Monthly Archives: July 2016

Underride Roundtable led to Consensus Underride Recommendations for Submission to NHTSA

Following the successful Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, a group of thirteen people pulled together a Consensus Comment for submission to NHTSA for their consideration.

Today, I emailed this document to the nearly 100 people who attended the roundtable — inviting them to read and sign this set of recommendations for the current rear underride rulemaking on semi-trailers.

Thank you again for participating in the Underride Roundtable hosted by the IIHS on May 5, 2016.

As a follow-up to that successful event, a subsequent meeting, to which you all were invited, took place on June 24 at the IIHS offices in Arlington, Virginia. A smaller group participated in that meeting and were able to put together a Consensus Document which we will be submitted to NHTSA as a Public Comment.

Here is a post with a report on that meeting: Knights of the Underride Roundtable: Finding Some Common Ground to Protect Travelers!

NHTSA has indicated to me that they, “look forward to your recommendations and encourage your continued submissions to the public dockets on NHTSA’s rulemakings on truck underride safety, specifically Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0070 for NHTSA’s rear underride protection for single-unit trucks. . . and Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0118 for NHTSA’s rear underride protection for semi-trailers. . . As with all of our public proceedings, we will give all comments full consideration to help inform our next actions.”

The Consensus Document specifically addresses the NPRM for semi-trailers. Please review the attached document and, if you agree with the Consensus Recommendations and would like to add your name to this document, please let me know by August 6, 2016. I will be submitting this as a Public Comment at the end of that day.

I look forward to continued positive communication among us all.

p.s. Please read the attached Consensus Comment document, as well as the press release which is referred to in the document: Press Release: J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Orders 4,000 Trailers with New Rear Impact Guard Design

NOTE to non-engineers: This would make the NHTSA’s proposed rule stronger — yielding underride guards which should be able to withstand crashes at the outer edges of the trucks. Translation = Save More Lives

Here is the Consensus Document: Consensus Comment NPRM_ Docket No

I will welcome all signatures — whether you were able to participate in the Underride Roundtable or not.

Car Safety WarsMichigan 60 party and cemetery 039IMG_4465If only

Mary would have turned 17 on August 6.

“U.S. won’t mandate tech fix to prevent hot car deaths”

A Detroit News article from a year ago indicated that NHTSA — despite a mandate from Congress in 2012 to study the problem — had no plans to mandate technology to prevent hot car deaths.

A group called Kids and Cars noted that Congress granted NHTSA authority to study technological fixes in 2012 and called on NHTSA to take faster action. Senate Democrats this month introduced legislation that would direct NHTSA to conduct new research into the issue and “either commence a rule making within a year of completing the two-year research initiative or to submit a report to Congress on its reasons for not commencing such a rule making.”

NHTSA has been studying since 2011 the issue of whether after-market devices would be effective in preventing children from being left behind. No major automaker has added any in-vehicle technology to prevent children from being left behind. In a new report released Friday, NHTSA said its review of seven aftermarket products — including three unveiled last year — “offer product developers a set of testing applications that may be used to benchmark their designs and to improve system performance.”

Some systems send an alert to a driver’s mobile phone if they forgot a child, while others send an alert to the key fob or horn. They could also be added to more new car seats, Rosekind said.

General Motors vice president for safety Jeff Boyer said the automaker is also studying the technology, but he said in the meantime it is important to keep up the work on outreach and education to parents. A Chevrolet Volt was part of the demonstration with Safe Kids Worldwide showing firefighters responding to a report of a child left behind in a car.

Some industry experts think automakers are concerned about liability issues and the need for any system to be nearly perfect which is one reason none have added the devices to vehicles.

Really? Surely with all of the technological gizmos appearing in new cars and the ability for smartphones to be connected to vehicles, we can conquer this problem.

Surely we can take on this Goliath as a nation. Sounds like this issue is a good candidate for a Roundtable to address this problem. We cannot let these tragedies continue just because, “It would be difficult to justify an expensive technological fix to address a small number of deaths on a cost-benefit analysis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think that the answer lies in a combination of personal and social responsibility.  Come on, America, let’s tackle this tragedy together!

Tragic deaths


PLEASE NOTE: If you sign the petition, be sure to go to your email. We the People will send you an email which will say this in the subject line:  “Almost done! Verify your account.” Follow the instructions to verify your signature.

