I just learned about an underride crash in Nevada on Sunday. The photo in the news report tells the sad and senseless story.
The semi driver began braking and made an improper left turn into the dirt center median with signage marked “No U-Turn” and “Authorized Vehicles Only.” The driver of the Kia then struck the trailer of the semi causing the Kia to be partially pinned under the trailer.
A 3-year-old girl who was injured in Sunday’s crash on northbound Interstate 15 near Moapa has died.
The girl was airlifted to Sunrise Pediatrics with critical injuries and succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash.
An 11-year-old boy who also was injured was taken by ambulance to UMC Trauma with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries. 3-year-old girl dies from injuries in crash on I-15 near Moapa
Also reported here: 3-year-old Utahn girl dies in crash involving semi on I-15
Yet one more family will dread the holidays because Death By Underride has been left unchecked. When will we act to end these senseless tragedies?
I am the survivor of a terrible truck crash. I am the mom of two daughters who did not survive. The difference? Their part of the car went under the truck; mine did not.
In the aftermath, I found out that the rear underride guard could have been made stronger to withstand the crash so that AnnaLeah and Mary might — like me — have been survivors of a terrible truck crash. I learned that, if effective underride protection was installed on trucks, we could save hundreds of people who die every year when a truck enters their occupant space. So now, I am a mom on a mission to make truck crashes more survivable.
How did it come about? In October 2012, Jerry and I moved to North Carolina with the three youngest of our nine children. Four of the nine were going to college in Texas. When they all came home for Christmas break, we got the news that our oldest daughter, Rebekah, had just gotten engaged. We planned a big trip to Texas in May for the celebration of a wedding, four college graduations, and two family birthdays (AnnaLeah turning 18 & Vanessa turning 4).
Mary baked a seven-layer engagement cake to surprise Rebekah when she arrived for the holiday. Rebekah asked me to sew her wedding dress and we shopped for a pattern and material. In the ensuing months, Mary (13) served as a model for her sister’s wedding dress, and AnnaLeah sewed a little bride’s dress for a surprise birthday present for Vanessa.
On May 4, 2013, we packed our Crown Vic and headed for Texas. But the trip did not go as planned and it turned out to be AnnaLeah’s and Mary’s last journey they would make on this earth. We came upon slowed traffic on I-20 in Georgia (from a fatal crash two miles ahead, two hours earlier). We slowed down, but a truck driver did not — hitting our car and sending it into a spin so that the car went backward into the tractor-trailer ahead of us. The rear underride guard failed to withstand the crash and the back of the car went under the trailer.
AnnaLeah and Mary were in the backseat. AnnaLeah died at the scene and Mary a few days later from her very serious injuries.
In the four years following that day, we have been working hard to turn tragedy into advocacy — including the drafting of the STOP Underrides! Bill soon to be introduced in the U.S. Congress to mandate the installation of technology to end these preventable tragedies.
More memories of Roya, AnnaLeah, & Mary — our precious ones, gone too soon: The Naming of an Underride Bill; Out of the Mouths of Babes
My daughter, Rebekah Karth Chojnacki, is an Instructor for a First-Year Experience class at the University of Texas at Arlington. Her students were required to do a community service project as part of the class. They chose to work on our underride prevention advocacy efforts.
First they gave us some feedback on our various social media sites. Then they divided up into three groups and did some research to determine just how many votes we would need to get in order to pass the STOP Underrides! Bill — especially those hard-to-get Republican votes.
Here are the results:
Making progress toward better underride protection is a team effort involving many, many people; and I am thankful for the students’ practical assistance. I hadn’t looked at the numbers previously and, when Rebekah shared the results of their class project, I thought, “Maybe this won’t be so hard to win after all!”
But wait. . . Republicans chair the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee and the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. Once the bill is introduced, we will definitely need these committees to take a lead and team up with us to end these preventable deaths — because they play a key role in getting the bill to the floor for a vote.
Surely they don’t want people to die, do they?
Find out how your state fares on truck underride deaths from 1994 through 2015. There is quite a range of numbers. But whether you live in Hawaii — which reported 1 underride fatality in that time period — or California — which reported 426 people killed because a large truck entered their occupant space during a collision between the truck and a passenger vehicle, it’s too many in my book.
And remember, Death by Underride is definitely undercounted — some crash report forms don’t even have a check box for underride. And underride can happen to anyone at anytime and anywhere.
Let’s STOP Underrides!
Progress is being made on the prevention of truck underride tragedies. But we have a long way to go before comprehensive underride protection is on every truck on the road. That is why we are working hard on every front to raise awareness of the century-old underride problem — along with proven and promising solutions.
But not everyone seems to get the sense of urgency which drives us to insistently call for resolution of this issue via the STOP Underrides! Bill posthaste. That’s why I decided to create this simple graphic to drive home the point that the price we pay, as a result of our delay in taking meaningful action, is too costly to accept any further meaningless excuses:
Based on analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of NHTSA’s truck crash fatality statistics (FARS), this graphic reflects the 600 truck/car collisions which annually occur, on average, at the sides and rear of large trucks — leaving out front collisions: potential underride tragedies which we want to prevent with the STOP Underrides! Bill.
Some years ago, I noticed the way that the prophet Daniel, in Daniel 9, got on his knees and repented on behalf of his people. . . God’s people, for wrongdoing that he was not directly responsible for — appealing to God to act mercifully.
This week, I thought of that again and determined to stand in the stead of all those who have turned their backs to the underride problem — unknowingly or not. Perhaps we all play some part in not getting to the bottom of those terrible tragedies.
In any case, on behalf of all those who have not been held accountable, I repent of our country’s indifference to this preventable highway carnage. I ask the Lord to forgive our callous attitude, misplaced priorities, and neglect. May He stir up a sense of urgency that we might all take appropriate action and work together more creatively and effectively.
What are we waiting for?! Let’s get on with it! We’ve got people counting on us — whether they know it or not.