Tag Archives: comprehensive underride protection

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.

Could comprehensive truck underride protection have prevented 2 underride deaths in Michigan yesterday?

At this time of year (who am I kidding, all year long), I think about how if there had been comprehensive and effective underride protection on trucks, then  AnnaLeah and Mary might have still been here today. They could have gone with me to the zoo on Friday when I went there with my grandson.

How many deaths and catastrophic injuries could be prevented by comprehensive underride protection on all trucks? Might these two deaths in Michigan yesterday have been prevented?

Two people died and a third was critically hurt today in a multiple-vehicle crash involving a semi that shut down southbound U.S. 23 in Livingston County for hours.

One of the people killed, a 51-year-old man from Milford, was in a Ford Focus that went underneath the semi, according to a release from the Green Oak Charter Township Police Department. Also in that car was a 26-year-old woman that taken to University of Michigan Hospitals with life-threatening injuries. The other man killed was a 52-year-old from Davison who was in a Chevrolet Sonic rear-ended by the semi.

Read more here: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/04/23/semi-crash-us-23-green-oak-livingston/100822330/

Car Dragged By Semi Due To Defective Truck Design

A semi dragging a car with which it collided on a California highway this week has caught media attention. But while many are shaking their heads with disbelief that the truck driver apparently didn’t notice the car, they are overlooking the disturbing fact that trucks have been defectively designed with a “geometric mismatch” that allows cars to ride under them.

And, despite the fact that this is well-known, little or nothing has been done to change this deadly problem.

Car dragged for miles by semi-truck, police say.

Unfortunately, this recent underride crash is not uncommon. This kind of collision happens hundreds of times each year. And the crash in California likely would have ended in a death if someone had been in the front passenger seat — like there was 12 years ago when my friend Lois Durso’s daughter, Roya Sadigh, was killed in a similar crash.

I know what I am talking about because I lost my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013. And it can happen to anyone at anytime — changing life forever without any warning.

This will continue to happen until we, as a country, decide that enough is enough and require every large truck to have effective underride protection — like we are asking for in the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017.

Woman dies after car dragged under semi

If people die from riding under Single Unit Trucks, why aren’t they required to have underride protection?

Today I saw another example of why I think that this planet needs comprehensive underride protection on trucks — including on Single Unit Trucks (SUTs), otherwise known as straight trucks, box trucks, work trucks.

Currently, those kinds of trucks are not required to have underride protection. Some of them have voluntarily added some kind of wimpy thing that tries to pass as a rear underride guard. But looking at this one, I wonder whether they even understand the purpose of an underride guard.

If people die from riding under Single Unit Trucks, why aren’t they required to have underride protection?

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

Why COMPREHENSIVE Underride Protection Legislation?

Why, you might ask, would we write a piece of legislation calling for a comprehensive underride protection rule? Why not have separate bills for side underride and rear underride and front underride and Single Unit Trucks (SUTs), et cetera?

I am convinced of the importance of this strategy and want to share some of my thoughts here.

RAM CUP: A DIFFERENT STRATEGY
TO ACHIEVE UNDERRIDE PROTECTION
For Such A Time As This

What can we discover from past attitudes or strategies to address underride deaths?

1. Fragmented approach has led to weak and ineffective protection on some parts of a truck and other parts unprotected (or no protection on Single Unit Trucks)
2. Various aspects of underride protection were treated as separate, unrelated issues
3. Various stakeholders worked in isolation rather than collaboratively
4. Waited for industry to take initiative (or express approval)
5. Not addressed with a sense of urgency
6. Statistical and cost/benefit analysis was flawed and inaccurate and inappropriately undervalued human life and health by putting expenses of providing improved safety on a par with lost lives.
7. Conspiracy of silence regarding deaths due to preventable vehicle violence with the result that too often too little was done too late to save lives.
8. Solutions did not always take into account all aspects of the system, including the crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle or the potential of energy absorption on the large truck.
9. A blaming the victim attitude too often overshadowed the responsibility of the industry to take action and find ways to make trucks safer to be on the road in order to protect vulnerable road users.
10. Confusion about how to solve the problem, along with other factors, may have contributed to inertia to do anything about it.
11. Multiple layers of responsibility has too easily led to No One taking responsibility. (GM Nod)
12. For whatever reason, there have been few R & D resources devoted to this issue.
13. Data has been limited or hidden, partially due to misunderstanding of the problem and lack of training for enforcement officials to identify the role of underride in truck crashes.
14. Isolated incidents of underride may have hidden the immensity of this obscure tragedy.
15. Skepticism about the possibility of technologically and practically feasible solutions has been an obstacle to wholehearted commitment to necessary R & D.
16. Concerns about potential liability may have caused resistance to acknowledge the issue.
17. The competitive nature of the industry may have contributed to a lack of cooperative effort to deal with a deadly design.

I wrote that while sitting outside the Duke Integrative Medicine Center. When I finished, I went inside and picked up a book called, Hippocrates’ Shadow, which talks about what happens in the medical field when the problems of ineffective treatments are not openly discussed. This phrase jumped out at me: “With full knowledge and ample evidence that it doesn’t work, we do it anyway.” (by David H. Newman, MD, p. 25) And the author referred to one of the reasons that the problems don’t get addressed being, “a culture of conformity, inertia, and malpractice paranoia.” Well said. . .

In fact, the development of a COMPREHENSIVE approach to taking care of the truck underride problem was probably first planted in my mind at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, with the suggestion of a member of the trucking industry.

Read about that here, including the subsequent actions that resulted in a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition which a group of us submitted to Secretary Foxx at DOT on September 23, 2016, and upon which the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 is based.

It is not necessarily the initial collision in a truck/passenger vehicle crash which kills but the Second Collision which occurs. In fact, it is quite possible that, of the over 4,000 truck crash deaths which occur every year, many of them could be prevented if adequate comprehensive underride protection were on every single truck.

Underride protection does not prevent a collision but it can prevent the violent injuries and deaths which occur from the Second Collision of the truck into the Passenger Compartment.

In contrast to a fragmented approach, this is my suggestion for approaching the problem of truck underride:

COUP/COUP

Upon reflection, it is my belief that the system for arriving at regulations has been working harder to protect the industry from liability  and responsibility than to protect road users from harm. Furthermore, this has led to a non-transparent process for arriving at appropriate and effective safety measures.

In stark contrast, the crafting of this bill, the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017, was based upon extensive research and the gathering of experts and interested parties over the last four years,

  • first of all, at the Underride Roundtable at IIHS on May 5, 2016;
  • secondly, through a follow-up meeting at IIHS on June 24, 2016, to hammer out details of the Rear Underride Guard specifications then submitted to NHTSA on August 8, 2016, and IIHS Underride Test Protocol submitted to NHTSA on December 23, 2016;
  • and third, through a continued discussion among engineering experts which led to the Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition presented to Secretary Foxx on September 23, 2016 (see attached) — upon which this Bill is based.

These discussions involved trucking industry representatives, including Ted Scott, VP of Engineering for the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and Gary Fenton, who is VP of Engineering for Stoughton Trailers and Chairman of the Engineering Committee for the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA). Participants also have included engineering experts from universities, international experts in truck underride, and two engineers who have designed side guards which have recently been successfully tested.

In my humble opinion, the interests of this country would best be served if this group would be formally recognized and commissioned to work with NHTSA and to develop the specifications for the final comprehensive underride protection rule. Why re-invent the wheel? Why delay the process any longer than necessary? Wasted time translates into more unnecessary death and life-long grief.

AND

The COUP truck safety certification program (modeled after the Transport for London FORS) could also be integrated into the comprehensive underride protection vision/scenario/strategy/bill:

COUP (Certification Of Underride Protection). In order to get fully certified, a trucking company would have to get an award in each aspect of underride protection, including:

  1. Rear (Already introduced by the IIHS with their recent presentation of a ToughGuard award to five trailer manufacturers)
  2. Front
  3. Side
  4. Maintenance of underride devices (annual inspection and training in how to do pre-trip inspections of the devices)
  5. Training for drivers in what to do and not do in terms of parking and U-turns
  6. Other (whatever I am forgetting right now — like the protection of all vulnerable road users)

This would be required for ALL trucks, including Single Unit Trucks (Straight, Box).

I would like to add this aspect to the drafted bill, along with a mandate for establishment of a Committee of Experts to Oversee This.

Sen. @CoryBooker gave me directions & carried my bag from Union Station to The Hill

So. . . I get off Amtrak at Union Station in D. C. ready to walk to the Hart Senate building to join Lois Durso in a meeting with Senate committee staff. I had a general idea of which way to head. But when I couldn’t figure out which crosswalk to cross at, I decided to ask a couple of men who were heading in the same direction.

They were very gracious when I asked them which street was Massachusetts and which was the Hart Building. Then I realized one of them was Senator Cory Booker and he confirmed it was so. He and his chief of staff each began pulling one of my bags.

I mentioned that I had met him at the truck safety Subcommittee hearing recently and had lost two daughters. He remembered. As we kept walking, he was periodically swamped by grateful constituents and I carried on a great conversation with his chief of staff about the underride protection bill which Lois and I had drafted in an attempt to solve this deadly problem once and for all.

An amazing start in this crusade to garner support for a very important piece of lifesaving legislation! I could hardly wait to tell Lois how Someone was continuing to go before us and guide our steps.

Lois and I talking with Senator Booker at the Senate hearing on March 14 — one day before we jumped on the idea of writing an underride protection bill and the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 was born.

RAM CUP

2 moms going back to DC. Ready to shed light on the problem of truck underride & the need for change.

2 moms going back to DC. Ready to shed light on the problem of truck underride & the need for change.

The Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 Information Packet

Informational brochure to pass out on The Hill:

2 moms full of energy & determination:

“Great Dane receives TOUGHGUARD award for under-ride safety guards”

Great Dane is one of the 5 trailer manufacturers which has voluntarily upgraded its rear underride guard: Great Dane receives TOUGHGUARD award for under-ride safety guards

The new guard is designed to help stop vehicles from sliding beneath a trailer in a rear-impact crash, and that can help prevent injuries, he said.

To ensure a higher level of safety for all Great Dane reefers, dry vans and platform trailers, Great Dane will include the new rear impact guard as standard equipment on all of its trailer models beginning later this year.

In addition, because of the new rear impact guard’s bolt-on design, Great Dane will offer a retrofit option to upgraded rear impact guards on 2007 and later models. The retrofit can be installed easily at any authorized Great Dane service center.

This is important because:

Here’s hoping that research will continue until we have discovered the outer limits of truck underride protection.

DOT Regulatory Priorities for 2017

This is what I found out today about DOT’s regulatory priorities for 2017. . .

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) priorities for 2017:

The statutory responsibilities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relating to motor vehicles include reducing the number, and mitigating the effects, of motor vehicle crashes and related fatalities and injuries; providing safety performance information to aid prospective purchasers of vehicles, child restraints, and tires; and improving automotive fuel efficiency. NHTSA pursues policies that encourage the development of nonregulatory approaches when feasible in meeting its statutory mandates. It issues new standards and regulations or amendments to existing standards and regulations when appropriate. It ensures that regulatory alternatives reflect a careful assessment of the problem and a comprehensive analysis of the benefits, costs, and other impacts associated with the proposed regulatory action. Finally, it considers alternatives consistent with the Administration’s regulatory principles.

NHTSA plans to issue a final rule on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in Fiscal Year 2017. V2V communications are currently perceived to become a foundational aspect of vehicle automation. NHTSA will publish a final rule on heavy vehicle speed limiters in response to petitions for rulemaking and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board. In Fiscal Year 2017 NHTSA will also finalize rulemaking for Tire Fuel Efficiency in response to requirements of the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. In response to requirements in MAP-21, NHTSA plans to continue work toward a final rule that would require automobile manufacturers to install a seat belt reminder system for the front passenger and rear designated seating positions in passenger vehicles. The seat belt reminder system is intended to increase belt usage and thereby improve the crash protection of vehicle occupants who would otherwise have been unbelted.

