“The longer Congress waits, the more people will die. That’s the position of a leading auto safety group calling for new regulations on tractor trailers.”
A senator’s Office recently asked me to provide them with a one-page history of reports and recommendations made on the truck underride problem in the U.S. Here it is (with clickable links):
This is what I found out today about DOT’s regulatory priorities for 2017. . .
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) priorities for 2017:
The statutory responsibilities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) relating to motor vehicles include reducing the number, and mitigating the effects, of motor vehicle crashes and related fatalities and injuries; providing safety performance information to aid prospective purchasers of vehicles, child restraints, and tires; and improving automotive fuel efficiency. NHTSA pursues policies that encourage the development of nonregulatory approaches when feasible in meeting its statutory mandates. It issues new standards and regulations or amendments to existing standards and regulations when appropriate. It ensures that regulatory alternatives reflect a careful assessment of the problem and a comprehensive analysis of the benefits, costs, and other impacts associated with the proposed regulatory action. Finally, it considers alternatives consistent with the Administration’s regulatory principles.
NHTSA plans to issue a final rule on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in Fiscal Year 2017. V2V communications are currently perceived to become a foundational aspect of vehicle automation. NHTSA will publish a final rule on heavy vehicle speed limiters in response to petitions for rulemaking and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board. In Fiscal Year 2017 NHTSA will also finalize rulemaking for Tire Fuel Efficiency in response to requirements of the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. In response to requirements in MAP-21, NHTSA plans to continue work toward a final rule that would require automobile manufacturers to install a seat belt reminder system for the front passenger and rear designated seating positions in passenger vehicles. The seat belt reminder system is intended to increase belt usage and thereby improve the crash protection of vehicle occupants who would otherwise have been unbelted.
In addition to numerous programs that focus on the safe performance of motor vehicles, the Agency is engaged in a variety of programs to improve driver and occupant behavior. These programs emphasize the human aspects of motor vehicle safety and recognize the important role of the States in this common pursuit. NHTSA has identified two high-priority areas: Safety belt use and impaired driving. To address these issue areas, the Agency is focusing especially on three strategies-conducting highly visible, well-publicized enforcement; supporting prosecutors who handle impaired driving cases and expanding the use of DWI/Drug Courts, which hold offenders accountable for receiving and completing treatment for alcohol abuse and dependency; and adopting alcohol screening and brief intervention by medical and health care professionals. Other behavioral efforts encourage child safety-seat use; combat excessive speed, driver distraction, and aggressive driving; improve motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian safety; and provide consumer information to the public.
And, of course, there is absolutely no mention of underride protection on the sides of large trucks.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) priorities for 2017:
The mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses. A strong regulatory program is a cornerstone of FMCSA’s compliance and enforcement efforts to advance this safety mission. FMCSA develops new and more effective safety regulations based on three core priorities: Raising the safety bar for entry, maintaining high standards, and removing high-risk behavior. In addition to Agency-directed regulations, FMCSA develops regulations mandated by Congress, through legislation such as MAP-21. FMCSA regulations establish standards for motor carriers, commercial drivers, commercial motor vehicles, and State agencies receiving certain motor carrier safety grants and issuing commercial drivers’ licenses.
FMCSA’s regulatory plan for FY 2017 includes completion of a number of rulemakings that are high priorities for the Agency because they would have a positive impact on safety. Among the rulemakings included in the plan are: (1) Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11), (2) Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66), and (3) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18).
Together, these priority rules could improve substantially commercial motor vehicle (CMV) safety on our Nation’s highways by increasing FMCSA’s ability to provide safety oversight of motor carriers and commercial drivers.
In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Carrier Safety Fitness Determination (RIN 2126-AB11) to establish a new safety fitness determination standard that will enable the Agency to prohibit “unfit” carriers from operating on the Nation’s highways and contribute to the Agency’s overall goal of decreasing CMV-related fatalities and injuries.
In FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on Entry Level Driver Training (RIN 2126-AB66). This rule would establish training requirements for individuals before they can obtain their CDL or certain endorsements. It will define curricula for training providers and establish requirements and procedures for the schools.
Also in FY 2017, FMCSA plans to issue a final rule on the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (RIN 2126-AB18). The rule would establish a clearinghouse requiring employers and service agents to report information about current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol test results. It would require employers and certain service agents to search the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ positive drug and alcohol test results as a condition of permitting those employees to perform safety-sensitive functions. This would provide FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on DOT drug and alcohol program violations and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before resuming safety-sensitive functions.
Despite being included on the list of long-term actions, acting on our petition to raise the minimum liability insurance for trucking companies from $750,000 (per incident) is not listed as a priority for 2017.
