Last year at this time, our family was intensely involved in preparing to launch The AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition. After our truck crash and tragic loss of the Mary and AnnaLeah, we learned about many things that needed changing to prevent other families from facing similar grief.
When Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx promised that we would see tangible progress in a short time on truck safety issues, and 6 months later we had not, we decided to take our request to DOT on the first anniversary of our crash and invited other people to join us by signing our petition.
Last March, after brainstorming with our family, two of our sons were designing a website for the petition, but as time was getting short to launch the petition and we wanted to make sure that everything would go without a hitch, we changed course and applied all that hard work to an existing site, Care2 The Petition Site. And on March 19, we launched the petition.
And we shared our story: https://youtu.be/I-WQBEDpTVw
We were amazed as the numbers started rising and quickly surpassed our hopes. By the time May rolled around, we had over 11,000 signatures on our petition. We printed each signature as an individual petition and stuffed it in an envelope and delivered these envelopes in person on May 5, 2014, in Washington, DC.
Here is a graph showing the number of signatures by state:
Eight members of our family, including our grandson and granddaughter traveled to Washington, DC and sat down with administrative officials from NHTSA and FMCSA. We were well received, presented our concerns, heard from them on their efforts, and had a productive discussion. And here are the “notes” which our 4 year-old granddaughter, Vanessa, took at that meeting:
We are proud of our family and thankful for the many people who stood with us to voice these vital concerns.
What came out of our petition and the meeting we had with DOT that day? Did it make a difference? Here are the three requests which we made in the petition and what has come about:
- First Request: Raise minimum levels of insurance required for truck drivers–which has not been done for over 30 years.
- Result: In November 2014, the FMCSA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) announcing that they are considering a proposed rule to increase the minimum liability insurance coverage for motor carriers. https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/11/28/2014-28076/financial-responsibility-for-motor-carriers-freight-forwarders-and-brokers http://annaleahmary.com/2014/12/good-news-fmcsa-announces-first-step-toward-increasing-minimum-liability-for-trucker-insurance/ https://www.facebook.com/464993830249803/photos/a.465869083495611.1073741828.464993830249803/741290079286842/
- The period for Public Comments ended on February 26. The 11,391 signatures from our petition were added to these Public Comments. This will be followed by a review of these comments and a decision about whether to actually proceed with a rulemaking process.
- Second Request: Decrease driver fatigue and monitor their hours on the road with Electronic Logging Devices.
- Result: The Petition’s 11,000+ signatures were also added to the Public Comments for the Electronic Logging Device Rule. The comment period ended May 27, 2014. “In a departure from a report issued in mid-February, the Department of Transportation has changed its expected publication date for a Final Rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices, according to a supplemental report issued by the DOT last week. It now expects the rule to be published Sept. 30.” http://www.overdriveonline.com/fmcsa-alters-course-on-e-log-mandate-shoots-for-sept-30-rule-publication/#
- Third Request: Take needed steps to improve underride guards, which prevent vehicles from sliding under trucks–causing horrific injuries and tragic deaths.
- Result: On July 9, I posted the good news that NHTSA had initiated a rulemaking process on underride guards: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/nhtsa-has-initiated-a-rulemaking-process-to-evaluate-options-for-improving-underride-guards/
- The Rulemaking Process is lengthy and often fraught with delays. It is a miracle that anything gets done. This is what the Federal Register posting says at the end: “The agency notes that its granting of the petition submitted by Ms. Karth and the Truck Safety Coalition does not prejudge the outcome of the rulemaking or necessarily mean that a final rule will be issued. The determination of whether to issue a rule will be made after study of the requested action and the various alternatives in the course of the rulemaking proceeding, in accordance with statutory criteria.” https://www.federalregister.
gov/articles/2014/07/10/2014- 16018/federal-motor-vehicle- safety-standards-rear-impact- guards-rear-impact-protection Here is an outline of that process: https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf
- Underride guards and our story were featured in the Fall 2014 IIHS Status Report: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/10/iihs-reports-on-new-crash-testing-for-improved-underride-guards/
The AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition is still open. People are still finding it and signing it (without our doing a thing to promote it). People care about this issue and we want you to know that we are being heard and that we are continuing to advocate for safer roads.
At some point, we hope to send out a final update to all of the petition signers (now at 11,530 plus the 150 people who sent a paper petition to us)–letting them know about the progress made and encouraging them to stay in contact.
When we were getting ready to go to DC last year, one of our sons asked what we would do after the petition was over–would we still do truck safety advocacy? I said I didn’t know. . . but here I still am–continuing to keep track of what is going on, writing, writing, writing, and speaking up for all of us who are vulnerable on the roads, calling for action in matters of life & death.