Monthly Archives: November 2016

“Corporate Auto Safety Standards & New Car Assessment Programs (NCAP)”

An important safety advocacy question is: What motivates manufacturers to improve safety in their products?

Lou Lombardo, who used to work for NHTSA has an interesting story to tell about the impact of crash testing vehicles. I’ll let him tell it. . .

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Present Day Story

Kudos to IIHS and NPR for an article on designs of vehicles by auto companies.

IIHS conducted a frontal crash test of two Nissan vehicles.  Watch video of the test of a Nissan vehicle designed to meet U.S. standards with airbags and a Nissan designed and built without airbags for sale in Mexico.  See goatsandsoda/2016/11/20/ 502346360/crash-test-dummies- show-the-difference-between- cars-in-mexico-and-u-s?utm_ source=npr_newsletter&utm_ medium=email&utm_content= 20161127&utm_campaign= bestofnpr&utm_term=nprnews
The NPR Goats and Sodas article notes:

“Nissan isn’t the only carmaker with different safety options for different markets. A 2017 Chevrolet Spark sold in the U.S. comes with 10 airbags. The same version sold in Mexico doesn’t come with any airbags, and like the Tsuru, it scored zero stars in crash tests.

Latin NCAP, along with its affiliate Global NCAP, has crash tested dozens of cars. Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, Suzuki, Datsun, Ford, Fiat, Kia, Volkswagen and others have all sold zero-star cars in middle- and low-income countries around the world. Many of the vehicles in question lack basic safety features that have been mandatory in the U.S. and European Union for almost two decades….
We reached out to Nissan for comment. A Nissan spokesman said the company was aware of the “car-to-car crash demonstration” test and noted: “Nissan vehicles meet or exceed safety regulations for the markets in which they are sold. The Tsuru has been one of the most popular subcompact vehicles in Mexico for more than three decades due to its affordability and its proven reliability. Nissan Mexico recently announced it will discontinue Tsuru production in May 2017.” He added that Nissan in Mexico has incorporated safety features in its current vehicle lineup.

When we asked GM about safety disparities, a spokesman told Goats & Soda that all of its cars will meet minimum safety standards by 2019, and that “front dual airbags and three-point seat belts in all seating positions [will be] standard” on eight models by 2018.”

Past Nissan NCAP Story

Years ago Nissan failed a NHTSA crash test and sent a couple of engineers to complain that we had not tested their car properly.  We reviewed the test and said that the test was performed properly.  They protested that we had not connected the shoulder belt properly by passing it through a small plastic positioning hook at the latch.  The Nissan engineers were not happy when we told them that we were not permitted under the test procedures to perform that additional step in the buckling up of the dummy. 

Weeks later the Nissan engineers returned showing that they had made modifications and how their new test results compared with all other manufacturers. They showed us a plot of crash test results from all manufacturers ranked from best to worst.  Then with great visible pride they pointed out their new results to be right in the middle.  Shocked, I blurted out “You aimed for and achieved mediocrity in safety?”

Past Honda NCAP Story

Evidence of the safety importance of NCAP tests were documented in a 1993 NHTSA Report to Congress.  See https://www. assets/ NCAPReporttoCongress1993.pdf

The origin of NCAP testing began at NHTSA under the leadership of Joan Claybrook during the late 1970’s.  At the time, Honda had launched the 1979 Civic.  In one of our first tests, the 1979 model Honda Civic failed.  The following year we crash tested the 1980 Honda Civic, and it too failed.  Honda then made several safety modifications beginning with the 1981 Civic model that resulted in passage of the crash tests in what was the new NCAP Program.

A decade later, I was managing a NHTSA program at the University of Miami studying crashes, injuries, treatments, and outcomes.  We had a serious crash involving a 1981 Civic where the driver surprisingly survived.  Knowing of the improvements made by Honda to the 1981 Honda Civic, we decided to investigate whether there was statistical evidence of life saving in the real world experience of vehicles with the safety improvements.

