Monthly Archives: August 2017

Media Coverage of the Second Underride Roundtable

The Second Underride Roundtable was held at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, on August 29, 2017. Read media reports of this successful gathering of various stakeholders to work together to improve comprehensive underride protection:

  1. Insurance Institute Conducts Successful Test of Side Underguard Protection http://www.ttnews.com/articles/insurance-institute-conducts-sucessful-test-side-underguard-protection 
  2.  Side guard on semitrailer prevents underride in 40 mph test http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/side-guard-on-semitrailer-prevents-underride-in-40-mph-test
  3. Advocates for Truck Safety Hold Underride Roundtable and Crash Test at IIHS http://www.nbc29.com/story/36245364/advocates-for-truck-safety-hold-underride-roundtable-and-crash-test-at-iihs
  4. Grieving parents break down after crash test shows life-saving technology http://www.wusa9.com/news/investigations/underrides/grieving-parents-break-down-after-crash-test-shows-technology-that-could-have-saved-their-kids/469019354
  5. “Hall of Crashes” may hold the key to safer cars and roads  http://www.wusa9.com/news/investigations/underrides/hall-of-crashes-may-hold-the-key-to-safer-cars-and-roads/466377388
  6. Once again, Eric Flack and WUSA 9 continued an in-depth investigation of the truck underride problem & solution with insight, energy, & intent. Facebook Live at the Roundtable Crash Test:  https://www.facebook.com/marianne.karth/posts/10214194153315951

How You Can Help Us Get Comprehensive Underride Protection On Trucks

I know that I can’t be the only person in this country (or the planet for that matter) who would like to see trucks made safer to drive around. So, for anyone else who would like to help get comprehensive underride protection on trucks in the U.S., here are some ideas:  http://annaleahmary.com/how-you-can-help/

 

Heading for the Second Underride Roundtable Now: Good Things Sure To Happen As A Result!

Heading to IIHS in Ruckersville, Virginia, for the Second Underride Roundatable We will be working together to save lives. For sure!

See a side guard installed on a truck: “It’s What’s Behind the Skirt that Saves Lives™”

Andy Young, attorney and CDL-holder, narrates this video in which an Angel Wing side guard system is installed on a tractor-trailer. He explains in detail why a side guard is so important and how it can save lives.

Take a behind the scenes look at an installation of AngelWing, AirFlow Deflector’s Side Underride Protection Device. Narrated by Andy Young, follow him as he explains what is the problem and what can be done to save lives. It’s What’s Behind the Skirt that Saves Lives™.

Thanks, Andy!

Together we are making the roads safer!

Applying AI & Procedural Generation to Traffic Safety #ProceduralGeneration #AI #trafficsafety

Each part of my life is somehow interwoven with the others. Today our oldest son, Isaac Karth, is on his way to give a presentation on a paper which he wrote:  WaveFunctionCollapse is Constraint Solving in the Wild .

He also writes a blog on Procedural Generation: http://procedural-generation.tumblr.com/ .  “In computing, procedural generation is a method of creating data algorithmically as opposed to manually. In computer graphics, it is also called random generation and is commonly used to create textures and 3D models. In video games, it is used to automatically create large amounts of content in a game.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procedural_generation ) And in a few weeks he will start on his PhD in Computational Media. So why am I writing about that here?

  1. Last night, he gave us a sneak preview of his presentation. While very informative, it is such an involved topic and one I don’t work with directly. So I had to concentrate hard to grasp what he was saying, but it gave me ideas about things which do impact me more directly.
  2. He also shared an Abstract he is writing for another paper/presentation. The gist of it is that World Building with ideas, which can then be used to tell stories, can also be created by Generators through the Procedural Generation process (okay, don’t count on my description of it).
  3. What that made me think of was AnnaLeah’s colorful “worlds” of characters (names and their relationships) which she created in her mind and on paper — fully intending to use them to tell stories. [I wrote about that on October 17, 2013 — a few months after the crash: The Apple of His Eye.] She never had a chance to take it any further. Maybe procedural generation could capture a glimpse of the possibilities of what she might have unfolded for us to enjoy. [Unrealized Potential ]
  4. One of the things which Isaac wants to leave with his audience of researchers is the idea that they can benefit from paying attention to how others out there in the Procedural Generation world are coming up with new ideas for tools to execute procedural generation projects and ways to apply them.