Is it any wonder that we have taken upon ourselves the task of doing something about it and drafted comprehensive underride protection legislation and are looking to Congress to mandate that DOT carry out effective underride protection rulemaking in a timely fashion?!
We are also trying to push for action on the minimum liability insurance issue — not raised since the early 1980s.
Note: In identifying our regulatory priorities for the next year, the Department considered its mission and goals and focused on a number of factors, including the following:
— Raphael Grzebieta (@RaphRoadSafety) March 22, 2017
See a paper by Raphael Grzebieta and George Rechnitzer here: Proposed Australian/New Zealand AS/NZS 3845.2 Standard for Truck Underrun Barriers: Design, Testing and Performance Requirements
NHTSA considering Canadian underride CMVSS No. 223: no crash test, no offset impact considered, bottom of barrier set too high. Not good.
— Raphael Grzebieta (@RaphRoadSafety) March 22, 2017
I am encouraged by the announcement today of a Road to Zero Coalition by DOT and the National Safety Council. See the details in the Press Release below.
I hope that they will seriously consider my Vision Zero requests for Vision Zero rulemaking, as well as citizen involvement and the appointment of a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman.
And, another thing. . . it sure would be nice to sit down in person with these people and speak face to face. How many victims of vehicle violence have they involved in this coalition?
Livestreaming day-long conference: http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/symposiums/october2016/index.html
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
FMCSA contact: Ed Gilman (202) 366 – 9999
NSC contact: Maureen Vogel (630) 775-2226
U.S. DOT, NATIONAL SAFETY COUNCIL LAUNCH ROAD TO ZERO COALITION TO END ROADWAY FATALITIES
New partnership aims to end traffic fatalities within the next 30 years
WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are joining forces with the National Safety Council (NSC) to launch the Road to Zero coalition with the goal of ending fatalities on the nation’s roads within the next 30 years. The Department of Transportation has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to provide grants to organizations working on lifesaving programs.
“Our vision is simple – zero fatalities on our roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We know that setting the bar for safety to the highest possible standard requires commitment from everyone to think differently about safety– from drivers to industry, safety organizations and government at all levels.”
The year 2015 marked the largest increase in traffic deaths since 1966 and preliminary estimates for the first half of 2016 show an alarming uptick in fatalities – an increase of about 10.4 percent as compared to the number of fatalities in the first half of 2015.
“Every single death on our roadways is a tragedy,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “We can prevent them. Our drive toward zero deaths is more than just a worthy goal. It is the only acceptable goal.”
The Road to Zero Coalition will initially focus on promoting proven lifesaving strategies, such as improving seat belt use, installing rumble strips, truck safety, behavior change campaigns and data-driven enforcement. Additionally, the coalition will then lead the development of a new scenario-based vision on how to achieve zero traffic deaths based on evidence-based strategies and a systematic approach to eliminating risks.
“The “4Es” – Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency Medical Services provide a reliable roadmap for driving down fatalities. Coupled with new technologies and innovative approaches to mobility, we may now hold the keys that get us to zero,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “The Road to Zero Coalition affirms that it will take ALL of us working together in new ways to eliminate preventable deaths.”
“Reaching zero deaths will be difficult, will take time and will require significant effort from all of us but it is the only acceptable vision,” said FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim. “We’re not at zero yet, but by working together, the day will come when there are no fatalities on the nation’s roadways, sidewalks or bicycle paths.”
With the rapid introduction of automated vehicles and advanced technologies, the Department believes it is now increasingly likely that the vision of zero road deaths and serious injuries can be achieved in the next 30 years. The Road to Zero Coalition will work to accelerate the achievement of that vision through concurrent efforts that focus on overall system design, addressing infrastructure design, vehicle technology, enforcement and behavior safety. An important principle of the effort will be to find ways to ensure that inevitable human mistakes do not result in fatalities.
“Working closely with our partners, both inside and outside the Department, we are committing significant resources to the serious effort being put forth to make the ambitious goal of zero deaths an eventual reality,” said FMCSA Administrator T.F. Scott Darling III. “While we work tirelessly every day to promote safer roadways, we understand that this coalition will only succeed if we all do our part and pledge to make safety our highest priority.”
The “zero deaths” idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as “Vision Zero” and since then has evolved across the country and across the world. A growing number of state and cities have adopted “Zero” fatality visions.
We have the ear of NHTSA. Now is the time to let them know that The People are speaking up with us.
SIGN our cross-border Comprehensive Underride Petition, launched with Canadian safety advocates, to get Underride Protection all around trucks — front, sides, & rear:
And now, my head & heart appeal to you:
For Mary, for AnnaLeah, for countless others already gone and for unknown people to whom we could give the gift of a longer life. . .
This morning, I listened to the NTSB Board discuss a deadly 2015 truck crash. And then tonight, as I was going through a box of loose papers to file, I ran across NTSB Safety Recommendations from April 3, 2014. At that time NTSB was asking NHTSA for improvement in truck underride protection — for which we are still waiting.
Was it not the founders’ intent for the government of this country to act in the interest of The People? I think that it is high time that The People speak up and say that enough is enough! Whatever cost/benefit analysis process is being used has put the victims of vehicle violence totally at the mercy of the corporate world. They don’t appear to stand a chance.
Being convinced that we have already waited far too long for rulemaking that would protect The People from Death by Underride, I recently worked with a group of knowledgeable individuals to prepare a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition, which we submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on September 23, on behalf of The People:
Today, I received a reply from NHTSA Rulemaking in response to that Petition:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your September 23, 2016 request to initiate rulemaking for comprehensive underride protection.
We will evaluate your request and notify you of our decision.
What will their decision be? The Petition which we sent was signed by fourteen people. Will that be enough to sway their decision? What we need now is many more people to speak up with us and let NHTSA know that this is, in fact, the will of The People.
Please sign this recently-launched online petition to let NHTSA know that you want them to act swiftly to improve regulations which will prevent deadly underride crashes:
— Marianne Karth (@MaryandAnnaLeah) September 28, 2016
I enjoyed working with Jerry Hirsch, the editor of Trucks.com, to prepare this fact-based opinion column on the truck underride issue.
When people learned of the recent fatal crash in Florida of a Tesla Model S running in its Autopilot mode, many started questioning the safety of autonomous driving features in the newest cars.
While this is a legitimate topic of debate, for now autonomous driving presents little threat to those on the road. It comes on just a handful of expensive luxury models, and there’s only a small chance that the car driving next to you will have a robot at the controls.
However, the tragic Tesla crash does highlight a real and present highway danger — cars sliding underneath large trucks when vehicles collide. Regardless of who was at fault in the Tesla crash, the driver might have lived if the truck had been required to have side guards that would have prevented the electric sports sedan from wedging underneath the trailer.
I know just how dangerous collisions like this can be.
My youngest daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, died in 2013 in a truck rear underride crash.
Read more here: https://www.trucks.com/2016/08/10/trucks-underride-hidden-danger/, “When Will We Tackle Underride? – The Hidden Dangers in Trucks” by Marianne Karth, August 10, 2016, Trucks.com
You can help. Sign & share our petition asking DOT to mandate side guards on trucks: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/026/213/mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks-to-end-deadly-side-underride-crashes/
The Underride Roundtable at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on May 5, 2016, has led to a Consensus Document outlining recommendations for improvement in the federal standards for rear underride guards on semi-trailers. The following Public Comment was posted on regulations.gov/The Federal Register on August 8, 2016:
August 6, 2016
The Honorable Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D. Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 49 CFR Part 571, Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0118
Dear Administrator Rosekind:
On May 5, 2016, almost 100 people participated in an Underride Roundtable hosted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at their Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, with co-sponsors Truck Safety Coalition and AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety. Participants included researchers, safety advocacy groups, the trucking industry, truck trailer manufacturers and government officials, including members of NHTSA staff. Discussions during the meeting ranged from descriptions of the nature and magnitude of the underride problem to potential solutions including better conspicuity, new rear underride guard designs and the potential for side guards to prevent run-overs of pedestrians and cyclists in urban environments. The information shared during our meeting clearly illustrated the need to do more to address underride crashes as well as the possibility of doing so.
During the meeting IIHS conducted a 35 mph 30 percent overlap frontal crash test of a midsize car into the new and improved rear underride guard available on trailers manufactured by Stoughton. The guard prevented underride and occupant compartment intrusion thereby becoming the 4th major trailer manufacturer to offer guards capable of preventing underride at 35 mph in all 3 configurations tested by IIHS – full overlap, 50 percent overlap and 30 percent overlap (press release). These 4 manufacturers – Manac, Stoughton, Vanguard and Wabash – represent nearly 40 percent of the truck trailer market in the United States. IIHS crash tests indicate that a higher level of underride protection is possible and the March announcement (press release) that J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. ordered 4,000 trailers with the new Wabash RIG-16 Rear Underride Guard System indicate that better guards are not an impediment to the service trailers provide.
