Hopeful news despite post-election blues: Working together to make a difference despite differences

The day after the election, I participated in a conference call to plan the Second Underride Roundtable. You see the election results have not stopped a group of people who care about making trucks safer. We are moving forward to again bring together another diverse set of people and organizations in a politics-free attempt to provide better underride protection on trucks.

Of course, that does not mean that we are all on the exact same page with precisely the same goals. But the fact remains that we will be gathering together around the table to discuss real problems and tangible solutions.

And then the day after that, I had the privilege of joining my daughter, Rebekah Chojnacki, via webcam as we presented our family’s crash story and safety advocacy efforts to an undergraduate class at the University of Texas in Arlington. They are learning about what public health is and, on Thursday, they were introduced to a real-life public health problem — truck underride injuries and horrific deaths — and a public health strategy to prevent such tragedies. And along with that, we talked about the public health problem of driver fatigue as well as the stressful life of a truck driver.

I don’t know if this group of students will catch the vision of becoming a pilot project Vision Zero/Traffic Safety community action/advocacy group which could serve as a model for students and citizens nationwide becoming active together in a positive way to make a difference and work to move us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.

And I don’t know if UTA will become my host facility to help me organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable. But they might be. Or this might be the inspiration for some other city or university or student or citizen group to take on these goals.

But I do know that my daughter told me that many of them were crying because our story touched them in a deep way. And I do know that many of them asked very relevant and appropriate questions. They got it and after only a simple half-hour presentation.

And if only our country will learn to work with one another — not simply waiting around for someone else to solve the problems — we could make a significant impact.

Here is what I shared with that class: presentation-to-uta-public-health-class

Roads Safer

Well, that felt good to tell about those hopeful things. It became a positive channel of the anger and frustration which I have been feeling increasingly of late toward those who did not take responsibility in a way that could have prevented my daughters’ deaths and, even more, who continue to point the finger of blame at someone else or simply shrug off their part in this quest to prevent ever more unnecessary tragedies.

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