Tag Archives: road safety

Neil Arason, a Canadian road safety expert, shares his thoughts on a Nat’l Traffic Safety Ombudsman

I asked Neil Arason, a Canadian road safety expert, about his thoughts on the idea of a Traffic Safety Ombudsman. This is what he shared with me. . .

Hi, Marianne,

I think what you do right now is very close to that of an ombudsman.  I can’t tell you how critical it is to have safety advocates. Most changes happen because of them.

If I think of good examples of road safety advocacy, they include people like you, and also Clarence Ditlow.  Government needs to know people are watching them, and advocates do a good job of getting issues out into the mainstream media and that is extraordinarily powerful and important.

An office of the ombudsman would be similar to an advocacy centre except typically it is an arm of government, albeit one that has some independence.  We need to have safety advocates who are completely independent and powerful, and then on top of that as many other tools and structures for change.

I think that a traffic safety ombudsman would be one more thing that would help the overall cause. Because it is essentially an arm of government, however, it will likely be much more difficult to set up, whereas Ralph Nader just went ahead and set up the Center for Automotive Safety (directed by Clarence Ditlow), and that was that. (Although Nader had some startup capital from events that began in the late 1960s.)

Nonetheless, anyone can get into the business of advocacy and set up a centre or whatever they end up calling it.  Advocacy groups work toward wholesale change in the very way that road safety is treated, the priority given to it, etc.

The ombudsman type offices, I am aware of, exist so that folks can take complaints to them, and then the Ombudsman (and its paid staff) investigate those complaints with a view to resolving them. The ombudsman works to ensure “fairness” really in decision-making. I’m not aware of any examples of how an ombudsman would work in traffic safety because I am not aware of such a function today.

When people have complaints about some road safety failure, they largely take them to lawyers it seems. I am aware of examples of the role of the ombudsman in other government sectors like income assistance, where a citizen makes a complaint and goes to the ombudsman. This works well because the government agency really stands up and notices when they get a call from the office of the ombudsman, and they really make an effort to resolve the issue.

A traffic safety ombudsman could investigate complaints with a view to making large policy changes.  I would imagine that many victims’ families have no idea at first how to navigate the system. Access to an ombudsman could not just help to investigate their complaint for them, but could give them all manner of advice about where to go and what to do, e.g., use a lawyer, go to media, lobby directly, point them to various agencies for help, etc., etc.

Imagine if the ombudsman had people like you who could share with them what they know about how to get things done. The ombudsman could, I suppose, be a bit of an “information broker” in addition to its role as complaint investigator.  Such an office might help people to direct their energies in ways that will do the most amount of good.

I’m no expert on any of this, that is for sure, Marianne.  The only thing I know, from my own experience, is that almost all changes come from outside government and from advocates, lobbyists and the media.  These are the powers that governments all around the world seem to respond to. To follow then, we need as many mechanisms as possible to support more lobbyists, advocates, and media to focus on road safety.  An ombudsman would help enormously with that.

I hope some of this helps in some way.

Neil

Thank you

SIGN  & SHARE the TRAFFIC SAFETY OMBUDSMAN Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/

What are we waiting for

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)

Does saving a few seconds or couple of minutes really worth doing? Is it worth the risk of possible collision & personal injury?

“So, does saving a few seconds or a couple of minutes really worth doing? Is it worth the risk of possible collision and personal injury? Are you really saving time? Give me a couple of seconds to think about it.”

https://safedriving.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/give-me-a-couple-of-seconds/

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Actions here & there throughout the U.S. chipping away at causes of traffic deaths

As far as I’m concerned,  decisions and actions to reduce crash fatalities are too often too little too late. So, while I’m thankful for the good things that are happening, as a mom of 2 girls who died too young, I think that there are too many delays and not enough priority assigned to Vision Zero activities.

Maybe if everyone working on these things had lost someone close to them (oh, I hope not), then they would be as tenacious and impatient as me.

And after reading some safety news today, I was thinking that perhaps things would also move faster if there were more opportunities for organizations throughout the country (and internationally) to share ideas so that no one would have to re-invent the wheel.

Wouldn’t that help things move along faster?

Some things I read today:

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“Just sayin’,” Mary might have said.

Sign our Vision Zero Petition: https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars

Toward Zero Crash Deaths “…if there’s just one life we can save—we’ve got an obligation to try.” @BarackObama

Across the nation, there are numerous individuals and organizations calling and working for Vision Zero goals and actions. What is the point? There are tens of thousands of people dying unnatural and preventable deaths each year due to crashes on our roads.

We are working tirelessly to call for President Obama and DOT Secretary Foxx to set a National Vision Zero goal and to change the traffic safety rulemaking  policies so that every life possible will be saved.

At present, we have two Vision Zero petitions which we will be delivering to Washington, DC, as soon as we can arrange for it:

  1. One directed specifically to President Obama asking him to set a National Vision Zero Goal and to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order, which will–among other things–give DOT the authority to make rules which will save more lives.   https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars
  2. One directed to Secretary Foxx  (and OIRA/OMB) asking him to change rulemaking policy to move away from a cost/benefit model and adopt a more humanistic, rational Vision Zero safety strategy model which will impact all DOT safety regulations (with immediate impact on truck underride rulemaking).  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Please sign both of the above petitions now and spread the word that together we can save lives!

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Truck Underride Kills: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety

Examining Ways to Improve Vehicle and Roadway Safety – See more at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/examining-ways-improve-vehicle-and-roadway-safety#sthash.F4YzqjVb.dpuf

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), spoke today to the COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE, SUBCOMITTEE ON COMMERCE, MANUFACTURING AND TRADE:

“It is essential that NHTSA, the agency charged with ensuring the safety of our vehicles and our drivers, be equipped with both the appropriate resources and personnel to confront the myriad of emerging issues presented by new technologies. It is almost incomprehensible that the entire vehicle safety program for the U.S. has a miniscule budget of only $130 million, and it has barely increased over the last six years. It is both unfortunate and unnecessary that this agency is chronically underfunded by Congress even while its critical importance to public health and safety continues to expand. Congress has a moral obligation in the safety title of the six year reauthorization bill to give NHTSA the ability to do its job and to do it effectively. Our lives and those of our families as well as yours literally depend on it.”

 

Victims testify:

Car Safety Wars book cover

Vision Zero: Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Injuries

Let’s work together to implement every possible safety measure to prevent collisions and “second collisions.”

http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/the-second-collision-does-not-have-to-be-so-prevalent-we-can-do-better-at-preventing-death-horrific-injuries/

Vision Zero*: Aim high for Zero Crash Deaths & Zero Serious Injuries

* “Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project which aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.[1] A core principle of the vision is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk.”

Sign our petition to promote a U.S. Transportation Vision Zero Policy:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Then, help us apply Vision Zero principles to underride protection.

Donate now to support underride research:  https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Underride Research Meme

HOW YOU CAN HELP: http://annaleahmary.com/how-you-can-help/

It’s No Accident; the real story behind senseless death & injury on our roads by Lisa Lewis

Just saw this book by Lisa Lewis (1995), It’s No Accident: the real story behind senseless death and injury on our roads. I’ll have to check that out.

Always keep in mind that there are numerous reasons for crashes, crash fatalities and injuries. I am thankful for the many people who are addressing these problems from every which way.

http://annaleahmary.com/2014/07/our-crash-was-not-an-accident/

Brief description of the book: ” The author reveals that many dangerous behaviors are now promoted by businesses, and that drivers who kill often walk away with just a small fine. This expose is a must-read for anyone concerned about what’s happening on our roads and how to stop it.” http://tinyurl.com/pfcm9ca

Get it here:

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Underride Guards for Single Unit Trucks: More Comments Posted on the Federal Register

The Public Comments period has closed for the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Underride Protection on Single Unit Trucks. But there were 21 last-minute comments which have now been added to the Federal Register today.

Read them here:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0070

Newly-listed commenters include:

  1. Seven Hills Engineering (Perry Ponder),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0046
  2. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, (Scott Schmidt),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0032
  3. Boston Public Health Commission BPHC (Lisa Conley),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0048
  4. Medical Academic and Scientific Community Organization, Inc. MASCO Area Planning and Development (Paul Nelson),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0043
  5. National Transportation Safety Board (Christopher Hart),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0030
  6.  3M Traffic & Safety Security Division (Daniel Hickey),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0022
  7. National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) ( ),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0026
  8. International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Sam Loesche),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0047
  9. ORAFOL Americas Inc. (Chris Gaudette),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0033
  10. Avery Dennison (a leading designer and manufacturer of retroreflective safety materials), http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0037
  11. Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (Christopher Grigorian),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0044
  12. Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) (Timothy Blubaugh),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0031
  13. General Motors, LLC (Brian Latouf, Director),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0034
  14. Meehan Boyle Black & Bogdanow, PC,  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0041
  15. Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association (Kelley Green),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0038
  16. Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Inc. (Dennis Findley),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=25;dct=PS;D=NHTSA-2015-0070
  17. National Asphalt Pavement Association (Howard Marks),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0036
  18. National Cotton Ginners’ Association (W. Harrison Ashley),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0040
  19. City of Palo Alto-Planning & Community Environment (Joshuah Mello),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0035
  20. National Waste & Recycling Association (John Haudenshield),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0042
  21. Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety (Shaun Kildare),  http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0039

Note: Previously-posted Public Comments on this issue can be accessed here:  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/09/truck-industry-engineers-safety-advocates-comment-on-truck-underride-protection-for-motorists-pedestrians-cyclists/

Underride Research Meme

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Donate online now through AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety at:  https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Australian engineers champion the cause of better truck underride protection

I have spoken and corresponded with George Rechnitzer and Raphael Grzebieta from the Transport and Road Safety (TARS) Research Centre in Sydney. I have also written about their work on underride protection in Australia.

Yesterday, I received from them a copy of their submission to the Public Comments on the Underride Protection of Single Unit Trucks. It is worth a read to find out what is being said in other countries about this vital issue.

NHTSA-Docket-Submission-Grzebieta&Rechnitzer 20 Sept 2015

Here are some highlights:

    • Whilst there are force based design rules, e.g. in USA, Canada and Europe, it is apparent that these rules are inadequate. In our submission we strongly recommend crash test based performance requirements for under-run protection catering for both centred and off-set impact.
      Around 10 people per year on average are killed in Australia in rear under-run crashes resulting in horrific injuries such as decapitation.13 Yet the Regulation Impact Statement (RIS)14 for Underrun Protection publish by the Vehicle Safety Standards Branch at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government in July 2009 recommended that only front under-run protection be applied to all rigid and articulated trucks. Their conclusion was that the cost-benefit ratio for frontal under-run barriers was greater than one whereas for side and rear under-run the benefit was negative, and hence such protection should not be mandated in an Australian Design Rule. Yet despite these numerous calls for changes over the past three decades, we continue to consistently kill people in such crashes, ignoring the fact that practical low cost effective under-run barriers can be fitted. That is the real unforgivable tragedy.
    • The Vison Zero and Safe System approach adopted by most of the world now and on which Towards Zero Deaths is anchored, boldly moves away from the economic- rationalist ‘cost-benefit’ models (cited in this Docket as still being used by NHTSA), to a humanistic more rational model. The important aspect of a ‘Vision Zero’ principle is that it introduces ‘ethical rules’ to guide the system designers. In other words:
      Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society
      Whenever someone is killed or seriously injured, necessary steps must be taken to avoid similar events.
    • The Authors of this submission would further point out to those at NHTSA considering how the Rear Impact Protection for Single Unit Trucks should be revised; they should consider placing themselves in the position of the gentleman being asked in the following Australian Government advertisement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsyvrkEjoXI&feature=youtu.be. This advertisement was commissioned and paid for by the Victorian State Government in Australia. We would ask the NHTSA staff responsible for this NPRM which members of their family would they allocate to die that would be acceptable to them and would meet the NHTSA cost benefit ratios being considered?

  • To break the impasse between safety stakeholders and regulators, the Authors of this submission have proposed to incorporate into the revision of the ASNZS3845.2 Australian Road Safety Barrier Systems and Devices a crash test performance requirement for rear under-run barriers for heavy trucks, shortly to be released for public comment. In that standard test requirements for under-ride barriers, called Truck Under-run Barriers (TUBs), has been developed and now included. We hope that this standard will be approved by committee members (members include Australian State Government regulators) and hopefully will be published in early 2016. The tests requirements are in part based on the US Manual for Assessing Road Hardware (MASH) and are presented below.
    We would strongly recommend that NHTSA consider such dynamic performance tests when they deliberate their development of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for under-ride barriers.
  • TUB’s are designed to prevent a vehicle impacting the rear of a stationary truck under-riding the back of the truck in a manner where the truck structure intrudes into the impacting vehicle’s occupant compartment. The TUB’s main function is to protect the occupants in the impacting vehicle.
  • If the car is designed to such ANCAP and IIHS test protocols with the maximum crashworthiness rating, it is likely that the occupants would not sustain serious injuries in a vehicle impacting such a TUB in the configurations shown in Figure 1.
  • The manufacturers of such TUBs and operators of heavy vehicles are encouraged to explore the application of energy absorbing systems for TUBs including rear air bags mounted on the rear of trucks.

This latter recommendation is relevant to our goal of seeking research money to provide to Dean Sicking whose proposal intends to do just that: explore the application of the SAFER Barrier — an energy absorbying system — to the prevention of truck underride tragedies.

Dean Sicking’s Research Proposal: Development of Trailer Underride Preventive Measures

As soon as their Public Comment is published, I will post a link so that you can read the entire document online for a better understanding of their detailed analysis and proposal for crash test based performance requirements for truck underride protection, for both centred and off-set impact, in contrast to the force based design rules in the current U. S. federal underride standards. The Australian recommendations are based on 30 years of research and experience. (Note: the document in its entirety can be accessed at the top of this post.)

The formal period for submission of Public Comments ends today, September 21, 2015. Upon the request of several groups, I made a request that the period be extended for a short time. That request is under consideration by the agency. All published Public Comments can be found at this site, which is updated as submissions are made:  http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=NHTSA-2015-0070

George Rechnitzer and Raphael Grzebieta have, unfortunately, faced similar challenges in Australia in trying to persuade the powers that be to make rules which would prevent unnecessary and horrific deaths and injuries. However, they  are encouraged by potential upcoming changes in their country:

To break the impasse between safety stakeholders and regulators, the Authors of this submission have proposed to incorporate into the revision of the ASNZS3845.2 Australian Road Safety Barrier Systems and Devices a crash test performance requirement for rear under-run barriers for heavy trucks, shortly to be released for public comment. In that standard test requirements for under-ride barriers, called Truck Under-run Barriers (TUBs), has been developed and now included. We hope that this standard will be approved by committee members (members include Australian State Government regulators) and hopefully will be published in early 2016.

Other posts on their work include:

We look forward to working with George and Raphael at the Underride Roundtable in the Spring of 2016 and know that our country can greatly benefit from their expertise.

Underride Research Meme

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Donate toward the  Underride Roundtable & Research Now: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

Be a part of this timely push to prevent unnecessary deaths.

It could save someone you love.