Subsequent to the Underride Roundtable, all participants were invited to attend a follow-up meeting at the IIHS office in Arlington, Virginia. On June 24, 2016, thirteen people representing different points of view met to formulate updated recommendations for NHTSA’s consideration as it deliberates the proposed upgrade of FMVSS 223. Adopting the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 223 will do little to advance underride protection because trailer manufacturers already are fitting guards that meet this standard and IIHS testing illustrates that greater levels of strength are needed to address the full range of potential impact zones between the vehicle and rear of the trailer. We believe that incorporating the following recommendations in its final rule will help prevent the senseless loss of lives associated with crashes into the rear of heavy trucks.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
1. The revised FMVSS 223 should require guards that are strong enough to allow the inherent crashworthiness of modern passenger vehicles to be realized. Specifically, guards should prevent underride and occupant compartment intrusion when struck by a typical passenger vehicle at 35 mph with overlaps ranging from 30 percent of the passenger vehicle’s width to full overlap between passenger vehicle and truck trailer. Tests of trailers from Manac, Stoughton, Vanguard, and Wabash illustrate the practicability of providing the level of underride protection described above.
2. It should be possible to prescribe a regulatory test procedure based on quasi-static loading and minimum force levels that will lead to guards capable of providing the same or better level of underride protection as demonstrated by guards on Manac, Stoughton, Vanguard and Wabash trailers.
3. The underride guard and trailer structure are a system. As such, compliance testing of rear impact guard strength should be conducted with the guard attached to the trailers and/or a portion of it that includes all structures to which the guard attaches.
This consensus document was signed by the following individuals:
David Zuby, Chief Research Officer
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Gary Fenton, VP of Engineering
Aaron Kiefer, Consulting Engineer
Accident Research Specialists
ECU engineering student & intern with Aaron Kiefer
Jared Bryson, SR Mechanical Systems Group Leader
Virginia Tech, Center for Technology Development
Perry Ponder, President
Seven Hills Engineering
Raphael Grzebieta, Professor of Road Safety & Australian Naturalistic Driver Study
Lead Chief Investigator (Maintains that dynamic crash testing is preferable to quasi-static testing)
Andy Young, Attorney
Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy Law Firm
Jerry Karth, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
Father of Underride Victims AnnaLeah & Mary Karth
Isaac Karth, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
Brother of Underride Victims AnnaLeah & Mary Karth
Marianne Karth, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
Mother of Underride Victims AnnaLeah & Mary Karth
Roy Crawford, PE, Forensic Engineer
Father of Underride Victim Guy Crawford
Stephen A. Batzer, Ph.D., P.E.
Bruce E. Enz
Injury & Crash Analysis, LLC
Girlfriend of Underride Victim Michael Higginbotham
Randy and Laurie Higginbotham
Parents of Underride Victim Michael Higginbotham
Tamara Brininger, Paralegal & Community Initiatives Coordinator
Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy
Austin Brininger, Engineering Student
Care for Crash Victims
See a pdf of the recommendations here: Underride Roundtable Consensus Comment NPRM_ Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0118
Here is a link to the Underride Consensus Public Document on regulations.gov: Consensus Comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Proposed Rule: Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection
One more very important thing, please sign the just-launched petition requesting NHTSA to mandate SIDE GUARDS on large trucks: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/026/213/mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks-to-end-deadly-side-underride-crashes/
Following the successful Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, a group of thirteen people pulled together a Consensus Comment for submission to NHTSA for their consideration.
Today, I emailed this document to the nearly 100 people who attended the roundtable — inviting them to read and sign this set of recommendations for the current rear underride rulemaking on semi-trailers.
Thank you again for participating in the Underride Roundtable hosted by the IIHS on May 5, 2016.
As a follow-up to that successful event, a subsequent meeting, to which you all were invited, took place on June 24 at the IIHS offices in Arlington, Virginia. A smaller group participated in that meeting and were able to put together a Consensus Document which we will be submitted to NHTSA as a Public Comment.
Here is a post with a report on that meeting: Knights of the Underride Roundtable: Finding Some Common Ground to Protect Travelers!
NHTSA has indicated to me that they, “look forward to your recommendations and encourage your continued submissions to the public dockets on NHTSA’s rulemakings on truck underride safety, specifically Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0070 for NHTSA’s rear underride protection for single-unit trucks. . . and Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0118 for NHTSA’s rear underride protection for semi-trailers. . . As with all of our public proceedings, we will give all comments full consideration to help inform our next actions.”
The Consensus Document specifically addresses the NPRM for semi-trailers. Please review the attached document and, if you agree with the Consensus Recommendations and would like to add your name to this document, please let me know by August 6, 2016. I will be submitting this as a Public Comment at the end of that day.
I look forward to continued positive communication among us all.
p.s. Please read the attached Consensus Comment document, as well as the press release which is referred to in the document: Press Release: J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Orders 4,000 Trailers with New Rear Impact Guard Design
NOTE to non-engineers: This would make the NHTSA’s proposed rule stronger — yielding underride guards which should be able to withstand crashes at the outer edges of the trucks. Translation = Save More Lives
Here is the Consensus Document: Consensus Comment NPRM_ Docket No
I will welcome all signatures — whether you were able to participate in the Underride Roundtable or not.
Mary would have turned 17 on August 6.