Tag Archives: Death by Underride

Why Has the Truck Underride Problem Been Left Unchecked for Decades?

Truck underride is what frequently happens when a passenger vehicle collides with a large truck. Because the truck was unfortunately defectively designed to be above the level of the crush zone of the smaller vehicle, the passenger vehicle goes under the truck and the crashworthy safety features of the car are not able to work. Or, to put it another way, the truck enters the occupant space of the passenger vehicle — too often resulting in horrific death and debilitating injuries.

Hundreds of people die this way every year — the victims of senseless, preventable death by underride.  Yet, for decades, this problem has been left unchecked. Little has been done to preserve the occupant space and make truck crashes more survivable. Why is that?

Basically, the government has waited for the trucking industry to prove that it could do something to prevent these deaths. The trucking industry, for its part, has been waiting for the government to tell it whether or not, and how, to address this problem — before devoting R & D resources to it in order to come up with solutions. Meanwhile, the unsuspecting traveling public is left vulnerable and precious blood continues to be needlessly spilled on our roads.

Stalemate. Catch 22. Limbo. Standstill. Impasse.

The STOP Underrides! Bill will break this deadlock and get the ball rolling so that creative engineers can put effective underride protection on every truck — resulting in more truck crash survivors who can live to see another day.

Find out more about underride at our Underride Guards Page.

How Does Your State Fare In Underride Deaths?

Find out how your state fares on truck underride deaths from 1994 through 2015. There is quite a range of numbers. But whether you live in Hawaii  — which reported 1 underride fatality in that time period —  or California — which reported 426 people killed because a large truck entered their occupant space during a collision between the truck and a passenger vehicle,  it’s too many in my book.

And remember, Death by Underride is definitely undercounted — some crash report forms don’t even have a check box for underride. And underride can happen to anyone at anytime and anywhere.

Underride Fatality Data from FARS by State

U.S. Map PV Fatalities Truck Crashes in 2015 per IIHS

PV Fatalities in Truck Crashes 2015 per IIHS

PVEH_LRGTRK_UNDERRIDE_FATS_STATE_2015B

AnnaLeah Karth. May 15, 1995 – May 4, 2013. Death by Underride.

Remembering our AnnaLeah. . .

AnnaLeah Karth

May 15, 1995 – May 4, 2013. Death by Underride.

How can we possibly justify allowing Death by Underride to continue when solutions exist to prevent it?

As I allow myself to remember the joy and laughter and love and creativity and grumpiness and irritability and silliness of my daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, I also remember why I am working tirelessly to bring an end to Death by Underride — which snatched AnnaLeah from this earthly life on May 4, 2013, and Mary on May 8, 2013.

I was in that horrific truck crash four years ago today. I survived but they did not because of Death by Underride.

That is why I am pounding the pavement in our nation’s capital to tell our story and bring attention to this deadly problem and its solution:

AnnaLeah & Mary, nothing will ever bring you back to us here, but

And someday, we will see you once again.

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.

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?

Well?!

Mangled

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: