Category Archives: Truck Safety

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!

“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.

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.

 

WUSA9 Underride Series Sheds Light on Deadly Truck Underride Tragedies & Solutions

Eric Flack, Investigative Reporter at WUSA9, recently began an extensive investigation into truck underride. The segments which have already aired are listed here. They plan to shed light on the problem until it is adequately addressed in this country.

Wednesday, August 9: “Moms try to save lives but get caught in red tape on Capitol Hill”

Thursday, August 10: “Big rigs, big risks: Congressional response”

A Bill to Mandate Comprehensive Underride Protection:  RAMCUP Draft 15 with Cover

Thanks @SenMarkey for pausing on the sidewalk to hear our stories.

On the way from a meeting in the House to a meeting in the Senate, we had a chance encounter with Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). Lois Durso shared how she had lost her daughter Roya (26) twelve years ago in a truck side underride crash. I shared how I had lost my youngest two daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), in a rear underride crash four years ago. And Senator Markey shared how he was in a car crash when he was 5.

That crash from his childhood clearly made an impression on him. So when we told him that we were looking for support for an underride bill which we had drafted, he told us that he has worked to bring about safety and that we should contact his legislative staff.

We walked away laughing and smiling at yet one more chance encounter orchestrated by the hand of God in this exhausting but exciting quest to pass the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP).

2015 Underride Deaths Data By Red & Blue States

After receiving raw data from the IIHS on truck underride deaths in 2015 by State, I followed a suggestion from Lou Lombardo (Care for Crash Victims) and asked my son, Isaac Karth, to put it into a chart by Red & Blue States.

See it here in chart form: Underrride Statistics 2015 (annaleahmary.com & stopunderrides.org) – by States

See it here in a bar graph:

See it here by House District:

Underrride Statistics 2015 (annaleahmary.com & stopunderrides.org) – by House District

See it here by Party: Underrride Statistics 2015 (annaleahmary.com & stopunderrides.org) – by House District Sorted by Party

Underride can happen to anyone at any time anywhere. What more do we need to know?

Let’s make truck crashes more survivable. Or, do we want people to die?

Comprehensive underride protection all around trucks — front, both sides, and rear — is possible. Installing it makes truck crashes more survivable.

Let’s make truck crashes more survivable. Or, do we want people to die?

PVEH_LRGTRK_UNDERRIDE_FATS_STATE_2015B

Comprehensive Underride Protection Bill  RAMCUP Draft 15 with Cover

 

“Powerful Senator joins calls for stronger semi-trailer underride guard laws”

WUSA9 reports that Senator Schumer has joined our call for stronger underride laws.

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) – Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.) is launching a major effort to improve critical safety features on semi-trailers that could save hundreds of lives on U.S. highways.

The WUSA9 Special Assignment Unit has reported on the issue for weeks.

On Friday, Sen. Schumer called on the federal government to update and upgrade safety standards by requiring trucks be equipped with energy-absorbing rear underride guards.

Schumer is also calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require trucks be equipped with side underride guards. He also asks for new research into front underride guard standards. . . 

Watch their news report here: Powerful Senator joins calls for stronger semi-trailer underride guard laws

After learning of yet another terrible side underride tragedy earlier this month in New York, we reached out to NY legislators asking them to support this cause.

How sad it is that it takes tragedies like these to bring about change. How hopeful I am that we are moving quickly to seeing comprehensive underride protection become a reality. Let’s do this!