Category Archives: Uncategorized

David Harkey, Experienced Highway Safety Research Director at UNC, To Be New IIHS President

I sat down this Spring with Dr. David Harkey, Director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, to discuss the truck underride problem and the fact that it is a major public health problem and not just a transportation issue. After that, I enthusiastically recommended that he be the keynote speaker at the Second Underride Roundtable on August 20 at IIHS.

So when I found out yesterday that he had been named the new president of the IIHS — replacing the accomplished Adrian Lund, whom I got to meet in March — I was very excited. I look forward to watching him effectively lead that safety organization and help bring us closer to zero deaths.

Read about it here:

 

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!

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?

Visual Tools to Remind Congress: You have the authority to protect The People from Death by Underride.

As we prepare to go to The Hill next week to participate in a bipartisan discussion of the Comprehensive Underride Protection Bill (RAMCUP Act of 2017; RAM = Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary), I am preparing a video to share our message. One of the things I need to do is figure out if I can find a song or musical background which expresses what I am trying to say.

I want it to convey what we are setting out to do next week on The Hill. We are going to communicate the message that this country was founded on principles of governing that promote the welfare of the people. We are going to remind our legislators that the ball has been dropped for decades and our People have not been protected from Death by Violent Underride.

We are going to remind them that they have a responsibility to use their authority and position to act decisively to ensure that people are hereon out protected from such horrific and preventable tragedies. For the People. We the People are calling on them to do so.

This is not just about trying to get members of Congress to feel sad about our losses and give us their condolences, it is about motivating them to do the right thing — to do what only they can do and make Comprehensive Underride Protection the Law of the Land.

What song will convey that message?

This dilemma reminds me of how effective this form of communication can be. It made me remember the package which I got in the mail last year telling us that our story was going to be included in a law review article titled Visualizing Rulemaking.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter in that package:

We are law professors at the University of Washington in Seattle, and we are writing because we have been deeply moved by your website in memory of your daughters and inspired by your campaign to improve truck safety by mandating new underride protections. Between the two of us, we have five children, and we now never drive on the highway without thinking about your family’s accident and the need for increased safety measures.

We found your website when we were researching and co-authoring a law review article titled “Visualizing Rulemaking,” which discusses the way that people are harnessing the power of visual images and social media to influence the federal administrative rulemaking process. We describe your rulemaking campaign as an excellent and powerful example of ordinary citizens using modern, highly visual tools to effect change in the regulatory realm. Kathryn Watts and Liz Porter

Here is their published article: VISUAL RULEMAKING ELIZABETH G. PORTER† & KATHRYN A. WATTS‡, NYU Law Review, Volume 91, Number 5

Our story is included on pages 41 and 42 (1223, 1224) and 64 (1246) of the pdf.

“Blind Spots in Police Reports Hamper Efforts to Curb Deadly Crashes, Study Says”

After our truck crash on May 4, 2013, we waited for months to receive the crash investigation report (SCRTE) from the state highway patrol. It was detailed but left out a lot of important information.

For example, there was no mention of underride in the report (or on the police crash form). Also, we were not able to find out any verification about the truck driver’s hours of service prior to the crash — except for his verbal report on when he had started out that day on his trip.

It is likely that this paucity of information has contributed to decades of delay in effectively solving the issues of truck underride and driver fatigue — among others.

Inadequate crash information is, in fact, the norm. What might we be able to discover and change were this situation to improve? The National Safety Council has raised this question:

The scope of deadly hazards such as texting and drug use by drivers may be underestimated and not adequately addressed because police aren’t collecting enough information at crash scenes, according to a new report.

The report, released today by the National Safety Council, also found that no state systematically records whether crashes involve vehicles with self-driving features, such as collision-avoidance systems.

The group said more attention must be focused on the problem with a shift from an “accident-report mentality” to crash investigation. It is important to know not just what happened, but why it happened, said Deborah Hersman, chief executive of the safety council, a nonprofit group.

“Better data enables us to make better decisions when it comes to our priorities, our investment and our technology,” she told FairWarning. . .

Safety researchers already conduct crash tests and computer simulations trying to determine how well a vehicle will protect its occupants. But detailed information from a crash is important to understand what happens in the real world, said Charles Farmer, the vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group funded by the insurance industry.

Researchers like Farmer have yearned for that information for at least three decades.

Since 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal agency that regulates traffic safety, has been working with the Governors Highway Safety Association trying to get police to collect more detailed and standardized information. Their recommended Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria has 110 items.

Every state uses that form “to some degree and most states use most of the data elements,” said Barbara Harsha, former GHSA executive director.

Despite NHTSA and GHSA working on the issue for almost two decades, the safety council report concluded that “no state is adequately capturing the crash data we need to understand why crashes are rising, and form an effective path forward.”

Fair Warning, Blind Spots in Police Reports Hamper Efforts to Curb Deadly Crashes, Study Says By Christopher Jensen on April 25, 2017

Are we truly a country of united states? Can we work together more effectively to solve this issue or do we have such a high need to act independently to take care of it ourselves? Lives are at stake.

National Safety Council important report: Undercounted Is Underinvested; HOW INCOMPLETE CRASH REPORTS IMPACT EFFORTS TO SAVE LIVES

Why on earth don’t we establish National Traffic Safety Standards & require them to be adopted by States?

 

“Why we believe the creation of a road collision investigation branch is urgently needed”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates some high-profile motor vehicle crashes. But, for the most part, most single motor vehicle crash fatalities don’t get very thorough crash investigation. Like ours.

So I am very intrigued by the proposal to set up a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch:

Great idea! And, while you are at it, appoint a Traffic Safety Ombudsman to be its Vigilant Voice for Vulnerable Victims of Vehicle Violence! http://tinyurl.com/jh7ka64

And take a look at this article on crash testing which I re-discovered last night: Creating Demand For Crash Testing, by Lou Lombardo

Further thoughts on this idea: What if Vehicle Manufacturers were required to do a Crash Reconstruction of crashes involving their vehicles?

I will turn their mourning into joy.

Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together;
For I will turn their mourning into joy,
And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:13
Mary in Lake Michigan
 
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me–
To bring good news to the affliccted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives,
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3
 
Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the lord;
Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago.
Was it not Thou who cut Rahab in pieces,
Who pierced the dragon?
Was it not Thou who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
So the ransomed of the LORD will return,
And come with joyful shouting to Zion;
And everlasting joy will be on their heads.
They will obtain gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 51:9-11

Because in our great sorrow we also have great hope for the everlasting joy yet to come, so then we carry on with boldness and strength to tackle the great challenges which lay before us.

A Walk Through the Woods; A photo story from Mary’s camera. It is well with my soul.

Tonight, I needed to remind myself of the smiles and joyful attitude of Mary and AnnaLeah. The photos and music says it all.

A Walk Through the Woods; A photo story from Mary’s camera. It is well with my soul.

Photography by Mary Lydia Karth (with a few by her mom as well)

http://www.hymnary.org/text/when_peace_like_a_river_attendeth_my_way

When the grief is too heavy too bear, the memories and music lift my soul.

Buck passing needs to stop! “Brussels and regulators under fire over ‘dieselgate’”

European authorities have been accused of glaring errors, including halfhearted application of the rules and buck-passing among officials, that led to their failure to uncover the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

See more here: Brussels and regulators under fire over ‘dieselgate’ Draft MEPs’ report points to failure to uphold EU rules that could have detected cheating, by: in Brussels, Financial Times, December 19, 2016

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Could Vision Zero Rulemaking & Traffic Safety Ombudsman Prevent Dieselgate-Type Scandals?

 

UK drafts Public Service Ombudsman Bill; US should draft Traffic Safety Ombudsman Bill

We in the US could take a tip from the UK drafting of a Public Service Ombudsman Bill. Will we though?

Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill laid in Parliament, December 5, 2016, Part of Government Transparency and Accountability

A new complaints body will provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard.

I believe this is the right approach to ensure every citizen knows their voice matters
and bring the Ombudsman framework into the 21st century. I look forward to scrutiny
over the coming months, and to working closely with the Parliamentary and Health
Service Ombudsman, the Local Government Ombudsman, and all those with an
interest in this matter to deliver these reforms. Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill Cm 9374

Vehicle violence

Ombudsman for Traffic SafetyWhat are we waiting for

Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition

Sign the Petition: End Preventable Crash Fatalities: Appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman