Knights of the Underride Roundtable: Finding Some Common Ground to Protect Travelers!

On June 24, 2016, people from diverse backgrounds met around a table at the IIHS offices in Arlington, Virginia, to continue the good work begun at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016. This time, we rolled up our sleeves and hammered out a written recommendation for better rear underride guard requirements for tractor-trailers. To save lives.

First of all, we heard a presentation from Raphael Grzebieta on the approach which Australia is taking to improve rear underride protection in their country.

The basic idea is that they are not concerning themselves with spelling out detailed design specifications (e.g., what loads a guard needs to be able to withstand) but simply outline the performance evaluation criteria of: prevention of underride with the result of a survivable crash (with no injury criteria but instead relying on the crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle). While we might not yet be ready for that radical of an approach, we were given some food for thought.

(If anyone else had a different perception or would like to clarify my simplified explanation, please let me know and I can edit this description.)

Then, we had some useful discussion about the goals for improving underride protection, as well as some of the challenges which trailer manufacturers face. We benefited from some heated discussion which helped us to clarify terms and priorities. (See the bottom of the post for the Meeting Binder which I handed out for discussion purposes.)

After a break for lunch, we got down to work and spent some time brainstorming. As suggestions were tossed out for discussion, Andy Young typed up the suggestions , which were projected onto a screen for us to analyze and refine. Andy worked us hard and enabled us to reach a consensus and common ground upon which we could all agree.

What we came away with was a very good draft of recommendations for updated rear underride guard regulations for tractor-trailers. We also decided upon a tangible process for moving forward:

  1. David Zuby will send the list of recommendations to me.
  2. I will mail them out to the meeting participants.
  3. They will make suggestions for revision, if appropriate.
  4. We will come to a consensus for the creation of a final document to which we are all willing to sign our names.
  5. Then I will distribute that document to the entire list of participants of the original May 5 Underride Roundtable — giving them the opportunity to review it and decide if they want to sign it as well.
  6. We will then send the document to NHTSA via the Federal Register as a Public Comment on the Underride Rulemaking from the Coalition of Stakeholders Interested in Underride Prevention (CSIUP). [Tentative title for our group for lack of a better name to which we can refer]

We agreed to wait for future meetings to address other topics of importance* in the drive for underride prevention. These include such vital things as protection at higher speeds than 35 mph, Single Unit Trucks (which currently have inadequate or non-existent underride protection), side guards, front override, parking and conspicuity issues, and retrofitting.

Good work, team! Knights of the Roundtable! Just maybe, we will finally get our Dragon Underride Protector! To make Mary & AnnaLeah proud!

*Additionally, we briefly discussed the decades-old controversy of “too rigid guards” causing unintended injuries, deceleration forces, need for energy absorption, etc. See my thoughts on that: Urgent Underride Discussion of Deceleration Forces/High Speeds. Don’t Dawdle.

And today, I recorded my thoughts about this confusing issue. I hope some will take the time to listen. In any case, expressing it was helpful to me:

Underride Roundtable Follow-up Work Group (all 94 Roundtable participants from May 5 were invited):

  1. David Zuby (Chief Research Officer, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  2. John Lannen (Director, Truck Safety Coalition)
  3. Gary Fenton (VP of Engineering, Stoughton Trailers — read that Sto like go)
  4. Ted Scott (Director of Engineering, American Trucking Associations)
  5. Aaron Kiefer (Consulting Engineer, Accident Research Specialists)
  6. Paul Hutson (ECU engineering student and intern with Aaron)
  7. Jared Bryson (Virginia Tech, Center for Technology Development, SR Mechanical Systems Group Leader)
  8. Perry Ponder (President, Seven Hills Engineering)
  9. Raphael Grzebieta (Professor of Road Safety & Australian Naturalistic Driver Study, Lead Chief Investigator)
  10. Jerry Karth
  11. Isaac Karth
  12. Marianne Karth

Underride meeting 6.24 001 Underride meeting 6.24 004 Underride meeting 6.24 006 Underride meeting 6.24 008 Underride meeting 6.24 003If onlysusanna mary annaleah in costumeDragon Underride Protector 004

International Call for Underride Research Re: Injury Prevention & Energy Absorption Issues

Contents of the Meeting Binder which I handed out for discussion purposes:

  1. Five Points Concerning Prevention of Truck Underride
  2. Proposal for an Energy Absorbing Underrun Protection System for Commercial Vehicles by Detlef Alwes
  3. UMTRI-89-2, Final Report: Examination of Features Proposed for Improving Truck Safety, May 1989 The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Aaron Adiv and Robert D. Ervin:  https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/817/78350.0001.001.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y Reveals how and why earlier underride rulemaking was opposed despite evidence to show that it was expected to be effective.
  4. Article by Andy Young, panel moderator at the Underride Roundtable: Broken Glass And Shattered Lives – A Mother’s Journey Through Grief Brings Hope For Preventing Underride Truck Crashes
  5. Preliminary_Regulatory_Evaluation_-_Re_NPRM_published_Dec_16_2015 (1)
  6. Highlights of the NPRM Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection December 2015 document
  7. Truck Underride Fatalities, 1994-2014
  8. Other documents and links provided to meeting participants:
    1. March Historically a Momentous Month for Truck Underride Safety Advocacy; Beware the Ides of March!
    2. Informative articles on underride:
    3. Voluntary Efforts:
    4. Underride Research:
    5. Underride Rulemaking:
      1. NHTSA Has Initiated a Rulemaking Process to Evaluate Options for Improving Underride Guards
      2. Good news from Australia: A Stronger Rear Underride Guard Rule Has Been Proposed!
      3. A Mom’s Knee-Jerk Reaction to NHTSA’s Proposed Rule to Improve Rear Underride Protection The basic problem is that the proposed rule is simply adopting the Canadian rule which 93% of existing trailers already comply with and does not address offset crashes. So it is not much of an improvement, plus it does not address side or front and SUTs. Or retrofitting.
      4. Comments on the NPRM for Rear Underride Guards on Trailers by Jerry Karth
      5. Truck Trailer Manufacturers Ass’n “Reminds” NHTSA: Side Guards Are “Not Cost-Effective” Says Who?
      6. NPRM Upgrade Rear Underide–Federal Register with Public Comments links
      7. ANPRM Underride Protection of Single Unit Trucks

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