Monthly Archives: January 2017

Wake up, America: Traffic Death Toll Rises As 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws Is Released

Thank you, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, for watching over the laws of our land as they impact safety on our roads.

Today’s the day Advocates’ releases the 2017 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. Join them via webcast at 12pm EST

Data from the U.S. DOT shows second year of alarming increases in traffic fatalities. Yet, effective safety remedies to save lives and prevent injuries are ignored in state capitals across the country — “Have We Forgotten What Saves Lives?”

We are acting like the individually-united states are just that–individual. Acting like they need to have control over decisions about what SAFETY measures should be required in their individual states.

In disregard of the abundantly-available wonders of modern safety technology, what we are really doing is increasing the likelihood that INDIVIDUALS in their states will experience DEATH BY MOTOR VEHICLE!

I ask again, “Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?”

I wrote about this last year at this time, when they released their 2016 Roadmap: Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

Every delay in adopting these safety measures increases someone’s chance of dying a preventable death. How can we allow this to continue?


Excerpts from the 2017 Roadmap:

Key Facts About This Leading Public Health Epidemic:
 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015. This is a 7.2% increase from the
previous year and the largest percentage increase in nearly 50 years. Further, early estimates
for the first nine months of 2016 show an 8% increase in fatalities over the same period in 2015.

 Automobile crashes remain a leading cause of death for Americans aged five to 34.
 An estimated 2.44 million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.
 In 2015, almost half (48%) of passenger vehicle occupants killed were unrestrained.
 A total of 4,976 motorcyclists died in 2015. This death toll accounts for 14% of all fatalities.
 1,132 children aged 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.
 279 children aged four through seven were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2015.
 Crashes involving young drivers (aged 15 – 20) resulted in 4,702 total fatalities in 2015.
 There were 10,265 fatalities in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2015.
 In crashes involving a distracted driver, 3,477 people were killed in 2015.
 Motor vehicle crashes are estimated to have an annual societal impact in excess of $836 billion.

Nearly 30% of this figure ($242 billion) is economic costs including property and productivity losses, medical and emergency bills and other related costs. Dividing this cost among the total population amounts to a “crash tax” of $784 for every person, every year.

An additional 376 laws need to be adopted in all states and DC to fully meet
Advocates’ recommended optimal safety laws in this report. . .

States are failing to close important safety gaps because they have not adopted the lifesaving safety laws listed below. While a number of highway safety laws have been enacted during the last few years, many considered to be fundamental to highway safety are still missing in many states.

Based on Advocates’ safety recommendations, states need to adopt 376 laws:
16 states need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for front seat passengers;
32 states need an optimal primary enforcement seat belt law for rear seat passengers;
31 states need an optimal all-rider motorcycle helmet law;
39 states and DC need an optimal booster seat law;
213 GDL laws need to be adopted to ensure the safety of novice drivers, no state meets all the criteria recommended in this report;
35 critical impaired driving laws are needed in 33 states; and,
9 states need an optimal all-driver text messaging restriction.

First Clarence M. Ditlow III Safety Champion Award presented to Laura Gipe Christian

When I was in Washington, DC, last week, I was inspired when I attended an evening Tribute to Clarence Ditlow at the Carnegie Institute. I  never met him but did exchange some emails with him; he was very helpful in sharing information with me related to truck underride guards.

Many people spoke that night about the amazing commitment he had to tirelessly address auto safety defects. Today, an award was given in his honor to Laura Gipe Christian, whom I met when we served on a panel at the Ralph Nader Breaking Through Power Conference last fall:

A woman who lobbied for safety reforms after her daughter died in the crash of a Chevrolet Cobalt with the ignition-switch defect is being honored with the first Clarence M. Ditlow III Safety Champion Award.

“Laura Christian exemplifies the stalwart commitment to consumer protection and vehicle safety that characterized Clarence’s life,” said Joan Claybrook, the co-chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which announced the award this morning.

Ditlow, who died in November, was the executive director of The Center for Auto Safety for four decades. He served on the Advocates’ board of directors for 27 years.

He was generally regarded as the nation’s foremost advocate and expert on automotive safety, consumer rights and the workings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 Ms. Christian was selected for “her dedication and determination to advance reforms that address the dangerous risks posed by vehicle safety defects and unrepaired recalls,” according to Advocates.

Thank you, Laura, for your work to make us all safer.

Thank you 3

Trucker charged in crash that killed 4 college softball players dies by suicide; Endless Grief & Regret

There is not one part of traffic tragedies that does not overwhelm our world with grief and regret. It goes on and on.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board released in November 2015 found that the probable cause of the crash was a failure by Staley to control his vehicle “due to incapacitation likely stemming from his use of synthetic cannabinoids.” 

The report determined that passengers on the bus were not wearing seat belts and that the bus lacked appropriate crash-worthiness standards, both of which contributed to the severity of the injuries. 

Trucker who was charged in crash that killed 4 college softball players dies by suicide

I am more determined than ever to mobilize our country to do all that is humanly & technologically possible to save every life we can.


Dwight Eisenhower: Inspirational Crusader for Traffic Safety; Would that he could speak to us today.

I was suitably impressed as I sat on my Amtrak train en route to Washington, D.C., last week and read the words which President Dwight Eisenhower wrote and spoke about traffic safety:

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Federal Role in Highway Safety Chapter 2: A Crusade for Safety

I knew that he was responsible for our improved interstate system, but I did not know that he was such a genuinely enthusiastic crusader for traffic safety. Here are a few excerpts among many:

Although President Eisenhower would not become fully engaged in a highway initiative until the Grand Plan speech in 1954, he acted on highway safety in July 1953 when he met in the Cabinet Room of the White House with 28 business leaders. He told the leaders that his goal was to save 17,000 lives and $1.25 billion a year by reducing accidents. According to an account in Transport Topics for August 3, 1953:


President Eisenhower told the group . . . he is tired of having three to four times as many persons killed a year on the highways as were killed in Korea. He said the history of efforts to save lives on the highway shows that when something is done on a coordinated basis the accident trend drops sharply.

The president said that something-a truce-had been done about saving lives in Korea and that there is good reason why something should be done about highway accidents. . .

On December 11, 1953, the President wrote to the Nation’s Governors to request their help:

Dear Governor:

The mounting toll of death and injury on our highways long ago reached a point of deep concern to all of us. It stands before America as a great challenge-humanitarian and economic-and must be met by urgent action.

I have examined the “Action Program for Highway Safety” which you and the other Governors have developed in cooperation with interested organizations and public officials having jurisdiction over highway safety. It is a sound and workable program, but effective citizen leadership is needed to help you put this great crusade into organized action on a scale far bigger than ever before.

Accordingly, I have called a Conference on Highway Safety for Washington next February seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth. The Conference will serve to focus more public attention on the problem and stimulate active leadership in every community. . .

After noting the privilege of addressing the [White House Conference on Highway Safety], he began:

The purpose of your meeting is one that is essentially local or community in character. But when any particular activity in the United States takes 38,000 American lives in one year, it becomes a national problem of the first importance. Consequently, this meeting was called, and you have accepted the invitation, in an understanding between us that it is not merely a local or community problem. It is a problem for all of us, from the highest echelon of Government to the lowest echelon: a problem for every citizen, no matter what his station or his duty.

I was struck by a statistic that seemed to me shocking. In the last 50 years, the automobile has killed more people in the United States than we have had fatalities in all our wars: on all the battlefields of all the wars of the United States since its founding 177 years ago
He acknowledged that this was a problem that “by its nature has no easy solution.” He did not intend to get into the technicalities of this “many-sided” problem. However, he felt that the key was public opinion. “In a democracy, public opinion is everything.” He explained:

If there were community groups established that could command the respect and the support of every single citizen of that city or that community, so that the traffic policeman, so that everyone else that has a responsibility in this regard, will know that public opinion is behind him. Because I have now arrived at the only point that I think it worthwhile to try to express to you, because in all the technicalities of this thing you know much more than I do.

