Monthly Archives: April 2017

Visual Tools to Remind Congress: You have the authority to protect The People from Death by Underride.

As we prepare to go to The Hill next week to participate in a bipartisan discussion of the Comprehensive Underride Protection Bill (RAMCUP Act of 2017; RAM = Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary), I am preparing a video to share our message. One of the things I need to do is figure out if I can find a song or musical background which expresses what I am trying to say.

I want it to convey what we are setting out to do next week on The Hill. We are going to communicate the message that this country was founded on principles of governing that promote the welfare of the people. We are going to remind our legislators that the ball has been dropped for decades and our People have not been protected from Death by Violent Underride.

We are going to remind them that they have a responsibility to use their authority and position to act decisively to ensure that people are hereon out protected from such horrific and preventable tragedies. For the People. We the People are calling on them to do so.

This is not just about trying to get members of Congress to feel sad about our losses and give us their condolences, it is about motivating them to do the right thing — to do what only they can do and make Comprehensive Underride Protection the Law of the Land.

What song will convey that message?

This dilemma reminds me of how effective this form of communication can be. It made me remember the package which I got in the mail last year telling us that our story was going to be included in a law review article titled Visualizing Rulemaking.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter in that package:

We are law professors at the University of Washington in Seattle, and we are writing because we have been deeply moved by your website in memory of your daughters and inspired by your campaign to improve truck safety by mandating new underride protections. Between the two of us, we have five children, and we now never drive on the highway without thinking about your family’s accident and the need for increased safety measures.

We found your website when we were researching and co-authoring a law review article titled “Visualizing Rulemaking,” which discusses the way that people are harnessing the power of visual images and social media to influence the federal administrative rulemaking process. We describe your rulemaking campaign as an excellent and powerful example of ordinary citizens using modern, highly visual tools to effect change in the regulatory realm. Kathryn Watts and Liz Porter

Here is their published article: VISUAL RULEMAKING ELIZABETH G. PORTER† & KATHRYN A. WATTS‡, NYU Law Review, Volume 91, Number 5

Our story is included on pages 41 and 42 (1223, 1224) and 64 (1246) of the pdf.

“Blind Spots in Police Reports Hamper Efforts to Curb Deadly Crashes, Study Says”

After our truck crash on May 4, 2013, we waited for months to receive the crash investigation report (SCRTE) from the state highway patrol. It was detailed but left out a lot of important information.

For example, there was no mention of underride in the report (or on the police crash form). Also, we were not able to find out any verification about the truck driver’s hours of service prior to the crash — except for his verbal report on when he had started out that day on his trip.

It is likely that this paucity of information has contributed to decades of delay in effectively solving the issues of truck underride and driver fatigue — among others.

Inadequate crash information is, in fact, the norm. What might we be able to discover and change were this situation to improve? The National Safety Council has raised this question:

The scope of deadly hazards such as texting and drug use by drivers may be underestimated and not adequately addressed because police aren’t collecting enough information at crash scenes, according to a new report.

The report, released today by the National Safety Council, also found that no state systematically records whether crashes involve vehicles with self-driving features, such as collision-avoidance systems.

The group said more attention must be focused on the problem with a shift from an “accident-report mentality” to crash investigation. It is important to know not just what happened, but why it happened, said Deborah Hersman, chief executive of the safety council, a nonprofit group.

“Better data enables us to make better decisions when it comes to our priorities, our investment and our technology,” she told FairWarning. . .

Safety researchers already conduct crash tests and computer simulations trying to determine how well a vehicle will protect its occupants. But detailed information from a crash is important to understand what happens in the real world, said Charles Farmer, the vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group funded by the insurance industry.

Researchers like Farmer have yearned for that information for at least three decades.

Since 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates traffic safety, has been working with the Governors Highway Safety Association trying to get police to collect more detailed and standardized information. Their recommended Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria has 110 items.

Every state uses that form “to some degree and most states use most of the data elements,” said Barbara Harsha, former GHSA executive director.

