Tag Archives: drowsy driving

Unimaginable Grief of Preventable Crash Deaths: advocates tackling a public health problem head on.

Late last year, Neal Pollack interviewed me. He asked about our crash story and our family’s advocacy efforts. Then he proceeded to interview other traffic safety advocates as well. This is what he recently wrote:

The Unimaginable Grief of Distracted Driving Deaths How road safety advocates are tackling a public health problem head on.  BY NEAL POLLACK JANUARY 19, 2017

IMG_4519WarsawINFilmPhotographer_MIMemoria_Film_063 cropped

 

CBS News Reports on AAA study: “Risks of Drowsy Driving Comparable to Drunk Driving”

CBS News reported this morning on AAA research which studied the dangers of drowsy driving:

New research shows how deadly it can be to drive when you’re tired. The AAA study found drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting in a crash, compared to drivers who sleep for seven hours.

According to federal regulators, the accident risk from drowsy driving is comparable to driving drunk. AAA is now urging people to make sure drivers are as alert as possible. One-third of drivers report hitting the roads when they have a hard time keeping their eyes open, which is proving to be deadly, reports CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett.

Videos show how quickly a drowsy driver can lose control. Read more hereAAA study finds risks of drowsy driving comparable to drunk driving

See more on this deadly issue at our webpage on DRIVER FATIGUE (http://annaleahmary.com/driver-fatigue/):

“Gadget to stop Drivers Nodding Off at the Wheel Could Become Compulsory in new European regulations. My goodness, if this can be done & would Save Lives, why would we NOT do it, America?! http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Gadget-to-stop-drivers-nodding…

DWF = Driving While Fatigued (or Drowsy Driving)

Driver fatigue can affect any driver–you included, or the driver of a vehicle in which you are a passenger.

“…Driving while fatigued is comparable to driving drunk, only there is not the same social stigma attached. Like alcohol, fatigue affects our ability to drive by slowing reaction time, decreasing awareness and impairing judgment. Driving while sleep impaired is a significant issue, and is no longer tolerated. Legislation {in Canada} is beginning to change by handling collisions cause by a fatigued driver as seriously as alcohol-impaired crashes.” https://canadasafetycouncil.org/…/driver-fatigue-falling-as…

Irreversible tragedies

Tired Trucker Roundtable: If we plan it, they will come. Can we pull it off?

Tug-of-War Continues: Letter to U.S. DOT Sec. Foxx on “Tired Trucker” provision in gov’t spending bill

Yet another example of the tug-of-war over truck driver Hours of Service and one of the many reasons why I want to organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable. . .
And why Vision Zero Rulemaking is so necessary!!!!
Safety advocates sent a letter to Secretary Foxx today:
Hang in there. I’ve found some people who are eager to help me organize the Tired Trucker Roundtable.  We hope to tackle this problem by bringing many interested parties together around the table to discuss and work toward resolution of this life & death problem.
Tired Trucker Roundtable

Promising grant program announced to battle DROWSY DRIVING or DWF = Driving While Fatigued

I just read about the announcement of a grant program for state highway safety offices to develop programs to battle drowsy driving. Good. Hope it helps.

$100,000 Grant Announced to Support State Highway Safety Offices in
Creating and Implementing Drowsy Driving Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Drowsy Driving Prevention Week approaches (November 6-13), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is proud to announce it has received a $100,000 grant from the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) to support innovative state approaches that address the pressing issue of drowsy driving. The grants will be awarded to State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) through a competitive application process that will be announced in early 2017.

This grant comes on the heels of a report released in August 2016 by GHSA and State Farm® that noted drowsy driving is the cause of 328,000 crashes each year, resulting in an annual societal cost of $109 billion. The report, Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do, recommended numerous programs and initiatives that states can consider to combat drowsy driving including: creating public awareness campaigns; improving data-collection methods to better assess drowsy driving crashes; developing training for law enforcement to recognize the signs of drowsy driving; and partnering with business, non-profits and educational institutions to change the culture around drowsy driving.

“There are a tremendous number of challenges that the highway safety community faces in addressing drowsy driving,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “For many states, a lack of funding has been a stumbling block. This grant will enable states to develop and implement innovative strategies to better assess and combat this problem.”

Read more here: GHSA to Fund State Drowsy Driving Programs Through National Road Safety Foundation Grant

Irreversible tragedies

Good news: Electronic Logging Devices Mandate Has Survived Court Challenge; Required by 12/2017

Good news! One of our original AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition requests has been upheld in court to be required by December 2017. Electronic Logging Devices to monitor truck driver hours on the road instead of paper log books:

ELD mandate survives court challenge

Now, I hope that the Hours of Service rules will be finalized with truck driver input as to the best way of structuring them. And I hope that there will continue to be work done to eliminate the reasons that paper log books didn’t work to begin with. Because this important technology will not solve everything.

http://annaleahmary.com/2014/05/paper-log-books/

http://annaleahmary.com/tag/truck-driver-compensation/

Tired Trucker Roundtable

 

NHTSA asking for Comments on guideline to address growing problem of distracted & drowsy driving

I just received a notification that NHTSA is asking for Public Comments on a new guideline which they have developed for states to address the growing problem of distracted and drowsy driving. This follows recent news about the number of crash deaths so far in 2016 which has increased from the crash deaths in 2015 which increased from the crash deaths in 2013  — which included my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13).

NHTSA has developed a new guideline on distracted and drowsy driving, No. 9, to address these growing problems. This new guideline will help States develop plans to address distracted and drowsy driving. In 2014, ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes. These proportions have remained stable over the past five years of reported data. In 2014, there were 3,179 people killed and an estimated additional 431,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distraction-affected drivers. Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers killed in the age range who were distracted at the time of the crashes. Lastly, in 2014, there were 520 non-occupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists, killed in distraction-affected crashes. (1) The limitations of these data are described in an April 2016 Traffic Safety Facts Research Note (DOT HS 812 260). (2)

Current estimates range from 2 percent to 20 percent of annual traffic deaths attributable to driver drowsiness. According to NHTSA, annually on average from 2009 to 2013, there were over 72,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers, injuring more than an estimated 41,000 people, and killing more than 800. (3) By using a multiple imputation methodology, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 7 percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of fatal crashes involved a drowsy driver. (4) This estimate suggests that more than 5,000 people died in drowsy-driving-related motor vehicle crashes across the United States last year. Research conducted in 2012 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed drivers ages 16-24 were the most likely to report having fallen asleep while driving within the past year. (5) Finally, the AAA Foundation’s 2015 Traffic Safety Index reported that nearly all drivers (97.0%) view drowsy driving as a serious threat to their safety and a completely unacceptable behavior; however, nearly 1 in 3 (31.5%) admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open at some point in the past month. (6)

It is important that States begin to address the problems of distracted and drowsy driving. This guideline is designed to help policymakers with decisions about how best to address these growing issues.

READ MORE HERE:  Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines

Irreversible tragedies

Please comment here by September 22, 2016: Amendments to Highway Safety Program Guidelines

DWF = Driving While Fatigued (or Drowsy Driving)

Driver fatigue can affect any driver–you included, or the driver of a vehicle in which you are a passenger.

“…Driving while fatigued is comparable to driving drunk, only there is not the same social stigma attached. Like alcohol, fatigue affects our ability to drive by slowing reaction time, decreasing awareness and impairing judgment. Driving while sleep impaired is a significant issue, and is no longer tolerated. Legislation {in Canada} is beginning to change by handling collisions cause by a fatigued driver as seriously as alcohol-impaired crashes.” https://canadasafetycouncil.org/safety-canada-online/article/driver-fatigue-falling-asleep-wheel

Posts on this topic:

Our truck crash may have involved a tired trucker: http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

Tired Trucker Roundtable

http://annaleahmary.com/2016/08/tired-trucker-roundtable-if-we-plan-it-they-will-come-can-we-pull-it-off/

A National Traffic Safety Ombudsman could help to facilitate a nationwide network of Traffic Safety/Vision Zero Community Action/Advocacy Groups to get citizens involved in working to solve this kind of problem, as well as other traffic safety issues.

Tired Trucker Roundtable: If we plan it, they will come. Can we pull it off?

Even though our efforts to improve underride protection are far from being finished, I would like to also tackle the project of organizing a Tired Trucker Roundtable. The only problem is that I have not yet identified any sponsoring organizations or potential facilities for holding such an important event.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Truck Safety Coalition were the co-sponsors with AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety of the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016. However, at this time, they are not in a position to participate in a similar fashion with a Tired Trucker Roundtable.

Exactly what am I envisioning with this Tired Trucker Roundtable? Let me try to summarize the highlights:

  1. Over and over, truck crash tragedies occur which seem to involve tired truckers.
  2. Of course, it is harder to measure driver fatigue than DUI — after the fact.
  3. Some of the solutions to this problem have included logging driver hours in paper log books (too often unreliable and, in our crash, never seen by us or our attorney or DA) and more recently rulemaking (currently in a lawsuit) has been issued to require electronic log books.  ScanWashington DC 151Washington DC 156Washington DC 152
  4. These log books are to be connected to the official Hours of Service (HOS) requirements for truck drivers regulated by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  5. There has, of course, been ongoing debate about what is appropriate for the details of these HOS. A virtual and ongoing political tug-of-war which leaves the truck drivers in a confusing muddle and truck crash victims in the grave.
  6. I have read comments from and had “discussions with” many truck drivers who are convinced that these HOS rules need to have the input of truck drivers who are experienced with what works for them.
  7. Of course, the problem that should probably involve other players than DOT agencies — like the Department of Labor and  the Department of Health & Human Services (CDC/Public Health) — is that it is to a great extent a problem of how truck drivers are normally compensated (by the mile) and their great difficulty in making a living wage without a great toll on their health.
  8. And it must definitely include various sectors of the trucking industry–carriers, shippers, brokers, independent owner-operators.
  9. Government regulators.
  10. Sleep apnea may also be a factor for many.
  11. In general, their occupation involves long hours of monotonous driving which can lead to not just falling asleep but microsleep which can be as bad or worse than driving DUI.
  12. Trucks take longer to brake but are traveling along with the rest of the traffic — posing a hazard to us all, especially when you add in the factor of the geometric mismatch (not merely a weight difference) of the height of the crush zone of the front of passenger vehicles vs the height of the lower edge of trucks. Underride protection (even what is currently legislated) is too weak and ineffective.
  13. And really, driver fatigue is not just a trucker problem — now is it?
  14. Fatigue, of course, is not the only problem; distracted behavior needs to be discussed as well, and other factors of what might make a truck driver inattentive and not ready to react in a timely manner to avoid tragedies.
  15. Let’s not forget the road system and things like electronic signs to alert drivers of upcoming traffic back-ups or law enforcement actions to divert traffic or teaching drivers how to respond, etc.
  16. And, of course, safety technology — to alert drivers when they are in microsleep or crash avoidance systems (but still, then the driver has to react to the surrounding circumstances) and DON’T FORGET underride protection, parking for truck drivers who do need to take breaks but so they don’t create hazards in their parking location, conspicuity, side mirrors.
  17. I’m sure that I have forgotten something; but I hope that you get the idea!

Now all I need is for some others (in addition to truck drivers) to catch the vision and help me out with planning this thing — finding sponsors, a facility, speakers, resources, etc.

Let’s collaborate together. Let’s make it happen. Let’s be amazed at the results.

Tired Trucker Roundtable

The latest reason to do so: Semi driver was inattentive, distracted when he hit family’s minivan in I-80 crash, State Patrol says

An Advocate for a Safer America: Have you signed the Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition yet?

August 3 UPDATE: The petition on the White House site is expired. Please sign our new Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition at Care2;  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

We are asking for 100,000 Americans to sign our new Traffic Safety Ombudsman petition on WhiteHouse petition site. Once we get 150 signatures, it will become searchable on their website.

If we are able to get 100,000 signatures in 30 days — by July 31, then the White House has promised that they will respond to our new petition, which calls on President Obama to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman, who will be an Advocate for Safer Roads.

Why on earth am I asking for another government-funded worker — a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman? And whatever would that person do anyway? Read more here:

SIGN  & SHARE the TRAFFIC SAFETY OMBUDSMAN Petition:  https://wh.gov/i6kUj

PLEASE NOTE: If you sign the petition, be sure to go to your email. We the People will send you an email which will say this in the subject line:  “Almost done! Verify your Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov account.” Follow the instructions to verify your signature.

 

16xm2y

 

The anger and frustration in the aftermath of a truck crash are not easily resolved.

UPDATE August 2, 2016. PLEASE sign & share the Petition to President Obama to appoint an advocate — a Traffic Safety Ombudsman — to fight for safer roads:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

So what does a person do with the anger and frustration which inevitably surface in the aftermath of a truck/car crash fatality (or case of serious life-altering injuries)?

That’s what I would like to know because I have experienced it and have observed others — in similar situations — dealing with it as well. And it is not your normal grief (if anything can be called that). Because, in addition to the loss one has experienced, one also often discovers that perhaps the loss was unnecessary — but nothing (or too little or too late) was done to prevent it. Imagine your reaction to that situation.

Then too often one might discover that, not only was nothing done in the past that could have prevented one’s loss, but, on top of that, there continues to be nothing tangible done to prevent future crash fatalities and serious injuries. What then? How would you deal with the feelings upon that realization?!

Indeed, despite decades of safety advocacy efforts to draw attention to the problem of traffic crash fatalities, too little too late is being done to move us toward zero crash deaths and serious injuries.

When I saw a Tweet the other day quoting Senator Chris Murphy as saying that survivors of the Orlando mass shooting experienced a “second layer of grief” “when they realize that those who expressed sympathy won’t take action,” I could relate to it.

And besides which, it turns into not just a matter of struggling with trying to forgive but an intense conviction that there is a good chance that wrongdoing was involved. Wrongdoing for which there is apparently no genuine accountability or liability. Because if there were, then wouldn’t we see change?

Just yesterday, I read a facebook post by a man who had lost his wife in a truck crash and whose son became permanently disabled from that same crash. Most days, the dad is upbeat and handling the hardship of his new life with grace. But at that moment, it seemed like he was experiencing the straw that broke the camel’s back. He confessed that, at that moment, he was feeling anger towards and hatred for the truck driver responsible for the crash.

The truth is that, probably in most truck crashes (and other traffic-related crashes), there usually are multiple factors which have led to the initial collision as well as the final outcome. And the sad fact is that, too often, the tragedy could have been avoided.

Our Crash Was Not An Accident

Are we doing enough, as a nation, to work on solutions to those things which could be prevented? I don’t think so and I have been calling for our leaders to adopt a National Vision Zero Goal, to set up a National Vision Zero Task Force, to adopt Vision Zero rulemaking policies, and to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman.

SIGN THE PETITIONhttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

The opposition to the requirement and manufacture of the safest possible underride protection on trucks is an example of something which could have been taken care of a long time ago but instead is a problem for which there has not been a truly effective solution–in fact it seems to have been deliberately opposed or at least not made a priority to get to the bottom of and resolve.

A few days ago, I went on a walk in the woods and shared my thoughts spontaneously on this matter:

Do these situations make it harder to arrive at the forgiveness discussed by one writer? Forgiveness is one thing. But when there is no tangible change, and my button is repeatedly pushed, then, of course, frustration and therefore anger wells up over and over again. And that certainly is not healthy–not for the victim’s family and not for those whose actions contributed to the deaths.

Trucker in Massive Rig Destroys Two Families in His Sleep

Mom Takes on Truckers After Highway Wreck Kills Daughters

I wrote about what it was like to face the truck driver whose actions led to our daughters’ deaths: The Court Hearing; Update On Our Trip To Georgia

Now I am struggling with this question for myself: Can my anger at the injustice of criminal negligence (as well as the continued inadequate resolution of countless Traffic Safety Issues) ever be fully resolved if the negligence is not acknowledged, punished, or made right?

Meanwhile, I keep pressing on seeking to make the roads safer — as in our pursuit of better underride guards and my hopes of organizing a Tired Trucker Roundtable.

John Ball Zoo
How am I supposed to stop being angry as long the problems which caused the deaths of AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) — and shattered our family — continue on?

FMCSA ANPRM re: Eval. of Truck Drivers for Sleep Apnea; Public Comment Period ends 7/8/16

Take advantage of the opportunity to comment on FMCSA’s rulemaking — extended through July 8, 2016, on this Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

Evaluation of Safety Sensitive Personnel for Moderate-to-Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea A Proposed Rule by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration on 03/10/2016

Tired Trucker Roundtable

Make a comment here: Federal Register: regulations.gov on sleep apnea & truck drivers