Monthly Archives: May 2016

Stay tuned for a D-Day Vision Zero Virtual Flash Mob calling for a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman

Next Monday, June 6, we will remember the sacrifice of the armed forces as they fought to bring an end to WWII.

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”  https://www.army.mil/d-day/

On June 6, 2016, let us also remember the countless victims of traffic crashes in our country. Michael Lemov has written an eye-opener, Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death in which he tells us that in the more than 110 years since the first traffic crash in 1898, more than 3.5 million Americans have been killed and more than 300,000,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes [p.9]. This, I learned, is 3x the number of Americans who have been killed and 200x the number wounded in all of the wars fought by our nation since the Revolution [p.10]. Imagine.

And, beyond that, let us seize the moment to send out a loud message to President Obama and members of Congress:

Move Us Toward Zero Crash Deaths: Create an Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate)

Despite the 33,000 people who die annually on the roads each year, our country does not currently have a reliable means of addressing the problem. These people cannot cry out in protest. And there is no one who has been granted the responsibility and authority to speak on their behalf.

I think I have a way to change that unfortunate oversight.

Let’s appoint an ombudsman to stand in the place of vulnerable road users (each one of us). Let’s create a National Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman (or Advocate or Ombuds), who would serve to advance a National Vision Zero Goal–acting to oversee the process of moving us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.

An indigenous Danish, Swedish and Norwegian term, ombudsman is etymologically rooted in the Old Norse word umboðsmaðr, essentially meaning “representative” (with the word umbud/ombud meaning proxy,attorney, that is someone who is authorized to act for someone else, a meaning it still has in the Scandinavian languages).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

Stay tuned for a way to participate in a Virtual Flash Mob on June 6, 2016, to send this life & death message to our country’s leaders.

Let this be, a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

More here:  Move Us Toward Zero Crash Deaths: Create Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate)

Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate); Missing piece of Vision Zero Strategy

Move Us Toward Zero Crash Deaths: Create Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate)

Despite the 33,000 people who die annually on the roads each year, our country does not currently have a reliable means of addressing the problem. These people cannot cry out in protest. And there is no one who has been granted the responsibility and authority to speak on their behalf.

I think I have a way to change that unfortunate oversight.

Let’s appoint an ombudsman to stand in the place of vulnerable road users (each one of us). Let’s create a National Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman or Advocate or Ombuds to advance a National Vision Zero Goal–acting to oversee the process of moving us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.

An ombudsman or public advocate is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

In fact, in October 2015, Congress created just such an office for small businesses:

WASHINGTON Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, announced today that Earl L. Gay will serve as SBA’s National Ombudsman and Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Enforcement Fairness.

In Gay’s new role he will oversee an office created by Congress that is responsible for the reporting and review of Federal regulatory actions that impact small business. He will also serve as a liaison between Federal agencies and those small businesses facing regulatory and compliance issues. Additionally, he will lead regional roundtables and public hearings and manage a national network of 10 regional regulatory fairness boards charged with advising SBA on Federal regulations unduly burdening small businesses.

Small businesses have a National Ombudsman. Why not do the same for the victims of tragic, preventable traffic crashes?

What are we waiting for?! This would be the perfect complement to our Vision Zero Petition requests for a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and a Vision Zero Executive Order. In fact, the Traffic Safety Ombuds(man) (Advocate) would fit in extremely well with this plan and, now that I think about it, is actually probably the missing piece of the puzzle for making Vision Zero a viable goal:

  1. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would develop, refine, and monitor the pursuit of a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would oversee the White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would be the watchdog to make sure that the Vision Zero Executive Order and Vision Zero rulemaking were carried out appropriately on behalf of travelers on the road.

Makes sense to me. Because, really, who would be given the responsibility and authority to oversee these things otherwise?! This could be the turning point in our drive to see a Vision Zero policy adopted. (Hallelujah Chorus).

Now all we have to do is get the ear of President Obama and persuade him to appoint this very important person.

Traffic Safety Ombudsman

I don’t particularly care what the position/Office ends up being called (Ombudsman, Advocate, Ombuds). Just create it, Congress or President Obama or whoever has the authority to do so!

 

Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate); Missing piece of Vision Zero Strategy

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!

This morning, as I was waking up, I was thinking about a facebook post which I had read before I went to bed last night. It was a comment by the aunt of a truck crash victim who was thanking the mother of another truck crash victim for her many years of advocating for truck safety.

