Category Archives: Safety Advocacy

Such exciting news! Wabash Trailers has taken initiative to save lives with prototype side guard!

I just heard the news tonight: Wabash has taken the initiative to develop a prototype side guard. They revealed it this week at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show.

I sure wish I had gone to that show. Or maybe not. If I had and had come upon that exhibit, they would have heard me all around the trade show hall. I probably would have run around, jumping up and down in excitement!

Developed in-house, the combination side impact guard and skirt prototype passed tests for a 90-degree centerline vehicle impact at 35 miles per hour, according to Mark D. Ehrlich, Wabash National product development manager. The system uses a braided cable and is 40% to 50% lighter than other designs.

Wabash prototype: Side underride guard with aero skirt, Trailer Body Builders, Charles Wilson, September 29, 2017

Thank you, Wabash Trailers, for taking this important step to make trucks safer for all of us to be around.

Lois Durso, Dick Giromini (CEO of Wabash), & Marianne Karth at the ATA TMC Conference in Nashville, February 2017

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory. . . Ephesians 3:20-21

The Naming of an Underride Bill; Out of the Mouths of Babes

Ever since we began sharing about our crash so that we could help to make trucks safer, people have been touched by the story of AnnaLeah and Mary. They tell us how they can’t drive down the highway and see trucks without thinking about them. It clearly touches their heads & hearts. They get what rear underride is.

The same is true when Lois Durso shares the story of her daughter Roya’s crash. People suddenly understand what a side underride crash is and why we are working to prevent these kinds of tragedies. Tears come to their eyes.

So that is why — when we saw that no one was doing anything to mandate side guards, front guards, and stronger rear guards on new trucks, including single unit [box] trucks, as well as retrofit existing trucks with the same life-saving protection and making sure that they were properly maintained — we decided to draft comprehensive underride protection legislation ourselves.

And, when we were figuring out what to call the bill, we naturally named it for what was so very precious to us — our beloved daughters, who were no more. We wrote it in memory of the countless loved ones whose lives had been forever changed — each of whom are very precious to the loved ones they left behind.

It has become our calling card: the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP). And we are concerned that we are being asked to take the girls’ names off of the bill title (so that other underride victims will not feel left out) — not because we think that they are more important than anyone else, but rather because we believe that their stories have been what have helped to bring national attention to this issue and better understanding of the problem, along with a willingness to do whatever it takes to end it. We would like to keep that momentum going until this bill gets passed.

In fact, it would never be possible to include a list of names in a bill which would honor all the victims of underride. There are thousands of them and, furthermore, because it is a hidden problem, many people might not even realize that underride was involved in their loved one’s death.

But it is our hope that we will be able to plan significant ways to honor those who have been injured or lost their lives through an underride crash, such as a Remembrance Ceremony in D.C. or an underride personal crash story interactive map and a webpage on the DOT website — giving family members a positive way to be involved in the effort to get effective underride protection on all trucks and to remember their loved ones in a special way. Hey, they could even get a shirt printed with their loved one’s picture and name on it!

Just recently, Lois texted me with this encouragement:

The Lord is speaking to my heart — do not worry, all is well. He is my praise, hope, and strength.

Then she shared this story which made my heart hurt:

Today, my daughter-in-law was wearing her RAMCUP shirt. My 20 month-old granddaughter, Miriam Roya, pointed to and said the names of Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary. . . Even a baby can remember our beautiful daughters.

Miriam Roya, who will never know her Aunt Roya

Miriam’s daddy, Cyrus, with his sister Roya

We’re with you, Miriam. . . we will always remember this very important bill as the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 — because it is our great love for those three girls, and our sense of urgency that no one else should undergo this kind of preventable loss, which has fueled our efforts to make sure that this major public health problem gets properly taken care of.

Exposing the Truth about the Truck Underride Conspiracy of Silence

You cannot begin to imagine the riotous cacophony of emotions ricocheting about within this mother’s heart right now. Pain. Grief. Anger. Frustration. Outrage. Heartache.

These last few days, Lois and I have been on a journey together which has taken unexpected turns. After driving cross-country with my son to help him get settled in his new home in Santa Cruz, l took a red-eye flight to Chicago where Lois picked me up from the O’Hare airport.

Our original plan was to get on the highway and head for a cottage in Michigan. But it seemed good to us both to take this opportunity for Lois to give me a glimpse of her daughter Roya — the house where she grew up, a favorite restaurant, a school and church, her grandpa and the home he built, and finally her final resting place here on this earth.

It was a very good and a very hard thing for the two of us to do. And then we headed for my old stomping grounds.

We had made plans to spend a few days at a cottage on Lake Michigan where Jerry and I have created many memories. He and I discovered it one year on a getaway and thereafter brought our kids for many fun family times. It was also where we stayed with our nine children and their families when we returned North for my 90 year-old dad’s funeral in 2011. Twelve year-old Mary took over 600 photos on her hand-me-down camera that trip.

Perhaps you can imagine what it was like to arrive at a place so full of wonderful memories of AnnaLeah and Mary. Bittersweet. Heart-wrenching.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Lake that evening and contemplated our next steps in getting the Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 introduced and passed as we tended a marvelous beach campfire.

The next morning, after sighting a rainbow on the Lake’s horizon, we set out for a local bagel shop to take advantage of their Wi-Fi. It was time to get down to business and compile a list of underride research which has been done over the years.

We had previously put together a list of underride recommendations and reports for the senator who intends to introduce the bill. Now we were responding to a request from her staff to add any additional underride research which we could find so that they could share it with Republican Offices in hopes of persuading them to jump on board with her in leading the way with this life-preserving legislation.

History of Underride Research & Reports: 1896 to 2017

In summary, this legislation is so vitally important because — all too often — it is not the collision of a car with a truck which is responsible for an ensuing tragedy but the lack of adequate underride protection. This results in a second collision where the truck collides with the passengers in the car and what is known as Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI) which occurs with truck underride.

The day before, we had updated Jerry and asked him to look for underride patents online. I knew of a couple in particular which we had already discovered in our unwelcome truck safety advocacy journey. What he then uncovered was beyond belief.

Jerry sent us a link to a U.S. patent for a side underride device invented in 1913. What?! That was before my 90 year-old father, who has been gone for six years, was born. Over a century ago!

But that’s not all! That patent from 1913 has been cited by 26 more recent patents — ones filed by engineers working on their own ideas for solving the problem of defective truck design which allows pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, and passenger vehicles to ride under the side of commercial motor vehicles. Unbelievable!

As if that were not enough to cause outrage to well up, we made another discovery as we began work on updating the research list. Jerry had also sent a link to an 1896 patent for a side underride device for streetcars. Again, this patent has been cited by numerous other patents for underride protection.

In the end, we were able to compile an extensive list of underride research, reports, and recommendations on front, side, and rear underride which provides incriminating evidence of an apparent conspiracy of silence. The negligence on the part of the trucking industry and the federal government to take the initiative to do whatever is necessary in order to protect the citizens of this country from a known deadly defect is appalling.

They can no longer cling to an excuse of ignorance. They have had more than enough time to put their heads together and come up with viable solutions.

The blood of countless underride victims has been unnecessarily shed. Our precious daughters have paid the price.

Whereas it is clear that there have been many individuals who have put forth effort to solve the underride problem, the overall inaction, on the part of the industry and government, and their refusal to take responsibility for effective collaboration to find a solution has taken its toll on American families. When will this behind-closed-doors conspiracy of silence end? Very soon, I hope! In fact, we have seen significant progress in recent years — although too little and too late to save our daughters.

I know that tomorrow, as Lois and I visit the cemetery where AnnaLeah and Mary saw their grandpa buried less than two years before we buried them close by, l will weep bitter tears. I only hope that our combined efforts will be fruitful and turn the tide.

I have often shared a photo of AnnaLeah and Mary with their arms raised in joyous victory. Yesterday, l was able, for the first time, to visit the luge victors’ stand in Muskegon State Park’s winter sports complex where that photo was taken. It broke my heart to see it empty and know that they will never be able to stand there again.

I look forward to the day when I can share their victory photo once more with the world because a step will have been taken to end this travesty once and for all. Mary will get her wish to be famous somehow.

May it be so. To God be the glory for orchestrating this difficult and long-time-in-coming strategy to end preventable underride tragedies.

How you can help:

http://annaleahmary.com/how-you-can-help/

“Fatal Jeep Crash Renews Criticism of Recall Fix to Prevent Fires”

A woman died this week when her Jeep SUV was rear ended while stopped at a traffic light.

Fuel from the Jeep then caught fire. . .

The driver of the Buick was cited for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol but those charges have since been dropped, he said.

Hammonds also said investigators suspect excessive speed to be involved but declined to estimate how fast the other driver was going at the time of the crash citing the early stages of the investigation.

After Fiat Chrysler agreed to recall the Jeeps, NHTSA closed its investigation in November of 2014. It concluded in a memo at the time that the trailer hitch provided “incremental safety benefits in certain low and moderate speed crash incidents, Fatal Jeep Crash Renews Criticism of Recall Fix to Prevent Fires” while also noting that the repair “will not necessarily be effective in the most severe crashes.”

Is this another example of a person whose life would have been spared had those with responsibility to act not been negligent? When will we understand that we hold the power of life & death in our hands?

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

What is an acceptable goal? North Carolina Vision Zero

“We went around the state to talk to people about Vision Zero. We’re happy to announce a new video which explains why zero is the only acceptable goal. ”

Tracy Anderson, NC Vision Zero Coordinator

Institute for Transportation Research & Education (ITRE)
North Carolina State University

Off-road vehicles are more dangerous on-road. So why push for use on public roads? I don’t get it.

Off-road vehicles are more dangerous on-road. So why push for use on public roads? I don’t get it.

More than 14,000 people, including roughly 3,200 children age 15 or younger, have been killed in crashes of all-terrain vehicles since federal safety officials began keeping track in the early 1980s.

Studies have shown (here and here) that over half of the deaths occur on public or private roads — even though ATVs are required to display safety warnings that they are not designed to be operated safely on roads.

Yet in recent years, officials in small towns and rural areas around the country, at the urging of riding enthusiasts, have been approving the use of ATVs — and other off-road machines known as recreational off-highway vehicles, or ROVs — on public roadways. Safety advocates have pushed back, but they are losing more fights than they win. . .

Read more here: Despite Hazards, Push to Open Public Roads to Off-Road Vehicles in High Gear, Fair Warning, By  on August 1, 2017

WUSA9 Takes note of 2 moms who lost 3 daughters to truck underride tragedies. Thursday at 11 p.m.

WUSA9 followed us around on The Hill and then interviewed us when we were in DC in June. They will be launching a series on truck underride starting Thursday, July 13, at 11 p.m.

Mothers fight for tougher tractor trailer laws after daughters die in underride crashes, Eric Flack, Erin Van der Bellen and Elizabeth Jia, WUSA 12:18 PM. EDT July 12, 2017

Bipartisan Legislation to Require Lifesaving Technology in Cars to Prevent Child Heatstroke in Hot Cars

CHILD SAFETY ALERT: NEWS CONFERENCE & LIVE WEBCAST

Announcing Bipartisan Legislation to Require Lifesaving Technology in Cars to Prevent Child Heatstroke in Hot Cars

Many children needlessly die in hot cars each year – Summer brings extreme risk for these tragedies

Cars have reminder systems for headlights left on, keys left in ignitions, low tire pressure, and to buckle your seatbelt, among others.

Bill would add reminder system as standard equipment in cars to save children’s lives.

http://saferoads.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/HOT-CARS-Act-Presser-Media-Alert-FINAL.pdf

See previous posts on this topic: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/hot-car-deaths/

GM has come up with a solution: GM unveils new feature to prevent child deaths in hot cars, CNN Money, 

Parents think they would never forget their children, yet in a world filled with distractions, they sometimes do, and with tragic results.

General Motors (GM) is introducing a new feature on the 2017 GMC Acadia to help prevent such tragedies. Much like a seat belt reminder, a warning tone will sound and a reminder to “Look In Rear Seat” will appear in the center of the Acadia’s speedometer.

The feature uses the same back door sensors that tell you a door is open when you’re driving. If those sensors detect a back door being opened and closed before the driver gets in and starts the car — or any time while the engine is running — then the back seat warning is triggered.

The feature is not optional and will be included in all new Acadias, said Tricia Morrow, GM’s global safety strategy engineer. . .

“Michael Bloomberg: Automakers, developing nations must commit to auto safety”

Michael Bloomberg calls on automakers to do their part to reduce crash deaths globally:

If car crashes were an infectious disease, like malaria or polio, governments, international aid organizations and foundations would pour money and energy into stopping it — as is only right.  If that kind of determination is brought to bear on road crashes, we can save millions of lives and prevent untold amounts of heartache and grief. 

Michael Bloomberg: Automakers, developing nations must commit to auto safety, June 4, 2017, Detroit Free Press