Tag Archives: cost benefit analysis

Truck Underride 101: Part III. Cost Benefit Analysis, Underride Rulemaking, and Vision Zero

Becoming educated about underride was not a direction I had planned on going with my life and time. But I have gained a great deal of knowledge related to the fact that AnnaLeah’s and Mary’s deaths (and Roya’s, too, along with countless other individual loved ones) might have been prevented had adequate underride protection been on the truck, into which our sturdy Crown Vic crashed — along with the fact that many more countless, unknown individuals will die unless this country takes decisive action.

This information, along with my unresolved grief due to the frustration of knowing that years have gone by without effective protection, fuels my efforts to work collaboratively to bring about widespread and significant change. It is now my aim to equip everyone with the same information — without the accompanying unwanted grief.

The reason we are devoting our lives to pounding on this door and asking for change is that our daughters may have lost their lives due to the lack of a Vision Zero policy. A decision which concluded that recommended changes would not be cost effective—in other words, that it would supposedly cost more to implement safety measures than the lives saved would be worth—may have led to lax underride guard standards.

If the best possible protection had been pursued when the regulations were last updated (1996), the trucks on the road today (including the one on the road May 4, 2013) might be much safer to be driving around. Mary and AnnaLeah might even still be around.

So, here is Part III of Truck Underride 101.

III. Cost Benefit Analysis, Underride Rulemaking, and Vision Zero

  1. Public Comments on Underrride Rulemaking & Cost/Benefit Analysis: Public Comments Re: Cost/Benefit Analysis in NHTSA Proposed Underride Rulemaking on Rear Guards for Tractor-Trailers & for Single Unit Trucks and       Current NHTSA #Underride Rulemaking (Cost/Benefit Analysis): Summary of Public Comments and http://annaleahmary.com/2016/10/dot-omb-are-you-using-cea-or-cba-rulemaking-road-to-zero-requires-vision-zero-rulemaking/

  2. Jerry Karth’s Public Comments on Underride Rulemaking: Comments on the NPRM for Rear Underride Guards on Trailers and Reflections from a bereaved dad on the Underride Roundtable & what that means for rulemaking

  3. Underride Statistics 

  4. The Future of Trucking: Who pays for the costs of safer roads?

    I thought about all of this, on a recent trip “back home”, as I reflected on the plight of small trucking companies and independent owner-operator truck drivers. Are the costs of owning a company and the pressure to drive many miles creating a situation where they won’t be able to stay in business?

    Frequently, I hear that changes of one kind or another in the trucking industry–in order to improve safety (i.e., reduce crashes, injuries and deaths)–will result in increased costs for the trucking companies. I hear that it will put them out of business.

    Is this true? According to whom and based on what information? If it is true, then does something need to change in the trucking industry itself in order to allow for the beneficial work, which trucking provides, to continue but to also allow for truckers to make a decent living wage–without jeopardizing their health and the safety of travelers on the roads? . . .  Read more here: The Future of Trucking; Who pays for the costs of safer roads?

  5. Whose lives are you going to sacrifice? If decisive action is not taken to end these preventable deaths, then who should we hold responsible? Whose lives are we thereby choosing to sacrifice?

  6. TTMA: Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association Reminds NHTSA Why Side Guards Are Not Cost Effective, May 18, 2016 post:

    Yesterday morning, I checked my email and saw that there was a new Public Comment posted on the Federal Register regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Underride Guards.

    I quickly went to the site and saw that the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association had posted a comment (see their comments in the PDFs below). Apparently our Underride Roundtable two weeks ago at IIHS has spurred them to spell out the steps which have been taken over the years to squash side guards from being mandated and manufactured to prevent smaller passenger vehicles from riding under trucks upon collision with the side of the larger vehicle.



    Their rationale: Cost/Benefit Analysis shows that adding side guard to trucks is “not cost-effective”. From this post: Truck Trailer Manufacturers Ass’n “Reminds” NHTSA: Side Guards Are “Not Cost-Effective” Says Who? 

    I am encouraged by the closing paragraph of the TTMA letter to NHTSA:

    TTMA would support the implementation of side guards if they ever become justified and technologically feasible. We continue to support the NHTSA review of Petitioners’ requests and stand ready to partner in the development of justified and feasible designs if they possibly emerge. Jeff Simms, President

Truck Underride 101: Discussion Topics

I. When Will We Tackle Truck Underride? Truck Underride 101: I. When Will We Tackle Truck Underride?

II. Why Comprehensive Underride Protection? Truck Underride 101: II. Why Comprehensive Underride Protection?

III. Cost Benefit Analysis, Underride Rulemaking, and Vision Zero

IV. Win/Win

V. Bipartisan Discussion of Legislative Strategy

DOT & OMB: Are you using CEA or CBA rulemaking? Road to Zero requires Vision Zero Rulemaking

I have a simple request for the Department of Transportation and the Office of Management & Budget/OIRA:

  1. Please let me know if you are using Cost Effectiveness Analysis or Cost Benefit Analysis.
  2. And, please be transparent by telling me what your formula is. What are your parameters?
  3. And, please sit down with us and have a face to face conversation about this.

Unless you use truly Vision Zero rulemaking, the Road to Zero Coalition’s goal will most probably fall short.

Cost.Benefit Analysis

“Money At Root of Takata’s Tragic History”

Talking about SAFETY becomes meaningless when no one really values human life over making a profit. When will we get that and say that we have had enough?

Latest email from Lou Lombardo:

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

NY Times publishes an excellent article on victims of vehicle violence due to air bag defects known for more than a decade.

“In the late 1990s, General Motors got an unexpected and enticing offer. A little-known Japanese supplier, Takata, had designed a much cheaper automotive airbag.

G.M. turned to its airbag supplier — the Swedish-American company Autoliv — and asked it to match the cheaper design or risk losing the automaker’s business, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the G.M. account at the time.

But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata airbag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the airbag to expand.

“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.

Today, that compound is at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata. More than 100 million of its airbags have been installed in cars in the United States by General Motors and 16 other automakers.

Details of G.M.’s decision-making process almost 20 years ago, which has not been reported previously, suggest that a quest for savings of just a few dollars per airbag compromised a critical safety device, resulting in passenger deaths. The findings also indicate that automakers played a far more active role in the prelude to the crisis: Rather than being the victims of Takata’s missteps, automakers pressed their suppliers to put cost before all else.”

NY Times also publishes a useful article on what consumers can and should know and do.

“Defective airbags made by Takata have been tied to at least 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. The ensuing recall — the largest in automotive history — has turned out to be messy, confusing and frustrating for car owners.”


These stories need to be widely shared.  They give us all useful information on the root of vehicle violence: money.

Life & Death11wjd2
What can the American people do about this?
Safety is not a priority 002

Truck Underride Tragedies Need to End; Enough is enough!

I recently asked DOT for a breakdown of truck underride deaths by type: front, side, and rear. Yesterday, they sent a chart of Underride Fatalities from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)–taken from crash reports submitted to DOT:

From 1994 to 2014, this is the breakdown of Deaths by Underride:

Collision at Front of the Truck: 625

Collision at Side of the Truck: 1534

Collision at Rear of the Truck: 1715

Collision Site Unknown: 132

Total Underride Deaths Reported: 4,006

Truck Underride Deaths by TYPE 1994-2014

Of course, we need to remember that these figures do not include all underride deaths, as it is well-known that they are commonly under-reported. In fact, this chart does not include underride crashes which happened when the truck was parked. When we include those types of crashes, the FARS records yield 5,081 underride deaths in that same time period.

Truck Underride Fatalities, 1994-2014

I have known for some time that there are many deaths due to side underride crashes. But to find out that there are almost as many deaths from side underride as rear underride?! How can NHTSA require rear underride guards and yet not mandate side underride guards? How can they possibly justify that? (Some kind of convoluted cost/benefit analysis, I suppose.) And why are trucks even sold without side guards?

The question must be asked: Whom shall we hold responsible for those 4,006+ deaths (and those not reported as underride deaths), along with the people who died before 1994? The government? The trucking industry? Ourselves for letting it happen in our ignorance or apathy? All of us?

And what about now–today? Will we hold those, who have the authority to act, accountable to do the right thing? Will we demand that they move ahead quickly to correct this tragic and unimaginable situation? Will we make sure that all trucks have the best possible underride protection?



our mangled Crown Vic on May 4, 2013

Life & DeathIf only

Sign our petition to NHTSA to initiate rulemaking on side guards: Mandate Side Guards On Large Trucks To End Deadly Side Underride Crashes

Demand that we act compassionately to preserve human life rather than protect profit. Otherwise, if we knowingly allow this to continue unabated, will we all be accessories to murder?

Two of the thousands we have lost:


Who has the right to block efforts to end Preventable Death by Underride?

I just got back from an errand. Something triggered a memory of AnnaLeah & Mary. I think that it was driving by a park here in Rocky Mount to which Mary and AnnaLeah never got to go. We had lived here less than a year before the crash.

It made me wonder (as I do so often) what they might be doing right now. How  might their lives have unfolded?

All my anger poured out, about how they have been cheated and how wrong it all is. I was yelling in my car, “Who gave power to the trucking industry over life & death matters?  Who has the right to block efforts to end Preventable Death by Underride?”

And that is only one of the many safety issues involved.

Yesterday I was frustrated with the whole side guard issue and the well-known under-reporting of side underride fatalities (in fact, of all types of underride). As far as I can tell, it has contributed to more underride victims as a direct result of the inaccurate cost/benefit analysis that has taken place.

Of course — in case you didn’t already know — I think that the whole cost/benefit analysis basis of safety rulemaking is flawed and unethical and needs to be re-examined. I have clearly laid out my thoughts on this in a drafted Vision Zero Executive Order.

Two more areas which make me concerned — because they do not seem to be taking into account the whole picture — are:

  1. Hours of Service (Have truckers been asked what they think would work best?) and
  2. Speed Limiters (What will truckers do when they need to speed up to get around someone but their speed limiter technology will not allow it? And speed limiters will not change situations where drivers cause crashes because they are driving “too fast for conditions.”)

One trucker, Jeff Halling, recently said to me (regarding speed limiters),

“Can you imagine how this will affect the Move Over Law? I’m running down the interstate stuck at 65 cars are running 80 and 85 miles an hour. An emergency vehicle is on the shoulder in front of me. What do I do? If I move over, it’s guaranteed rear-end crash. If I slow down to 40 miles an hour, which is what they recommend, another possibility of rear-end crash. Just not a good idea. I can say this though, If this law does pass we definitely need to get stronger rear end guards on trailers. Because rear-end crashes will go up ten-fold.”

Both of these situations — in my mind — need someone to facilitate rulemaking who has only safety in mind. Such as a Traffic Safety Ombudsman.

And, one more thing. . .  the pervasive idea in this country has to be confronted that it is an inevitable and acceptable risk you take when you drive on the roads, instead of understanding that there are so many things which could be done to prevent crash deaths.

Who has the power

How can this country continue to turn a cold shoulder to preventable crash deaths?

How can this country continue to turn a cold shoulder to preventable crash deaths? It is so easy to point the finger of blame and not participate in solving the problem ourselves. And it is equally easy to act like it is just a risk that travelers take — and there is nothing that can be done about the problem!

This is a recent comment from a reader (which I did NOT approve to be published on our website) on a post which I wrote related to the Tesla side underride fatal crash:

“This Proves that the Autonomous vehicles are not ready for use. Only an Imbecile would have made millions of truck owners spend thousands to millions because a few Idiots refuse to be Attentive drivers . The time for the Autonomous car is not here ,and the Whole idea needs to be SCRAPED”

And here is another:

“Here’s a novel idea. Require drivers of cars to PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD! Ban self driving cars or anything else. The autopilot system failed. It did not recognize the white side of the trailer. It failed to distinguish between the trailer and the sky. Stop trying to put extra burden on the trucking industry. Learn to actually drive. Take a defensive driving course . Don’t rely solely on technology . Relearn to use your brain.”

Either orCar Safety Wars

How can my daughters be gone. . . how did it come to this, that innocent lives would be required to pay the price for this travesty?

CBA Victim

Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

I am thankful that there are many who are working on the problem of preventable crash deaths and I pray that we can make tangible progress — despite the evidence that opposition continues.

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

When Will We Tackle Underride? – The Hidden Dangers in Trucks

Is it ethical to not use safety technology which could save human lives?

“Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong”

Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong Huff Post (Common Grief) Michelle E. Steinke Founder/CEO – One Fit Widow, My 1 Fit Life,

It is my grief — my ongoing heartfelt loss —  which compels me to ask these questions.

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

Is Cost/Benefit Analysis Appropriate for Life & Death Matters? Were their lives worth saving?

Reflections from a bereaved dad on the Underride Roundtable & what that means for rulemaking

Jerry Karth submitted some additional comments on the proposed underride rule–with reflections on what was learned through the Underride Roundtable. These comments have now been posted on the Federal Register: Additional Comments on Underride Rulemaking by Jerry Karth, May 19, 2016

He included the following important points:

After participating in the Underride Roundtable, I would like to offer these additional comments (also attached as pdf with clickable links):

1. When the Karth family petitioned Secretary Foxx on May 5, 2014, we requested an upgrade in rear underride guards. At the time, we requested that the U.S. guards meet or exceed the Canadian standard. Since that time, having done extensive online research, we have come in contact with researchers who have shown that much more is possible given existing or proposed underride research.

2. One of the questions raised at the Underride Roundtable was whether underride protection could be produced to prevent underride at higher speeds. In the Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation of the NPRM, NHTSA requested information about underride guard crash tests at higher speeds (than the 35 mph currently being proposed). In fact, underride research has been conducted for decades which has demonstrated that it is possible to prevent underride crashes at higher speeds. It is research which has been available and known to regulators and the industry. For example, the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) in Australia tested energy-absorbing guards to 75 km/h or 47 mph in the early 1990s. http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/216924/muarc026.pdf

3. The image of a MUARC energy-absorbing underride guard can be seen in the attachment.

4. The U.S. final underride rule should, at minimum, copy the new Australian/New Zealand proposed rule published in April 2016 as the next underride guard rule rather than the present Canadian rule which is 11 years old. The Australian rule mentions test speeds under the heading Test Requirements on p. 60, Clause G7.3: “Current vehicle crashworthiness technology indicates that occupants will not suffer serous injury in an equivalent frontal impact speed of up to around 64 km/h into a deformable barrier if the car is a modern five star Australian New Car Assessment (ANCAP) vehicle. . . The development of effective energy absorbing TUBs [Truck Underrun Barrier] would both reduce the serious injury to vehicle occupants and increase the effect frontal impact speed DeltaV above the 70 km/h test speed compared with a rigid TUB.”

5. It is technically feasible to develop an improved underride guard in less than a year, as the VA Tech Students demonstrated.

6. The consumers of the trailers have requested and received, from 4 of the trailer manufacturers (Wabash, Manac, Vanguard, Stoughton) improved underride guards.
7. Four of the major trailer manufacturers were more than willing to step up and provide a better underride guard (successfully tested at 35 mph for a 30% offset crash).

8. It is cost-effective to design and build a better underride guard.

9. The Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA ) used in this rulemaking is faulty as clearly demonstrated by some of the manufacturers’ willingness to step up and provide a better underride guardeven without regulation. (Truck Safety Marketplace)

10. It is possible to bring all of the parties involved into the process, to have meaningful conversation, and to make progress.

These attachments were included:

Jerry submitted his original public comment regarding the proposed underride rulemaking on February 16, 2016. A Bereaved Dad Takes a Close Look at the Flaws in Underride Regulatory Cost/Benefit Analysis

Underride Roundtable Timeline74 gertie 2314PetitionHeader_option2Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 141

Imagine an Executive Order propelling us toward zero crash deaths. What are we waiting for?

When I read Lou Lombardo’s Care for Crash Victims email this morning, it reminded me of what I keep thinking about the proposed underride rule. . . the regulatory analysis needs to include the cost of the lives lost (and injuries sustained) in the past — all the years of too-weak or non-existent guards even when they knew that better could be made — and all the lives which could be saved into the future.
What conclusions would the analysts then draw? Would they deem spilled blood too great a price to pay?

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

As we think about Benefits and Costs we need to think about Who gets the Benefits and Who gets the Costs.  People’s lives vs. Corporate monies.


Think about the power of Presidents and their responsibilities as OMB is a key arm of government in the White House.

See OMB Draft Report at

Imagine an Executive Order directing the Justice Department to require all settlement agreements to include payments to the government commensurate with the costs in lives lost in the past and projected into the future – and the benefits of sentencing executives to the elimination of vehicle violence forevermore – Vision Zero. 
Thanks, Lou, for your always-thoughtful questions and comments.
Adopt a Vision Zero Policy 047

Side note to Cost/Benefit Analysis Question: The fallacy behind the Australian fed. gov’t’s CBA.

Here’s a little side note on the cost/benefit analysis (CBA) debate from around the globe in Australia:

The fallacy behind the Australian Federal Government’s CBA is that the cost to the tax payer is minimal to introduce a new mandatory standard requiring crashworthy underrun barriers.

The cost is in effect born by the truck manufacturers which the industry accepts.

That’s the irony of the situation.

At most it might add a fraction of a cent to the cost of your Corn Flakes which I am sure if presented to consumers, they would gladly pay if it saved lives.

The disgusting truth to the Australian Federal Regulator’s CBA is that a ‘virtual’ cost has been added by them, i.e. cost to the industry.

That is being touted by the Federal Government as being more important than the well-being or life of a human being.

Raphael Grzebieta, Professor, Road Safety

Underride Roundtable May 5, 2016 169