I wonder if they ever talk about the need to protect children from truck underride injuries and deaths. If they did, maybe improving underride prevention strategies would become a higher priority. Maybe it would tip the cost/benefit analysis scale a bit more decisively in favor of saving lives.
I just did my morning reading as I ate my breakfast and ran across the word expropriation. I decided to look it up and found its meaning peculiarly and disturbingly relevant to my passion for traffic safety.
Expropriation: (from Wikipedia) The process of expropriation “occurs when a public agency (for example, the provincial government and its agencies, regional districts, municipalities, school boards, post-secondary institutions and utilities) takes private property for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest“.
Is that what happens when a cost/benefit analysis is interpreted in favor of the economic interest of society/industry over the value of saving human lives: Our government (on behalf of We the People) sacrifices human lives for a purpose deemed to be in the public interest?
‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness. Stop your expropriations from My people,” declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 45:9
I follow the dad of a distracted driving victim on Twitter. And on December 15, at the Road to Zero Coalition meeting in Arlington, VA, I met someone from North Carolina who has been working with Vijay Dixit to reach some of his goals — like making distracted driving taboo. Over and over, he shared with me how he has been inspired by Vijay.
After losing his daughter, Shreya, due to distracted driving, Vijay has been actively working toward that goal and now has a book in print to make that point: One Split Second.
“Building Distraction-free Driving Communities, One Driver at a Time”
I would echo that mission statement and add the other traffic safety issues as well –including driver behaviors, vehicle safety, crash avoidance technologies, and safer infrastructure — which could all contribute to preventing tragic loss of life.
“‘He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well.
Is not that what it means to know Me?’ declares the LORD.
“For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help,
The afflicted also, & him who has no helper.
He will have compassion on the poor & needy,
And the lives of the needy he will save.
He will rescue their life from oppression & violence;
And their blood will be precious in his sight.”
Jeremiah 22:16 and Psalm 72:12-14
I am thankful that the Department of Transportation took action to end this man’s ability to endanger us. I remain concerned about how many other medical certificates might be questionable and contribute to unsafe driving conditions. Who do you think will pay the price?
In our case, the medical certificate for the truck driver was never found. Yet, as far as I know, nothing was ever done to address that fact. How many more might there be like that — not discovered until it was too late?
ATLANTA – Dr. Anthony Lefteris, 71, of Atlanta, was indicted today by a federal grand jury, on charges that he prepared false documents and entered false information into the records of the U.S. Department of Transportation so that commercial truck drivers could obtain their licenses. Lefteris will be arraigned at a later date.
“It is critical that commercial vehicle drivers are physically fit to handle the rigors of driving commercial vehicles, such as tractor trailer trucks,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “When a medical examiner fails to perform the duties entrusted to them or falsifies information, our roads and highways are less safe, putting all drivers at risk.”
“Today’s indictment of Dr. Anthony Lefteris demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General to pursuing fraudulent activities by medical professionals in the motor carrier industry who are willing to compromise the safety of the traveling public for personal gain,” said Marlies Gonzalez, regional Special Agent-in-Charge for the USDOT OIG. “Working with our departmental, law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, we will continue to pursue and detect fraudulent schemes and bring to justice those seeking to compromise the integrity of DOT’s safety programs. . .
“Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”
Lou Lombardo relates the story of his important work on airbags which showed that “tragic political deregulatory decisions – sometimes – can be overturned to restore life saving regulations.”
Lombardo begins by talking about how,
The safety and happiness of the people is now suffering violence on many fronts: inequality, injustice, medical and social insecurity, failing schools, terrorism, war, homelessness, hunger, unemployment, vehicle violence, unsafe products and services, unsafe air, unsafe water, unsafe working conditions, failing infrastructure, corporatized media, policy makers and scientists for sale, insecure elections etc. Our planet is in human existential danger. . .
The American people remember President Reagan for saying in Berlin: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” I remember President Reagan’s policy to tear up the airbag regulations in Washington, DC thereby condemning many thousands of Americans to suffer preventable tragic deaths and injuries – and their terrible consequences – that will haunt us forevermore right here in the U.S.A.
The record of Presidential failures to protect people dictates that we the people have to step up and use our power.
The Power of People was written as Americans approach the end of 8 years of one Administration with a tragically disappointing auto safety record with a NHTSA estimated 251,647 deaths due to vehicle violence under President Obama from 2009 through the first six months of 2016.
President Obama failed year after year to adopt a Vision Zero Goal despite petitions of the American people. The Swedish Parliament adopted Vision Zero in 1997. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero
Powers of People – Needed Now More Than Ever
Daily losses due to vehicle violence in the U.S.A. today:
* 100 deaths
* 400 serious injuries
* $2 Billion
This is at a time when we have more technologies available to achieve an end to vehicle violence in or by new vehicles in a decade than ever before in human history.
Now as we face an incoming Administration that is talking more about the problems of regulations on business than about the problems of deaths and injuries to people, we need to begin anew conversations about what people can do to protect people.
People like Lou Lombardo have been able to make a difference and save untold lives in years past. Will the Power of People to Protect People prevail in the coming months and years? That is what I would like to know.
Note: Lou Lombardo says of the Lady Justice Graphic – “Lady Justice, while blind folded for fairness, can still smell the stench of money and hear the pleas of millions of injured people – past, present, and future.”
Let’s face it: despite numerous laws and regulations designed to protect our safety on the road, many of them too often are not enforced. How often is a lack of priority to address the safety issues and/or inadequate resources to enforce the rules the problem? Or maybe there are simply more of us non-law enforcement drivers who are able to observe those who defy the laws.
How about if we, as citizens, identify, acknowledge, and address deadly traffic safety problems by taking matters into our own hands when possible? For example, we could deputize citizens to issue citations for texting while driving or for large trucks with underride guards which are in need of maintenance (it’s the law!).
. . . like pretty much everyone, Hillesland is fed up with the rampant texting and driving out there. A few weeks ago, as he entered a tricky Y-intersection near Southeast Portland’s Mount Tabor, a pickup blew through its red light. The woman behind the wheel was thumbing away on her cellphone, obviously lost in Xanadu.
After noting all of the information required by ORS 153.058 – driver and vehicle details, plate number, location – Hillesland went home and called the city’s non-emergency number to say he wanted to file a citizen citation.
The NYC’s Taxi & Limousine Commission proposed rules regarding taxi driver fatigue focus primarily on controlling the hours of service for taxi drivers — much like the trucking HOS. That is all well and good, but I hope to organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable which will take a more comprehensive look at solving the widespread and deadly problem of driver fatigue.
“Nobody wants to be safer than truck drivers,” Viscelli said.
But because of the way drivers’ compensation is structured, they’re often asked to choose between productivity and safety, a tug of war that leads some to keep driving when they should be taking a rest break, Viscelli said.
Long hours, low pay and tough working conditions contribute to annual turnover that hovers around 100 percent and puts inexperienced drivers on the road. Read more here