I was thinking, “There’s something wrong with that picture!” I’ve only been involved for three years in this battle for safer roads and already I am thoroughly aghast at the inhumane way safety issues are at the mercy of a political tug-of-war. Why on earth is it such a struggle to get this country to make saving lives a priority?! Year after year. After year.

The simple, obvious answer, of course, is that the political sway of industry lobby ($) has power far greater than the voice of those advocating for the victims, or, in this case, advocates trying to prevent people from becoming victims!

Supposedly, Congress did something about that back in 1966 with the National Traffic & Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Out of that has come DOT with its agencies like NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). But somehow these, too are caught up in the throes of a battle, along with members of Congress, which hardly ever results in truly safer roads.

Well, as I was reflecting on this, suddenly an idea popped into my head.  Ombudsman! We need a Traffic Safety Ombudsman (or Ombuds)–an independent advocate to promote safety interests and defend travelers on the road.

I know why the idea popped into my head. Back in 1977, when I was newly-married and newly-graduated from college, I took a job as a VISTA Volunteer (meaning a Peace Corps-like volunteer who worked dirt-cheap in the U.S. for a non-profit). In this case, I worked as Director of a local chapter of a statewide patient advocacy organization for nursing home patients–Citizens for Better Care.

So I was basically a Patient Advocate at the local level–speaking up on behalf of nursing home patients. Family members could bring complaints to us and we would help to resolve the problem.

I was supported by a local board but also by the state office of CBC and by the Long Term Care Ombudsman at the State level (Doug Roberts at the time). And this is what, today, made me think: Ombudsman! Traffic Safety Ombudsman (or Advocate) ! Eureka!

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, but this seems to me to be the perfect solution to the political tug-of-war over traffic safety: Create an Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman to oversee traffic safety issues. Why? Because currently no one holds such an unadulterated role.

Before I got my day too far underway (I was getting ready to go help with another crash test of Aaron Kiefer’s side/rear guard prototype), I looked up the term ombudsman online and I discovered that it has a rich history. And one of the important features of the role is that it is established as an independent position. It is specifically designed to be immune to political pressure!

An ombudsman or public advocate is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

What are we waiting for?! This would be the perfect complement to our Vision Zero Petition requests for a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and a Vision Zero Executive Order. In fact, the Traffic Safety Ombuds(man) (Advocate) would fit in extremely well with this plan and, now that I think about it, is actually probably the missing piece of the puzzle for making Vision Zero a viable goal:

  1. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would develop, refine, and monitor the pursuit of a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would oversee the White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. The Traffic Safety Ombuds would be the watchdog to make sure that the Vision Zero Executive Order and Vision Zero rulemaking were carried out appropriately on behalf of travelers on the road.

Makes sense to me. Because, really, who would be given the responsibility and authority to do so otherwise?! This could be the turning point. (Hallelujah Chorus).

Now all we have to do is get the ear of President Obama and persuade him to appoint this very important person.

Traffic Safety Ombuds

 

Annual Motor Vehicle Inspection Form: Are underride guards adequately inspected?

While we were getting set up for a side guard crash test this morning, I was taking photos of the tractor-trailer that was part of the test. I noticed an Annual Motor Vehicle Inspection form on the trailer. I looked it over trying very hard to find a line item by which the inspector and truck owner/driver would be reminded to check the condition of the rear underride guard which is required by law to be installed and maintained.

Side Guard Crash Test May 2016 032

I could not find anything  listed about underride guards.

Actually, I had picked one of these forms up in a truck stop previously and couldn’t find anything related to inspection of underride guards in the past. Just thought I would check again.

Scan

There is something not right about this picture.

Side Guard Crash Test #3: Successful Prevention of Truck Underride Once Again!

This Saturday morning found us helping out at Aaron Kiefer’s third crash test of his side guard prototype. We managed to complete two crash tests–both successful with no Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI). People in the car would probably have survived.

  1. The first crash resulted in the car bouncing back with no part of the vehicle going under the truck. We concluded that the car being in neutral allowed it to be sent backward after the collision. If the car had been in gear, then it probably would not have done that. Because the hood was bent, we took off the broken front bumper to get the hood up in order to charge the battery on the car to prepare it for the second test.
  2. The second crash still had no PCI but the side guard tore at two points–quite likely from sharp parts of the car where the bumper had been taken off. Because the guard tore, it allowed the car to go under the truck up to the point of the A-pillar–although still leaving the passenger compartment totally intact.

Another successful crash test day with promising results for future underride protection which can be manufactured for trailers and single unit trucks. Aaron envisions kits for retrofitting existing trucks, at around 200 pounds for maybe $1,000/truck.

The biggest failing of the day was my crash test video on the first crash; I held my camera at the wrong angle so you’ll have to tip your head to view it properly (audio also seemed to be muted at some points). Thankfully, my bloopers had no impact on the success of the underride prevention technology!

Photo Album from the Crash Test Day:  https://www.facebook.com/AnnaLeahandMaryforTruckSafety/posts/15529895183376422

Here is a video of the preparation and aftermath analysis:

Side Guard Crash Test May 2016 030 Side Guard Crash Test May 2016 018

Previous crash testing of Aaron Kiefer’s side guard prototype (March and April 2016: Witnessed safety defect in action at underride crash tests; this is what snuffed out my daughters’ lives.

Protected: Virtual Flash Mob to Flood the White House with Vision Zero Message to President Obama

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If Sec. Foxx & DOT are embracing Vision Zero, why do we have to fight to get a strong Underride Rule?

Secretary Anthony Foxx talks here about DOT embracing Vision Zero:

We embrace the vision of Toward Zero Deaths; it provides an overarching and common vision that drives and focuses our efforts to achieve our shared goal to eliminate injuries and fatalities on our roadways. The U.S. Department of Transportation will do our part by aggressively using all tools at our disposal – research into new safety systems and technologies, campaigns to educate the public, investments in infrastructure and collaboration with all of our government partners to support strong laws and data-driven approaches to improve safety.
–U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Is it just meaningless words or are there some teeth to that statement?

If that is really happening, then why do we have to fight so hard to get an Underride Rule which will be as safe as possible? When a preliminary cost/benefit analysis calls lives saved “not significant”, how is that embracing a vision of Toward Zero Deaths?

And why does the deadly problem of tired truckers get left to the mercy of a political tug-of-war? If we truly had Vision Zero as a NATIONAL goal, these things would get addressed more effectively.

After our truck underride crash, as I engaged in safety advocacy efforts — calling, emailing, and meeting with legislators — I quickly realized that all too-often it was 2 steps forward 3 steps backward. I began to ask, “Why is it so difficult to get anything done to save lives?”and “Why isn’t the best possible protection being adopted?”

I learned that one of the biggest obstacles was that public policy and more specifically DOT rulemaking is impacted by a requirement for cost/benefit analysis which tips the scale in the favor of industry lobby and the almighty dollar and makes a mockery out of the word safety. Human life becomes devalued in the process when a safety measure is rejected because it “may not have significant safety consequence.”

This is illustrated in the history of Federal rulemaking on truck underride guards outlined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it was indicated that in

1974: US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.

I determined to battle such an inconceivable, incomprehensible, and unconscionable attitude and determined to find a better way to protect travelers on the road. After talking with numerous engineers who either were convinced that safer underride guards could be made or had already designed ones, I also discovered a global movement that calls for the reduction of crash deaths and serious injuries: Vision Zero – An ethical approach to safety and mobility.

That is when we launched the Vision Zero Petition to call for a paradigm shift in this country’s approach to traffic safety. Yes, there are cities and communities and organizations here and there across the country working on Vision Zero. But I am calling for us to unite as a nation and make it a priority to work together in a collaborative effort to reduce crash deaths.

Do it, President Obama, for We the People of this United States of America! #VisionZero

Here is our book with over 20,000 signatures which we delivered–in print–to President Obama in March. Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition And he still has not responded to our petition.

Adopt a Vision Zero Policy 047

Adopt a Vision Zero goal and sign an Executive Order to Save Lives Not Dollars

Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

So WHY is it that this country does not have a National Vision Zero Goal?

In my humble opinion, a multitude of traffic safety issues including tired trucker tragedies and seat back failure fatalities could be aggressively and comprehensively addressed with the granting of our AnnaLeah & Mary Vision Zero Petition Requests to President Obama and Secretary Foxx:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order which would pave the way for a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy.

So WHY is it that this country does not have a National Vision Zero Goal? And don’t tell me that DOT embraces Toward Zero Deaths and that that is the same as what I am calling for!!!

Vision Zero Goal11wjd2

See Lou Lombardo’s latest email:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Crash victims demand safety
1..Media educates the public.  Watch video

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-investigation-of-seat-back-failures-sparks-action-by-congress/
Progressive legislators provides pressure.  See letters

  1. http://www.markey.senate.gov/letters-to-automakers-on-seatback-safety
  1. Reporters investigate.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-25/crash-test-dummies-get-in-back-seat-to-make-uber-riders-safer

  1. Auto Safety Advocates Build the Case

 http://www.autosafety.org/nhtsa-urged-to-warn-parents-of-seat-back-failure-dangers-to-children-in-rear-seats/

It is now up to citizens to voice their views as voters and consumers.

The tragedies will continue until the pressure builds to ends these senseless deaths and injuries.

Lou

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. The story is also told by Care 2: Mom Continues to Fight for Truck Safety After Daughters’ Tragic Death.

If you have not already signed the petition, it will remain open until a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy is adopted. So sign here: Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy. Then share the petition with someone who has not yet heard about it.

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.

(Note: When the Contact Form asks you for a Subject, click on Transportation.)

Letter to President Obama from the Karth Family

Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition

LIKE this law firm’s facebook page & they will donate $2 to AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety (May only)

Here is a simple way to help AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety. During May, LIKE this law firm’s page: https://www.facebook.com/NurenbergParis/ For each LIKE, Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy – Cleveland, Ohio will donate $2 to ALMFTS (up to $1,500). We could really use this for our truck safety/underride efforts.

Please LIKE & then SHARE! Thanks!

ALMFTS logo on truck

Reflections from a bereaved dad on the Underride Roundtable & what that means for rulemaking

Jerry Karth submitted some additional comments on the proposed underride rule–with reflections on what was learned through the Underride Roundtable. These comments have now been posted on the Federal Register: Additional Comments on Underride Rulemaking by Jerry Karth, May 19, 2016

He included the following important points:

After participating in the Underride Roundtable, I would like to offer these additional comments (also attached as pdf with clickable links):

1. When the Karth family petitioned Secretary Foxx on May 5, 2014, we requested an upgrade in rear underride guards. At the time, we requested that the U.S. guards meet or exceed the Canadian standard. Since that time, having done extensive online research, we have come in contact with researchers who have shown that much more is possible given existing or proposed underride research.

2. One of the questions raised at the Underride Roundtable was whether underride protection could be produced to prevent underride at higher speeds. In the Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation of the NPRM, NHTSA requested information about underride guard crash tests at higher speeds (than the 35 mph currently being proposed). In fact, underride research has been conducted for decades which has demonstrated that it is possible to prevent underride crashes at higher speeds. It is research which has been available and known to regulators and the industry. For example, the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Australia tested energy-absorbing guards to 75 km/h or 47 mph in the early 1990s. http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/216924/muarc026.pdf

3. The image of a MUARC energy-absorbing underride guard can be seen in the attachment.

4. The U.S. final underride rule should, at minimum, copy the new Australian/New Zealand proposed rule published in April 2016 as the next underride guard rule rather than the present Canadian rule which is 11 years old. The Australian rule mentions test speeds under the heading Test Requirements on p. 60, Clause G7.3: “Current vehicle crashworthiness technology indicates that occupants will not suffer serous injury in an equivalent frontal impact speed of up to around 64 km/h into a deformable barrier if the car is a modern five star Australian New Car Assessment (ANCAP) vehicle. . . The development of effective energy absorbing TUBs [Truck Underrun Barrier] would both reduce the serious injury to vehicle occupants and increase the effect frontal impact speed DeltaV above the 70 km/h test speed compared with a rigid TUB.”

5. It is technically feasible to develop an improved underride guard in less than a year, as the VA Tech Students demonstrated.

6. The consumers of the trailers have requested and received, from 4 of the trailer manufacturers (Wabash, Manac, Vanguard, Stoughton) improved underride guards.
7. Four of the major trailer manufacturers were more than willing to step up and provide a better underride guard (successfully tested at 35 mph for a 30% offset crash).

8. It is cost-effective to design and build a better underride guard.

9. The Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA ) used in this rulemaking is faulty as clearly demonstrated by some of the manufacturers’ willingness to step up and provide a better underride guardeven without regulation. (Truck Safety Marketplace)

10. It is possible to bring all of the parties involved into the process, to have meaningful conversation, and to make progress.

These attachments were included:

Jerry submitted his original public comment regarding the proposed underride rulemaking on February 16, 2016. A Bereaved Dad Takes a Close Look at the Flaws in Underride Regulatory Cost/Benefit Analysis

Underride Roundtable Timeline74 gertie 2314PetitionHeader_option2Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 141