Tag Archives: crash avoidance

Truck Underride 101: Part IV Win/Win

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.

When you think about it, this should really be a win/win situation. Here is Truck Underride 101: Part IV Win/Win.

IV. Win/Win

  1. Job Creation Quite simply put, a mandate for comprehensive underride protection (which some members of the manufacturing industry have said would take the burden off of them to persuade their customers to install these safety features) would lead to a demand for equipment which would, in effect, create new jobs.

  2. Fuel Savings/Super Truck Project: 

  3. Underride Protection: RETROFIT 

  4. Second Collision: Crash Avoidance/Underride Protection: What is a “Second Collision”? Read about it here: Second Collision and Underride Protection

  5. BOTH/AND and opposing arguments: This post contains numerous links dealing with the issue of crash avoidance vs underride protection: Preventing deadly crashes doesn’t require Either crash avoidance Or underride guards but Both/And.

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

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

IV. Win/Win

V. Bipartisan Discussion of Legislative Strategy

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?


  • 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?


Crash Fatality Causes & Solutions: Not Either/Or, but Both/And

When we met with DOT policy officials on March 4, we found that we were in agreement on a very important perspective regarding crash fatality causes and solutions: What we need to be addressing is not one thing or another, e.g., improve underride guards OR develop crash avoidance technology. No, no, no. It is not a case of either/or. It is definitely both/and!

Our crash was not an accident and many factors were involved in what came about that day. They all need to be addressed.

My heart is broken and anything less than genuine pursuit of every avenue for safety advancement only serves to deepen the pain.

gertie 587 gertie 588 gertie 616 gertie 643

AnnaLeah, Mary, Marcus, and Vanessa, Spring 2012, Grafa Park, Midland, Texas

Weeping Willow Memories: Mary and AnnaLeah enjoyed a spring-like day in the winter of 2009 at Grafa Park in Midland, Texas. The branches of a weeping willow tree became the setting for the unleashing of their imagination. (Preserved for us by their sister, Susanna Karth)

“Advocates Garnering Signatures” . . . almost 11,000 in 11 days!

“The latest efforts by a Rocky Mount family to improve trucking safety have garnered more than 9,000 signatures from around the world in just 10 days.

“’We want to get as many signatures as we can,’ said Marianne Karth, whose daughters AnnaLeah and Mary were killed in 2013 when the car Marianne Karth was driving was pushed underneath a tractor trailer. ‘We’d like to see it surpass the 11,000 signatures we got on our first petition and I think that is possible because this has a broader focus than just truck safety. It can positively impact all motor vehicle regulations.’”

Read about it here: https://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/advocates-garnering-signatures-3009111

Scan of RMT article October 11 2015


“Advocates Garnering Signatures” front page story in Rocky Mount Telegram. Almost 11,000 signatures!

The Rocky Mount Telegram published an article on our Vision Zero Petition & Underride Research efforts. We are just short of 11,000 signatures (we got 11,545 on our first petition)!  https://www.rockymounttelegram.com/news/advocates-garnering-signatures-3009111

Please share this story with your local media. I have given you everything you need here to do so.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/10/tools-for-getting-your-local-media-on-board-with-vision-zero-underride-research/

Please note: The article is on today’s front page. However, there was difficulty with non-subscriber access to the online article, so I am printing it here as well:

Advocates garnering signatures

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

The latest efforts by a Rocky Mount family to improve trucking safety has garnered more than 9,000 signatures from around the world in just 10 days.

“We want to get as many signatures as we can,” said Marianne Karth, whose daughters AnnaLeah and Mary were killed in 2013 when the car she was driving was pushed underneath a tractor trailer. “We’d like to see it surpass the 11,000 signatures we got on our first petition and I think that is possible because this has a broader focus than just truck safety. It can positively impact all motor vehicle regulations.”

The online petition through The Petition Site has three points: to change U.S. Department of Transportation regulations from being decided by cost-based analysis and factor in the cost of human lives as well as apply that Vision Zero safety strategy model by requiring underride guards based on crash test performance rather than force-based designs and initiate rulemaking to require collision avoidance and mitigation braking systems on all new large trucks and buses.

“We’re advocating for a paradigm shift,” said Jerry Karth, the father of AnnaLeah and Mary. “When Kennedy gave us the vision of going to the moon, he challenged a change as a nation and we met that challenge. This is the same in that it is challenging the status quo because we never want anyone to become a statistic yet that is what our present system does.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the U.S. secretary of transportation said in 1974 that deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial. The Karths said that is unacceptable and in addition to gathering petition signatures to submit to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, they also have launched a new Website at https://www.fortrucksafety.com/ that is full of information about trucking safety and enables people to donate to the nonprofit organization, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, they started to help fund underride research.

“If everyone would just give $1 or $5 and shared it with others, we could support research into underride prevention systems and improved underride guards,” Marianne Karth said.

In addition to a group of engineering students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, they are working with University of Alabama-Birmingham Engineer Dean Sicking, who created a system that helps save lives in Nascar and is developing similar barriers to prevent underride collisions. The funds raised also will help crash test the improved underride guards and submit those results to regulators and trucking companies for implementation.

“The problem is these accidents are costing lives and they are preventable,” Jerry Karth said. “This is a solvable problem and it will cost money, but the loss of human lives also has a cost.”

The Karths also are in contact with the Transport Accident Commission in Australia and their campaign, Towards Zero. In a one-minute video posted on YouTube, the TAC eloquently shows that no traffic deaths are acceptable and every effort should be made toward preventing all traffic fatalities.

“On average, 40,000 people die each year in crashes on our roads,” according to the petition to Foxx. “Our families cannot continue to sustain this unacceptably high number of losses and injuries. We urge you to take immediate action so that more lives will not be lost and to assure us that safety is your number one priority.”

Since the tragic deaths of the Karth sisters, the family has joined with other truck safety advocates to push through improved regulations. The Karths also are organizing an Underride Roundtable in the spring with engineers, government officials and other safety advocates to discuss ways to further truck safety.

“We knew this was going to be a long journey and each effort we pursue is one step in a long process,” Jerry Karth said. “We know what our goals are that we want to achieve, though, and until we get there, we’ll continue fighting for change.”

Marianne Karth said she balances her advocacy efforts with bittersweet memories of her beloved daughters through the Website: https://annaleahmary.com/. The couple’s other children also share in the fight for change, never forgetting the quiet and creative girls full of potential.

“It always gets back to those girls we lost that’ll never come back to us,” she said. “That loss is why we can pour ourselves into it and keep fighting for change, even when the going gets rough.

“With the petition, we can get others to be a part of making changes that will ultimately save people’s lives.”

Sign & Share our Vision Zero Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Support Underride Research: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

“Towards Zero – There’s no one someone won’t miss.” https://youtu.be/bsyvrkEjoXI

Picture 667

Watch Volvo’s Truck Collision Warning Emergency Braking System

Aaron Kiefer, crash reconstructionist from Cary, NC, toured Volvo in Sweden this summer and learned about their Vision Zero attitude. He recently shared this Youtube video with me which describes Volvo’s truck collision avoiding emergency braking system.

“Published on Jun 24, 2013

In the first episode of Trucks’ Anatomy we take a close look at the revolutionary Collision Warning with Emergency Brake system. Your host Peter Sundfeldt, one of Sweden’s best-known motor journalists will guide you through the test.

Watch the original Emergency Braking video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ridS39…

How does a truck really work? How is it built? How is it developed? Volvo Trucks YouTube-series “Truck’s Anatomy” gives you the answers.

Visit Volvo Trucks website:

Volvo Trucks in social media:

See our Vision Zero Petitionhttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Note our 3 requests in that petition:

1. Change DOT rulemaking policy to move away from a cost/benefit model and adopt a more humanistic, rational Vision Zero safety strategy model.

2. Apply Vision Zero principles by requiring crash test-based performance standards for truck underride guards rather than force-based design standards along with success at higher speeds—to include rear (both centered and offset) and side guards for both Single Unit Trucks and trailers.

3. Apply Vision Zero principles by initiating rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM) systems on all new large trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or more.

Please sign & share our Vision Zero Petition to SAVE LIVES!

Automated vehicles: A Vision Zero Policy would make sure that SAFETY is the priority in new technology

We need to make sure that all new technologies in the motor vehicle arena are carefully researched. Note the concerns raised here:

“While automated vehicles can reduce traditional road crashes, we need to be prepared for new categories of collision that they will also bring, particularly in the early stages of adoption. One example is incidents caused by drivers’ confusion when changing between different modes of automated operation. This type of error has led to aircraft crashes such as Air France Flight 447 and Eastern Air Lines Flight 401. In each case, pilots misunderstood the status of operation of the autopilot systems and failed to correct the aircraft trajectory before it was too late. Vehicle manufacturers will need to design the control interface carefully to ensure the driver has a clear understanding of the status of the vehicle automation systems and the extent to which they have control over vehicle behaviour.

“There will also be situations where an unavoidable collision occurs, such as a pedestrian running into the road at the last minute. Of course this could also happen with a fully alert and experienced driver at the controls, but the fact that automated systems were in charge of the vehicle will make the issue highly contentious. The advantage will be that determining liability should be easier as data collected by vehicle sensors will provide an accurate, comprehensive audit trail of the scenario.”


Many factors can lead to and affect the outcome of crashes. For example, see this post on our crash: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

Let’s get a Vision Zero Policy in place at DOT to ensure that protection of human life & health is always the priority plumbline in new technology decisions.

Sign & Share our Vision Zero Petition now:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Car Safety Wars book cover

What would a DOT Vision Zero policy look like in actual implementation?

In our petition, we have asked for a paradigm shift in how truck underride guards are regulated. This means that, instead of using a force-based design rule, DOT would require performance-based standards. In other words, when a manufacturer designs an underride protection system for a truck, they would have to crash test it and prove that it could actually withstand a crash.

And we want that to be true for higher speeds than currently required and for impact all along the back of the truck–not just at the center but also at the edges (where the guards currently fail in the majority of crashes). And then, we also want side guards to be a requirement.

A Vision Zero rulemaking policy would mean that Saved Lives would win out over dollars in decisionmaking. In contrast, look at what DOT decided about underride guards in  1974:

  • 1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.  (History of federal rulemaking on underride guards:  http://annaleahmary.com/underride-guards/ )

In fact, there have been many engineers over the years who have insisted that the guards were weak and ineffective and that stronger guards could be designed. Here are four examples of Vision Zero principles being applied by engineers who are currently hoping to design and/or promote more effective underride protection which would actually save lives:

  1. George Rechnitzer & Raphael Grzebieta, engineers in Australia with whom we have been in contact, have proposed performance-based standards and have done extensive underride research:  NHTSA-Docket-Submission-Grzebieta&Rechnitzer 20 Sept 2015 (or in the Federal Register Public Comments on underride protection for single unit trucks: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0021)
  2. Dean Sicking, an engineer at the University of Alabama, who designed NASCAR’s SAFER Barrier to save lives and is confident that he could apply those principles to underride protection. Here is the research proposal which he has given to us and for which we are raising money so that he can do it!  Development of Trailer Underride Preventive Measures
  3. Aaron Kiefer, a forensic engineer/crash reconstructionist, who has been motivated by the tragic, preventable crash deaths which he witnesses in his work, to design an innovative underride protection system which combines side & rear guard components. We have met him and were able to go see a prototype of his invention on a semi-trailer.  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0013
  4. IIHS has researched and petitioned for improved underride protection for many years: http://www.iihs.org/externaldata/srdata/docs/sr4907.pdf

For further information about Vision Zero, see these additional posts:  http://annaleahmary.com/tag/vision-zero/


Catch the Vision: Sign our Vision Zero Petition  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Petition screenshot 021


A Quest for the Best/Support Underride Research: Donate Now  https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Underride Research Meme

Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy: Save Lives Not Dollars

On average, 40,000 people die each year in crashes.  Currently, the Department of Transportation makes highway safety rules based upon how much safety measures will cost. We are hoping to change that and promote a Vision Zero safety strategy model with goals of Zero Deaths, Zero Injuries, Zero Fear of Traffic.


One of the biggest challenges to making change is the cost/benefit analysis. On the one side there are lives to be saved and on the other side there are companies working to make money. The trick is to try and meet everyone’s needs. The solution has to be effective in saving lives while still being affordable for companies so that they can make the changes necessary without a lot of struggle.

The problem comes in when human life and health get the short end of the stick. The result is that many safety measures are stopped because they would cost more to implement than the “worth” of the “small” number of human lives which would be saved. That’s just not right.

After losing two daughters in a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, our family made a positive impact one year later by taking over 11,000 signatures on our AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Care2 Petition to DOT in Washington, DC. And we have set up a non-profit to promote highway safety research and federal regulations to protect motorists, pedestrians, & cyclists.

Sign our new petition to let DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx know that we want him to:

1. Change rulemaking policy to move away from an economic-rationalist cost/benefit model and adopt a more humanistic, rational Vision Zero safety strategy model. “Vision Zero states that the loss of human life and health is unacceptable and therefore the road transport system should be designed in a way that such events do not occur.” http://tinyurl.com/9uhzyux

2. Apply Vision Zero principles by requiring crash test-based performance standards for truck underride guards rather than force-based design standards along with success at higher speeds—to include rear (both centered and offset) and side guards for both Single Unit Trucks and trailers.

3. Apply Vision Zero principles by requiring NHTSA to initiate rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM) systems on all new large trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or more.

Please sign & share this petition in memory of AnnaLeah & Mary
and make the roads safer for us all:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

For more information: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Vision Zero: Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Injuries

Let’s work together to implement every possible safety measure to prevent collisions and “second collisions.”


Vision Zero*: Aim high for Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Injuries

* “Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project which aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.[1] A core principle of the vision is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk.”

Sign our petition to promote a U.S. Transportation Vision Zero Policy:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Then, help us apply Vision Zero principles to underride protection.

Donate now to support underride research:  https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Underride Research Meme

HOW YOU CAN HELP: http://annaleahmary.com/how-you-can-help/