Tag Archives: DOT rulemaking

Request for Law Review Articles on the Cost/Benefit Analysis in Traffic Safety Rulemaking

After losing our two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), due to a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, our family has taken on the goal of improving the regulatory and voluntary standards for currently weak and ineffective truck underride guards. On May 5, 2016, we were co-sponsors, with IIHS and the Truck Safety Coalition, of an Underride Roundtable.

Current truck underride regulations too often do not prevent underride crashes—which led to 228 recorded crash fatalities in 2014. http://annaleahmary.com/2016/04/truck-underride-fatalities-chart-from-the-fars-1994-2014/truck-underride-fatalities-1994-2014/

As we have participated in safety advocacy, we have become aware of the challenges often faced by those who seek to bring about greater safety through legislative or rulemaking means. Because we have observed that the industry’s lobby exerts a great deal of influence and has been successful in delaying proven safety measures, we have petitioned the federal government to adopt a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy.

In order to understand the details of our vision to bring about a process that would truly be concerned about saving lives more than saving profit, please see our Vision Zero Petition Delivery Book:


Also available from Lulu Publishing: http://www.lulu.com/shop/marianne-karth/the-vision-zero-petition/paperback/product-22648853.html

Also, read these Vision Zero Rulemaking posts: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/vision-zero-rulemaking/

We have not received any feedback from the White House or from the Department of Transportation in response to our petition. Therefore, we are proceeding to call upon experts in law to research this timely topic and write law review articles to shed light on the appropriateness of our requests to re-shape the process through which this country’s citizens are meant to be protected.

It is our hope that students of the law, as well as law professors, judges, and legal practitioners, will take it upon themselves to clarify the process by which safety measures – which are proven to save lives and/or prevent serious injuries – are determined to be cost effective or not, and what exactly that means. We will compile the results (or links to published articles) and make them publicly available.

This Call for Research & Review is available as a pdf: Request for Law Reviews on Cost Benefit Analysis in Rulemaking

Please send questions and submissions to:
Marianne Karth

2 crash deaths

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

We will accept reviews at any time but encourage law students to incorporate this project into their university schedule. Please share this post with others whom you think would be interested in this opportunity to change the face of traffic safety rulemaking.

“Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.”

If you are at all concerned about the possibility of you, or someone you know, being in a truck crash, READ this Huffington Post (April 16, 2016) article: Trucks Are Getting More Dangerous And Drivers Are Falling Asleep At The Wheel. Thank Congress.

Here is a comment on the article from the Advocates for Auto & Highway Safety:

This is a terrific expose by Huffington Post that appeared in yesterday’s edition about the growing influence of special trucking interests in their continuing efforts to roll back truck safety rules including hours of service (HOS) and bypass the authorizing committees by using the Appropriations Committees. . . We learned on Friday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee will likely take up the FY2017 transportation funding bill on Tuesday with full Appropriations Committee mark-up on Thursday. . .   We anticipate that the trucking industry will continue to try to block going back to the Obama Administration hours of service rule with more language and several states are seeking truck size and weight exemptions.

This is a very lengthy article which, for the most part, delves into the problem of truck driver fatigue (and the horrific, often fatal, crashes which all too often occur) and the pressure that the trucking industry continues to put on Congress with the result of making our roads less safe instead of more safe.

Please read and share this very informative article. It needs to be heard.

It only serves to emphasize the importance of our call for President Obama to set a National Vision Zero Goal, establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force, and sign a Vision Zero Executive Order. Are you listening, President Obama?

Do it, President Obama, for We the People of this United States of America! #VisionZero

Here are some of the topics which this tell-it-like-it-is article covers:

There were several other industry requests in that funding bill for 2016, including a measure that aimed to extend the suspension of sleep rules that Collins had won just six months earlier. Her suspension lasted a year and required regulators to look into the effectiveness of requiring two nights of sleep and whether there was any case for the trucking industry’s position. But rather than see that process through, the new provision changed the study mid-stream and called for gathering even more data — including the regulation’s impact on the longevity of drivers. Studying workers’ lifespans, of course, takes entire lifespans. That provision was signed into law with the 2016 spending bill that ultimately passed.

They just basically want to stall this forever,” said Rep. David Price (N.C.), the top Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that deals with transportation.

Another measure the industry pushed last year aimed to short-circuit federal regulators’ efforts to evaluate raising insurance requirements for trucking companies. Currently, carriers have to maintain the same $750,000 policies they did in the ‘80s. The industry’s argument is that independent operators would not be able to afford higher premiums — and indeed, DND’s margins were so close it shut down when its insurance company raised rates after the Balder crash. The industry argues that 99 percent of truck accidents do not generate such high damages. But $750,000 doesn’t begin to cover the costs a serious semi wreck incurs. For instance, a widower whose wife was killed and children severely injured by a dozing driver in 2010 won $41 million in damages. The family of James McNair, the comedian who died in the Tracy Morgan crash, settled for $10 million in March last year.  A somewhat weakened version of the measure did pass, requiring regulators to evaluate a number of different factors before they adjust the insurance requirements.

Another industry-backed provision aimed to hide the BASIC safety measurements for trucking companies from public view, and bar their use in lawsuits. The lawsuit provision was dropped from the spending bill during negotiations, but the BASIC scores were in fact hidden and removed from the agency’s website. The industry used a Government Accountability Office study that found the safety system could do better in some respects to justify its position, but the two firms involved in the Velasquez crash had exactly the sort of poor safety scores that the BASIC system predicts make them more likely to be involved in accidents.

Despite the fact that these provisions will likely have an impact on the safety of nearly 11 million large trucks registered in America, they were all buried in legislation that Congress had to pass to avoid a government shutdown, with little to no debate about whether they were a good idea.

“The advocates of relaxing the rules or eliminating the rules, they see that and think this is their train to catch. … Not just wait on the normal process, or count on something as pedestrian as actual hearings or discussion, but to make a summary judgement and latch it on to an appropriations bill,” Price said.

There’s something else all the industry-backed measures have in common: They are deeply unpopular.

The article focused on a truck crash in which a tired trucker plowed into the back of a State Trooper’s Crown Vic while he was on the side of a tollway assisting another trucker. Not exactly our circumstance, but made me tense up just reading about it. See our Crown Vic here:


74 gertie 2314 75 gertie 2315


Driving While FatiguedUnderride kills

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

With amazing technology advances, why are we slow as a snail to solve traffic safety problems?

Could someone please explain to me why it is that we can invent amazing technology to allow “face time” — among countless other inventions which are unfolding at an unbelievable pace — but we are slow as a snail to solve safety problems.

Why are we not devoting top priority resources (time, money, and the creativity of the human mind — enhanced by the availability of information and technology) to reducing the 33,000 on average annual traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. and 1.24 million crash deaths on the world’s roads in 2010?  http://www.who.int/gho/road_safety/mortality/en/

And why is it that getting safety measures passed — whether it be at the legislative level (in getting laws passed) or the administrative level (in getting regulations issued) is a continual battle?

Let me tell you what I think might be some of the reasons:

  1. The prevailing attitude is that most crash fatalities are inevitable rather than preventable. Not true. In fact, there were many factors in our crash which could have turned out differently were more attention given to safety matters.  http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/  & http://www.care2.com/causes/one-familys-quest-to-improve-truck-safety.html
  2. The concept of “second collision” is poorly understood. The fact is that the first collision (the actual crash) is not necessarily what causes death in every case. http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/the-second-collision-does-not-have-to-be-so-prevalent-we-can-do-better-at-preventing-death-horrific-injuries/ &  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/vision-zero-avoiding-collisions-and-second-collisions/
  3. The industry lobby opposing safety measures has a deep pocket. Need I say more? Well, I will. In less than 3 years since our crash, I have spent countless hours as a volunteer safety advocate (motivated by my daughters’ needless deaths) sending emails and making phone calls and meeting in person with legislators to inform them and attempt to persuade them to support safety measures. All too often, I am back at it again in another six months or so to fight the same battle all over again. https://dawnkinster.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/reflections-on-truck-safety/ & https://dawnkinster.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/for-annaleah-and-mary/
  4. The rulemaking process is cumbersome (though I am all for making sure that safety measures are indeed safe) and unnecessarily weighed down by the constraints of the cost/benefit analysis restrictions which inevitably lead to watered-down rules which are weak and ineffective. And enforcement has too often been ineffective:  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/lets-move-from-a-failure-of-compassion-tactics-of-conceal-%c2%ad%e2%80%90delay-%c2%ad%e2%80%90deny-while-fiery-crashes-occur-to-a-vision-of-zero-fatalities/
  5. Industry is more often than not reluctant to move ahead with safety measures voluntarily — either because they don’t want to have to re-do it when government regulations finally come out or because cost is a factor (enough said). This, of course, does not mean that all companies do nothing on their own to improve safety.
  6. Usually, a fragmented approach to solving the problem is taken when we could get more done faster if we worked together. http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/face-it-fragmented-approaches-to-transportation-safety-dont-work-public-health-needs-to-be-included/
  7. Accountability, responsibility, and liability are dirty words. Taboo.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/opponents-of-white-collar-criminal-prosecutions-argue-that-corporate-managers-should-not-be-charged-criminally-for-regulatory-violations/ And human life is measured in terms of dollars and all-too-often not considered worth the cost necessary to protect.  http://annaleahmary.com/tag/value-of-life/
  8. There is not a long line of people eager to help pay for safety research and crash testinghttp://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/who-will-pay-for-research-crash-testing-of-underride-guards/

What is the result of all this? People are dying when they could be still living.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LGcWc4m9VA

Too many lives are sacrificed. And for what? “So, what cost-benefit analyses really means, is that when no action is taken to improve the design of heavy vehicles, people’s lives are being traded for reduced transport costs.” George Rechnitzer,  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/crocodile-tears-costbenefit-analysis-vision-zero-goal-of-no-crash-fatalities/

Now, back to my original question, why is it that we can invent amazing technology to allow “face time” — among countless other inventions which are unfolding at an unbelievable pace — but we are slow as a snail to solve safety problems?

My grandpa was a rural mailman and used a sleigh and horses to deliver mail in the snow. My dad grew up with a wood-burning stove and an icebox for refrigeration. I grew up with the introduction of color television, seat belts, and not until I started raising children did I use things like VCRs or modem dial-up internet access. I went to Europe for a summer in college and had no cell phone to keep in contact with my parents back in the U.S.

Aren’t you glad that we have indoor plumbing? http://annaleahmary.com/2015/06/the-future-of-trucking-who-pays-for-the-costs-of-safer-roads/

How far we have come technologically and how rapidly advances occur. Yet, it takes a Jayne Mansfield (http://mentalfloss.com/article/28155/how-jayne-mansfield-changed-design-tractor-trailers & http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1082934_iihs-todays-mansfield-bars-dont-work-so-well-video) or a Dale Earnhardt to die (http://espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=hinton_ed&id=6116145 & http://sports.usatoday.com/2015/04/30/dean-sicking-safer-barriers-nascar-indycar/) or a Tracy Morgan to get severely injured for us to wake up and decide to do something about safety.  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-11/ntsb-says-wal-mart-driver-awake-for-28-hours-before-morgan-crash


Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the safety advances made after those famous crashes. But I am appalled that we can’t seem to get it until such tragedies cause us to sit up and take notice. Meanwhile, countless unnoticed-by-the-public tragedies happen daily on roads across the globe. Year after year.

Good grief! Even my grandkids, who have not yet lived a decade, get that something could have been done to prevent their Aunt Mary (13) and Aunt AnnaLeah (17) from dying.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/11/our-grandma-wants-to-make-the-roads-safer-remembering-2-girls-in-the-aftermath-of-a-truck-crash/

That is why I am devoting myself to raising awareness and calling for change. Come on people, let’s set a National Vision Zero Goal and use our vast resources and brilliant minds to slay this giant. Let’s not keep on putting our heads in the sand, putting bandaids on the problems, and losing these battles at the price of our loved ones. We can do it!

My family and I are making plans to head back to Washington, DC, very soon to take our Vision Zero petitions. We will be meeting with DOT officials to discuss these matters and hopefully lay the foundation for Obama to write a Vision Zero Executive Order.  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Vision-Zero-Executive-Order-Petition-Letter-to-President-Obama1.pdf &  http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Executive-Order-Draft-Application-of-Vision-Zero-Principles-to-Highway-Safety-Regulatory-Review.pdf

Stand up with us and make this happen. Sign & share our 2 Vision Zero petitions:

  1. Petition on ThePetitionSite calling for Secretary Foxx to adopt a DOT Vision Zero rulemaking policy — http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/
  2. Petition on Change.org calling for Obama to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order–  https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars 

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Secretary Anthony Foxx & Marianne Karth discuss truck safety, September 12, 2013

p.s. By the way, the inventor of the NASCAR SAFER Barrier which is now saving lives, thinks that he can invent a much safer truck underride protection system. We just need the money to prove it: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

“U.S., major automakers to announce safety accord Friday” Really? Is it enough?

” U.S., major automakers to announce safety accord Friday”  Reuters, Business News | Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:30pm EST, by David Shepardson

“The U.S. government and a group of global automakers are set to unveil a voluntary agreement at the Detroit auto show on Friday aimed at improving auto industry safety and spurring culture changes, according to company and government officials. . .

But it stops short of what many safety advocates have urged Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to adopt: new binding legal requirements to toughen safety rules. And automakers may be able to raise the voluntary agreement to argue against future proposed regulations, saying the accord makes legally binding rules unnecessary.”

Read more herehttp://www.reuters.com/article/us-autoshow-detroit-safety-idUSKCN0UP2EG20160112

This sounds very familiar. . . as in the 100 previous years of  this dilemma in the history of highway safety battles which Michael Lemov has recorded in his book, Car Safety Warshttp://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/automatic-emergency-braking-in-all-new-cars-a-step-transportation-officials-say-could-significantly-reduce-traffic-deaths-and-injuries/

It is important for verbal commitment to safety to be followed up with regulatory provisions to ensure that it, in fact, becomes a reality. When will we learn?

Support a national Vision Zero goal. Let’s get this right.




Adopt a National Vision Zero Goal: Save lives not dollars!

On January 1, 2016, we launched an online petition at Change.org–Adopt National Vision Zero Goal: Save lives not dollars!

Sign & share our new Vision Zero Petitionhttps://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars

During the fall of 2015, we collected over 15,000 signatures on a petition aimed at Secretary Foxx to apply Vision Zero principles to highway safety rulemaking. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

But in order for DOT to act accordingly, they need to be empowered by a National Vision Zero mandate. That is why we are asking President Obama to set a national Vision Zero goal and to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order.

Help us send the message to Washington, DC, that we want to reduce the almost 33,000 crash deaths which occur each year.  This is the petition letter which will be delivered to President Obama: Vision Zero Executive Order Petition Letter to President Obama

This is the executive order which I have drafted (which, of course, is merely my request/ recommendation):  Executive Order Draft Application of Vision Zero Principles to Highway Safety Regulatory Review

Due to a shared interest in reducing preventable traffic fatalities and serious injuries, we are working with the following individuals & organizations to raise awareness and garner widespread support for this VISION ZERO effort (to be updated as more supporters get on  board with us): Letter of Support for Vision Zero Executive Order Petition

Rebekah photo of crash

Read more about Vision Zero: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/vision-zero/

An example of the application of VZ principles to rulemaking: Underride Guards–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.  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/12/a-moms-knee-jerk-reaction-to-nhtsas-proposed-rule-to-improve-rear-underride-protection/

Highway Safety Rulemaking: Maybe we need to call for a statute which “requires another regulatory approach. ” Just sayin’ . . .

If I bring up the topic of making decisions on safety measures based on a Vision Zero policy vs a traditional cost/benefit analysis, I imagine that I might see the rolling of eyes or frowns or skeptical looks. After all, how could I expect the question of profit to be tossed aside when requiring a corporation to make a costly change in order to bring about “public health and safety”?

It’s the law after all. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/jsp/Utilities/EO_Redirect.jsp

” . . .  in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, agencies should select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity), unless a statute requires another regulatory approach. ”

What I would like to point out is that, by allowing the cost/benefit analysis requirements of the federal rulemaking process to stand as is, what we are saying is:

If the cost to society of a proven means to prevent the loss of human life is higher than the monetary Value of a Statistical Life ($9.4 million as of 6/17/2015), then we cannot justify requiring its implementation by law.

Can the loss of human life be thus weighed against economic loss? Is it really comparable? Human life is reduced to a dollar amount which can be compared to/weighed against corporate profit–dollar for dollar? Equivalent. Apples to apples.

AnnaLeah & Mary losing their lives to preserve trucking industry corporate profit? I don’t think so!

Maybe we need to call for a statute which  “requires another regulatory approach. ” Just sayin’ . . .

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Projected Date for Rulemaking Process on Minimum Liability Insurance Increase

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Some good news: It looks as if FMCSA plans to move up rulemaking for minimum insurance from a November projected date to September 19 (before bills to defund the process could go through).


There is, of course, opposition to this potential rulemaking. And other projects might be moved back. How unfortunate that needed truck safety changes are too often unnecessarily slowed down by constant political wrangling.

Wasted resources. Wasted time. Wasted lives.