A local reporter from the Rocky Mount Telegram, Brie Handgraaf, has followed our story ever since shortly after our truck crash in May 2013. We had been living in Rocky Mount for less than a year after moving here from West Texas. She has skillfully told the story of our girls, our crash, and our efforts to bring about change in highway safety.
Shortly after we launched our Vision Zero Petition, she interviewed Jerry and I again to find out the details of our second online petition–after having closely followed our first petition in 2014–as well as our efforts to promote improved underride guards through underride research.
Her article was just published online and, as usual, she did an excellent job of telling our story in a way that enlightens the reader: https://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/advocates-garnering-signatures-3009111
The newspaper is still working to make the article accessible online. Until then, you can read the article here: http://annaleahmary.com/2015/10/advocates-garnering-signatures-front-page-story-in-rocky-mount-telegram-almost-11000-signatures/
I want to clarify a few points so that there is no misunderstanding.
- First of all, while the Secretary of Transportation in 1974 indicated that underride deaths would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost-beneficial, the federal standards have been improved since that time. However, the problem is that it has been shown that the current standards, required as of 1998, are known to be weak and ineffective–resulting in many preventable underride deaths each year. Our concern is that the new rulemaking being considered now for the purpose of improving underride guards might likewise be judged to not be cost effective–as is hinted at in NHTSA’s preliminary Cost-Benefit Analysis in this document on Single Unit Trucks: “While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).” https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/07/23/2015-17973/rear-impact-protection-lamps-reflective-devices-and-associated-equipment-single-unit-trucks
- Secondly, although we have received a research proposal from Dean Sicking for the design and testing of an underride protection system, at this time he does not have the funding to do the research. So, unless we are able to raise the money for his underride research project, it will not be carried out and we will not be able to find out if his ideas could be more effective than the current underride guard standards and save lives.
- Finally, we have been in contact with some people from Australia–although not specifically from the Transport Accident Commission which produced the “Toward Zero” Youtube video: https://youtu.be/bsyvrkEjoXI The people we have talked with are two research engineers from Australia, George Rechnitzer and Raphael Grzebieta, of the Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research unit at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). They have researched and tested designs for improved underride guards and we are hopeful that they will be able to share their findings in the U.S. at our Underride Roundtable.
It is our hope that the research and commitment of many individuals and organizations around the globe, together with a call for a more compassionate Vision Zero approach to regulating highway safety will make an impact. We hope that many will come to understand these issues and join us in calling for change.
AnnaLeah & Mary on a walk in Battle Park in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where they lived for less than a year before the crash on May 4, 2013 ended their lives.
Sign & Share our Vision Zero Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/
Support Underride Research: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/