Category Archives: Safety Advocacy

“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

 

“Gridlock on Anti-Lock Brakes Baffles Motorcycle Safety Advocates”

Just started reading a Fair Warning article on motorcycles and find it echoes what we have found with truck underride: cost/benefit analysis practices are going to continue to prevent the saving of countless lives and nobody is heeding my call for revamping the rulemaking to reflect Vision Zero principles. Until we do, there will be senseless roadblocks on the Road to Zero.
After a long downward trend, U.S. traffic deaths are on the rise again, and a key factor is the stubbornly high fatality toll among some of the most exposed people on the road: motorcyclists.

Nevertheless, federal regulators have balked at requiring a safety measure that, many experts say, could save hundreds of bikers’ lives every year.

Anti-lock brake systems, a standard feature on lots of passenger vehicles since the 1990s, have been touted for years as a potentially powerful tool to cut motorcycle deaths. The technology, known as ABS, works by preventing the wheels from locking up during hard braking and improving control amid emergencies or slippery road conditions.

In the U.S., major law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol and the New York City Police Department, require that all motorcycles in their fleets have ABS. Around the world, ABS-equipped motorcycles are fast becoming standard. All new large bikes sold in Europe must now have ABS. On a phased-in schedule, Japan, India and Brazil are following suit.

“It is hard to come up with something else that has the potential to be as important for motorcycle safety,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which estimates that nearly one-third of all fatal crashes from motorcycling every year, and many injuries, could be prevented by a federal ABS mandate.

Federal regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the officials who would be in a position to do something, have been criticized for taking an ambiguous, even mysterious stance. . . 

The bottom line was that officials decided that there was insufficient proof that the benefits, measured by lives saved and injuries avoided, would outweigh costs to manufacturers.

I still am hoping to organize and empower survivor advocates to ask for a meeting with the White House to demand a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and an Executive Order to Authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking.

Some links for further research:
Antilock braking systems make riding safer.

Irresponsible advice on motorcycle ABS

ABS Motorcycles vs Non ABS Motorcycles – Do You Need Motorcycle ABS?

How ABS Work In Bike To Save The Rider

Survey results show NC motorcycle riders focus on safety

Sudden Unintended Acceleration: Are you prepared for it?

If Sudden Unintended Acceleration — like my son had to face — is a possibility for any car or driver, then we need to be better prepared for such an eventuality.

Some links to consider:

Here is a 2016 patent for a Throttle valve for preventing sudden unintended acceleration https://www.google.com/patents/US9322338

Are automotive companies making use of such a thing? Should they be?

Public Health Supplement: Global Road Safety; Monitoring Risks and Evaluating Programs

A source of articles related to road safety and public health issues: Supplement: Global Road Safety: Monitoring Risks and Evaluating Programs, Public Health, March 2017
Volume 144, Supplement, S1-S70, Edited by David Bishai, Adnan A. Hyder

2 Moms Share Their Safer Truck Message in Hallways & Hearings on The Hill

I’m not sure that Washington, DC, was ready to be invaded by 2 moms prepared to do battle for safer trucks in memory of their daughters. So much happened in three days that I’ll simply summarize it here:

