Tag Archives: RAMCUP

Understanding Underride VIII: Making the Case for Comprehensive Underride Protection Legislation

The basic problem of truck underride is the fact that there is a geometric mismatch between the large trucks and the smaller passenger vehicles. Crush zones are structural areas in a vehicle that are designed to absorb energy upon impact in a predictable way. However, upon collision of a passenger vehicle with a truck, there is no opportunity for engagement of the passenger vehicle crush/crumple zone with a solid portion of the truck.

The result? The crashworthiness of the passenger vehicle is not initiated. The car is allowed to go under the truck and the first point of impact is in the Passenger Occupant Space. The passengers are left vulnerable to horrific injuries and violent deaths.

In fact, although underride deaths are vastly underreported and undercounted, FARS data from the NHTSA show that hundreds of people die every year from truck underride passenger compartment intrusion (PCI). NHTSA reported 4,006 underride deaths from 1994 to 2014.

The rear underride guards, which are installed on semi-trailers, are supposed to prevent underride. But the IIHS, in 2011 and 2013, conducted crash testing which proved that the guards of eight major trailer manufacturers, though designed the meet the 1998 federal standard, too often fail. Subsequently, improved rear underride guards and side guards have been crash tested by the IIHS; crash dummies emerge with survivable results.

The majority of the large trucks on the road either have weak, ineffective rear underride guards – even though they meet the current federal standard – or none at all (as in the case of exempt single-unit trucks) or improperly maintained rear guards (initially known as ICC bumpers, later as Mansfield bars, or sometimes as Rear Impact Guards or RIGs). In addition, there is currently no federal requirement for commercial motor vehicles to have side guards – despite the fact that there is normally 4 feet between the bottom of the trailer and the road. And, although Europe has standards for Front Underrun Protection, the U.S. does not.

There were 340,000 large trucks manufactured in 2015. The majority of those have weak rear guards and no side guards. Volvo Trucks produces tractors with front underride protection in Europe but not on their North American trucks. There are nearly 2 million semi trucks in operation in the U.S. and around 5.6 million semi trailers. These drive around every day on our roads putting travelers at risk of Death by Underride.

The truck industry has known about the problem of underride for over a century. In fact, a patent was filed for a side guard in 1913. In response to the rear underride death of actress Jayne Mansfield in 1967, we saw some improvement in rear underride protection with a 1998 standard – although you will notice that that took 31 years to achieve and it still falls short of what is technologically possible some 50 years after her death.

The government is also well aware of the side underride problem. On March 19, 1969, the FHWA indicated in the Federal Register, in an analysis on rear underride rulemaking, that they intended to extend underride protection to the sides of large trucks after further studies. However, DOT has not done so and the industry – despite some voluntary improvement in response to appeals from victim families armed with information on the IIHS crash testing – has not shown an ability or willingness to solve this problem on their own.

As David Ward recently said, at the Road to Zero Coalition October 2017 quarterly meeting, there will always be a strong need for regulation and/or fiscal incentives to break market failure. Only then will we see 100% adoption of comprehensive underride protection. In fact, trailer manufacturers have said that a mandate would lift the burden from them; they would no longer have to persuade their customers to buy safer trailers.

The underride problem has been documented in numerous studies. The IIHS petitioned NHTSA in 2011 and the NTSB made recommendations in April 2014 that NHTSA initiate underride rulemaking to address safety vulnerabilities. The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has recognized the problem and has worked with numerous Vision Zero Cities to install side guards on city trucks in order to protect Vulnerable Road Users.

A comprehensive underride protection rule, STOP Underrides!  because it will include single-unit trucks — will make it easier for cities throughout the U.S. to protect vulnerable road users. Every truck that drives on their streets will be equipped with comprehensive underride protection – a significant victory in the battle to create safer mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, as well as passenger vehicles.

With comprehensive underride protection installed on the entire large truck fleet, we should see a significant decrease in the 4,000 truck crash fatalities/year (4,713 in 2016), along with a major reduction in debilitating injuries. Truck crashes can be made more survivable.

Or do we want to continue to allow people to die?

The Naming of an Underride Bill; Out of the Mouths of Babes

Ever since we began sharing about our crash so that we could help to make trucks safer, people have been touched by the story of AnnaLeah and Mary. They tell us how they can’t drive down the highway and see trucks without thinking about them. It clearly touches their heads & hearts. They get what rear underride is.

The same is true when Lois Durso shares the story of her daughter Roya’s crash. People suddenly understand what a side underride crash is and why we are working to prevent these kinds of tragedies. Tears come to their eyes.

So that is why — when we saw that no one was doing anything to mandate side guards, front guards, and stronger rear guards on new trucks, including single unit [box] trucks, as well as retrofit existing trucks with the same life-saving protection and making sure that they were properly maintained — we decided to draft comprehensive underride protection legislation ourselves.

And, when we were figuring out what to call the bill, we naturally named it for what was so very precious to us — our beloved daughters, who were no more. We wrote it in memory of the countless loved ones whose lives had been forever changed — each of whom are very precious to the loved ones they left behind.

It has become our calling card: the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP). And we are concerned that we are being asked to take the girls’ names off of the bill title (so that other underride victims will not feel left out) — not because we think that they are more important than anyone else, but rather because we believe that their stories have been what have helped to bring national attention to this issue and better understanding of the problem, along with a willingness to do whatever it takes to end it. We would like to keep that momentum going until this bill gets passed.

In fact, it would never be possible to include a list of names in a bill which would honor all the victims of underride. There are thousands of them and, furthermore, because it is a hidden problem, many people might not even realize that underride was involved in their loved one’s death.

But it is our hope that we will be able to plan significant ways to honor those who have been injured or lost their lives through an underride crash, such as a Remembrance Ceremony in D.C. or an underride personal crash story interactive map and a webpage on the DOT website — giving family members a positive way to be involved in the effort to get effective underride protection on all trucks and to remember their loved ones in a special way. Hey, they could even get a shirt printed with their loved one’s picture and name on it!

Just recently, Lois texted me with this encouragement:

The Lord is speaking to my heart — do not worry, all is well. He is my praise, hope, and strength.

Then she shared this story which made my heart hurt:

Today, my daughter-in-law was wearing her RAMCUP shirt. My 20 month-old granddaughter, Miriam Roya, pointed to and said the names of Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary. . . Even a baby can remember our beautiful daughters.

Miriam Roya, who will never know her Aunt Roya

Miriam’s daddy, Cyrus, with his sister Roya

We’re with you, Miriam. . . we will always remember this very important bill as the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 — because it is our great love for those three girls, and our sense of urgency that no one else should undergo this kind of preventable loss, which has fueled our efforts to make sure that this major public health problem gets properly taken care of.

Thanks @SenMarkey for pausing on the sidewalk to hear our stories.

On the way from a meeting in the House to a meeting in the Senate, we had a chance encounter with Senator Edward Markey (D-MA). Lois Durso shared how she had lost her daughter Roya (26) twelve years ago in a truck side underride crash. I shared how I had lost my youngest two daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), in a rear underride crash four years ago. And Senator Markey shared how he was in a car crash when he was 5.

That crash from his childhood clearly made an impression on him. So when we told him that we were looking for support for an underride bill which we had drafted, he told us that he has worked to bring about safety and that we should contact his legislative staff.

We walked away laughing and smiling at yet one more chance encounter orchestrated by the hand of God in this exhausting but exciting quest to pass the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP).

WUSA9 Takes note of 2 moms who lost 3 daughters to truck underride tragedies. Thursday at 11 p.m.

WUSA9 followed us around on The Hill and then interviewed us when we were in DC in June. They will be launching a series on truck underride starting Thursday, July 13, at 11 p.m.

Mothers fight for tougher tractor trailer laws after daughters die in underride crashes, Eric Flack, Erin Van der Bellen and Elizabeth Jia, WUSA 12:18 PM. EDT July 12, 2017

Underride crash in NY this week kills 4; Ball’s in your court, Congress, to end these preventable tragedies.

Yet another tragic side underride crash occurred in New York this week. Could crash avoidance technology have prevented the collisions of two cars into the side of a jack-knifed milk tanker? Perhaps.

Could comprehensive underride protection — including side guards — have prevented the tragic outcome of 4 lives abruptly ended? Probably.

When will we take action to mandate and install effective underride protection around every part of large trucks to end these preventable tragedies? The ball’s in your court, Congress.

Let’s get The Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 introduced and passed. Post haste. No more of this senseless highway carnage.

Ready-to-introduce bill:  RAMCUP Draft 15 with Cover

 

 

How Far Have We Come In The 50 Years Since Jayne Mansfield’s Death By Truck Underride?

June 29 marked the 50th anniversary of Jayne Mansfield’s death by underride. The world knew in 1967 — if it didn’t know it before — about the terrible geometric mismatch between a car and a truck which allowed a car to ride under a truck upon collision.

In those 50 years, how many technological problems have we solved? And yet why have we been unable to solve the problem of truck underride and stem the tide of preventable, horrific, and senseless underride tragedies?

Sure we have made some headway — six trailer manufacturers have upgraded their rear underride guards and there are promising side guard solutions with one of them recently tested by the IIHS. Some manufacturers even have retrofit kits available to replace weak rear guards on existing trailers.

Yet it is well known that more could be done, but hasn’t. And why is that? Why have we been so slow to solve this problem? There are many reasons which could be cited. But the facts are the facts. People are still dying (or suffering catastrophic injuries) at an alarming rate from underride and we are seemingly content to let it continue or address it at a snail’s pace.

Not me. I am not content to take it slow and easy — not when the result is that more people will die because we didn’t act sooner. When we could have.

Take front underride or override for example. Front underride protection is one of the components we are asking for in the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP). People are dying due to lack of adequate front underride protection — just like they are on the sides and rear of trucks.

In Europe, they have requirements to protect against this. Not in the U.S. So what are we waiting for? Well, that’s a good question.

Do we wait until we can reinvent the wheel here and figure it out for ourselves with years of research? Or do we speed up the process by learning from others and encouraging collaboration among relevant stakeholders?

Do we include it in the congressional mandate to the Department of Transportation and ask them to figure it out sooner rather than later? Or do we ask them to solve the side guard problem now and then later on, down the road at some unspecified time in the future, we’ll address the need for front protection?

Well, Lois Durso and I took the bull by the horn and said: We’re sick & tired of waiting. People are dying from underride no matter what part of the truck they are unfortunate enough to collide with. We need to solve every kind of underride problem and we are going to include it all in one big comprehensive piece of legislation. Because it is needed. Because it is long-overdue.

Previous posts on Front Underride Protection:

Don’t re-invent the wheel; establish a formal Committee On Underride Protection (COUP) to oversee the development of recommendations for NHTSA underride regulations.

See the history of underride rulemaking as compiled by IIHS:

From the RAMCUP bill: 

(d) UNDERRIDE PROTECTION ON THE FRONT OF LARGE TRUCKS
Include front override protection in conformance with the following
specifications:
(1) An EU requirement was introduced in 2000 based on ECE Regulation
93 requiring mandatory rigid front underrun protection defining a rigid
front underrun protection system for trucks with a gross weight over 3.5
tonnes Directive 2000/40/EEC. Studies performed by EEVC WG 14 have
shown that passenger cars can ‘survive’ a frontal truck collision with a
relative speed of 75 km/h if the truck is equipped with an energy absorbing               underrun protection system. Furthermore, these systems could reduce
about 1,176 deaths and 23,660 seriously injured car occupants in Europe
per year. Research shows that the benefits of a mandatory specification for
energy absorbing front underrun protection would exceed the costs, even if
the safety effect of these measures was as low as 5%. European
Commission; Front Underrun Protection Systems [Note: 75 kmh = 46.6028
mph]
(2) Front guards must have 3 levels of resistance; soft front for pedestrians
and cyclists, middle area must be softer than the partner vehicle in crashes
and able to absorb energy such as through crush, and rear area must be
strong and stiff enough to resist underride and rotate high-speed vehicles
away from the truck. Extend the front guard from the truck 600 mm (2 feet) to
give room for a 500 mm (1.6 feet) radius curve to deflect crash partners
including VRU and cars. The extra 600 mm should give 102 km/h or (63 mph)
of protection which would exceed a general goal of 60 mph (100 km/h) — an
average speed for highway crashes in the real world.
(3) NHTSA shall immediately issue an RFP to identify the appropriate
requirements for a front underrun protection standard.

ECE No. 93 FRONT UNDERRUN PROTECTION

Design and Optimization of Front Underrun Protection Device

https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/vehicle/safety_design_needs/heavy_goods_vehicles_en

Don’t you think that enough is enough?! Let’s make it a priority to tackle the whole underride problem post haste! If we don’t (knowing what we now know), then who should we hold responsible for the thousands of people who will most surely die from preventable underride?

No compromise. Too many have already paid the price for 50 years of compromise.

RAMCUP Capitol Hill Briefing, June 15, 9-noon: Be Part of the Solution to STOP Truck Underride Tragedies

2 Moms are returning to DC with a week full of meetings on The Hill — including meetings with 13 House Transportation Committee Member Offices. Then, on Thursday, June 15, Lois Durso and I will be hosting a Capitol Hill Briefing on the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP) from 9 a.m. to noon. Our goal is to get Congress on board with the importance of this doable plan to end preventable truck underride tragedies.

How You Can Help: We will be providing refreshments to those attending the Briefing and would appreciate donations (not tax deductible) to help us cover the costs. If you can help in this way, please email me at marianne@annaleahmary.com or PM me.

SEEING IS BELIEVING: Unique Opportunity To Fund A Crash Test In Our Nation’s Capital

We are making progress on getting a bill introduced in Congress which would mandate Comprehensive Underride Protection on all large trucks. But we don’t want to take a chance that it would somehow get waylaid, defeated, or put on the back burner.

We need to convince every man and woman in the U.S. Congress to vote for the timely passing of the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017. And we think that we have the perfect plan to accomplish that lofty goal:

We are making plans for a Capitol Grounds Underride Crash Test Media Event; SEEING IS BELIEVING!

We have two major hurdles to overcome:

  1. Gaining permission to hold this event.
  2. Funding to pull it off.

We are in the process of completing the necessary paperwork to get approval for this event and hope to have backing from The Hill. Pray that this request would find favor.

The matter of funding is more elusive; thus I am posting this appeal in hopes that one or more persons will respond to this unique opportunity to change the course of history, to make a significant contribution in the push to end preventable underride tragedies. Pray for a timely and enthusiastic response to this financial need.

We have reached out to the engineers, who have been devoting their lives to designing side underride protection solutions. And we have come up with a budget to organize two crash tests, one into a trailer without a side guard and one into a trailer with a side guard:

  • Two trailers $15,000
  • Two crash cars (including transportation to the site and disposal) $3,000
  • Portable Safety Barriers $500
  • Tractors to bring the trailers to the site & to be hooked up to the trailers for crash test) $1,000
  • Engineer to run the test & insurance $3,000
  • Other costs of the Media Event $2,500
  • TOTAL CRASH TEST/EVENT Budget $25,000

 

IIHS Proves That Side Underride Crashes Are Deadly But Preventable: Seeing Is Believing

AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to preventing vehicle violence. Donations accepted here.

Moms Who Lost Daughters In Truck Underride Collisions Push for Greater Safety

How You Can Help Us Get Comprehensive Underride Protection On Trucks

I know that I can’t be the only person in this country (or the planet for that matter) who would like to see trucks made safer to drive around. So, for anyone else who would like to help get comprehensive underride protection on trucks in the U.S., here are some ideas:

  1. Sign our Side Guard Petition to let our government & trucking industry leaders know that you want them to act NOW to SAVE LIVES by putting Comprehensive Underride Protection on large trucks.
  2. Contact Your Federal Elected Officials and ask them to support the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection bill:President Donald Trump – Contact the President of the United States by filling out the online contact form or by calling the White House switchboard at 202-456-1414 or the comments line at 202-456-1111 during business hours.
    Members of the U.S. Congress:
    U.S. Senators – Get contact information for your Senators in the U.S. Senate.
    U.S. Representatives – Find the website and contact information for your Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  3. Let me know if you get any response from them, and I can invite them to join in the bipartisan discussions of this bill on The Hill.
  4. Join us in a March in DC to raise awareness & let Congress know that we want them to pass the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act — sooner rather than later. Stay tuned for details as they develop. Let us know if you are interested in joining us: marianne@annaleahmary.com.
  5. We are planning a Seeing Is Believing Media Event on the Capitol Grounds simultaneous with the March in DC.  We want Congress to be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that underride crashes are both tragic and preventable. This will require some additional resources to pull off — to cover the costs of either a crash test on site or a multimedia event with a large screen projection of the convincing IIHS side underride crash testing video footage. If you want to donate to this important project, you can do so at the AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety (501(c)(3) website.
  6. We will be sending letters to transportation companies alerting them to the IIHS research and asking them to buy trucks with comprehensive underride protection. If you would like to send some letters yourself, contact me at marianne@annaleahmary.com to find out how to do so.

Mandates take burden off manufacturers. Crash tests in labs better than crash tests occurring in real world.

Lou Lombardo has written a thought-provoking opinion piece, Creating a Demand for Crash Testing (CTTI, September 2011). It holds great value in confirming the need for comprehensive underride protection legislation to be introduced and passed in a timely manner.

“From Sweden, Germany, Japan and Korea, to Australia and the USA, there are excellent safety engineers and scientists the world over in both the private and public sectors. But, as safety legend Ralph Nader has pointed out, these people have more problems than they deserve, and more solutions than are deployed.

“The basic problem is that safety engineers in auto companies and suppliers have to convince their managements to fund safety RDTE & D (research, development, testing, evaluation, and deployment). Managements are reluctant to allocate capital unless they can see a return on investment, have to meet legal (governmental and/or liability) requirements, or face competitive imperatives (pressures or opportunities). Information, as published in magazines such as this, can increase the motivation of managements to allocate resources for crash testing — especially when there is public demand for safety.

“Demand for safety can be stimulated. How? By people, organizations, and events, both planned and unplanned. . . Think Lee Iacocca’s marketing initiative of using images of a dramatic head-on crash of two airbag-equipped Chrysler cares in which motorists walked away, saved by airbags. . .

“First, start with very important goals. . .

“Secondly, we must create lead measures of progress toward meeting these goals. . .

“The third measure is to create a safety-stimulating scoreboard that shows how corporate auto makers rank at protecting their customers and other motorists; how well insurers stimulate safety; and how well Federal and State governments improve the performance of preventing and treating needless deaths and treating people injured in crashes. Can we do this? Yes we can! . . .

“All motorists prefer more crash testing in laboratories to the millions of crash tests occurring in the real world each year.”

Read more here: https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/lombardo-CTTI-Sept2011.pdf

This is very relevant to the state of underride protection in our country. In fact, it reminds me of a comment made to me recently by someone in the trucking industry. Among other things, he said that “legislation takes the burden off of the manufacturers.”

In other words, when the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act is passed, then the truck and trailer manufacturers will no longer have to work to convince their customers that it is to their advantage to have effective underride protection installed. It will just be the way it is — comprehensive underride protection on every single truck on the road. The new normal.

And, thankfully, it will no longer be inevitable that a truck crash will result in an underride tragedy. Imagine.

Someday, people might even forget that truck underride used to happen hundreds of times a year. It will be a piece of our past. And that is just fine with me.