The 1993 NHTSA Report to Congress on NCAP has the safety story on the 1981 Honda Civic.  See pp. 79 – 82.

The Report describes physical changes in the 1981 Civic that had been made after the 1979 and 1980 Civics had failed the new NCAP tests. 

The crash test data of the 1981 safety improvements to reduce forces to the head and chest is shown Table 5.

Table 6 shows the real world results of the improvements in reducing the fatality rates by 42% based on 1982-1988 FARS Data.

This is a specific example of the importance of crash testing to stimulate safety features that result in significant reductions in fatalities.

Unfortunately, the NHTSA Report to Congress did not include that I was told, by Honda’s Chief Engineer, that the costs to Honda for these mechanical improvements amounted to about $13.60 per vehicle.

Lou Lombardo

Who has the power

Forever grateful

I am thankful for the new glasses which were given to me while in the hospital by a local eye care center as mine did not survive the crash. But I am also thankful that those can now be retired since I just got a new pair of glasses. I have graduated from bifocal lens with a line to continuous. Wow! What a difference that makes!dscf0557

And I am forever grateful that AnnaLeah and Mary had the gift of life — though it was cut short — and that they will live forever in His presence and we will be together again some day.

25 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.

Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. . . Psalm 137:1-2

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I will give Thee thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to Thee before the gods. I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; for Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name. On the day I called Thou didst answer me; Thou didst make me bold with strength in my soul. . .

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, Thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth Thy hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Thy right hand will save me. The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Thy hands. Psalm 138: 1-3, 7-8


“NHTSA Guidelines Jeopardize Continued Market-Driven Innovations to Enhance Driver Safety” CTA

This is my knee-jerk reaction without time to thoroughly process what I just read. But I am puzzled by this author who is concerned about government overreach stifling market-driven innovations to enhance driver safety.

NHTSA Guidelines Jeopardize Continued Market-Driven Innovations to Enhance Driver Safety, Says CTA

I have to make sure that these people are at the Tired Trucker Roundtable which I hope to be organizing soon. They will certainly get an invitation and I can hardly wait to have some fruitful brainstorming sessions and lively discussions to come to agreement on the best and most effective ways to meet the most important goal: SAVE LIVES.

1a85etIrreversible tragedies

Government proposes “Driver Mode” for phones to prevent texting and driving

So, why aren’t we making a bigger dent in tragic crashes? America, we can do better than this!

Every time I hear about a new tragic crash or an ineffective attempt to strengthen safety rules and regulations, my own personal grief at the loss of my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), due to a preventable truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, wells up anew.

Take this for example:

Or the latest attempt by some legislators to get the government to do something about the problem of deadly seatback collapse: Lawmakers demand “immediate action” on unsafe car seats.

Unfortunately, I know all too well from experience that raising questions and demanding action are mostly a wasted effort and won’t bring about needed change in time to save countless lives from joining the rank of those gone too soon — when perhaps such tragedies could have been avoided.

In my opinion, we aren’t going to see much progress in many areas of traffic safety until we as a country take vehicle violence seriously. That is why I continue to call for for a more effective and united strategy:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal — make traffic safety a priority; Death by Motor Vehicle is one of the leading causes of preventable death.
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force — it is a multifaceted problem, not just a transportation issue.
  3. Adopt Vision Zero Rulemaking.
  4. Appoint an independent National Traffic Safety Ombudsman to serve as a vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence.
  5. Mobilize citizens to be part of the solution through a nationwide network of Vision Zero/Traffic Safety community action groups.

Wake up, America! The Crash Death Clock is ticking away. . .

Mobilize citizens to be part of the solution in the Road to Zero crash deaths.

Roads Safer

Remembering countless road tragedy victims. Devoting our lives to preventing more of the same.

Remembering the countless victims and survivors of road tragedies. Devoting our lives to preventing others from joining our club.

annaleah-knitting-at-cottage1a85etRoads SaferIMG_4464Vehicle violence Wkly Picks: Trump & Trucking; Drone Pckg Delivery; Hydrogen Fuel Cell; Self-Driving & More

Here are some stories related to trucking from

  1. Trump and Trucking: Here’s What to Expect
  2. Workhorse Group Truck-Launched Drone Package Delivery System to Meet FAA Regs
  3. Crossover Crazy 2016 LA Auto Show Illustrates Shifting Vehicle Market
  4. Toyota Eyeing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Heavy-Duty Truck Development
  5. Expect Self-Driving Trucks to Reshape Trucking Industry
  6. 2016 LA Auto Show: Chevrolet Unveils Colorado ZR2 Off-road Pickup Truck

Trip North May 2015 031

What if we tackled life’s problems with the tenacity of my 2 year-old? Hopeful. Joyful. Determined. Bold.

Will I ever truly know how to let go and be at peace no matter the circumstances?

Mary and I were having some quiet time—hard for a two year-old who is having fun at the Lake. Savor precious moments…here today and gone tomorrow.

Be still and know that He is God…trust that He will be a present help in times of trouble…rest in His loving arms.

What would it be like to embrace life like a fun-loving fearless two year-old — who needed her mom to draw a boundary line in the sand?

AnnaLeah was 6 & Mary was 2, and they were both water bugs! Our family enjoyed a quiet vacation at a cottage overlooking Lake Michigan.

Can I tackle the challenges before me like an insistent two year-old, determined to solve life’s problems but able to enjoy unexpected delights along the way?

When Mary was very young, we used to call her www.mlk (wonderful wiggly worm mary lydia karth). She was full of energy and very expressive. It didn’t take much for her to make us laugh or smile.

This two-minute video, where we were packing up to go home after a summer vacation, was one of those times where she amused her older brother without even trying.

Can I learn to let go in the midst of serious life difficulties, to trust the Master of the Universe to be in control — while at the same time, grabbing hold of the tools which He has given to me to make a difference with boldness and determination?

Two-year old Mary gets help from her big brother Samuel when climbing the steps up the dune from the Lake Michigan beach. Then she has fun with the cottage door. Simple pleasures. . .

Trusting, hopeful, joyful, determined, bold, sassy. . .

3 at Muskegon

Mary wrote a letter to herself a few weeks before her life ended due to a truck crash on May 4, 2013. One of the things she said in the letter she meant to read in ten years,

“I hope that I am living every day as if it was my last.” Mary Lydia Karth, Age 13


You go, Canada! “Halifax installs first side guard on municipal vehicle”

The Halifax Cycling Coalition is applauding regional council for its part in getting the first side guard installed on a municipal vehicle Tuesday.

“We’re so excited. This is a huge step forward for the municipality and also for safety in Halifax,” said Kelsey Lane, executive director of the coalition.

Read more here: Halifax installs first side guard on municipal vehicle , Municipal vehicles weighing 4,500 kilograms or more will have a side guard by 2022, By Anjuli Patil, CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2016

Save Lives

My answer to concern over distracted driving & “Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years?. . .”

I see a lot of attention being given to the increase in traffic deaths. That is great. I’m hoping that the level of awareness leads to action.

Here is a recent New York Times article on distracted driving: Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps, By NEAL E. BOUDETTE NOV. 15, 2016

My short (and long) answer: involve citizens in a nationwide network of Traffic Safety/Vision Zero community action groups.

Irreversible tragediesBoth And

What will it take to make a significant reduction in the number of people who die on our roads?

Thanks to Clarence Ditlow Review of 1981 Underride Rule Sheds Light on Current Rulemaking Concerns

In June 2016, I received a link from Clarence Ditlow to a Federal Register 1981 proposed truck underride rule. As I was reflecting on Clarence’s recent death and his life as a car safety advocate, I remembered that email.

When I was able to locate the email, I realized that I had not fully read the proposed rule, so I took some time this morning to do so and have recorded highlights of that document below. Points or questions not in quotes are my own thoughts.

Because this was a lengthy summary, I am going to include a link for the reader:                “Old Underride Petition”; Highlights of a 1981 Rear Underride Rule

Federal Register Docket and Full Proposed Rule pdf can be found here: Rear Impact Guards/Protection: Docket ID: NHTSA-1996-1827

What I would like to know is whether NHTSA will be reviewing prior documents and research (such as this represents) as well as take into account the impact that advances in technology and knowledge when preparing future underride rulemaking? Just for example, would the crashworthiness of “modern” passenger vehicles (e.g., the installation of air bags) change the conclusions drawn in this document?

I would also like to know what the actual cost/benefit analysis formula was which they used in this document as well as in the current underride rulemaking. Does it take a Vision Zero/Road to Zero approach? And would they think that my daughters were worth saving?

Some of the key points of this 1981 proposed underride rule include:

  1. “The agency had tentatively determined that a better regulation was needed because of the continuing problem of fatalities and serious injuries occurring in accidents involving excessive underride, and because of the absence of efforts by the vehicle manufacturers generally to go sufficiently beyond the BMCS requirement.”

  2. “In 1971, after evaluating cost and accident data and reviewing all information received in response to the notices, NHTSA terminated those rulemaking efforts. The Administrator of the agency concluded that the safety benefits achievable with the particular type of underride guard then contemplated would not be commensurate with the cost of implementing the standard.”

  3. “The agency had estimated that the proposed rule would save 50-100 lives per year at an annual cost to the consumer of $500,000,000 .”

  4. “Most of the implementation costs estimated by NHTSA were related to the increase in guard weight which it thought was necessary to meet the proposed requirements.”

  5. “Efforts to improve underride protection resumed in 1977, after the Auto-Truck Crash Safety Hearing was held by Senator Wendell H. Ford. This hearing was the direct result of a program conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 1976.”

  6. “This program focused on the problem of preventing excessive underride. IIHS performed five tests in which passengers car were crashed into the rear of a typical semi-trailer van.

  7. “In addition, the TTI program tested a hydraulic energy-absorbing guard manufactured by Quinton-Hazell Automotive Ltd. (Quinton-Hazell). (An energy-absorbing guard is one that dissipates the energy of the impact in a controlled manner.)”

  8. “The Quinton-Hazell device was very effective both at preventing excessive underride, reducing occupant injury responses, and reducing damage to the colliding vehicle.”

  9. “Despite their apparent advantages, NHTSA will not mandate the use of energy-absorbing underride devices at this time because the agency feels that they are heavy and costly to use.”
  10. “NHTSA encourages the use of energy absorbing guards in light of their ability to mitigate injuries, as evidenced by the testing and the risk analysis.”
  11. “NHTSA stresses that the requirements set forth in the proposed rule are minimum requirements. If adopted truck and trailer manufacturers and owners would be able to place any type of underride guard — rigid, energy-absorbing, moderate strength, etc. — on their vehicle that meets the requirements of the rule.”
  12. “In light of the results of the risk analysis, however, the agency suggests that manufacturers interested in guards stronger than moderate load design consider using hydraulics or other means to absorb energy rather than merely making the guards more rigid.”
  13. “NHTSA estimates that the proposed requirements could have prevented as many as 80 fatal injuries per year if they had been fully implemented in the period from 1977 to 1979. An even greater number of serious injuries would have been prevented.”

Read the other 80 points here: old-underride-petition

How do you interpret those statements? What does it look like to you? Am I the only one who is appalled at their apparent “washing of their hands” of responsibility for the lives lost due to their negligence in mandating the best possible underride protection?

Even if I were willing to overlook their actions in the past, I am not willing to settle for a future rule to continue this kind of travesty. In conjunction with voluntary improvement in underride protection which we are beginning to see, I want to see effective underride protection installed all around trucks because I know it is possible.

I am convinced that this kind of protection will be near to impossible to attain until this country understands and demands Vision Zero Rulemaking as an essential component of its Road to Zero Coalition strategy.

do-it-president-obamaCar Safety Wars

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

What will President Trump and the next Secretary of Transportation do about this?