 Democratic Party Platform July 21, 2016


Cool idea from #VisionZero Canada! If only the U.S. would adopt such a vision. Just sayin’. . .

Cool idea from Canada. Wouldn’t it be cool if the U.S. had such a vision!

When it comes to safety, is compromise our only option?

Deadly underride can happen to anyone at any time. Even to the best driver in the safest car.

According to the American Trucking Associations, there are currently 12 million trucks on the road. Most of those trucks have weak and ineffective underride guards. Hopefully, government regulators and the trucking industry will take steps to make future trucks safer to be around.

But they aren’t likely to do anything about the 12 million trucks already on the road–even though there is safety technology to do so. You’ll just have to take your chance that you won’t be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, why is it that we are powerless to do anything except agree to whatever the trucking industry is willing to do? Whose lives are we willing to give up to pay the price by settling for less than the best?

Is compromise our only option?

If only

instead of like this: IMG_4464

DOT: Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes as a Leading Cause of Death in the United States, 2012–2014

News from NHTSA

The following NCSA Research Note was recently published:

Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes as a Leading Cause of Death in the United States, 2012–2014, (DOT HS 812 297):

“In 2014, for the sixth consecutive year, motor vehicle traffic crashes were not among the top 10 causes of death in the United States. Motor vehicle crashes were the 13th leading cause of death from 2012 to 2014.   When ranked by age, motor vehicle traffic crashes were the number one cause of death among people 16 to 24 years old for each year 2012 to 2014. Motor vehicle crashes were also the number one leading cause of death for 11-year-old children in 2014, as well as for 4-year-old children in 2013.”


Request for Law Review Articles on the Cost/Benefit Analysis in Traffic Safety Rulemaking

After losing our two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), due to a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, our family has taken on the goal of improving the regulatory and voluntary standards for currently weak and ineffective truck underride guards. On May 5, 2016, we were co-sponsors, with IIHS and the Truck Safety Coalition, of an Underride Roundtable.

Current truck underride regulations too often do not prevent underride crashes—which led to 228 recorded crash fatalities in 2014.

As we have participated in safety advocacy, we have become aware of the challenges often faced by those who seek to bring about greater safety through legislative or rulemaking means. Because we have observed that the industry’s lobby exerts a great deal of influence and has been successful in delaying proven safety measures, we have petitioned the federal government to adopt a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy.

In order to understand the details of our vision to bring about a process that would truly be concerned about saving lives more than saving profit, please see our Vision Zero Petition Delivery Book:

Also available from Lulu Publishing:

Also, read these Vision Zero Rulemaking posts:

We have not received any feedback from the White House or from the Department of Transportation in response to our petition. Therefore, we are proceeding to call upon experts in law to research this timely topic and write law review articles to shed light on the appropriateness of our requests to re-shape the process through which this country’s citizens are meant to be protected.

It is our hope that students of the law, as well as law professors, judges, and legal practitioners, will take it upon themselves to clarify the process by which safety measures – which are proven to save lives and/or prevent serious injuries – are determined to be cost effective or not, and what exactly that means. We will compile the results (or links to published articles) and make them publicly available.

This Call for Research & Review is available as a pdf: Request for Law Reviews on Cost Benefit Analysis in Rulemaking

Please send questions and submissions to:
Marianne Karth

2 crash deaths

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

We will accept reviews at any time but encourage law students to incorporate this project into their university schedule. Please share this post with others whom you think would be interested in this opportunity to change the face of traffic safety rulemaking.

Political Record on Vehicle Violence; #RepublicanConvention Theme: Make America Safe Again. Really?

Lou Lombardo can hardly believe the theme of the Republican Convention, Make America Safe Again, when he looks at the nation’s political record on Vehicle Violence. See his thoughts on this travesty:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

2016 Republican Convention
Today’s theme at the Republican Convention is “Make America Safe Again”.   Really?

Political Record on Vehicle Violence
Republican policies on vehicle safety have been tragic on a massive scale for nearly a century.  Hoover, Coolidge, Nixon, Reagan, Bush 1, and Bush 2 carried out corporate policies.  See

Democrats LBJ and Carter made the major historical positive contributions to reduce vehicle violence. 

However, President Obama has been a major vehicle safety disappointment.  See

The Need For a Safe America Is Real and Urgent

Today our clear and present danger of vehicle violence amounts to:

4 Million vehicle deaths in America – nearly 100 per day in the U.S.A. today

1 Billion vehicle injuries in America – nearly 400 serious injuries on an average day

$X Trillions Losses – about $2 billion per day


As we in the U.S. approach our 4 millionth death from vehicle violence, we must remember that we still have no goal to end vehicle violence.

There is a Vision Zero Goal that America still does not have – but others do.  See

As my 7 year old grandson taught me “With great power comes great responsibility.”  (He learned it from Spiderman.)

Today we have an America where “With great power comes great immunity.”  Immunity is enjoyed by both government and industry executives regardless of how many people die, are disabled, and bankrupted by vehicle violence.

So why does the President of the U.S.A. not adopt a Vision Zero Goal? 

President Obama:  Meet Marianne Karth.  She has gathered 20,000 signatures on a petition to you to adopt a national Vision Zero Goal.  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Proverbs.  See 



Current NHTSA #Underride Rulemaking (Cost/Benefit Analysis): Summary of Public Comments

I originally set out to highlight comments relative to the flaws in NHTSA cost/benefit analysis. While the document which I put together does that, it actually has much more as it has a link to each of the Public Comments on the currrent underride rulemaking — with some of the highlights copied and pasted from the Federal Register.

It is an incomplete document and could have been done better but it took forever as it is and I hope that it will prove useful to someone.

These are the links to the rulemaking documents themselves:

Here is the Summary Document of the Public CommentsSummary of Public Comments on Underride Rulemaking.

UPDATED, July 22, 2016. Here is the above document revised with links that are clickable! Cost Benefit Public Comments on Underride Rulemaking

If only

Instead of like this:


Will @SenJohnThune Hold Auto Safety Hearing on Tesla Fatal Crash Before the Nov. Elections?

Will Senator John Thune (or anyone else for that matter) hold an automotive safety hearing on the Tesla fatal crash before the November elections? That is the question raised by Lou Lombardo in his latest thought-provoking missive:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

NHTSA has failed to protect us again by policies promoting use of motorists as guinea pigs for profits.

Now Senator John Thune (R) of SD, up for re-election this year, has written to Tesla’s Elon Musk:

“To address the foregoing issues, I request that you direct company representatives to brief Committee staff on the details of this incident, including the technology that was in use at the time, Tesla’s actions in response, and the company’s cooperation with NHTSA, by no later than July 29, 2016.”  See

But there are 34 Senate seats up for election in 2016 and Senator Thune is expected to easily win re-election.  See,_2016?gclid=CLnT6c7I-s0CFcQkhgodhFINYw

Do the people of South Dakota know that every year more than 100 people die of crash injuries in SD?  See

Do the people of South Dakota know what their chances of surviving crash injuries are without health care?

 According to the NY Times editorial today SD does not yet have Medicaid expansion.  See  and

Do the American people know how their State ranks in vehicle fatalities?  See  and
Political policies and elections matter.  Matter to people in the most important dimensions of life or death See  and

So will Senator Thune hold an auto safety hearing on the Tesla fatal crash before the Nov. elections?

Will the media ask questions and demand answers of government and auto company officials that advance safety?

Will the Senate invite both Mr. Musk and Marianne Karth who, having lost two daughters in a truck underride crash , knows first hand the importance of safety policies?  See

 Lou Lombardo



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UMTRI Reviews Opposition to Proposed & Proven Truck Underride Prevention Measures

Back in 1989, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute examined features proposed for improving truck safety. In other words, they reviewed NHTSA underride rulemaking from years past.

What they discovered was that a proposed underride rule in 1977 was opposed by practically “the entire trucking industry – both manufacturers and haulers.” The authors of this study noted “that failure to implement a rule on underride guards took place despite extensive research indicating their expected effectiveness.”

Like they still do today, the industry tried to turn “the discussion around by stating that underride avoidance should be looking at other measures”–ones that they would not be required to implement. “In particular it called for improving and modifying auto front ends to increase their energy absorbing capacity ‘. . . and protect them when they strike bridges, trees, other cars, and other objects, as well as trucks.'”

Today they are still raising the same sort of objections to improving underride protection:

“The trucking industry and manufacturers are not sure stricter federal regulations are needed – especially since many are voluntarily using tougher underride guards.

‘Underride guards are helpful in reducing the impact of cars crashing into trucks. We would however much prefer to see NHTSA focus on providing automobiles with the capability of preventing cars crashing into trucks,’ said Ted Scott, director of engineering for the American Trucking Associations, Inc. ‘Crash or collision avoidance technology can go a long [ways] in helping to eliminate rear end crashes. Educating automobile drivers on how to share the road with a truck is also very helpful in reducing rear end collisions.’ 

Today, I was discussing that article with my husband. Jerry commented that the Tesla underride crash clearly causes that argument to go out the window. A car with the most advanced collision avoidance technology still could not avoid a deadly side underride.

Note: I appreciate the progress made in underride prevention by at least 4 major trailer manufacturers. And I appreciate the involvement in our Underride Roundtable by many members of the trucking industry. Ted Scott was the first one to say that he would participate in one when it was still just an idea in my head and is also participating in the follow-up efforts to reach a unified consensus recommendation to NHTSA.

But that does not mean that I will stop seeking further action (even when it requires standing firm against controversy) when so much more can be done to save lives.


17hxhyTruck Underride Kills


PLEASE NOTE: If you sign the petition, be sure to go to your email. We the People will send you an email which will say this in the subject line:  “Almost done! Verify your account.” Follow the instructions to verify your signature.