Tag Archives: comprehensive underride protection

Understanding Underride VIII: Making the Case for Comprehensive Underride Protection Legislation

The basic problem of truck underride is the fact that there is a geometric mismatch between the large trucks and the smaller passenger vehicles. Crush zones are structural areas in a vehicle that are designed to absorb energy upon impact in a predictable way. However, upon collision of a passenger vehicle with a truck, there is no opportunity for engagement of the passenger vehicle crush/crumple zone with a solid portion of the truck.

The result? The crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle is not initiated. The car is allowed to go under the truck and the first point of impact is in the Passenger Occupant Space. The passengers are left vulnerable to horrific injuries and violent deaths.

In fact, although underride deaths are vastly underreported and undercounted, FARS data from the NHTSA show that hundreds of people die every year from truck underride passenger compartment intrusion (PCI). NHTSA reported 4,006 underride deaths from 1994 to 2014.

The rear underride guards, which are installed on semi-trailers, are supposed to prevent underride. But the IIHS, in 2011 and 2013, conducted crash testing which proved that the guards of eight major trailer manufacturers, though designed the meet the 1998 federal standard, too often fail. Subsequently, improved rear underride guards and side guards have been crash tested by the IIHS; crash dummies emerge with survivable results.

The majority of the large trucks on the road either have weak, ineffective rear underride guards – even though they meet the current federal standard – or none at all (as in the case of exempt single-unit trucks) or improperly maintained rear guards (initially known as ICC bumpers, later as Mansfield bars, or sometimes as Rear Impact Guards or RIGs). In addition, there is currently no federal requirement for commercial motor vehicles to have side guards – despite the fact that there is normally 4 feet between the bottom of the trailer and the road. And, although Europe has standards for Front Underrun Protection, the U.S. does not.

There were 340,000 large trucks manufactured in 2015. The majority of those have weak rear guards and no side guards. Volvo Trucks produces tractors with front underride protection in Europe but not on their North American trucks. There are nearly 2 million semi trucks in operation in the U.S. and around 5.6 million semi trailers. These drive around every day on our roads putting travelers at risk of Death by Underride.

The truck industry has known about the problem of underride for over a century. In fact, a patent was filed for a side guard in 1913. In response to the rear underride death of actress Jayne Mansfield in 1967, we saw some improvement in rear underride protection with a 1998 standard – although you will notice that that took 31 years to achieve and it still falls short of what is technologically possible some 50 years after her death.

The government is also well aware of the side underride problem. On March 19, 1969, the FHWA indicated in the Federal Register, in an analysis on rear underride rulemaking, that they intended to extend underride protection to the sides of large trucks after further studies. However, DOT has not done so and the industry – despite some voluntary improvement in response to appeals from victim families armed with information on the IIHS crash testing – has not shown an ability or willingness to solve this problem on their own.

As David Ward recently said, at the Road to Zero Coalition October 2017 quarterly meeting, there will always be a strong need for regulation and/or fiscal incentives to break market failure. Only then will we see 100% adoption of comprehensive underride protection. In fact, trailer manufacturers have said that a mandate would lift the burden from them; they would no longer have to persuade their customers to buy safer trailers.

The underride problem has been documented in numerous studies. The IIHS petitioned NHTSA in 2011 and the NTSB made recommendations in April 2014 that NHTSA initiate underride rulemaking to address safety vulnerabilities. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has recognized the problem and has worked with numerous Vision Zero Cities to install side guards on city trucks in order to protect Vulnerable Road Users.

A comprehensive underride protection rule, STOP Underrides!  because it will include single-unit trucks — will make it easier for cities throughout the U.S. to protect vulnerable road users. Every truck that drives on their streets will be equipped with comprehensive underride protection – a significant victory in the battle to create safer mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, as well as passenger vehicles.

With comprehensive underride protection installed on the entire large truck fleet, we should see a significant decrease in the 4,000 truck crash fatalities/year (4,713 in 2016), along with a major reduction in debilitating injuries. Truck crashes can be made more survivable.

Or do we want to continue to allow people to die?

Underride Briefing on The Hill; Video Excerpts of Panel Discussion on October 12

On October 12, 2017, staff from Congressional Offices gathered to hear presentations from five experts on the topic of truck underride. The presentations were followed by a question & answer period as legislative staff sought to understand the problem and solutions of deadly but preventable underride crashes.

The STOP Underrides! Act of 2017 has been drafted by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She is working with Congressman Steve Cohen, who will be drafting a House Companion Measure.  They are both seeking Republican co-leads for this long-overdue, life-saving legislation.

The videos below cover the individual presentations but, unfortunately, the question period was not recorded. Questions about any of the topics covered can be directed to marianne@annaleahmary.com, for follow-up with these and other experts nationally and internationally.

This video includes all five presentations:

Malcolm Deighton, engineer with Hydro (formerly Sapa), discusses their aluminum rear underride guard — successfully crash tested at 40 mph:

Jason Levine, Director of the Center for Auto Safety, discusses the flaws in the cost/benefit analysis of truck underride protection:

Robert Lane, VP of Product Engineering at Wabash National — a trailer manufacturer, discusses their commitment to development of rear and side underride protective devices for the prevention of underride deaths and debilitating injuries:

Matt Brumbelow, a research engineer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), discusses the problem of truck underride and the research which IIHS has done to study rear and side underride protection:

Keith Friedman, Friedman Research Corporation, discusses Front Underride Protection:

Further information on truck underride can be found at:

Hosted by Lois Durso (https://stopunderrides.org/) and Marianne Karth (http://annaleahmary.com) who are working to STOP Underrides! in memory of their daughters — Roya Sadigh and sisters AnnaLeah & Mary Karth.

Large trailer manufacturers built 340,000 in 2015. How many purchased in 2017 will have strong rear guards?

Some of the trailer manufacturers are offering the new stronger rear underride guard as standard to their customers on their new trailers. Some are not. Why is that? If the new guards have been proven to be safer, why still sell trailers with the weaker, ineffective rear guards which — if involved in a crash — could so easily lead to Death by Underride?

I wonder how many trailers have been sold with the newer guards which meet the IIHS ToughGuard award standards. I know that one transport company, J.B. Hunt, ordered 4,000 of the improved Wabash trailers in January 2016. But the stronger guard is not yet standard on Wabash trailers. So, what percentage of the total new purchases is that?

According to Trailer Body Builders“THE 25 largest trailer manufacturers in North America built some 340,000 truck-trailers and container chassis in 2015, a 16.6 percent increase over the preceding year.” So J.B. Hunt’s order would have been 1.2% of the total truck-trailer and container chassis purchases for that year.

What about the other 336,000 trucks potentially purchased last year? Did they have safer rear underride guards? (And how long will they stay in the fleet?) I know that they did not have side guards. And that is not even mentioning the millions of existing trucks on the road which are Death by Underride waiting to happen — especially because many of them are not properly maintained.

If only the industry would voluntarily take the initiative to make it right and correct their defectively-designed products by making sure that every truck on the road had the best possible underride protection. New and existing.

I find it interesting that at least some in the industry are thinking comprehensively about some aspects of safety technology. . .

Powell said his first advice when talking with fleet customers (Velociti specalizes in “technology deployment services”) is to suggest they “synergize” their technology adoption efforts in order to make them more complete and easier to handle. For example, he said, if your fleet is looking at putting collision avoidance systems on your trucks, why not put them on your yard tractors and forklifts at the same time?

Likewise, instead of dividing the tasks of putting different safety systems on vehicles such as electronic logging devices, in-cab camera systems, and lane-departure warning systems, treat all those initiatives as a single, unified action plan. Fleets Share Best Practices on Implementing New Technologies Looking at technology as a problem-solver first can go a long way toward its successful deployment in real-world fleet operations.

See, the industry understands the logic of approaching safety technology with a COMPREHENSIVE strategy! Now if only they would apply that by including comprehensive underride protection in the Super Truck Project!

Perfect Opportunity to Transform SuperTruck Into An ESV To Advance Underride Protection; DOT & DOE?

Lawmaker first to publicly back truck underride bill written by grieving moms

Thank you, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, for your strong commitment to ending truck underride tragedies.

Media Coverage of the Second Underride Roundtable

The Second Underride Roundtable was held at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, on August 29, 2017. Read media reports of this successful gathering of various stakeholders to work together to improve comprehensive underride protection:

  1. Insurance Institute Conducts Successful Test of Side Underguard Protection http://www.ttnews.com/articles/insurance-institute-conducts-sucessful-test-side-underguard-protection 
  2.  Side guard on semitrailer prevents underride in 40 mph test http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/side-guard-on-semitrailer-prevents-underride-in-40-mph-test
  3. Advocates for Truck Safety Hold Underride Roundtable and Crash Test at IIHS http://www.nbc29.com/story/36245364/advocates-for-truck-safety-hold-underride-roundtable-and-crash-test-at-iihs
  4. Grieving parents break down after crash test shows life-saving technology http://www.wusa9.com/news/investigations/underrides/grieving-parents-break-down-after-crash-test-shows-technology-that-could-have-saved-their-kids/469019354
  5. “Hall of Crashes” may hold the key to safer cars and roads  http://www.wusa9.com/news/investigations/underrides/hall-of-crashes-may-hold-the-key-to-safer-cars-and-roads/466377388
  6. Once again, Eric Flack and WUSA 9 continued an in-depth investigation of the truck underride problem & solution with insight, energy, & intent. Facebook Live at the Roundtable Crash Test:  https://www.facebook.com/marianne.karth/posts/10214194153315951

How You Can Help Us Get Comprehensive Underride Protection On Trucks

I know that I can’t be the only person in this country (or the planet for that matter) who would like to see trucks made safer to drive around. So, for anyone else who would like to help get comprehensive underride protection on trucks in the U.S., here are some ideas:  http://annaleahmary.com/how-you-can-help/

 

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?

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.

 

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).

“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!

Underride crash in NY this week kills 4; Ball’s in your court, Congress, to end these preventable tragedies.

Yet another tragic side underride crash occurred in New York this week. Could crash avoidance technology have prevented the collisions of two cars into the side of a jack-knifed milk tanker? Perhaps.

Could comprehensive underride protection — including side guards — have prevented the tragic outcome of 4 lives abruptly ended? Probably.

When will we take action to mandate and install effective underride protection around every part of large trucks to end these preventable tragedies? The ball’s in your court, Congress.

Let’s get The Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 introduced and passed. Post haste. No more of this senseless highway carnage.

Ready-to-introduce bill:  RAMCUP Draft 15 with Cover