Side Underride Problem & Solutions Featured on The Today Show

Ronan Farrow investigated the side underride problem and here is his report on The Today Show, February 7, 2017:

Side Guards: New push to make safety devices on trucks mandatory

NBCNews story on side guards (2/7/17): Side Underride Crashes Kill 200 People a Year. Will Congress Act?

The federal government does not require side guards on large trucks. Trailer manufacturers do not install them on the trailers they produce. Here are 5 ways you can help to change that:

  1. Sign our Side Guard Petition here to let our government & trucking industry leaders know that you want them to act NOW to SAVE LIVES by putting side guards on large trucks.
  2. Write to the 8 major trailer manufacturers. Tell them that you want them to put side guards on the trailers which they make and sell to trucking companies. You can find their contact information here.
  3. Support side guard research projects, which will help get affordable and effective side guards on the market. Donate here.
  4. Contact your legislators here.
  5. Submit a Public Comment to DOT/NHTSA here. After you get to this site, click on the Comment Now button.

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Aaron Kiefer’s underride protection devices: ENHANCING TRUCK SAFETY ​ SAVING LIVES

What Will It Take To Convince US That Side Underride KILLS But Side Guards Save Lives?

February 13, 2017 Update: I just received a notification of a new posting to the Federal Register of a Public Comment from someone asking DOT/NHTSA to mandate side guards! I am assuming that someone responded to my request for people to do so to help bring about change. 🙂 See it here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NHTSA-2015-0118-0049 Actually, a second person also submitted a comment.

You can do it, too! SUBMIT a Public Comment to DOT/NHTSA here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NHTSA-2015-0118 After you get to this site, click on the COMMENT NOW button.

 

When is it acceptable to give up the quest to end preventable crash deaths?

I posted recently about the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association letter to NBC News about their investigative report on side guards in a recent Today Show.

NBC News Updates Article on Today Show Side Underride Report

Here is a comment on that post from a friend, Michelle Novak, who lost her nephew, Chuck Novak, due to a truck crash:

The Truck Trailer Manufacturing Association appears to have been upset over the report by NBC on the lack of under-ride guards on semi trailers in the US–though they are standardized in Europe.

They complain that the ones produced here up to now, are “technical and commercial failures.”

They also include quite the protest as to their political contributions–specifying that they’ve made none–regarding side- and rear-guards. That seems as though they protest too much.

The question Marianne Karth rightly raises: does the fact that there hasn’t been a successful one created yet– by an industry that maintains a lack of financial or political incentive to create one–mean the problem can’t ever be solved?

We all know the answer: and Marianne Karth and her family have been spending a heck of a lot of time and effort bringing together people and ideas to create prototypes which even this association can’t avoid forever.

This shouldn’t be the job of a surviving victim, who was injured in the crash that took two of her daughters.

But the letter from the Trailer Manufacturers should give you an idea of why it’s fallen to a victim who has dedicated her life to creating something very do-able for large corporations.

If they had incentive, that is. And killing people isn’t incentive enough.

If you’d like to help Marianne get this done, and help save pedestrians, babies in strollers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and cars pushed under trailers by other cars, or those who run under for any number of reasons, click on her site. She’s got a lot of great information and updates on the progress on here.  https://www.facebook.com/michellem.novak.7/posts/343570059376617

Note: I recently viewed another crash test and the engineers who worked on the rear guard design mentioned that this successful design was #66 in a series of tries at “getting it right.”

What if they had given up after one, ten, forty, or sixty-five attempts?

NBC News Updates Article on Today Show Side Underride Report

NBC News received a letter from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association about the Today Show investigative report on Side Underride. After further investigation, NBC News added this to their article on the report:

Update and correction: After the publication of our story, we received a letter from the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), which argues that our report overstated the simplicity of the side guard fix and that prototypes have been technical and commercial failures. TTMA made the same argument to NHTSA in a letter we referenced in our report, which you can read here. They also told us that TTMA has not made any political donations to lawmakers on the issue of side underrides, including to Senator Thune. In response to other points made by TTMA, we have updated our online report with TTMA’s response that guards in Europe are focused on protecting bicyclists and pedestrians, not automobiles and that NTSB said injuries and deaths “could” be reduced by side guards, instead of “would.” We also have updated campaign finance data, broken out donations from the trucking sector of the transportation industry, and corrected the period during which those donations were made.

I previously wrote about the TTMA’s May 13, 2016 letter to NHTSA about side guards. Read it here.

Despite the TTMA’s objections to the report, the fact remains that almost as many people die from side underride crashes each year as from rear underride crashes. And, furthermore, I have seen with my own eyes the difference that side guards can make in stopping deadly underride.

Will we let the technical and commercial failures of side guard prototypes in the past stop us from keeping at the task of solving this problem? I thank God for people like Aaron Kiefer and Perry Ponder who have kept at it until they successfully proved what human ingenuity could do to save lives.

Note:  In fact, Europe’s side guard standards are designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists — which the U.S. should do, too! But Europe does not require the prevention of cars from underriding trucks. I have been in communication with a global automotive regulation specialist, and I hope that what happens here in the U.S. will have a ripple effect globally.

Perfect Opportunity to Transform SuperTruck Into An ESV To Advance Underride Protection; DOT & DOE?

I learned this week about the money being poured into the SuperTruck project administered by DOE. I can’t get past amazement that they have not included safety goals in this project. Here is the perfect opportunity to transform the SuperTruck into an Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) — without having to do it as a totally new project.

Okay, I can get past it because I am not going to stop until I find answers to my questions and agreement to transform this into an interagency collaborative effort to save fuel/costs and, by the way, lives, too!

I will be in Washington, D.C., anyway on March 1 for a Road to Zero Coalition quarterly meeting. How about I find a way to instigate a joint meeting at that time between DOE, DOT, and someone from a Transportation Committee on The Hill? Like maybe Senator Thune?

This emphasizes the need for a White House Traffic Safety/Vision Task Force to facilitate better collaboration and communication on matters related to road safety, including establishing a position of Traffic Safety Ombudsman to be a vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence. Not to mention the better application of trucking industry money toward joint safety efforts in projects like this, including establishing and funding an Underride Specialist/Consultant/Researcher/Engineer to work full-time on these issues, with a budget to do safety testing at places like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Here is our chance to harness the resources of our government and creative minds in the trucking industry to advance comprehensive and effective underride protection on large trucks. What are we waiting for?

Haven’t we waited long enough already?

https://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-137-million-investment-commercial-and-passenger-vehicle

Boost efficiency? What about saving lives?

Comments From Petition Signers On The Push To Get Side Guards On Large Trucks

Every signature on our Side Guard Petition helps us take the message to our country’s leaders that we want effective side underride protection on all trucks. They don’t need to add a comment. But I found it interesting, when I checked the petition this morning, to find quite a few comments added.

For example,

I am one of the lucky ones. In a Buffalo suburb, the semi in front of me rotated 90 degrees and was headed north on an east-west Interstate. I barely had time to think of my family, and Jayne Mansfield. Fortunately, I was able to aim my car at the “head end” of the rig. My Alfa Romeo and my seat belt protected me well while the rear end of the car (I was told later) left the ground on impact. Although it happened back in the late 1970s, I often recall that frightening moment when I pass a semi on a highway. I look under the side of the trailer and wonder why there are no side guards.

and,

My daughter which is 4 years old & I had a semi pull out in front of us from off the side of the shoulder on a roadway to do a “U-turn” & the semi driver obviously didn’t see my car & proceeded. Thank gosh my brakes worked really good cause if they didn’t we would’ve been the next victims. But driving now these days it always haunts me the vision I had that day of my daughter & I being killed because of the stupidity of that 1 semi driver! This law needs to be passed & I stand strongly on this issue!

and,

It is salient that this protection will save lives. It is also salient that the trucking industry contributes millions to politicians so they can save money on truck modifications. I got a message to the industry: Stop paying off politicians and channel that money into safety rails. And to the politicians: Represent us the people, not the trucking industry. We are watching you.

and,

I have two degrees in Driver and Traffic Safety and taught Driver Education for 30 years. I don’t care if it “would” or “could” save lives. Anything to help protect us is worth the effort and cost.

and,

simple safety feature that will save lives

See more here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/251/762/472/end-deadly-side-underride-crashes-mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks/

Clearly, this safety measure makes sense to people. What do you think?

DOE pours millions into SuperTruck fuel savings research projects; $0 devoted to side underride protection?

How is it that the DOE and Volvo poured resources into research and development of SuperTrucks but did not bother to (as far as I can tell, though I am not done looking into this yet) include improved underride protection as a goal of this project?!

  1. http://www.truckinginfo.com/ channel/fuel-smarts/news/ story/2016/09/volvo-s- supertruck-exceeds-epa- freight-efficiency-goals.aspx
  2. I have not been able to get Wabash to return my communications. I am trying to find out if they did any crash testing with their full-length skirts or what material it is made out of: http://news. wabashnational.com/wabash- national-demonstrates- concepts-for-next-generation- aerodynamic-solutions-on- navistars-supertruck
  3. DOE’s Navistar : http://www.truckinginfo.com/ news/story/2016/09/navistar- supertruck-beats-doe- efficiency-goals-hits-13-mpg. aspx
  4. Aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer’s drag coefficient by more than 30%. The vehicle is part of the DOE’s SuperTruck program – a five-year research and development initiative aimed at improving freight efficiency, based in the measure of the payload carried while burning less fuel.

Its objective is to develop and demonstrate a 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency on a Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle as measured in ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

Could they not have combined resources with DOT to accomplish such a thing?

Again, cost-savings over life-savings.

Can we use the potential fuel efficiency cost-savings of side guards advantageously to win the cost/benefit analysis battle?

Super Truck II is announced! Let’s get DOT to be involved with this project! $20,000 fuel savings/year could go to safety research!!!!!!!!!!!!

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was present for the unveiling of Volvo’s SuperTruck concept/demo rig in Washington, D.C. Here’s what he had to say about reaching the DOE’s next step in the fuel economy/freight efficiency project: SuperTruck II. http://www.truckinginfo. com/video/detail/2016/09/on- the-spot-reaching-for- supertruck-ii-video.aspx

More information on this SuperTruck project and random frustrated reactions:

$20 million in federal funding for the Super Truck II project and we can’t get diddly for side guard research?!?!?!!?!

http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/volvo-group-outlines-supertruck-ii-plans.aspx  Volvo Group has outlined how it plans to use $20 million in federal funding to further the freight-moving efficiency of heavy-duty trucks as part of the SuperTruck II initiative.

Volvo Group said its team of researchers and engineers will use alternative engine designs and an integrated system approach to build a lightweight tractor-trailer concept that will exceed the freight efficiency goal of 100% improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis compared to a 2009 baseline. The team is also tasked with demonstrating powertrain capable of 55% brake thermal efficiency. Volvo Group and its partners will match the development funds dollar-for-dollar.

To achieve these goals, the company plans to leverage its experience in vehicle development along with established partnerships with advanced technology and trailer equipment vendors.

Those partners include Michelin Americas Research Company for tires, Wabash National for trailers, Metalso for lightweight frames, Johnson-Matthey for exhaust aftertreatment systems, and Peloton Technology for platooning and connected vehicle tech. . .

Daimler Trucks North America will develop and demonstrate a tractor-trailer combination using a suite of technologies including active aerodynamics, cylinder deactivation, hybridization, and the electrification of accessories. . .

For more information on the DOE’s alternative fuel technology investment, click herehttps://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office

Related: DOE Commits $137M to Advance Fuel-Efficient Tech  http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/doe-commits-137-million-to-advance-fuel-efficient-tech.aspx

Yet more disturbing information:

This gives links to multiple articles on the SuperTruck project: http://www.truckinginfo.com/list/tag/supertruck.aspx

Trailer aerodynamics have become increasingly important in recent years as truck operators see that they can save fuel money. They’re so important that the federal government is paying several teams of truck and trailer makers to design concept rigs that show what’s possible in this area of science.

As far back as the 1980s I’ve written about various types of trailer aero fairings, from Nose Cones to TrailerTails and many brands of skirts and other appendages in between.

Here’s one I don’t recall writing about, at least not lately: the UnderTray and other products from SmartTruck. The company has posted a YouTube video depicting a tractor-trailer moving through the air at highway speed, with streamlines showing how the devices smooth air flow over the vehicle. Check it out here

Also note the Diffuser, SmartTruck’s device mounted ahead of the rear underride guard that redirects air away from its vertical and horizontal members. These otherwise grab at the air and create drag. (Old timers still call this the “ICC bumper” because the old Interstate Commerce Commission required them, something I definitely don’t recall being a fact, but it’s part of trucking vocabulary.)

The trailer portion of Freightliner’s SuperTruck of course got large panels that improve air flow around corners, deep skirts to keep air away from the Strick van’s undercarriage and tandem, and a boat tail similar to a Trailer Tail, but home-made. One would expect all of those.

What?!?!?!?!?!?! All of this government money going into research & development for fuel savings but not a word or project related to underride protection/SAFETY?!

See recent Public Comments to NHTSA. You, too, can speak up to end preventable truck underride.

You, too, can let NHTSA know what you want them to do about the problem of preventable truck side underride. In addition to signing the Side Guard Petition which we have launched online, you can also post a comment directly to NHTSA on the Federal Register.

Although the official Public Comment period is closed, comments will still be posted and taken into consideration by NHTSA, as they have not yet put together a Final Rule on truck underride protection.

I have received notifications the last few days regarding new postings to the Federal Register of Public Comments from people asking DOT/NHTSA to mandate side guards! I am assuming that this is in response to my request for people to do so to help bring about change. 🙂 See the recent Public Comments here:

You can do it, too! SUBMIT a Public Comment to DOT/NHTSA here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NHTSA-2015-0118 After you get to this site, click on the COMMENT NOW button.

Don’t forget to sign the Side Guard PETITION

Center for Auto Safety seeks Exec. Dir. to replace the late Clarence Ditlow’s work in auto safety advocacy.

The Center for Auto Safety is seeking an individual to replace the late Clarence Ditlow’s important work in auto safety advocacy.

Safety leaders gathered in January to honor the more than 40 years of work by Clarence M. Ditlow III in saving millions of Americans from death and injuries from vehicle violence. Joan Claybrook announced a goal of raising $5 million to continue Clarence’s work at the Center for Auto Safety (CAS).1

In a brief video Clarence, introduced by Ralph Nader, summarized his successful strategy to advance safety and consumer protection by establishing legal rights and remedies for the people and the legal profession. . . 

The Center for Auto Safety is seeking an Executive Director

The job description reveals some of what Clarence did and what it took to accomplish.

Clarence is irreplaceable, but his work leaves a legacy of what to do to defend the American people against future vehicle violence. His pioneering work points to how to achieve further advances in safety and justice.

Doing Our Part

The American people need us to help grow a network of lawyers, crash victims (past, present, and future) and survivors, and consumer advocates to help fund and advance Clarence’s work. The stories of crash victims and their families need to be heard and heeded. To be heeded our voices need to be organized for effectiveness.

Think of a network of people who join together to continue Clarence’s work to stop the currently endless tragedies. We can help organize to build a more just and safer America.4

Send checks payable to the Ditlow Fund for Auto Safety using the Pledge form. Suggested donations: $35 to $5,000.

Center for Auto Safety’s Ditlow Fund Networking to Save Lives, by Lou Lombardo, Legal Reader, February 13, 2017

Cover of Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov

The battles are not finished; the work for safer roads must continue.

Electronic Log Books Not The Whole Answer; A Tired Trucker Roundtable Is Vital

Source: https://www.facebook.com/twistedtruckers/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/494507530713925/permalink/795767523921256/

I am convinced that we need to bring together multiple stakeholders around the table to discuss Tired Truckers. We need to work together to tackle this problem.

 

The murderous potential of vehicles & apparent normalisation of life-threatening recklessness on our roads

When searching for Tweets with the hashtag #roadsafety — which by the way seems to be more commonly mentioned outside of the U.S. — I ran across some interesting articles:

  • The rules of the road exist to keep us safe. Why aren’t we enforcing them? by  A motorway collision with a lorry showed me how easy it is for disaster to strike – and raised my fear that excessive risk has been normalised. . . So, while you could argue that its road safety record allows the UK to coast awhile, you might also think about the two recent court cases and whether we pay due regard to the murderous potential of our vehicles. And then you might reasonably ask whether, with more rigorous enforcement, not only those serious accidents that have made the news could have been avoided, but also the many more minor ones such as ours. And who is best served by the apparent normalisation of life-threatening recklessness on our roads.
  • These Two Women Designed A 3D Zebra Crossing In Gujarat And It’s One Of A Kind! by  SOUVIK RAY Artists Saumya Pandya Thakkar and Shakuntala Pandya from Ahmedabad designed something innovative that not only serves an artistic purpose but ensures road safety for pedestrians. The motto was to increase the attention of drivers through new flat patterns of Zebra Crossings.

“EU transport ministers back ‘ambitious’ vehicle safety improvements”

EU transport ministers back ‘ambitious’ vehicle safety improvements, February 10, 2017, European Transport Safety Council

Eight EU transport ministers have called on the European Commission to ‘speed up’ plans to upgrade vehicle safety standards saying road safety should be ‘top priority’.

In a letter to the European Commissioner for industry Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the transport ministers of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands said ‘ambitious’ new vehicle safety standards are needed ‘to help Member States halve the number of road deaths by 2020’. . .

In December 2016, the European Commission published a list of 19 lifesaving safety technologies that could be made mandatory on new vehicles in proposals expected later in 2017.  At the time, the European Transport Safety Council said several critical areas for action are missing, and the proposed timescale is far too long considering that most of the technologies are already available today.

What about the United States?