With amazing technology advances, why are we slow as a snail to solve traffic safety problems?

Could someone please explain to me why it is that we can invent amazing technology to allow “face time” — among countless other inventions which are unfolding at an unbelievable pace — but we are slow as a snail to solve safety problems.

Why are we not devoting top priority resources (time, money, and the creativity of the human mind — enhanced by the availability of information and technology) to reducing the 33,000 on average annual traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. and 1.24 million crash deaths on the world’s roads in 2010?  http://www.who.int/gho/road_safety/mortality/en/

And why is it that getting safety measures passed — whether it be at the legislative level (in getting laws passed) or the administrative level (in getting regulations issued) is a continual battle?

Let me tell you what I think might be some of the reasons:

  1. The prevailing attitude is that most crash fatalities are inevitable rather than preventable. Not true. In fact, there were many factors in our crash which could have turned out differently were more attention given to safety matters.  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/  & http://www.care2.com/causes/one-familys-quest-to-improve-truck-safety.html
  2. The concept of “second collision” is poorly understood. The fact is that the first collision (the actual crash) is not necessarily what causes death in every case. http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/the-second-collision-does-not-have-to-be-so-prevalent-we-can-do-better-at-preventing-death-horrific-injuries/ &  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/vision-zero-avoiding-collisions-and-second-collisions/
  3. The industry lobby opposing safety measures has a deep pocket. Need I say more? Well, I will. In less than 3 years since our crash, I have spent countless hours as a volunteer safety advocate (motivated by my daughters’ needless deaths) sending emails and making phone calls and meeting in person with legislators to inform them and attempt to persuade them to support safety measures. All too often, I am back at it again in another six months or so to fight the same battle all over again. https://dawnkinster.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/reflections-on-truck-safety/ & https://dawnkinster.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/for-annaleah-and-mary/
  4. The rulemaking process is cumbersome (though I am all for making sure that safety measures are indeed safe) and unnecessarily weighed down by the constraints of the cost/benefit analysis restrictions which inevitably lead to watered-down rules which are weak and ineffective. And enforcement has too often been ineffective:  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/lets-move-from-a-failure-of-compassion-tactics-of-conceal-%c2%ad%e2%80%90delay-%c2%ad%e2%80%90deny-while-fiery-crashes-occur-to-a-vision-of-zero-fatalities/
  5. Industry is more often than not reluctant to move ahead with safety measures voluntarily — either because they don’t want to have to re-do it when government regulations finally come out or because cost is a factor (enough said). This, of course, does not mean that all companies do nothing on their own to improve safety.
  6. Usually, a fragmented approach to solving the problem is taken when we could get more done faster if we worked together. http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/face-it-fragmented-approaches-to-transportation-safety-dont-work-public-health-needs-to-be-included/
  7. Accountability, responsibility, and liability are dirty words. Taboo.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/opponents-of-white-collar-criminal-prosecutions-argue-that-corporate-managers-should-not-be-charged-criminally-for-regulatory-violations/ And human life is measured in terms of dollars and all-too-often not considered worth the cost necessary to protect.  http://annaleahmary.com/tag/value-of-life/
  8. There is not a long line of people eager to help pay for safety research and crash testinghttp://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/who-will-pay-for-research-crash-testing-of-underride-guards/

What is the result of all this? People are dying when they could be still living.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LGcWc4m9VA

Too many lives are sacrificed. And for what? “So, what cost-benefit analyses really means, is that when no action is taken to improve the design of heavy vehicles, people’s lives are being traded for reduced transport costs.” George Rechnitzer,  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/crocodile-tears-costbenefit-analysis-vision-zero-goal-of-no-crash-fatalities/

Now, back to my original question, why is it that we can invent amazing technology to allow “face time” — among countless other inventions which are unfolding at an unbelievable pace — but we are slow as a snail to solve safety problems?

My grandpa was a rural mailman and used a sleigh and horses to deliver mail in the snow. My dad grew up with a wood-burning stove and an icebox for refrigeration. I grew up with the introduction of color television, seat belts, and not until I started raising children did I use things like VCRs or modem dial-up internet access. I went to Europe for a summer in college and had no cell phone to keep in contact with my parents back in the U.S.

Aren’t you glad that we have indoor plumbing? http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/the-future-of-trucking-who-pays-for-the-costs-of-safer-roads/

How far we have come technologically and how rapidly advances occur. Yet, it takes a Jayne Mansfield (http://mentalfloss.com/article/28155/how-jayne-mansfield-changed-design-tractor-trailers & http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1082934_iihs-todays-mansfield-bars-dont-work-so-well-video) or a Dale Earnhardt to die (http://espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=hinton_ed&id=6116145 & http://sports.usatoday.com/2015/04/30/dean-sicking-safer-barriers-nascar-indycar/) or a Tracy Morgan to get severely injured for us to wake up and decide to do something about safety.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-11/ntsb-says-wal-mart-driver-awake-for-28-hours-before-morgan-crash


Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the safety advances made after those famous crashes. But I am appalled that we can’t seem to get it until such tragedies cause us to sit up and take notice. Meanwhile, countless unnoticed-by-the-public tragedies happen daily on roads across the globe. Year after year.

Good grief! Even my grandkids, who have not yet lived a decade, get that something could have been done to prevent their Aunt Mary (13) and Aunt AnnaLeah (17) from dying.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/11/our-grandma-wants-to-make-the-roads-safer-remembering-2-girls-in-the-aftermath-of-a-truck-crash/

That is why I am devoting myself to raising awareness and calling for change. Come on people, let’s set a National Vision Zero Goal and use our vast resources and brilliant minds to slay this giant. Let’s not keep on putting our heads in the sand, putting bandaids on the problems, and losing these battles at the price of our loved ones. We can do it!

My family and I are making plans to head back to Washington, DC, very soon to take our Vision Zero petitions. We will be meeting with DOT officials to discuss these matters and hopefully lay the foundation for Obama to write a Vision Zero Executive Order.  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Vision-Zero-Executive-Order-Petition-Letter-to-President-Obama1.pdf &  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Executive-Order-Draft-Application-of-Vision-Zero-Principles-to-Highway-Safety-Regulatory-Review.pdf

Stand up with us and make this happen. Sign & share our 2 Vision Zero petitions:

  1. Petition on ThePetitionSite calling for Secretary Foxx to adopt a DOT Vision Zero rulemaking policy — http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/
  2. Petition on Change.org calling for Obama to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order–  https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars 

September 2013 069

Secretary Anthony Foxx & Marianne Karth discuss truck safety, September 12, 2013

p.s. By the way, the inventor of the NASCAR SAFER Barrier which is now saving lives, thinks that he can invent a much safer truck underride protection system. We just need the money to prove it: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

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