We have worked hard ever since we lost AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) on May 4, 2013, in a senseless and preventable truck underride crash. We have set out to make sure that effective protection is on every defective area of every truck to prevent future underride tragedies.
The problem is that we keep coming against all of the excuses and mistaken beliefs which stand in the way of our moving forward with creative solutions to this public health & safety problem. So my goal now is to debunk the myth that safety countermeasures — like a comprehensive underride protection rule — are unnecessary and will over-regulate the trucking industry.
First of all, let’s make it very clear that truck underride is not a new problem or even a newly-discovered problem. No, in fact, we have found an 1896 patent for a side underride protective device for a street car and a U.S. patent filed in 1913 for a safety device for the side of motor vehicles. In 1969, the Department of Transportation acknowledged the side underride problem in the Federal Register when they indicated that they intended to extend underride protection to the sides of large trucks.
Second, if the industry was going to solve this problem all by itself, then it would have done so by now. It has not. And I am convinced that, despite the signs of progress which we have seen, there will never be complete and comprehensive underride protection without regulation.
There are too many layers of responsibility in this process; each one involved can point the finger of blame at someone else and the end result is that this problem has fallen between the cracks. I, for one, will not let that continue on my watch.
Next week, we are hosting an Underride Briefing in the Capitol Visitor Center, Room 215, from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. We are hoping for good attendance from legislative offices so that they are accurately informed about the Stop Underrides Bill — enabling them to wholeheartedly jump on board for this Win/Win solution.
The Senate Commerce Committee had a mark-up today of the AV Start Act.
— NSC (@NSCsafety) October 4, 2017
Here’s hoping that there will be a similar call for safer trucks to be rolling out to deliver goods. And let’s learn from Wabash National’s approach to innovation:
Wabash was first introduced to the possibility of using composites in the trailer by Structural Composites, a Melbourne, Fla.-based company that was using unique composite technology for shock-mitigating Navy boats. Wabash assessed performance and economic metrics, then benchmarked how the technology might apply to trailers.
Wabash opted to use composites, however the project came with a steep learning curve for everyone involved. “We had a lot to learn about semi-trailers and refrigerated truck bodies and what kind of loads they go through,” says Scott Lewit, president of Structural Composites. “And they had to learn from us about what composites can do.” Yeagy encouraged the team to push the boundaries and not be afraid to fail, recalls Lewit. “This approach allowed us to learn and innovate from failure and to rapidly develop and deploy new technology,” he says. The Trailblazing Trailer, Composites Manufacturing, Evan Milberg , July 5, 2017