Tag Archives: ATA

Question for the ATA: Is it necessary to choose EITHER crash avoidance OR occupant protection — not BOTH?

After the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their news about side underride crash testing, I began searching online for media reports on the results of their dynamic crash testing of a collision into the side of a trailer with and without a guard.

Among other things, I found —  in at least one article — explanations from the IIHS and a reaction from the American Trucking Associations (ATA):

“These guards can reduce the likelihood the car will go underneath the trailer and therefore save some lives,” said David Zuby, chief research officer for IIHS. “We wanted to show it is possible to provide a counter-measure.”
 
Since 1952, the federal government has required underride guards for the back of trucks as protection in rear-end collisions.
 
It does not have a similar rule for safety systems like the one tested by IIHS, a relatively new device known as an AngelWing side underride guard.
 
The crash protection “has several complicating factors,” said Sean McNally, a spokesman for the American Trucking Association.
 
Side guards add significant weight and can cause cracks in the frame rails of trailers, creating another safety issue, McNally said.
 

“Avoiding the crash in the first place is even more effective than trying to manage the impact of a crash,” he said. 

Read more here: ‘These crashes are catastrophic.’ The deadly impact of truck underride crashes, Patrick Terpstra, Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau, May 10, 2017

Sean McNally, as spokesman for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), is also quoted in another recent article:

The American Trucking Associations said the industry hasn’t come to an agreement on guardrails because they require trade-offs, including added weight. Side guardrails require stiffer trailers that can develop cracks in their frames, which presents another safety risk, ATA spokesman Sean McNally said.

McNally said the trucking industry wants to avoid crashes in the first place, and is supporting efforts to deploy safety technology like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems. Electronic logging devices, which track truckers’ driving and will be required by the end of this year, will also help to prevent crashes, he said.

“It’s important to recognize that all crashes are tragedies, but we also need to recognize that these guards are collision mitigation — and not collision avoidance — equipment and ATA’s primary safety goal is to prevent crashes,” McNally said. Safety group says truck guard rails could prevent deaths, Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto writer, Detroit, May 10, 2017

I have some questions for Sean McNally, as a representative of the ATA, but also for anyone else who might share his stated concerns:

  1. Have you seen the specifications for the AngelWing side guards, including weight and installation requirements?
  2. Have you spoken with (Perry Ponder) the designer and (Airflow Deflector) the manufacturer of the AngelWing side guard? I have.
  3. Have you considered that concerns about added weight can be addressed innovatively? For example, Stoughton Trailers was able to creatively engineer a way to offer stronger rear guards at no added cost or weight penalty to their customers (a guard which, I might add, has already saved at least one life!). Likewise, side guards used in conjunction with side skirts can offer fuel savings/efficiency to trucking companies.
  4. Upon what are you basing your conclusion that the Angel Wing side guards require stiffer trailers — which you say can cause cracks in the frame rails of trailers?
  5. You said, “Avoiding the crash in the first place is even more effective than trying to manage the impact of a crash.”  I assume that you are inferring that crash avoidance technology is more effective at saving lives than underride protection. Do you draw the same conclusion about other safety countermeasures, including air bags, seat belts, and crush zones in cars, as well as rear underride guards? Are you suggesting that it is not advisable to use available (and/or to develop new) safety countermeasures to protect occupants of passenger vehicles, as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists?
  6. Is it necessary to choose either one or the other strategy to save lives, i.e., either crash avoidance or occupant protection? Why would we not proceed with both/and?
  7. I would also like you to clarify your statement that “ATA’s primary safety goal is to prevent crashes.” Just what does that mean anyway? Does that mean it is your only safety goal? Does that mean that you are unwilling to take whatever steps are necessary/possible in order to preserve life and health when a crash does occur?
  8. You made the statement that “all crashes are tragedies.” What is your definition of a tragedy? I think that it must differ from my definition of a tragedy. I do not agree that every crash is a tragedy. A “totaled” vehicle is not a tragedy. A life ended or a life permanently altered by physical injuries — especially when that outcome could have been prevented — that is a tragedy.
  9. I was in the horrific truck crash which killed my daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary. Because the truck’s rear underride guard was not effective in preventing underride, the truck entered my daughters’ occupant space and caused them to suffer fatal injuries. But, unlike them, I survived because the truck did not enter my occupant space.
  10. It was not the initial collision of our car with the truck which caused my daughters to die. It was underride which caused the “Second Collision” of the truck with their innocent, unprotected bodies.
  11. Therefore, to say that every crash is a tragedy is a misleading statement. Words are important. Words have power. Let’s make sure that our words are accurate — based on facts and truth — because those words may well shape the beliefs and decisions of those who have the authority to take actions which could prevent future tragedies.

