Tag Archives: DOT

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

I learned this week about the money being poured into the SuperTruck project administered by DOE. I can’t get past amazement that they have not included safety goals in this project. Here is the perfect opportunity to transform the SuperTruck into an Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) — without having to do it as a totally new project.

Okay, I can get past it because I am not going to stop until I find answers to my questions and agreement to transform this into an interagency collaborative effort to save fuel/costs and, by the way, lives, too!

I will be in Washington, D.C., anyway on March 1 for a Road to Zero Coalition quarterly meeting. How about I find a way to instigate a joint meeting at that time between DOE, DOT, and someone from a Transportation Committee on The Hill? Like maybe Senator Thune?

This emphasizes the need for a White House Traffic Safety/Vision Task Force to facilitate better collaboration and communication on matters related to road safety, including establishing a position of Traffic Safety Ombudsman to be a vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence. Not to mention the better application of trucking industry money toward joint safety efforts in projects like this, including establishing and funding an Underride Specialist/Consultant/Researcher/Engineer to work full-time on these issues, with a budget to do safety testing at places like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Here is our chance to harness the resources of our government and creative minds in the trucking industry to advance comprehensive and effective underride protection on large trucks. What are we waiting for?

Haven’t we waited long enough already?


Boost efficiency? What about saving lives?

AnnaLeah & Mary are “going to Washington, DC”; Vision Zero meetings March 3 & 4

Vision Zero Book 016

Jerry, Isaac, and I are taking over 19,000 Vision Zero Petitions to Washington, D.C., next week. This time we are not taking them in individual envelopes. Instead, we have compiled a printed book (designed by Isaac) with the 16,516 signatures which we had on February 12–along with:

  • the petition letter to Secretary Foxx
  • the petition letter to President Obama
  • explanations of what we mean by Vision Zero, along with examples of practical application of a Vision Zero Goal
  • also, what we are asking for in an action plan, including a National Vision Zero Goal, a White House-mandated Vision Zero Task Force, and a Vision Zero Executive Order.
  • Comments from signers of the petitions
  • and links to all of the Vision Zero posts on the annaleahmary.com website.

We will also be making a pdf of the book available. And Care2 (ThePetitionSite) will be printing off all of the petition signatures, as of next week, and delivering them to us in a binder to take to Secretary Foxx.

On March 3 and 4, we have multiple meetings scheduled in Washington to discuss our requests and petition our country’s leaders to take decisive action.

This is our current Washington schedule (subject to change):
  • 9 a.m. March 3, Rep. Ellmers’ staff
  • 10 a.m., March 3, Rep. Cartwright’s staff
  • 11 a.m., March 3, Rep. Holding’s staff
  • noon, March 3, Sen. Isakson’s staff
  • 2 p.m., March 3, joint meeting with Sen. Blumenthal’s staff & Sen. Markey’s staff
  • 9 a.m., March 4, Sen. Burr’s staff
  • 11 a.m., March 4, DOT policy officials
  • 1:30 p.m., March 4, Underride Roundtable planning meeting

We have also arranged to have a Petition Book delivered to President Obama. When my granddaughter, Vanessa (6), saw the stack of books in my bedroom, she asked why they were still there. I explained that we were going to Washington next week and about the meetings and all of the people to whom we were going to be giving books.

Vanessa remembered going with us to deliver the first petition in May 2014. At 4, she sat quietly and “took notes.” Yesterday, she decided that she wanted to write a letter to the president to tell him that she missed Aunt Mary and Aunt AnnaLeah. So we will be taking that as well.

Does Joan Claybrook think that DOT is repeating history by expecting the auto industry to resolve safety issues VOLUNTARILY?

Is the U.S. Department of Transportation repeating history by expecting the automotive industry to resolve safety issues voluntarily (i.e., without being mandated to, do everything within their power to prevent unnecessary motor vehicle-related untimely deaths and serious injuries)?

To find out the answer, read Michael Lemov’s telling chronicle in his detailed, Car Safety Warshttp://www.ebooks.com/2000873/car-safety-wars/lemov-michael-r/. Or check out what Joan Claybrook, long-time safety advocate, said about this very thing in a Frontline interview in April 2001:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/rollover/interviews/claybrook.html

Such an approach certainly never has led to the best possible underride protection being voluntarily produced. If it had, my daughters (and thousands of other Americans–face it, inhabitants of our planet) might not have died from truck underride. And it denies the possibility that someone should bear the liability for deaths due to SECOND COLLISIONS–other than the victims. (http://annaleahmary.com/tag/second-collision/)

In my personal opinion, DOT’s approach is not consistent with a national Vision Zero goal. Okay, America, do we or do we not want to do everything within our power to stop our citizens from senselessly being slaughtered on our highways and byways?!


Jeff Plungis’ Bloomberg News report on this:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-15/auto-industry-u-s-regulators-agree-to-boost-safety-recalls

In response to the DOT’s recent announcement of “proactive” safety principles, this is what Joan Claybrook had to say in the following statement which she issued yesterday (pasted below in its entirety):

For Immediate Release. Contact Joan Claybrook: 202-364-8755, 202-422-6731



 January 15, 2016

Today’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is collaborating with the auto industry to develop “Proactive Safety Principles” is a dramatic step in the wrong direction especially following a year of record recalls and an increase in motor vehicle fatalities.  The set of four principles is toothless, lacks any implementation authority and is worth only the cost of the paper they are written on. There is nothing preventing the auto industry from disregarding or outright violating these principles.  In fact they could be considered subterfuge to violate reporting requirements by doing “data dumps”.  The safety of the American public will not be best protected with a kumbaya between the federal agency charged with issuing regulation and the industry seeking to avoid regulation.  Also completely absent from this “Best Friends Forever (BFF) moment” between DOT and the auto industry are the people NHTSA was created to protect—car users.

In fact, a reader of the “Principles” document would not know that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created in large measure to regulate the auto industry, with substantial authority to issue motor vehicle safety standards to protect vehicle occupants in a crash, conduct research independently of the auto industry on which to base such standards, to require the recall of vehicles with safety defects and that do not comply with NHTSA’s standards, and to sue companies that refuse to do so.

The “Principles” document emphasizes that 94% of all vehicle crashes are “attributable to driver choices and human error”, but amazingly it omits the fact that most vehicle crash DEATHS and INJURIES prevented result from the improved vehicle safety performance largely based on NHTSA’s many dozens of mandatory safety standards.   In fact, NHTSA estimates that over 600,000 deaths have been prevented by such safety rules since the 1960s when NHTSA was created.

Another contradiction is that NHTSA is now negotiating with the auto manufacturers to develop a “voluntary” (not mandatory) standard for Automatic Emergency Braking, rather than issue a required safety standard under its primary statutory authority.  This is the most important life-saving standard NHTSA could issue now. The crash prevention systems are already installed in a large number of higher end cars, showing it is feasible. Yet NHTSA is delegating the content of requirements to manufacturers under a process that is secret and excludes other  interested parties including consumers and suppliers; is not enforceable, under which any company can initially agree and then secretly discontinue compliance without informing car buyers or NHTSA; allows any company to charge additional prices for installation of the safety technology as optional equipment, often at high prices out of the reach of many consumers; undercuts the lower costs for standard equipment and faster deployment of a mandated regulation; and, also harms public confidence in NHTSA.

As to achieving the goals outlined in the Principles, and taking each one as listed, the agency has the authority to take many steps it has failed or ignored to implement that would improve safety without hoping the vehicle manufacturers will act:

  1. “Enhance and Facilitate Proactive Safety”: NHTSA already has numerous meetings and discussions with industry representatives on a regular basis in Detroit about key safety issues, at Society of Automotive Engineers and other technical group meetings, and hears industry concerns and issues both at NHTSA meetings with individual companies and in group meetings, and at Congressional hearings.   In addition companies submit detailed comments to agency rulemaking dockets, to the Early Warning Reporting of safety defects system, and through negotiations with NHTSA over submission of information about defective vehicles.
  1. “Enhance Analysis and Examination of Early Warning Reporting Data”: Early Warning Reporting (EWR) can be improved by industry complying with existing federal law and filing accurate and timely reports (rather than ones designed to confuse the agency) and NHTSA enforcing this key rule and fining companies that abuse it.  EWR information should also be made public and the reporting categories should be consistent with the reporting codes for consumer complaints so it can be used effectively.
  1. “Maximize Safety Recall Participation Rates”: The major steps companies can take to improve recalls is to conduct them on a timely basis (rather than covering them up and only publicly declaring a safety recall years later), sending strong and effective letters to consumers giving them the incentive to get their vehicles fixed (which NHTSA should monitor and enhance), and give priority to making replacement parts quickly rather than make them secondary to continued new vehicle production.  Also the DOT should encourage states to not issue new license tags to any consumer who has not complied with a defect recall correction notice sent by the manufacturer.
  1. “Enhance Automotive Cybersecurity”: NHTSA has new authority under the FAST Act of 2015 (the highway bill) (Pub. L. 114-94) to conduct cybersecurity research with other federal agencies – not the auto industry – and should do so independently of the industry.  Specifically, modal administrations of the DOT are charged with assisting in the development of cybersecurity research to “help prevent hacking, spoofing, and disruption of connected and automated transportation vehicles.’’



Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

1825 Connecticut Ave NW #330

Washington DC 20009


Do we really have to beg our legislators to vote for safety instead of profitability? Give me a break!

Right now, the House of Representatives is getting ready to vote on a multi-year highway bill. It is my understanding that lobbyists have asked legislators to propose amendments to the bill which could make the roads less safe.

It seems to me that this is a prime example of the need for a shift to a Vision Zero policy in our government. If we have to beg our senators and representatives to vote for safety instead of profitability {saving human lives over decreasing the profits of corporations}, then that indicates to me that, unless we make our voice heard and call for lasting, far-reaching, bottomline change, we will continue to fight this battle year after year–and the trucking and automotive industries will continue to have the upper hand. Ad nauseam.

Throughout my life, I have heard many people make the statement that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results.

That is why I am asking for change through our Vision Zero Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/ and this, I believe, should be directed to the White House asking for an Executive Order or Presidential Memorandum requiring a major shift.

People, this affects you and me–our friends and families.

gertie 132

Here is what we have been asked to tell our legislators:

“. . .  Congressman Ribble’s amendment (Amendment #29) would increase the federal weight limit for large trucks from 80,000-lbs. to 91,000-lbs. Based on a letter he sent to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Foxx detailing his eagerness to see the results of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (Study), it is surprising that Rep. Ribble ignored the results. The DOT concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and weight due to a lack of data.

There was so little national data regarding six-axle 91,000-lbs. trucks that the DOT could only use one state, Washington, to study this configuration. In that state, these heavier trucks experienced a 47 percent increase in crash rate. Moreover, the Technical Report of the Study found that truck configurations operating over 80,000-lbs. had 18 percent more brake violations and a higher number of brake violations per inspection.

. . . other special weight exemptions for either states or specific industries including:

Amendment #3 | Nolan (MN), Crawford (AR) – Permits “covered logging vehicles”- that have a gross vehicle weight of no more than 99,000 pounds and has no less than six-axles to operate on I-35 in Minnesota.

Amendment #7 | Rooney (FL) – Provides that a state may allow, by special permit, the operation of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of up to 95,000 pounds for the hauling of livestock.

Amendment #9 | Duffy (WI), Ribble (WI) – Increases weight limit restrictions for logging vehicles on a 13-mile stretch of I-39 to match Wisconsin state law.

Amendment #60 | Crawford (AR), Nolan (MN) – Permits specific vehicles to use a designated three-miles on U.S. 63 in Arkansas during daylight hours.

Amendment #76 | Farenthold (TX), Babin (TX), Green (TX) – Allows for only certain trucks with current weight exemptions to be allowed to continue riding at those higher weight exemptions once certain segments of Texas State Highways are converted into Interstate 69.

Amendment #154 | Mica (FL) – Requires that a state may not prohibit the operation of an automobile transporter with a gross weight of 84,000 pounds or less on any segment of the Interstate System or qualified Federal aid primary highways designated by the Secretary.

Congress has the chance to make our roads safer for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as truck drivers. They should be using this multi-year highway bill to enhance safety in the trucking industry, not rolling it back. Bearing in mind that big rigs carrying loads close to the current Federal limit are already twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as trucks carrying less than 50,000 lbs., the solution should not be to introduce heavier trucks that will continue wearing our bridges and, per basic physics, do far more damage upon impact.

. . .  please do not pass a bill that will only help the interests of the few (companies) at the expense of the safety of the many (motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and truck drivers).


“The Rules Committee. . . is responsible for determining which amendments can be brought to the floor while a bill is being considered. It is important we tell these Members to oppose any amendments that increase trucks weights.”

TSC, November 3, 2015

I would say that the facts are clear that Safety Is most definitely Not A Priority:

Safety is not a priority 002

Complaint about proposed underride guard regulation: Not Cost Effective

As soon as I read the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Underride Protection on Single Unit Trucks, I could smell trouble.

To begin with, I have questions about NHTSA’s  figures, especially undercounting deaths from underride and the overlooking of possible saved lives from requiring improved underride standards on trailers.  https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=underreporting%20of%20underride%20deaths

Then, this is what I read in NHTSA’s explanation as they spelled out their cost/benefit analysis:


b. NHTSA’s Cost-Benefit Analysis (Overview)

As part of its evaluation of whether an underride guard requirement should apply to SUTs, NHTSA conducted a cost-benefit analysis of equipping SUTs with rear impacts guards. The analysis is set forth in Appendix A of this preamble, and an overview is provided below. We are requesting comments on the analysis. . . 

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation (35) identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

Actually, the VSL, as of June 17, 2015, is now $9.4 million. No matter because it still would not be anywhere near the supposed cost of requiring rear impact guards on SUTS (with, of course, certain exempt ones which are already able to prevent underride with their current equipment).

The logical outcome is that the industry will lobby against this rulemaking. I am concerned that cost may too likely win out over preventing countless persons from surviving a truck crash.   http://annaleahmary.com/2015/10/rear-ending-a-truck-should-be-a-survivable-crash-why-isnt-it/

As an example of this, see the two most recent Public Comments on this ANPRM — posted November 2, 2015:

  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0066 “An agency rule may be arbitrary and capricious if the agency, ‘entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem’. Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of the U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983). Without considering the costs to the roads and bridges, any factual determination of the costs and benefits of requiring single unit trucks to include read guards may be unreasonable and could demonstrate that the agency failed to consider an important aspect of the problem.”
  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0065“7. By your own estimates in the ANPRM the rear impact guards are not cost effective and there are still additional costs with the proposal you have not included in the ANPRM.
    Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation \35\ identifies
    $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for
    Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of
    preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL
    in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary
    estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per
    equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will
    not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).As in the analysis for Class 3-8 SUTs shown in Table 2, the
    preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on Class 4-8 SUTs (minimum
    of $55.2 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that
    these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life

DOT VSL Guidance, as of June 17, 2015:  https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/VSL2015_0.pdf

Rebekah photo of crash

GR Crocodile_Tears for Heavy Vehicle Safety 2004

p.s. This battle has a history:

1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.” 



Digital photo/video montage of the countless people who have had their lives cut short by a tragic crash.

How did you react when you heard our crash story? I have been thinking about that a lot this week.

On Saturday, we heard other crash stories at Truck Safety Coalition’s Sorrow to Strength conference in Arlington, Virginia. It is hard to hear the same problems with truck safety over and over again and know that too many things are not getting any better. Yes, we heard of the successes over the years. But some of these families have been advocating for safer roads for over 20 years–including for safer underride guards.

17 Video Stories from past conferences http://trucksafety.org/get-involved/personal-stories/

Something’s wrong with this picture.

On Monday morning, Isaac and I met with Russ Rader at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s DC office. We discussed some of the details for the Underride Roundtable that we are planning with them for May 2016 at their Ruckersville, Virginia, conference & crash testing center. I am getting excited as it is getting closer to becoming a reality.

We arrived early for our meeting and, while we were waiting to start, we sat in the reception area, drank some water, and watched the video loop which they show on a wall monitor. I have seen many of their crash test videos before but learned many new things. It had my attention.


Later that afternoon, Isaac and I joined other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers for meetings at DOT with FMCSA and NHTSA. As we got off the elevator, Scott Darling, FMCSA Administrator, pointed out the framed photo collage of truck safety victims (a fraction of the total number) which was presented to them in 2009. FMCSA staff see it every day as they pass by on their way to work.

Montage Honoring Truck Crash Victims  http://truckcrashlawyers.com/jeff-burns-national-truck-safety-advocacy

The next morning, when I woke up, an idea came to me: create a video loop (which could be updated) of crash victim stories and raise money to put it on monitors throughout DOT. I told Isaac about my idea and he said that it should be on The Hill as well.

Then, as we headed for our meetings on The Hill, we encountered rush hour traffic at the Metro. People piled into the first train that stopped and it was so full that they were packed like sardines and the door couldn’t even shut until the riders pushed themselves closer together.

Washington DC October 2015 019Washington DC October 2015 013Washington DC October 2015 017

The woman just in front of me, who was a regular Metro commuter, commented that one time she had seen someone’s backpack get stuck in the door. We continued to talk and, after getting on the next train, eventually got a seat next to each other some stops later.

She asked me about the buttons on my lanyard:

Photo button 003

When I told her that two of my daughters were killed in a truck crash, she had tears in her eyes and held my hand. Imagine the power of our story and the impact it could have on the future of highway safety.

I want the faces and voices of once-alive truck crash victims and their surviving families to be seen and heard daily throughout Washington, DC. And then just maybe we will have their attention so that, armed with facts and figures and reasonable solutions, we will be able to bring about dialogue to solve trucking safety problems which take into account the needs of the industry without unnecessarily sacrificing the lives of our families.

Numbers are funny: 1 (crash story) is a tragedy; 1 million (crash stories) is a statistic

What a Vision Zero policy means to me: Towards Zero. While at a Sorrow to Strength Conference sponsored by the Truck Safety Coalition this weekend in Washington, DC, I experienced support and understanding by being with other truck crash victim families. But at the same time, I felt the frustration of the same scenario playing out year after year on the roads of our nation while there continues to be a tug of war over truck safety measures.

Even though many have shared their tragic stories on The  Hill and at DOT countless times over the years, still the battle continues unabated. One participant quoted Joseph Stalin in order to describe the attitude that seems to prevail, “A Single Death is a Tragedy; a Million Deaths is a Statistic.”

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t naively believe that something could be done to result in never ever any crash deaths. What I believe is that a Vision Zero policy–with a vision statement of Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Crash Injuries–would impact decision-making to the extent that, when options were identified, choices would be made and strategies would be followed which would lead ever closer to that vision of zero.

The opposite attitude always ends up compromising human life and health. It gives power to the lure of the almighty dollar and the promise of efficiency and an improved economy. It means that too many people like my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), are unnecessarily cheated of the opportunity to naturally live out their lives because their lives were deemed too costly to spare.

Yesterday, I was at Panera Bread in Arlington, Virginia, having some breakfast before going to The Hill with other Truck Safety Coalition volunteers to talk with my U.S. Representative and Senator about safety concerns. I saw a poster about Panera’s clean food vision statement/strategy and quickly memorized it:

“No Compromises.

“By the end of 2016, we ‘re removing all artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners, and flavors from our food.  Learn about our clean food journey and our No No List.”  https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/company/food-policy-no-no-list.html

Are we, as a nation, really more concerned about healthy foods than about the safety of our roads? What will happen with our Truck Safety Legislative No No List?

No no list 003

I shared those thoughts with my Democrat congressman’s office staff and it was well-received along with this 33-second video:

There was not quite as much openness to the Vision Zero idea from my Republican senator’s staff. Hmmm . . . wonder what’s up with that?

I thought that we generally had a productive visit to my nation’s capital but came home yesterday with too many frustrations. And aftergoing out for breakfast with my husband this morning to update him on what he had missed (because he had left DC before I did), I drove home and weeped and yelled as I passed by the entrance to I-95 where we had started our fateful journey on the morning of May 4, 2013–wishing desperately that that day had never unfolded and taken my girls from me.

I also wished that somebody had let me cast a vote for Vision Zero when it might have meant the difference between life and death for Mary and AnnaLeah.

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