Despite NHTSA and GHSA working on the issue for almost two decades, the safety council report concluded that “no state is adequately capturing the crash data we need to understand why crashes are rising, and form an effective path forward.”

Fair Warning, Blind Spots in Police Reports Hamper Efforts to Curb Deadly Crashes, Study Says By Christopher Jensen on April 25, 2017

Are we truly a country of united states? Can we work together more effectively to solve this issue or do we have such a high need to act independently to take care of it ourselves? Lives are at stake.

National Safety Council important report: Undercounted Is Underinvested; HOW INCOMPLETE CRASH REPORTS IMPACT EFFORTS TO SAVE LIVES

Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

 

Could comprehensive truck underride protection have prevented 2 underride deaths in Michigan yesterday?

At this time of year (who am I kidding, all year long), I think about how if there had been comprehensive and effective underride protection on trucks, then  AnnaLeah and Mary might have still been here today. They could have gone with me to the zoo on Friday when I went there with my grandson.

How many deaths and catastrophic injuries could be prevented by comprehensive underride protection on all trucks? Might these two deaths in Michigan yesterday have been prevented?

Two people died and a third was critically hurt today in a multiple-vehicle crash involving a semi that shut down southbound U.S. 23 in Livingston County for hours.

One of the people killed, a 51-year-old man from Milford, was in a Ford Focus that went underneath the semi, according to a release from the Green Oak Charter Township Police Department. Also in that car was a 26-year-old woman that taken to University of Michigan Hospitals with life-threatening injuries. The other man killed was a 52-year-old from Davison who was in a Chevrolet Sonic rear-ended by the semi.

Read more here: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/04/23/semi-crash-us-23-green-oak-livingston/100822330/

Car Dragged By Semi Due To Defective Truck Design

A semi dragging a car with which it collided on a California highway this week has caught media attention. But while many are shaking their heads with disbelief that the truck driver apparently didn’t notice the car, they are overlooking the disturbing fact that trucks have been defectively designed with a “geometric mismatch” that allows cars to ride under them.

And, despite the fact that this is well-known, little or nothing has been done to change this deadly problem.

Car dragged for miles by semi-truck, police say.

Unfortunately, this recent underride crash is not uncommon. This kind of collision happens hundreds of times each year. And the crash in California likely would have ended in a death if someone had been in the front passenger seat — like there was 12 years ago when my friend Lois Durso’s daughter, Roya Sadigh, was killed in a similar crash.

I know what I am talking about because I lost my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013. And it can happen to anyone at anytime — changing life forever without any warning.

This will continue to happen until we, as a country, decide that enough is enough and require every large truck to have effective underride protection — like we are asking for in the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017.

Woman dies after car dragged under semi

“We know how to reduce truck crashes. . . Do we have the will to implement the countermeasures?” IIHS

Good quote from the IIHS:

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

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

Tired Trucker Roundtable: If we plan it, they will come. Can we pull it off?

If people die from riding under Single Unit Trucks, why aren’t they required to have underride protection?

Today I saw another example of why I think that this planet needs comprehensive underride protection on trucks — including on Single Unit Trucks (SUTs), otherwise known as straight trucks, box trucks, work trucks.

Currently, those kinds of trucks are not required to have underride protection. Some of them have voluntarily added some kind of wimpy thing that tries to pass as a rear underride guard. But looking at this one, I wonder whether they even understand the purpose of an underride guard.

If people die from riding under Single Unit Trucks, why aren’t they required to have underride protection?

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

Why, you might ask, would we write a piece of legislation calling for a comprehensive underride protection rule? Why not have separate bills for side underride and rear underride and front underride and Single Unit Trucks (SUTs), et cetera?

I am convinced of the importance of this strategy and want to share some of my thoughts here.

RAM CUP: A DIFFERENT STRATEGY
TO ACHIEVE UNDERRIDE PROTECTION
For Such A Time As This

What can we discover from past attitudes or strategies to address underride deaths?