Really, sorting out this decades-old dilemma can be whittled down to answering a simple question. Will we choose to:

  • continue to allow underride deaths?

OR

  • act responsibly and compassionately to prevent these tragedies?

It is my fervent hope that any confusion or misconceptions will be appropriately addressed and cleared up and that the excellent research, undertaken by the IIHS to verify the underride problem and its solutions, will aid us all in working out together a more humane way to protect vulnerable road users.

2 Moms, Sick & Tired of Waiting, Draft Truck Underride Legislation

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

 

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!

Truck Underride Roundtable is one week away! May it be sehr gut!

On June 25, 2014, after a tour of the research & design center of a truck trailer manufacturer in Georgia, I wrote down these perplexing thoughts about the too-long unresolved underride problem:

Now, it is understandable, amid the multitude of demands and the tyranny of the urgent, that—without a ready solution, in fact, one which would require time and money to develop—this problem has not been given much attention. But, if those who bear responsibility for making sure that this problem gets solved (one way or another) had lost two of their beloved children—or any other loved one—I can guarantee you that they would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to prevent underride.

What makes it even more distressing is that there are many individuals and organizations, who truly seem concerned about safety, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the trailer manufacturers. Yet, from what I can see, very little communication has taken place to move this problem forward from point A (guards that fail and result in death and/or horrific injuries) to Point B (coming up with a better design that will provide the best protection possible). Underride Guards: Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?

From where I stood, there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel for this life-ending/changing problem. I had lots of ideas about what needed to be done but no sense that any thing was going to get done about it any time in the near future.

So, in trying to process what we learned at the meeting, I kept thinking over and over: Could an independent work group of qualified individuals, such as an engineering school, take on the challenge of creating such a design—which could then be tested by IHHS, proposed to NHTSA to aid in defining improved rear impact guard specifications, and provided to all trailer manufacturers? Could we do some kind of crowd funding or grant proposal to obtain the necessary funds to support such an endeavor? Could we perhaps even approach the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) and ask them to seek contributions from their members for such a project?

Is cost truly not a factor? Is safety really a priority and not a competitive matter? Is it possible to improve the communication necessary to prevent more unnecessary deaths? Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?

I am so happy to be able to say that at the Underride Roundtable, one week from now on May 5, 2016, over 65 representatives from the trucking industry, government, safety advocates, engineers, crash reconstructionists, attorneys, and media will be on hand at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center to”sit down at the table together” and discuss and demonstrate truck underride crashes.

This group will include representatives from:

  • Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association
  • American Trucking Associations
  • Seven Hills Engineering
  • Airflow Deflector
  • Accident Research Specialists
  • Sapa Extrusions
  • Truck Safety Coalition
  • AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
  • Virginia Tech
  • East Carolina University
  • National Transportation Safety Board, Office of Highway Safety
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • J. Hunt Transport
  • Batzer Engineering
  • Injury and Crash Analysis
  • Vanguard Trailer
  • Smart Cap Technologies
  • UNC Highway Safety Research Center
  • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
  • Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center
  • Interstate Distributor
  • NYC Citywide Adminstrative Services
  • Nurenberg Paris Law Firm
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
  • Sanders & Parks Law Firm
  • The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation
  • Cargo Transporters
  • Stoughton Trailers
  • Great Dane Trailers
  • North Carolina State Highway Patrol
  • City of Boston, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics
  • Interstate Distributors
  • Media representatives
  • Underride victims and families
  • and joined by an unknown number of individuals globally as the event will be livestreaming at this webcast link.