If, he said, “we can mobilize a sufficient public opinion, this problem, like all of those to which free men fall heir can be solved.”

Hmmm. . . sounds sort of like a National Vision Zero Goal and a Nationwide Network of Community Traffic Safety Action Groups. . .


Could a side guard crash test with a Tesla car silence the skeptics? #ElonMusk are you game?

Could a crash test between a Tesla car and a trailer with a side guard turn out differently than Joshua Brown’s tragic crash with his Tesla into and under the side of a trailer without a side guard?

Would Elon Musk be willing to partner with us to discover the answer?

Could a crash test* between a Tesla & a side guard silence the skeptics?


* Multiple crash test scenarios could be utilized to compare with and without side guard, with Tesla and with a Malibu (or similar model), with Airflow Deflector/Perry Ponder’s AngelWing and with Aaron Kiefer’s TrailerGuard System.

Side Guard Petition: End Deadly Truck Side Underride Crashes: Mandate Side Guards

How 2 taxi drivers encouraged this traffic safety advocate

While in Washington D.C., I met several taxi drivers. The first one picked me up at Union Station and, because he misunderstood the address I gave him, we ended up having a lengthy conversation — about his family and about my traffic safety advocacy because of my daughters’ deaths due to a truck crash. It was actually healing to have this stranger, a Christian, take my family’s tragedy to heart.

He ended up giving me that ride free and gave me his phone number for rides the next day. It reminded me anew that the Lord was watching over my going out and coming in.

Then, on my ride from my hotel as I headed back home, I got into some conversation with another taxi driver. As we neared Union Station, he noticed a traffic light on a post which someone had turned. He said, “Did you see that?! That could cause a crash. I have to tell a policeman about it.”

I quickly told him my story and how I was in town to make the roads safer. I gave him my AnnaLeah and Mary for Truck Safety card and thanked him for taking the trouble to help make the roads safer.

See. . . we can do this thing together!

Roads Safer

Truck Side Underride: Victims Without a Voice

Sign our Side Guard Petition to let our government leaders and the trucking industry know that you want them to act NOW to SAVE LIVES:

Save Lives

If we do not speak up to prevent this senseless loss of lives,

tell me who will.

Donate to Underride Guard Research: AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety 501(c)(3) website

Other ways you can help.

AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety fundraising goals

In DC at Road to 0 Coalition Scenario Development Meeting

Here’s hoping that 2 days of brainstorming on how to get to Zero traffic deaths and serious injuries will be amazingly fruitful.


Side Underride Kills; Side Guards Save Lives: Support Underride Research

We are raising money to move side underride research and side guard development forward. Support side guard research projects, which will help get affordable and effective side guards on the market. Donate here.

This is what we want to support:

Project #1: Continuation of Aaron Kiefer‘s Side Underride Prevention Research
The tragic Tesla fatal crash on May 7, 2016, highlights a real and present highway danger — cars sliding underneath large trucks when vehicles collide. No matter what caused the Tesla crash, the driver might have lived if the truck had had side guards.

U.S. & Canadian safety advocates are calling for an end to preventable truck underride tragedies. Hundreds of people die every year when pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passenger vehicles go underneath trucks.

It can happen to anyone — even if their car has a 5-Star Crash Rating. It can happen anywhere. It happened to AnnaLeah (17) & Mary Karth (13), when their car went under the rear of a semi-trailer on May 4, 2013, in Georgia. And it happened to Jessica Holman-Price (21) when she went under the side of a truck as a pedestrian on December 19, 2005, in Canada.

U.S. regulators have debated for decades about how to stop the tragedy of underride deaths – including, since 1969, the possibility of requiring underride protection to be added to the sides of large trucks. But they have not done so, even though engineers have already found ways to solve this problem.

The work that we have done has actually put us into contact with others working on the underride guards. One such person is Aaron Kiefer who is currently an accident research specialist in North Carolina. He has designed a guard that can be retro-fitted onto current truck guards to improve their strength and reduce underride. He has crash tested it successfully and now needs to do further research to refine the design to be ready for the industry.

This will include the following expenses: aluminum extrusions for the rear reinforcement attachments ($28,000) and an aluminum side guard slide to allow for truck driver functionality in pre-trip inspections of tires ($18,000); development of a prototype for a system at the trailer front, which will allow the side guard to flare up 20-30 degrees when the air brakes are turned off, and back down when the brakes are turned on ($23,000) – again to aid in pre-trip inspections and changing tires; and crash testing to validate and verify the effectiveness of the TrailerGuard System ($43,000). Total Costs for Side Guard Research & Development = $112,000 – a project and cost which is currently not being taken up by the trucking industry. When Aaron’s work is completed, the underride protection system would be ready for a manufacturer to produce and sell to the trucking industry.

Project #2:  Collegiate Side Underride Protection Design Competition A collision between the back of a commercial motor vehicle and a passenger vehicle too often results in underride in which the occupants of the smaller vehicle experience horrific injuries usually leading to tragic death. For too many decades, the question of under what circumstances this can be prevented has been left unanswered and the industry solutions have been mostly weak and ineffective.

While the crash testing conducted by the IIHS and our own efforts in recent years to change this have brought about some improvement in rear underride guards, the question has still not been definitively addressed. As Bill Graves, the former president of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) said in a 2011 ABC article,

“’It doesn’t provide the kind of underguard protection that clearly is called for. . .’ Graves said, though, that the right barrier design is a ‘complicated puzzle to solve. . . That’s the question the federal government has been wrestling now for many years, is what’s the strength we want,’ he said. ‘What’s too much? And what’s not enough?’” ( Lisa Stark, March 1, 2011 )

Because side underride has received less countermeasure effort, and is not currently being addressed by the trailer manufacturing industry itself, this project will also organize a collegiate design competition to challenge engineering students to design affordable and effective side underride protection for large trucks.

Collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams from various universities will identify the outer limits of effective side underride protection, i.e., ascertain the optimum levels of energy absorption and rigidity both to prevent underride and also to result in survivable (and without life-altering injuries) deceleration forces at the maximum speed possible (at various angles).

Two student teams (up to ten students on each team) will be selected by IIHS to receive funding from the grant for their project expenses (up to $15,000, as needed). The two teams will each meet with IIHS early in the process to define the single demonstration crash test that will be performed on the winning design.

The two teams will, also, be expected to provide four written reports (mid-Fall Semester, end of Fall Semester, mid-Spring Semester, and end of academic year) – including a report on their design’s capabilities using computer simulation. They will also be expected to make a final group presentation at an event scheduled at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, at the end of the academic year.

One team’s project will be selected, by a group of 6 judges, for crash testing at this event. The Traffic Safety Ombudsman will oversee this project and recruit 5 judges in addition to the judge from the IIHS.

In addition, each team must include students and/or consult with professionals in relevant fields of study/research/expertise, including but not limited to mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, injury prevention, collision reconstruction, trailer manufacturing, marketing, and law (to do a law review of the cost/benefit analysis in underride rulemaking as well as manufacturer liability issues in this matter).

(See the excellent work done by a Virginia Tech Senior Design Team in the 2015/16 academic year: )


The side guard research has the potential to save 1,534 lives in the next ten years. (Per the NHTSA Truck Underride Statistics Chart, 1994-2014:

AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is eligible to receive contributions that may be tax deductible for the donor. Your donation will help fund research that will save lives!


Other ways to help: How You Can Help

SAVE THE DATE for the Second Underride Roundtable: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at IIHS

SAVE THE DATE for the Second Underride Roundtable: Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We will continue to discuss how to bring about


IIHS will once again co-host this event, with the Truck Safety Coalition and AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, at their Vehicle Research Center.

Save the Date