Death by Motor Vehicle. Shattered World. Broken Hearts. Preventable. When will compromise end?

I was struggling yesterday with the sense that I am not adequately getting across the need for a Traffic Safety Ombudsman to facilitate a strategy to move our country more quickly toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries. And unless we embrace such a vision, too many lives will be lost when their deaths might have been prevented.

Why am I so convinced that we need a Traffic Safety Ombudsman? Because of the lives which I see shattered every day by preventable crash fatalities. And the 3.5 million traffic fatalities since the first one in 1898.

People like Mary and AnnaLeah. People like two of my facebook friends who lost loved ones (or have family members with life-altering injuries) due to truck crashes and were struggling yesterday with their frustration and anger and ongoing grief.

See the posts by these two families who shared their heartbreak, frustration, & anger about the devastation caused in their lives by preventable crashes:

How many broken hearts does that represent? How many more are yet to come?

And what do we get from those who could do something to stem the tide of Death by Motor Vehicle? Resistance. Opposition. And too often it leads to Compromise–settling for solutions that are ineffective and too often delayed. Basically, saving people from preventable crash deaths is not a national priority. And someday, it might impact you.

Take for example truck underride protection/prevention. The trucking industry has long resisted doing anything voluntarily above and beyond any shabby, inadequate regulations which might be imposed upon them. In fact, their opposition is quite probably the reason those regulations are so weak.

And they continue to resist an all-out, comprehensive technologically-possible solution to prevent DEATH BY UNDERRIDE. What is their biggest reason? Cost, of course. When the importance of crash testing a manufacturer’s underride guard with an actual crash test to prove its effectiveness is brought up, a concern is raised about whether small manufacturing companies can afford to do that kind of testing.

Well, I certainly know that crash testing is expensive and we have not been able to raise enough money through our non-profit, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, to support underride research crash testing. And in our efforts to find money for such an endeavor, I don’t see it as being made much of a priority. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate how we have seen some of the trailer manufacturers step up to the plate after receiving our letters asking for voluntary improvement. But is it really enough?

As far as I am concerned, if crash testing is what it takes to ensure that their product is safe enough to protect my family and they can’t afford it, well then, I’m sorry, but I would prefer that they shut down than endanger the people whom I love (and countless others as well)!

Now, I am not convinced that a solution couldn’t be worked out to help those smaller companies get their crash testing done. In fact, it was mentioned at our follow-up underride meeting on June 24 that larger companies could perhaps do some testing for smaller companies. Well, will they? Is there enough of a cooperative spirit to prove to me that Safety is not just a buzz word–that there is some actual concern about saving lives whatever it takes?

I’d like to put a challenge to the trucking industry which Senator Bobby Kennedy put to the automotive industry back in July 1965 — 50 years ago. I read about it in Michael Lemov’s informative book, Car Safety Wars. [By the way, I just have to say how cool it is to be able to Google the quote which I am looking for and be able to include it as a link to take you right to that quote in that very book. So, go look at it! And here is a link to a report on the hearing itself!]

Kennedy: What was the profit of General Motors last year?
Roche [President of GM]: I don’t think that has anything to do. . .
Kennedy: I would like to have that answer if I may.
Donner [Chairman of GM]: The one aspect we are talking about is safety.
Kennedy: What was the profit of General Motors last year?
Donner: I’ll have to ask one of my associates.
Kennedy: Could you please?
Roche: (Pause)–$1,700,000,000 ($1.7 billion).
Kennedy: What. . .?
Donner: About a billion and a half.
Kennedy: About a billion and a half?
Donner: Yes.
Kennedy: And you spent about one million dollars on this [safety research]?
Donner: In this particular facet we are talking about. . .
Kennedy: If you gave just one percent of your profits [to safety research] that is $170 million.

This rare challenge to the car manufacturers was reported by the press. General Motors promptly released a “corrected” statement saying that it had actually spent $193 million on “safety programs.” The figure was immediately challenged, since it appeared to include many activities that were unrelated to automobile safety. But, even if true, the figure was a small percentage of GM’s $1.7 billion annual net profit. Car Safety Wars, Michael Lemov, Google Books

So my question is to the trailer manufacturing industry specifically (and the trucking industry in general): What was your profit last year?

Second question: How much did you spend on safety research? And, more specifically, how much did you spend on underride research?

I’d really like to know the answers — not just for 2015 but for many years before as well. Because I’m not willing to compromise. There are too many shattered families, broken hearts, and lives ended far too soon.

End Crash FatalitiesA truck crash shattered our world


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