In addition to numerous programs that focus on the safe performance of motor vehicles, the Agency is engaged in a variety of programs to improve driver and occupant behavior. These programs emphasize the human aspects of motor vehicle safety and recognize the important role of the States in this common pursuit. NHTSA has identified two high-priority areas: Safety belt use and impaired driving. To address these issue areas, the Agency is focusing especially on three strategies-conducting highly visible, well-publicized enforcement; supporting prosecutors who handle impaired driving cases and expanding the use of DWI/Drug Courts, which hold offenders accountable for receiving and completing treatment for alcohol abuse and dependency; and adopting alcohol screening and brief intervention by medical and health care professionals. Other behavioral efforts encourage child safety-seat use; combat excessive speed, driver distraction, and aggressive driving; improve motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety; and provide consumer information to the public.

Despite being included on the list of long-term actions, underride protection for rear guards on trailers and underride protection on single unit trucks are not included as priorities for 2017.

And, of course, there is absolutely no mention of underride protection on the sides of large trucks.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) priorities for 2017:

The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses. A strong regulatory program is a cornerstone of FMCSA’s compliance and enforcement efforts to advance this safety mission. FMCSA develops new and more effective safety regulations based on three core priorities: Raising the safety bar for entry, maintaining high standards, and removing high-risk behavior. In addition to Agency-directed regulations, FMCSA develops regulations mandated by Congress, through legislation such as MAP-21. FMCSA regulations establish standards for motor carriers, commercial drivers, commercial motor vehicles, and State agencies receiving certain motor carrier safety grants and issuing commercial drivers’ licenses.

FMCSA’s regulatory plan for FY 2017 includes completion of a number of rulemakings that are high priorities for the Agency because they would have a positive impact on safety. Among the rulemakings included in the plan are: (1) Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11), (2) Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66), and (3) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18).

Together, these priority rules could improve substantially commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety on our Nation’s highways by increasing FMCSA’s ability to provide safety oversight of motor carriers and commercial drivers.

In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11) to establish a new safety fitness determination standard that will enable the Agency to prohibit “unfit” carriers from operating on the Nation’s highways and contribute to the Agency’s overall goal of decreasing CMV-related fatalities and injuries.

In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66). This rule would establish training requirements for individuals before they can obtain their CDL or certain endorsements. It will define curricula for training providers and establish requirements and procedures for the schools.

Also in FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18). The rule would establish a clearinghouse requiring employers and service agents to report information about current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol test results. It would require employers and certain service agents to search the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ positive drug and alcohol test results as a condition of permitting those employees to perform safety-sensitive functions. This would provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before resuming safety-sensitive functions.

Despite being included on the list of long-term actions, acting on our petition to raise the minimum liability insurance for trucking companies from $750,000 (per incident) is not listed as a priority for 2017.

Is it any wonder that we have taken upon ourselves the task of  doing something about it and  drafted comprehensive underride protection  legislation and are looking to Congress to mandate that DOT carry out effective underride protection rulemaking in a timely fashion?!

We are also trying to push for action on the minimum liability insurance issue — not raised since the early 1980s.

Note: In identifying our regulatory priorities for the next year, the Department considered its mission and goals and focused on a number of factors, including the following:

  • The relative risk being addressed
  • Requirements imposed by law
  • Actions on the National Transportation Safety Board “Most Wanted List”
  • The costs and benefits of the regulations
  • The advantages of nonregulatory alternatives
  • Opportunities for deregulatory action
  • The enforceability of any rule, including the effect on agency resourcesThis regulatory plan identifies the Department’s regulatory priorities-the 19 pending rulemakings chosen, from among the dozens of significant rulemakings listed in the Department’s broader regulatory agenda, that the Department believes will merit special attention in the upcoming year. The rules included in the regulatory plan embody the Department’s focus on our strategic goals.

 

Australian Engineer Comments on U.S. Underride Protection

See a paper by Raphael Grzebieta and George Rechnitzer here: Proposed Australian/New Zealand AS/NZS 3845.2 Standard for Truck Underrun Barriers: Design, Testing and Performance Requirements

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

March Historically a Momentous Month for Truck Underride Safety Advocacy; Beware the Ides of March!