It is unfortunate that, over the decades in which no adequate solution to this tragic problem has come about, there has been much miscommunication, misunderstanding, misinformation, and mistakes made. I, for one, am ready to encourage things to move forward with positive momentum–aiming for the best possible underride protection.

In my morning reading, I was reflecting on some verses in Mark 11, which reminded me that the outcome is not totally dependent on me or any of the others who will be gathering in Ruckersville, Virginia, next Thursday. Instead, we are to. . .

“Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going go happen; it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.” Mark 11:22-24

And one more key thing, no matter what has and has not been done during the decades following the discovery of the horror of underride, we all need to forgive, put the past behind us, and find ways to work together to overcome this challenge.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:25

And though we may forgive, we will never forget those we have lost and the reason we are here. . .

Never forgotten

The Passion of This Safety Advocate

It gets really tiresome to hear the trucking industry come up with the same statements time after time after time.

Nearly every time I read an article written about our crash, there are the obligatory responses from the trucking industry. Invariably, they try to shift the responsibility off of themselves to make the changes sought after and, instead, bring up some alternative solution to the “problem.”

This can be seen in the latest article by Bloomberg News about our story and underride guards: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-16/dead-girls-mom-says-100-truck-fix-may-have-saved-them.html

“‘The passion that Karth brings to the debate won’t necessarily solve the problem,’ said Sean McNally, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, the industry’s largest advocacy group. ‘Instead, regulators will be more effective if they focus on such measures as crash-avoidance technology and such simple steps as education to encourage better driving by both trucks and cars.

“’All crashes are tragic, and as a result discussions about highway safety are often touched by strong emotions,’ McNally said. ‘However, we should not use emotions as the basis for regulations. Regulations need to be grounded on strong research, science and data.’”

What does he think the problem is?! And has he even bothered to look at the strong research, science, and data reported on by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) regarding underride guards? Does he truly think that this is an either/or situation?

He just doesn’t seem to get it. He thinks the passion is simply my deep grief over the loss of my daughters. He doesn’t have a clue that that very real pain is amplified by anger and frustration over the callous attitude and denial of responsibility that too often is expressed by spokespersons of the trucking industry–and which, of course, gets played out in their decisions and actions on matters related to safety.

We Rescue Jesus Saves 018

Clarifying the ATA Position on Underride Guards

Minolta DSC

After last week’s announcement by NHTSA of their initiation of the rulemaking process for underride guards, I have had four interviews. So far, I have seen two of the articles and both of them included a statement, obtained from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which disturbed me when I read them. I posted about it and you can read my thoughts here:

 http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/underride-guards-in-the-news/

Not wanting to misrepresent the trucking industry, yesterday, I decided to call the person who was quoted, Ted Scott, the Director of Engineering Services with ATA. I told him why I was calling, shared our story, and we spent some time discussing underride guards. I then asked if I could send him the article, in which he was quoted, as well as information about our website and links to underride guard information. In my email, I also asked him to write a few sentences to clarify his statement about underride guards.

In response, this morning I received this email from Ted Scott:

 Ted Scott, ATA, email July 2014

 Well, I was excited to have him get back to me on this matter and quickly let him know that I appreciated it:

 Ted Scott, ATA, email July 2014 My Reply

 

From what I have observed, too often, needed changes have been prevented or delayed by resistance or opposition–for whatever reason, whether it be misunderstanding, misinformation, or differing priorities. In my mind, that makes this promise of support and cooperation by the American Trucking Associations super significant!

 Minolta DSC

Yes!

(p.s. I hope that Mary would think that I am making good use of her joie de vivre!)