1. Fragmented approach has led to weak and ineffective protection on some parts of a truck and other parts unprotected (or no protection on Single Unit Trucks)
2. Various aspects of underride protection were treated as separate, unrelated issues
3. Various stakeholders worked in isolation rather than collaboratively
4. Waited for industry to take initiative (or express approval)
5. Not addressed with a sense of urgency
6. Statistical and cost/benefit analysis was flawed and inaccurate and inappropriately undervalued human life and health by putting expenses of providing improved safety on a par with lost lives.
7. Conspiracy of silence regarding deaths due to preventable vehicle violence with the result that too often too little was done too late to save lives.
8. Solutions did not always take into account all aspects of the system, including the crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle or the potential of energy absorption on the large truck.
9. A blaming the victim attitude too often overshadowed the responsibility of the industry to take action and find ways to make trucks safer to be on the road in order to protect vulnerable road users.
10. Confusion about how to solve the problem, along with other factors, may have contributed to inertia to do anything about it.
11. Multiple layers of responsibility has too easily led to No One taking responsibility. (GM Nod)
12. For whatever reason, there have been few R & D resources devoted to this issue.
13. Data has been limited or hidden, partially due to misunderstanding of the problem and lack of training for enforcement officials to identify the role of underride in truck crashes.
14. Isolated incidents of underride may have hidden the immensity of this obscure tragedy.
15. Skepticism about the possibility of technologically and practically feasible solutions has been an obstacle to wholehearted commitment to necessary R & D.
16. Concerns about potential liability may have caused resistance to acknowledge the issue.
17. The competitive nature of the industry may have contributed to a lack of cooperative effort to deal with a deadly design.

I wrote that while sitting outside the Duke Integrative Medicine Center. When I finished, I went inside and picked up a book called, Hippocrates’ Shadow, which talks about what happens in the medical field when the problems of ineffective treatments are not openly discussed. This phrase jumped out at me: “With full knowledge and ample evidence that it doesn’t work, we do it anyway.” (by David H. Newman, MD, p. 25) And the author referred to one of the reasons that the problems don’t get addressed being, “a culture of conformity, inertia, and malpractice paranoia.” Well said. . .

In fact, the development of a COMPREHENSIVE approach to taking care of the truck underride problem was probably first planted in my mind at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, with the suggestion of a member of the trucking industry.

Read about that here, including the subsequent actions that resulted in a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition which a group of us submitted to Secretary Foxx at DOT on September 23, 2016, and upon which the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 is based.

It is not necessarily the initial collision in a truck/passenger vehicle crash which kills but the Second Collision which occurs. In fact, it is quite possible that, of the over 4,000 truck crash deaths which occur every year, many of them could be prevented if adequate comprehensive underride protection were on every single truck.

Underride protection does not prevent a collision but it can prevent the violent injuries and deaths which occur from the Second Collision of the truck into the Passenger Compartment.

In contrast to a fragmented approach, this is my suggestion for approaching the problem of truck underride:

COUP/COUP

Upon reflection, it is my belief that the system for arriving at regulations has been working harder to protect the industry from liability  and responsibility than to protect road users from harm. Furthermore, this has led to a non-transparent process for arriving at appropriate and effective safety measures.

In stark contrast, the crafting of this bill, the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017, was based upon extensive research and the gathering of experts and interested parties over the last four years,

  • first of all, at the Underride Roundtable at IIHS on May 5, 2016;
  • secondly, through a follow-up meeting at IIHS on June 24, 2016, to hammer out details of the Rear Underride Guard specifications then submitted to NHTSA on August 8, 2016, and IIHS Underride Test Protocol submitted to NHTSA on December 23, 2016;
  • and third, through a continued discussion among engineering experts which led to the Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition presented to Secretary Foxx on September 23, 2016 (see attached) — upon which this Bill is based.

These discussions involved trucking industry representatives, including Ted Scott, VP of Engineering for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and Gary Fenton, who is VP of Engineering for Stoughton Trailers and Chairman of the Engineering Committee for the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA). Participants also have included engineering experts from universities, international experts in truck underride, and two engineers who have designed side guards which have recently been successfully tested.

In my humble opinion, the interests of this country would best be served if this group would be formally recognized and commissioned to work with NHTSA and to develop the specifications for the final comprehensive underride protection rule. Why re-invent the wheel? Why delay the process any longer than necessary? Wasted time translates into more unnecessary death and life-long grief.

AND

The COUP truck safety certification program (modeled after the Transport for London FORS) could also be integrated into the comprehensive underride protection vision/scenario/strategy/bill:

COUP (Certification Of Underride Protection). In order to get fully certified, a trucking company would have to get an award in each aspect of underride protection, including:

  1. Rear (Already introduced by the IIHS with their recent presentation of a ToughGuard award to five trailer manufacturers)
  2. Front
  3. Side
  4. Maintenance of underride devices (annual inspection and training in how to do pre-trip inspections of the devices)
  5. Training for drivers in what to do and not do in terms of parking and U-turns
  6. Other (whatever I am forgetting right now — like the protection of all vulnerable road users)

This would be required for ALL trucks, including Single Unit Trucks (Straight, Box).

I would like to add this aspect to the drafted bill, along with a mandate for establishment of a Committee of Experts to Oversee This.

“Death by Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed the Law”

The Power of People to Protect People is the message conveyed in the book Death by Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed the Law, by Ben Kelley. People and lawyers need to know about ways that they can work together to protect others from harm. This is especially true when we are in an era of unbridled power of corporations to cause harm to people with too little protection by captive regulatory agencies of government. This book by Ben Kelley is an unfinished success story that too few people know about.

In the foreword, Ralph Nader describes this book as a “gripping story of two young women – sisters aged 24 and 20 – whose promising lives were snuffed out in a fiery, traumatic instant collision by their Chrysler PT Cruiser…and the tenacious effort by their parents and attorneys to hold accountable the rental car company that ignored a government recall for a lethal defect and the manufacturer that made the car.

“You’ll read what a difference dedicated, persistent personal injury attorneys, on contingent fees, can make…

“Finally, you’ll be so impressed, I believe, by Carol Houck’s mission, which is to obtain state and federal legislation that requires rental car companies to fix recalled vehicles before renting them out. She says ‘the mom in me knew there were going to be other kids, and, by golly, I wasn’t going to let Raechel & Jackie die in vain.’”

Read more here: Death by Rental Car: How the Houck Case Changed the Law

 

Will Knight/Swift KNX make sure their 77,000 trailers have the best possible underride protection?

Last month, I met Jerry Moyes, founder of Swift Transportation, at a Senate hearing on truck safety in DC. He proudly talked about how Swift makes safety a priority. In fact, he appeared very interested in the side guard design by Aaron Kiefer which I showed to him.

This morning, I read that Swift has just merged with Knight Transportation. The combined resources of the two companies will now mean that the new entity will have 77,000 trailers on the road.

Will the new company make safety a priority and ensure that those 77,000 trailers have the best possible underride protection? I sure hope so.

Stay tuned for results of the March 30 & 31 Side Underride/Guard Crash Tests at IIHS

We were privileged to attend the first crash test into the side of a semi-trailer at IIHS on March 30. The AngelWing side guard successfully prevented underride and Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI).

In other words, the people in the car would have been saved from catastrophic injuries!

The IIHS also crashed a car at 35 mph into the side of a trailer without a side guard. Stay tuned for the devastating results of that crash compared to the amazing difference with a side guard.

Underride Roundtable Planning Group members who attended the March 30, 2017, IIHS side guard crash test: Lois Durso, John Lannen, Andy Young, Marianne Karth, Jerry Karth, Perry Ponder, Robert Martineau

Previous 2012 side guard video from Perry Ponder, with his AngelWing invention: