Tag Archives: liability

“Saving lives in road traffic—ethical aspects”

Saving lives in road traffic—ethical aspects
Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist

Z Gesundh Wiss. 2009 Dec; 17(6): 385–394.
Published online 2009 Apr 9. doi: 10.1007/s10389-009-0264-7

“In transportation as well as in health care, people die and are prevented from dying due to actions and omissions of individuals as well as functioning and dysfunctional systems and policies. Accordingly, a continuous ethical discussion concerning road traffic is needed. The areas discussed in the following are criminalisation, paternalism, privacy, justice and responsibility.1 The reasons for this focus is that these are five important areas in moral philosophy and together they provide a rough list according to which many of the more specific ethically relevant issues arising in traffic safety can be categorised.”

Read the whole article essay here:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2967260/

Lengthy read, but very good at raising pertinent questions regarding the ethics of road safety liability.

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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 

September 2013 069

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/

Court case could spell end to corporate cover-up of deadly defects secrets.

“Corporations can no longer hope to prevent public access to court records simply by settling a case before a court gets a chance to make a final determination.” – See more at: http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/ninth-circuit-hands-safety-advocates-victory-over-chrysler/#sthash.QFwAJeKU.dpuf

That’s good news because corporations need to be held accountable for what they produce. If they aren’t held liable for safety defects in their products, then what reason do they have for being vigilant themselves to make sure that their actions are not resulting in death or serious injuries?

I have written more on this topic here: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/trailer-manufacturers/.

Car Safety Wars book cover

(Photo is cover of enlightening safety advocacy historical chronicle. . .                               written by Michael R. Lemov)

Is it testing God when we refrain from solving road safety problems–leaving road users vulnerable?

So to continue the conversation I was having with myself in my last two posts. . .

  1. Do what it takes to prevent people from unnecessarily dying in motor vehicle crashes. http://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/do-what-it-takes-to-prevent-people-from-unnecessarily-dying-in-motor-vehicle-crashes/ January 9
  2. Where is God when there are horrific tragedies? With us.  http://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/where-is-god-when-there-are-horrific-tragedies-with-us/ January 9

(Wow! It is really windy out there right now; I can hear the wind moving things around. . . Oh, great! It is so windy that it pulled up our deck umbrella which we apparently had not securely fastened into the stand. And now it is broken. At least, with a little money, it can be replaced. Unlike broken, lifeless bodies.)

As I was saying, after writing those two posts yesterday, this morning as we drove an hour to church, I (not being the driver of the day) did my morning Bible reading (randomly selected by what I opened to and following cross-references from the verses which have caught my attention). And this is what I was reflecting upon:

Bible verses January 10 1

Bible verses January 10 2

Bible verses January 10 3

Bible verses January 10 4

In summary, it says in Matthew 4, (and in Luke 4)

5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he stood Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You; and on their hands they will bear You up, lest you strike Your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not tempt [put to the test] the LORD your GOD.'”

So that is my question:  Is it testing God

to execute laws and to promulgate safety regulations which make travelers on the road (whether in vehicles or pedestrians or cyclists) more vulnerable and susceptible to Death by Motor Vehicle?

(Or to refrain from taking action which would aid in preventing deaths.)

In other words, are we saying, “There are things which could protect people but we aren’t going to require them or enforce them; people know they are taking a risk when they go on the road and society cannot pay to protect them”?

Then, less than an hour later, I attended a Bible study for the first time whose focus has been the book of Matthew. The chapter being studied today was (guess what!) Matthew 4. And this was basically the first thing being discussed:

Adult Bible Study January 10

And so the conversation inside my head goes. . .

gertie 2946

Are we left more vulnerable and unprotected than we should be?

So, as of 2:45 p.m. today,  I no longer have any children under 18. Well, the ones that are alive, that is. That doesn’t count AnnaLeah, who would have been 20 now (but is forever 17), or Mary, who would have turned 16 in two days (but is forever 13).

1bb at the hospital to see Mary


Mary’s 8 siblings meet her for the first time 16 years ago.

Sixteen years ago, I was very pregnant for Mary and stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken to get birthday supper for her 2 year-old brother. I always figured he was fortunate that she waited two days so that I wasn’t in the hospital on his birthday.

1a Mom with Caleb waiting for Mary to be born 001

They often had joint birthday parties — usually on the day-between — when their grandpa would come over. They each got to pick part of the menu and what they wanted for dessert. When they got old enough to leave alone, they would always watch Condor Man  at home while the rest of us went birthday shopping for them.

This was the year that AnnaLeah picked out Gertie (the stuffed toy St. Bernard in memory of our dog) for her sister Mary’s birthday present:

73c Mary bday 4 001


They weren’t twins, but, especially because they were part of a large family, they spent a lot of time together.

1i newborn Mary and Susanna (2)30 b baby Mary with Caleb and Mom

60 b Mary Caleb 002 61 b Mary Caleb Dad 62 b Mary Caleb Dad 00163 Mary and Caleb sleeping

69 Mary bday two 00362c Mary Caleb

64 Mary and Isaac 00175 Mary caleb AnnaLeah brick dominos

I might as well talk about it here–because it has been so much on my mind as of late. I am still struggling with that whole question of protection and keeping us free from harm.

From the very beginning — the day before their funeral — I have struggled with what Psalm 91 really means. . .

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord.


He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.  15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in [e]trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 “With [f]a long life I will satisfy him And [g]let him see My salvation.” 

On Eagles’ Wings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvpjxfWrjzY

Here is a Bible Commentary on Psalm 91: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/psalms/91-11.htm

What does He mean when He says that He will protect and preserve us?

Protect: keep safe from harm or injury, save, safeguard, preserve, et cetera.

Preserve: maintain in its original state, protect, and so on.

I got an email from Focus on the Family today and the subject line was “Reassured that God is always with us. ”  http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/promos/tragedy?utm_source=advertisement&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=271802&refcd=271802&crmlink=content-talk-as-a

I am very tired now and rambling, but I want to get this written down as I get closer to facing Mary’s would-have-been 16th birthday.

Yesterday, I took our son’s cat to the vet. Oscar had been in a long car ride in April from his home in Texas to North Carolina. So, as soon as I put him in the cat carrier and began driving the car, Oscar meowed pitifully. All the way to the vet.

In an effort to calm him down, I began singing the lullaby (tune: Rock-a-bye Baby) which I had sung to my nine children:

Snuggle now, baby, in Jesus’ arms. When the storm comes, He’ll keep you from harm. When the winds blow, and when the winds cease, you know that with Jesus, you can have peace.

I don’t think that it calmed Oscar. And it made me cry–thinking of how He had not kept AnnaLeah and Mary from harm (how Mary had called out, “Mommy, where are we?” and AnnaLeah had been silent). Had I lied to my children all of those years?

I read these verses this morning:

Psalm 91:10 No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

Proverbs 12:21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.

Proverbs 1:33But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.

Psalm 121: 3 He will not allow your foot to slip, He who keeps you will not slumber.

5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

7 The LORD will protect [keep] you from all evil, He will keep your soul.

8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

I texted our pastor in Texas as I was on the way to their funeral there and said that I was struggling with Psalm 91. He said that he would be speaking to that in his sermon, “They are where they belong.”

I know that they are in a better place than if they were still here. But still. . .  I mean, really, don’t you ever ask questions like these? Don’t you ever ask Him what He really means when He says He will protect us?

And, of course, I have come face to face with the realities of the many possible factors in crash fatalities (i.e., deaths due to supposed accidents which quite possibly could have been prevented if this and that thing had or had not been done). These are things  — quite clearly — in which God does not intervene and supernaturally block in order to save lives. No, these are problems which require human action to solve them.

At the same time, I am convinced that it would be His will that the roads be safer–that we humans take dominion over this part of His created world. And I believe that He is even now guiding us to seek and bring about needed change.

Some people talk about Vision Zero–about being proactive and working toward ending deaths on our roads. It doesn’t just happen. And it certainly doesn’t happen by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the problems don’t exist.

Don’t you get it?! I mean, maybe I have been naive and expected that I and my loved ones would get through life without tragedy. Now, when I see tragedy “strike,” I am more ready to ask, “Did that really have to happen? Could it have been avoided?”

I am more prone to ask, “What can we do to provide The Best Possible Protection?” Before it is too late.

Just today, someone told me about yet another missed opportunity to  improve underride guards in 1998: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1998-05-14/html/98-12753.htm , http://trid.trb.org/view.aspxid=214652  & http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/are-rear-underride-guards-overrated: “Or, maybe it’s a case of standard failure. In 1996, the agency went the don’t-ruffle-industry’s-feathers route, passing a final rule {the current one} that offered only a slight improvement over the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s voluntary recommended practice.” “In 1998, a former NHTSA safety standards engineer underscored the inadequacy of the U.S. rules in a series of crash tests involving rear underride guards built to reflect the then-newly minted rear impact protection standard. . . Tomassoni also noted that the underride guard designed to meet the minimum static load requirements “will not provide adequate protection in offset impacts.””

And that was many years before my girls were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye. But it was never done–the known problem was never resolved–and so AnnaLeah and Mary were left more vulnerable and un-protected than they should have been. And it breaks my heart.

25 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052


AnnaLeah made this craft when she was little, “In my life, Lord, Thy will be done.” and that is my comfort: they had the gift of faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. And so I know that they are truly safe in His arms–though they are far from mine.