  • Monday, March 13, we met at DOT with nine staff members from the NHTSA and FMCSA. We were thankful to be able to share our stories and recommendations for underride protection. But the lack of transparency and ability for them to discuss their rulemaking (or not) activities was once-again frustrating. We did find out that side underride has become a topic of discussion there recently. What that will mean, I do not know.
  • Tuesday, March 14, the streets of Washington, DC, were covered with snow and government offices had a three-hour delay. We had originally planned to drop by some senate offices before an afternoon meeting. We got a late start with that but were actually able to arrange a meeting with Commerce Committee staff from the office of Senator Nelson (FL). We talked about both the need for trucking minimum liability insurance to be raised from its 1980’s level and the need for improved truck underride protection.
  • We also stopped by Senator Marco Rubio’s office and arranged for a meeting with his staff the next morning.
  • Then, we attended a Senate Hearing at 2:30: Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, will convene a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 2:30 p.m. titled “Continuing to Improve Truck Safety on our Nation’s Highways.” The hearing will examine truck safety advancements in the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that passed last Congress and potential reforms moving forward. The hearing will also hear from a range of perspectives on the implementation of safety programs and other opportunities and challenges facing truck safety
  • Witnesses:– The Honorable Christopher A. Hart, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
    – Captain Chris Turner, Kansas Highway Patrol and Vice President of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
    – Dr. Paul P. Jovanis, Professor Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University; Chair, Transportation Research Board Committee
    – Mr. Jerry Moyes, Chairman Emeritus, Swift Transportation
    – Dr. Adrian Lund, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Other than Dr. Lund’s announcement of the IIHS Toughguard Award for trailer manufacturers, I’m not sure that there was a whole lot of new information shared. Same old, same old. I could hardly stand not being able to share about the need for side underride protection.
  • Fortunately, afterward, I was able to speak with Lane Kidd director of The Trucking Alliance, say hello to Dr. Lund who is retiring (I found out from Senator Booker), and speak enthusiastically with Jerry Moyes who founded Swift Transportation and who, with a Swift VP, seemed very interested in the pieces of Aaron Kiefer’s side guard invention which I had brought along with me (polyester webbing & side skirt plastic).
  • Lois Durso and I also had a chance to speak briefly with Senator Cory Booker (who had made important mention of the minimum liability insurance issue).
  • Then, at 5:00 p.m., we were able to meet with Commerce Committee staff from Senator John Thune’s office. That seemed to go well.
  • The next day, we had a 9:00 a.m. meeting with Senator Marco Rubio’s staff to enlighten them especially on the side underride problem.
  • Then, we discussed what other offices we could stop in at. We had a binder full of almost 10,000 Side Guard Petition signatures. When I woke up, I thought, “To whom shall we give the signatures?” After considering several options, I thought, “They should go to Senator Thune, since he is one of the ones it is directed to and we would be on The Hill where his office is located.” But his staff had told us that we would not be able to meet with him.
  • We also had some information packets which we wanted to give to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Cory Booker. We could not meet with their staff, but we dropped off the information at their offices.
  • In the midst of going to and fro in a maze of Senate office buildings (Dirksen, Hart, and Russell), getting lost and making spontaneous decisions about where to go next, we passed by a meeting room where there had been a “Sunrise Breakfast” — must have been kind of a meet & greet affair. Senator Thune’s name was included on the sign. We asked staff at a table outside the door if Senator Thune was still there. They didn’t know. I said, “Could you please check.” They figured he probably had some other meeting he needed to be at.
  • Then, all of a sudden, I looked up and he was walking out of the door and starting down the hall. I quickly went over to him, he introduced himself, and we shook hands. By that time, Lois was there, too. I don’t know what all we had time to tell him. It happened so fast. But Lois said to me, “Give him the book.” And his assistant took it. The book being the binder with the 10,000 signatures* which we told him we got after the Today Show broadcast on side underride for which he had been interviewed.
  • Senator Thune had seen the video and we showed him the pieces of the guard and he actually appeared genuinely interested. After that short and unexpected meeting, we parted ways. Lois and I continued down the hall. We kept looking at each other and grinning! And grinning.
  • Clearly, though we had tried for several weeks to get a meeting with Senator Thune (Chair of the Transportation Committee) to no avail, the task was not too hard for the Lord, who had no trouble arranging that serendipitous meeting in the Capitol halls.
  • Man makes plans and the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
  • *The Petition shows less than 10,000 signatures (9,577 signatures as of 3/17/17), but I had started another side guard petition last summer (which has 9,071 signatures), so two petitions for side guards are online. Some people have actually signed both, but together the two petitions actually have more than 10,000 people calling for better underride protection. I have to get my tech people (my family) to help me do an analysis of how many signatures we actually have to date! In any case, Senator Thune is now fully aware of the support this issue is receiving.
  • Before we left our country’s capital to go back to our respective homes, Lois and I plotted to take further action, which I began as soon as I got to Union Station and waited to board Amtrak. Stay tuned for exciting news about the Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act!

Road Safety Audit (RSA); One way to make our roads safer

It is heartening to know that there are many people working to make the roads safer. This video gives a glimpse of how tribal leaders are trying to protect their people:

What can you do to make the roads safer?

 

DOE employees have an Office of Ombudsman but Vulnerable Victims of Vehicle Violence do not.

I just noticed that the Department of Energy employees have an Office of Ombudsman. It reminded me that Vulnerable Victims of Vehicle Violence do not have a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman to advocate on their behalf.

Good Week for Working on Traffic Safety Solutions: ATA/TMC in Nashville & Road to Zero Coalition in DC

I will be on the road this week pushing for safer roads — first at the American Trucking Associations annual Technology & Maintenance Council Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, starting tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I will be in DC for a Road to Zero Coalition meeting, as well as other opportunities to discuss traffic safety issues.

Still working on trying to get an additional meeting set up. . .

I’m armed with photos of my girls and plenty of information on how we can make the roads safer — not sure that they are ready for me!

Side Guard Petition Comment Uncovers Yet One More Family Devastated by Preventable Side Underride

I just noticed a comment on the Side Guard Petition from signer #1537:

My dad, Richard Yancoskie, died January 28th 2015, in an underride accident, although the driver was ultimately at fault side guards would have saved my dad’s life. . .34 mph at the point of impact and also no airbags ever deployed because we have been told the sensors were above the point of impact, I have contacted several government agencies about the importance of implementing side guard rails but have yet to be successful. . . please feel free to contact me. I want to help any way I can.

I am sorry to hear of her family’s loss and yet one more life cut too short. I hope to get in touch with her and am quite sure that she will be able to lend a hand in the effort to end preventable side underride deaths.

Join over 9,000 signers of the Side Guard Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/251/762/472/end-deadly-side-underride-crashes-mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks/

DOE pours millions into SuperTruck fuel savings research projects; $0 devoted to side underride protection?

How is it that the DOE and Volvo poured resources into research and development of SuperTrucks but did not bother to (as far as I can tell, though I am not done looking into this yet) include improved underride protection as a goal of this project?!

  1. http://www.truckinginfo.com/ channel/fuel-smarts/news/ story/2016/09/volvo-s- supertruck-exceeds-epa- freight-efficiency-goals.aspx
  2. I have not been able to get Wabash to return my communications. I am trying to find out if they did any crash testing with their full-length skirts or what material it is made out of: http://news. wabashnational.com/wabash- national-demonstrates- concepts-for-next-generation- aerodynamic-solutions-on- navistars-supertruck
  3. DOE’s Navistar : http://www.truckinginfo.com/ news/story/2016/09/navistar- supertruck-beats-doe- efficiency-goals-hits-13-mpg. aspx
  4. Aerodynamic improvements that reduce the trailer’s drag coefficient by more than 30%. The vehicle is part of the DOE’s SuperTruck program – a five-year research and development initiative aimed at improving freight efficiency, based in the measure of the payload carried while burning less fuel.

Its objective is to develop and demonstrate a 50% improvement in overall freight efficiency on a Class 8 tractor-trailer vehicle as measured in ton-miles per gallon of diesel fuel.

Could they not have combined resources with DOT to accomplish such a thing?

Again, cost-savings over life-savings.

Can we use the potential fuel efficiency cost-savings of side guards advantageously to win the cost/benefit analysis battle?

Super Truck II is announced! Let’s get DOT to be involved with this project! $20,000 fuel savings/year could go to safety research!!!!!!!!!!!!

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was present for the unveiling of Volvo’s SuperTruck concept/demo rig in Washington, D.C. Here’s what he had to say about reaching the DOE’s next step in the fuel economy/freight efficiency project: SuperTruck II. http://www.truckinginfo. com/video/detail/2016/09/on- the-spot-reaching-for- supertruck-ii-video.aspx

More information on this SuperTruck project and random frustrated reactions:

$20 million in federal funding for the Super Truck II project and we can’t get diddly for side guard research?!?!?!!?!

http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/volvo-group-outlines-supertruck-ii-plans.aspx  Volvo Group has outlined how it plans to use $20 million in federal funding to further the freight-moving efficiency of heavy-duty trucks as part of the SuperTruck II initiative.

Volvo Group said its team of researchers and engineers will use alternative engine designs and an integrated system approach to build a lightweight tractor-trailer concept that will exceed the freight efficiency goal of 100% improvement on a ton-mile-per-gallon basis compared to a 2009 baseline. The team is also tasked with demonstrating powertrain capable of 55% brake thermal efficiency. Volvo Group and its partners will match the development funds dollar-for-dollar.

To achieve these goals, the company plans to leverage its experience in vehicle development along with established partnerships with advanced technology and trailer equipment vendors.

Those partners include Michelin Americas Research Company for tires, Wabash National for trailers, Metalso for lightweight frames, Johnson-Matthey for exhaust aftertreatment systems, and Peloton Technology for platooning and connected vehicle tech. . .

Daimler Trucks North America will develop and demonstrate a tractor-trailer combination using a suite of technologies including active aerodynamics, cylinder deactivation, hybridization, and the electrification of accessories. . .

For more information on the DOE’s alternative fuel technology investment, click herehttps://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/vehicle-technologies-office

Related: DOE Commits $137M to Advance Fuel-Efficient Tech  http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fuel-smarts/news/story/2016/08/doe-commits-137-million-to-advance-fuel-efficient-tech.aspx

Yet more disturbing information:

This gives links to multiple articles on the SuperTruck project: http://www.truckinginfo.com/list/tag/supertruck.aspx

Trailer aerodynamics have become increasingly important in recent years as truck operators see that they can save fuel money. They’re so important that the federal government is paying several teams of truck and trailer makers to design concept rigs that show what’s possible in this area of science.

As far back as the 1980s I’ve written about various types of trailer aero fairings, from Nose Cones to TrailerTails and many brands of skirts and other appendages in between.

Here’s one I don’t recall writing about, at least not lately: the UnderTray and other products from SmartTruck. The company has posted a YouTube video depicting a tractor-trailer moving through the air at highway speed, with streamlines showing how the devices smooth air flow over the vehicle. Check it out here

Also note the Diffuser, SmartTruck’s device mounted ahead of the rear underride guard that redirects air away from its vertical and horizontal members. These otherwise grab at the air and create drag. (Old timers still call this the “ICC bumper” because the old Interstate Commerce Commission required them, something I definitely don’t recall being a fact, but it’s part of trucking vocabulary.)

The trailer portion of Freightliner’s SuperTruck of course got large panels that improve air flow around corners, deep skirts to keep air away from the Strick van’s undercarriage and tandem, and a boat tail similar to a Trailer Tail, but home-made. One would expect all of those.

What?!?!?!?!?!?! All of this government money going into research & development for fuel savings but not a word or project related to underride protection/SAFETY?!