Again, why am I writing about that here?

  1. I’d like to know how procedural generation tools might be made use of to further the mandate, research & design, and installation of comprehensive underride protection.
  2. I’d also like to know how it could be put to effective use in other areas of traffic safety — e.g., to bring about a paradigm shift in how the trucking industry utilizes and protects the well-being of truck drivers , while at the same time improving the safety of other road users. Win/Win.
  3. Finally, I’d like to know how procedural generation could be put to use to create an elaborate interactive personal crash story map, as well as an interactive personal traffic safety risk digital tool to raise awareness, educate, and mobilize citizens to be part of the solution to end preventable vehicle violence. [And it could then become a required part of every driver training course, driver license testing {how much better than memorizing blood alcohol levels or points on your record} and of every application for car insurance — with periodic updates before getting your license or insurance renewed. Well, why not?]

Let’s do what we can to make the system safer — including developing and utilizing crash avoidance technologies to reduce the possibility of crashes happening. But let’s not leave the human nature of the driver totally out of the picture. Let’s keep working to make sure that drivers stay engaged in the highly-complex process of driving vehicles (especially large trucks) — not less so!

Let’s figure out what can be done to make that happen  — a matter of both personal and societal responsibility.

And don’t forget: Continue to make the vehicles more crashworthy — so that when crashes do occur, they will be more survivable!

“The longer Congress waits, the more people will die.” Next segment in @WUSA9 underride series.

Next episode in the WUSA 9 truck underride series by Eric Flack aired last night.

“The longer Congress waits, the more people will die. That’s the position of a leading auto safety group calling for new regulations on tractor trailers.”

History of Truck Underride Recommendations in the U.S.

A senator’s Office recently asked me to provide them with a one-page history of reports and recommendations made on the truck underride problem in the U.S. Here it is (with clickable links):

Truck Underride Reports & Recommendations in the U.S.

Complex Nature of National Traffic Death Circumstances Calls for Creative & Collaborative Strategy

It is apparent to me that the complex nature of circumstances which result in one traffic/vehicle tragedy after another calls for a creative and collaborative response:

  1. It requires both personal and societal responsiveness to the problem. We are all part of the problem; we must all become part of the solution.
  2. Government and industry must not only acknowledge the extent of the problem but also their role to address it comprehensively.
  3. We must determine to what extent we value human life and health. Are we willing to pay the price to end preventable deaths?
  4. If so, then we need to find ways to appropriately share the cost of implementing safety measures.

Posts related to this:

I know that many people and organizations are already doing many things to make our roads safer. But is there anything that could be done which could have widespread impact and bring about changes more quickly? I think so.

I have summarized my thoughts here:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal: Driverless Policy Making by Roger Lanctot and  Last night, Pres. Obama referred in the past tense to crash fatalities as a public health problem. and  National Vision Zero Goal: Unifying Force in Development of Automated Vehicles 
  2. Establish a National Vision Zero Task Force: Let’s establish a White House Task Force to Achieve a Vision Zero Goal of Crash Death Reduction
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking:  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Executive-Order-Draft-Application-of-Vision-Zero-Principles-to-Highway-Safety-Regulatory-Review.pdf
  4. Appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman: Traffic Safety Ombudsman (Advocate); Missing piece of Vision Zero Strategy
  5. Catalyze citizens to become part of the solution through a nationwide network of Vision Zero/Traffic Safety community groups: Vision Zero Nationwide Network of Traffic Safety Advocacy Groups: Communities Working to Save Lives

And here’s my project proposal to accomplish many of those things!  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ALMFTS-Traffic-Safety-Ombudsman-Project-Proposal.pdf

Does DOT Want to Reach Toward Zero Deaths? Or not?

In the process of writing a post on Mary’s would-have-been 18th birthday, I discovered a link to a DOT webpage on Toward Zero Deaths.

Here’s that post: Mary would have turned 18 today; but underride protection isn’t “cost-effective.”

And here is the link: Federal Highway Administration: Toward Zero Deaths .

The Department of Transportation is saying that the,

FHWA is committed to the vision of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our Nation’s roadways. This approach echoes the Department of Transportation’s Strategic Plan, which articulates the goal of “working toward no fatalities across all modes of travel“; the FHWA’s strategic goal of ensuring the “nation’s highway system provides safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable mobility for all users”; and the emphasis on safety that FHWA renews every year in our strategic implementation efforts.

The zero deaths vision is a way of clearly and succinctly describing how an organization, or an individual, is going to approach safety – even one death on our transportation system is unacceptable. This idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as “Vision Zero” and since then has evolved across the country and across the world. A growing number of states and cities have adopted zero deaths visions under different brandings.

The zero deaths approach uses a data-driven, interdisciplinary approach that FHWA has been promoting for many years. The approach targets areas for improvement and employs proven countermeasures, integrating application of education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma services (the “4Es”). A combination of strategies from different focus areas will be necessary to achieve the zero deaths vision.

If that is truly the Department’s vision, then their lack of appropriate action to issue underride rulemaking falls far short of that mission. And why is that? Could it be that safety is no longer truly their priority? Are they unable to be an uncompromised voice for the victims of vehicle violence — whether there be 400 or 4,000 underride deaths/year?

Who then will advocate for safer roads?

Congress should act responsibly and pass the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act. President Trump should sign an Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking and the Office of Management & Budget should revise their guidelines to allow agencies to conduct regulatory analysis which properly values the preservation of human health & life.

Otherwise, the Department of Transportation’s public commitment to a vision of Toward Zero Deaths is a farce. May it not be so.

 

Remembering Mary when she would have been 18.

Mary Lydia Karth, August 6, 1999 – May 8, 2013

Oh, and before you go, read this previous post: If Sec. Foxx & DOT are embracing Vision Zero, why do we have to fight to get a strong Underride Rule?

Mary would have turned 18 today; but underride protection isn’t “cost-effective.”

Controversy surrounds the cost/benefit analysis undergone to determine whether a safety solution — proven to save lives — is cost effective. In other words, does the total cost to the industry required to implement the solution

divided by

the supposed number of lives saved (and by some formula the number of injuries prevented)

equal a $ figure

less than or equal to the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) at that point in time [currently $9.6 million]?

If the cost is greater than that VSL, the safety countermeasure is deemed too costly and the rulemaking is ditched. In the case of underride protection, no mandate is thereafter issued to the industry requiring them to install equipment which could save lives.

Here is an example. Single Unit Trucks (SUTs) are not currently required to have rear underride guards which meet the same standard as for tractor-trailers. We petitioned NHTSA in May 2014 to require them. In response, NHTSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in July 2015. Their preliminary regulatory cost benefit analysis came to this conclusion (p. 26):

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL in 2014 is $9.2 million.
While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs
(minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).

Yet, here is an April 2017 fatality in Florida from an underride crash involving a Single Unit TruckCrash kills 2 on I-75 in Bonita Springs

Apparently these lives were not worth saving.

Fairly soon after our crash, after a year or so of taking part in truck safety advocacy efforts, I became aware of the stranglehold which the cost/benefit analysis had on the likelihood of being able to get proven safety solutions actually required. That’s when I launched our Vision Zero Petition which got 20,000+ signatures. That’s when I also found that President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 was what spelled out the specifications for that regulatory analysis for which the Office of Management & Budget had become the gatekeeper for safety regulations.

Many people made comments on the ANPRM for underride guards on Single Unit Trucks, as well as the NPRM for improved rear underride guards on tractor-trailers to the point that costs were overstated and benefits (saved lives) were understated. In fact, Lois Durso and I recently shared with many people on The Hill, as well as DOT, the proof that our two underride crashes were not even accurately listed as underride crashes with PCI (Passenger Compartment Intrusion) in the NHTSA FARS reports of truck crash fatalities. How many other underride deaths might also be inaccurately reported?

We are convinced that underride deaths are grossly undercounted. In fact, we would go so far as to say that every one of the 4,000 (on average) truck crash deaths each year should be considered an underride death unless otherwise proven (compared to the 200 to 600 annual deaths currently attributed to underride). After all, when a passenger vehicle collides with a large truck, it will be with some portion of that truck. If that part of the truck does not have any/adequate underride protection, then some degree of underride is, of course, likely to occur — which means that the truck is likely to intrude into the passenger occupant space. PCI then occurs with death and/or catastrophic injuries.

It is not necessarily the truck crash per se that causes the horrific deaths and injuries but rather the underride of the truck into the passenger occupant space. But this is not the current thinking in FARS data collection and regulatory analysis.

But even if we found a better way to report these deaths and every single one was included in the count, could someone find a loophole in the formula and still declare that comprehensive underride protection was not cost-effective and these lives were not worth saving?

When we were in DC a few weeks ago and met with DOT, I had a glimmer of hope because we were told that there had been recent discussions of the fact that the achievement of Zero Deaths in the airline industry was in stark contrast to the 35,000 annual deaths on the roadways. There was apparently realization that something had to be changed in how DOT is addressing this major public health problem — including the consideration of studying “near misses.” After all, DOT has publicly stated that their strategic plan is to move Toward Zero Deaths. I say, Let’s hold them to it!

Might we see a shift away from cost/benefit analysis that devalues human life to a cost-effectiveness approach that considers what is the most effective way (with the least cost) to save every life possible? What would it take to bring that about? Would President Trump be willing to sign an Executive Order authorizing Vision Zero Rulemaking?

If our truck crash had been less complicated — if I had rear-ended the tractor-trailer ahead of us instead of another truck hitting us and causing us to go backward into the tractor-trailer ahead of us — I would not be a truck crash survivor. I would have experienced Death by Underride and, quite likely — being in the back seat — AnnaLeah and Mary would have survived.

Mary would have lived to celebrate her 18th birthday today. She would have become an adult. She would have had the chance to live out her dreams and hopes. She would have continued to fill the world with her joie de vivre.

That is why I am unwilling to compromise and why I will continue to insist on underride protection that is comprehensive and effective to the fullest extent technologically possible in concert with the crashworthiness of cars. If that had been so on May 4, 2013, then AnnaLeah and I, along with our whole family, would have been able to wish Mary a very happy 18th birthday.

 

What If the Insurance Industry Gave Trucking Companies a Discount for Safety Equipment?

I have asked the question before: Who should pay for truck safety? This question is burning within me because I know all too well the answer to another question: Who pays for the lack of truck safety?

When I checked to see what posts I have written on the topic, I discovered that I have written quite a few. Is that so surprising when I observe that, year after year, not too much changes along that line?

Like I said, I have already written volumes on this topic. What more is there to say? Well, plenty. . . and specifically I have written about this question related to the deadly problem of preventable truck underride. In fact, I made a laundry list of ways that installing comprehensive underride protection could actually be considered a Win/Win situation — if we make an effort to creatively address it to the benefit of all:

Should the trucking industry be concerned about underride legislation?

One thing I didn’t include on that list, however, is the idea of the insurance industry providing a discount to trucking companies on their liability insurance for the installation of safety equipment — like side guards, front underride/override protection, and improved rear underride guards.

Well, why not? I’m serious; I don’t really think that’s just an absurd hypothetical question. And I think it deserves a serious answer.