Senators call on Honda to issue “Do Not Drive” warning to Honda & Acura owners w/ defective air bags

New Auto Safety Defect Warning from Lou Lombardo:
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Please see Press Release below from Senators Blumenthal and Markey.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maria McElwain (Blumenthal)

(202) 224-6452

Giselle Barry (Markey)

(202) 224-2742

July 26, 2016


[WASHINGTON, DC] – After new data revealed that Takata air bags in certain Honda and Acura vehicles have a 50 percent chance of rupture in a crash, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) are calling on Honda to immediately issue a “do not drive” order to owners vehicles with these dangerous air bags. In a letter to Honda today, the Senators urged Honda to take the strongest possible action to ensure that vehicles with such air bags are immediately removed from the road before more people are killed. They also called on the company to take additional measures to make it as easy as possible for owners of these vehicles to have this dangerous defect repaired, without having to drive the vehicle to a dealership.

 “Honda has a responsibility to clearly communicate the danger to consumers so that they understand the grave risks at hand,” the Senators wrote. “A ‘do not drive’ instruction should be conspicuously displayed on any recall notices, as well as this new test data so owners are informed that in the event of a crash, there is a 50 percent change that the airbag will violently explode. This new test data, coupled with the fact that eight of the 10 confirmed U.S. fatalities due to defective Takata airbags were in this subset of vehicles, make it abundantly obvious that a ‘do not drive’ instruction is absolutely warranted.”

The Senators first expressed concerns with NHTSA’s limited recalls and testing of Takata airbags in October 2014. They have also called on Takata to recall all vehicles with ammonium nitrate-based airbags, and expressed serious concern about the pace of Takata recalls and repairs. Earlier this year, the senators sent a letter urging President Obama to recall every vehicle with airbags using ammonium nitrate as their propellant, and to use “every tool at his disposal” to accelerate the repair of all vehicles with potentially-lethal Takata airbags.

A copy of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Mr. Mikoshiba:

In light of new test data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealing that certain model-year 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles show rupture rates as high as 50 percent in a crash, we write to urge you to immediately issue a “do not drive” order to owners of this subset of vehicles. This data warrants the strongest possible action that a manufacturer can take to ensure that vehicles with such air bags are immediately removed from the road before more people are killed.

As Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx stated following the release of this news, “Folks should not drive these vehicles unless they are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately, free of charge.”[1] In the wake of this announcement, we expected Honda to echo the Secretary’s remarks and quickly follow-up with a “do not drive” instruction to owners of this subset of vehicles.

We are extremely disappointed that Honda does not appear to have taken this important step. Honda has a responsibility to clearly communicate the danger to consumers so that they understand the grave risks at hand. A “do not drive” instruction should be conspicuously displayed on any recall notices, as well as this new test data so owners are informed that in the event of a crash, there is a 50 percent chance that the airbag will violently explode. This new test data, coupled with the fact that eight of the 10 confirmed U.S. fatalities due to defective Takata airbags were in this subset of vehicles, make it abundantly obvious that a “do not drive” instruction is absolutely warranted.

Additionally, we call on you to take additional measures to make it as easy as possible for owners of these vehicles to have this dangerous defect repaired, without having to drive the vehicle to a dealership. Considering NHTSA has directed consumers “to not drive these vehicles,”[2] we suggest Honda make available mobile mechanics who can travel to where an owner lives or works to conduct the necessary repair; or free towing to the closest repair facility, so that owners will not have to drive these high risk vehicles. As you know, there remains 313,000 vehicles with this very dangerous defect unrepaired, and we believe making such additional options available will be critical to achieving a 100 percent recall completion rate.

We urge you to immediately issue a “do not drive” instruction order, on at least this subset of cars with airbags exhibiting substantially higher risk to life. Please let us know by July 31, 2016, what actions you have taken to this end, as well as any other actions you have taken to ensure vehicles with these especially high risk air bags are immediately removed from the roads.






Adopting needed safety technology should not have to be such a battle. Why is it then?

The Best Possible Protection

Studies have been done which show that trucks, even if they are equipped with rear underride guards, do not pass all of the crash tests. In fact, out of 8 truck companies tested, only one, Manac, passed all of the tests: .

So, it may be a true statement, according to The American Trucking Association, “that many manufacturers are producing trucks with better than required safety underride guards.” Nonetheless, the bottomline is that there are many trucks which are NOT equipped with the best possible protection, which means that someone somewhere sometime might crash with one of those trucks and not live to know it.

Why would there be resistance to providing the best possible protection? Is it money? Quite possibly… Yet, according to Manac President Charles Dutil, the Manac underride guard “doesn’t weigh 200 pounds more than anybody else’s; it doesn’t cost $200 more,” estimating the difference to be at most 20 pounds and $20.

“If trailer manufacturers can make guards that do a better job of protecting passenger vehicle occupants while also promising lower repair costs for their customers, that’s a win-win,” says David Zuby, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s chief research officer.

What I want most of all, in this situation, is to help reduce the number of families who open their mail to find a death certificate for a family member because of a preventable death.

death certificate envelopes

NOTE: I wrote the above as a facebook post just a few months (August 14, 2013) after the crash which took AnnaLeah and Mary from us. Since then, almost three years later, three more trailer manufacturers have voluntarily improved their rear underride protection.

But there are four major manufacturers who have not and federal underride standards have not yet been improved. And then there are side guards and exempt single unit (straight, box) trucks which still need to be addressed. Not to mention the 12 million existing trucks on the road which probably won’t be required to be retrofitted with improvements.

Meanwhile people continue to die. Needlessly.

The Best Possible Protection

Adopting needed safety technology should not have to be such a battle. Why is it then?

Too Often, Too Little, Too Late; A Conspiracy of Silence


Tech. warns us if we’re low on gas or our seat belt isn’t buckled–what about if we’ve left a child behind?

The director of, Janette Fennell, wants us to help get technology in cars to prevent kids from getting life behind and dying in hot cars. This is her plea:

. . .four children have died in hot cars since Friday.  Two on Friday, (Williamsport, PA & Navarre, FL) one on Saturday (Rocky Comfort, MO) and yet another one on Sunday. (Dallas, TX)

 We simply cannot accept these deaths as tragedies and move on. is the only organization that has been in the forefront, working to ensure technology is added to vehicles that can prevent these heartbreaking deaths.

 PLEASE add the Look Before You Lock safety messages to your website, articles, TV segments, billboards and anywhere you can reach people who care for our children.  Yes, it takes a village…

 What is the answer? PLEASE work with us to make sure that technology is finally added to vehicles to prevent these horrific deaths.  The auto industry already recognizes that we’re human and our memories often fail us. Today our cars are able to warn us if we leave our headlights on, our keys are in the ignition, our car door is open, if we are low on gas and if our seat belt isn’t buckled. But if a child is left behind, it can be fatal.  So we believe it’s reasonable to believe that technology can provide an alert if a child is left alone in a vehicle.

This problem shouldn’t take years to resolve. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Look before you lock

Preventing deadly crashes doesn’t require Either crash avoidance Or underride guards but Both/And.

If we can take away anything immediately (while waiting for an in-depth investigative report) from Joshua Brown’s fatal crash with his Tesla, I hope it is the understanding that preventing Death by Underride cannot depend solely on crash avoidance technology. What we should be going for is not either/or but both/and.

The Tesla did not prevent the crash because the side of the truck was too high up to engage/connect with any of the safety technology. Had a side guard — which is not a federal requirement — been on the truck, there might have been no crash or at least no underride. Joshua Brown might still be alive.

This is a clear case where even the most-advanced crash avoidance technology was not able to prevent a tragic underride death. If side guards had been mandated and installed, perhaps the outcome would have been quite different.

There are too many factors and conditions which can result in a collision between a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle. And without adequate underride protection, the smaller vehicle is going to end up under the larger, too-high truck so that the crashworthy features of the car do not function as intended. The truck then comes into the occupant space [Passenger Compartment Intrusion = PCI] — causing horrific death or serious injuries.

My goodness, it makes me mad just to re-read the posts which I have written over the last three years since our deadly (for those who experienced underride) crash and recall the ongoing attitude of non-responsibility of some parts of the trucking industry to do their part in helping to solve this solvable problem!

I have included the links to those posts along with the beginning paragraphs:

  1. Clarifying the ATA Position on Underride Guards After last week’s announcement by NHTSA of their initiation of the rulemaking process for underride guards, I have had four interviews. So far, I have seen two of the articles and both of them included a statement, obtained from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which disturbed me when I read them. I posted about it and you can read my thoughts here. . .
  2. The Passion of This Safety Advocate It gets really tiresome to hear the trucking industry come up with the same statements time after time after time. Nearly every time I read an article written about our crash, there are the obligatory responses from the trucking industry. Invariably, they try to shift the responsibility off of themselves to make the changes sought after and, instead, bring up some alternative solution to the “problem.” . . .
  3. Truck Underride Roundtable is one week away! May it be sehr gut! On June 25, 2014, after a tour of the research & design center of a truck trailer manufacturer in Georgia, I wrote down these perplexing thoughts about the too-long unresolved underride problem: Now, it is understandable, amid the multitude of demands and the tyranny of the urgent, that—without a ready solution, in fact, one which would require time and money to develop—this problem has not been given much attention. But, if those who bear responsibility for making sure that this problem gets solved (one way or another) had lost two of their beloved children—or any other loved one—I can guarantee you that they would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to prevent underride. . .
  4. UMTRI Reviews Opposition to Proposed & Proven Truck Underride Prevention Measures Back in 1989, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute examined features proposed for improving truck safety. In other words, they reviewed NHTSA underride rulemaking from years past. What they discovered was that a proposed underride rule in 1977 was opposed by practically “the entire trucking industry – both manufacturers and haulers.” The authors of this study noted “that failure to implement a rule on underride guards took place despite extensive research indicating their expected effectiveness.” .  .
  5. Tesla crash fatality could have been stopped by side guards. Tell NHTSA to require them on trucks. The U.S. has been talking about the tragedies of side underride and the possibility of using side guards on trucks since 1969. The recent Tesla S underride crash fatality could quite likely have been prevented if there had been a side guard on the tractor-trailer it collided with.So why is NHTSA still not requiring side guards on trucks? Why is the trailer manufacturing industry still opposing them? Why have so many years gone by with needless, preventable deaths continuing to occur? . . .

When we met with DOT in March 2016 to deliver our 20,000+ Vision Zero Petition signatures, Blair Anderson (NHTSA Deputy Administrator at the time,  now US DOT Undersecretary for Policy) smiled when I made the point about not either/or but both/and. He indicated that the Director had just been talking with staff about that very thing.

Let’s hope that this logical line of reasoning is widely understood and serves the purpose of moving both rulemaking and voluntary industry safety advancement full steam ahead.

Both And

Casualties of the car safety wars

My grandson just turned 10 years-old. Lately I’ve been noticing little things that show me how much he is maturing and taking responsibility. And I keep thinking how proud AnnaLeah and Mary would be of him. They both spent so much time with him from the time he was born.

gertie 264Minolta DSC

One thing Marcus asked me about the other day was when he saw my copy of the book Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov. Car safety wars, he asked?  So I had to try and explain it. I asked him what a war is and what happens in a war. And we talked about how it’s a war because while we’re “fighting for” some things to make cars and roads safer, other people are fighting against them.


AnnaLeah would have been 21 now and Mary would be turning 17 in a few weeks. But they’re not. And at least part of the blame for their deaths by preventable vehicle violence can be attributed to “car safety wars”. They, and countless others, paid the price. Casualties of the traffic safety war.

Car Safety Wars

“Our grandma wants to make the roads safer.” Remembering 2 girls in the aftermath of a truck crash

So why is protection from vehicle violence not listed on the Democratic Party Platform?

The 2016 Democratic Party Platform is quite lengthy and I am sure contains many things of interest to many Americans. But the federal government has one role that is unquestionable: to protect its citizens.

. . . the right to protection was not merely a matter of constitutional theory, but a doctrine with concrete legal meaning. In the common law tradition, the protection of the law implied both the recognition of fundamental rights by law, and the enforcement of such rights by government. The paradigmatic instance was the government’s duty to protect individuals against violence. By the middle of the nineteenth century, this duty was understood to include not only the enforcement of civil and criminal law with respect to injuries already committed, but also the responsibility to prevent violence before it occurred. THE FIRST DUTY OF GOVERNMENT: PROTECTION, LIBERTY AND THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT

So why is the protection of American citizens from vehicle violence not listed on the Democratic Party Platform? 2016 Democratic Party Platform July 21, 2016


Cool idea from #VisionZero Canada! If only the U.S. would adopt such a vision. Just sayin’. . .

Cool idea from Canada. Wouldn’t it be cool if the U.S. had such a vision!

When it comes to safety, is compromise our only option?

Deadly underride can happen to anyone at any time. Even to the best driver in the safest car.

According to the American Trucking Associations, there are currently 12 million trucks on the road. Most of those trucks have weak and ineffective underride guards. Hopefully, government regulators and the trucking industry will take steps to make future trucks safer to be around.

But they aren’t likely to do anything about the 12 million trucks already on the road–even though there is safety technology to do so. You’ll just have to take your chance that you won’t be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, why is it that we are powerless to do anything except agree to whatever the trucking industry is willing to do? Whose lives are we willing to give up to pay the price by settling for less than the best?

Is compromise our only option?

If only

instead of like this: IMG_4464