Tag Archives: Tesla crash

“When Will We Tackle Underride? – The Hidden Dangers in Trucks” Trucks.com Opinion Piece

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

If only

You can help. Sign & share our petition asking DOT to mandate side guards on truckshttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/026/213/mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks-to-end-deadly-side-underride-crashes/

Preventing deadly crashes doesn’t require Either crash avoidance Or underride guards but Both/And.

If we can take away anything immediately (while waiting for an in-depth investigative report) from Joshua Brown’s fatal crash with his Tesla, I hope it is the understanding that preventing Death by Underride cannot depend solely on crash avoidance technology. What we should be going for is not either/or but both/and.

The Tesla did not prevent the crash because the side of the truck was too high up to engage/connect with any of the safety technology. Had a side guard — which is not a federal requirement — been on the truck, there might have been no crash or at least no underride. Joshua Brown might still be alive.

This is a clear case where even the most-advanced crash avoidance technology was not able to prevent a tragic underride death. If side guards had been mandated and installed, perhaps the outcome would have been quite different.

There are too many factors and conditions which can result in a collision between a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle. And without adequate underride protection, the smaller vehicle is going to end up under the larger, too-high truck so that the crashworthy features of the car do not function as intended. The truck then comes into the occupant space [Passenger Compartment Intrusion = PCI] — causing horrific death or serious injuries.

My goodness, it makes me mad just to re-read the posts which I have written over the last three years since our deadly (for those who experienced underride) crash and recall the ongoing attitude of non-responsibility of some parts of the trucking industry to do their part in helping to solve this solvable problem!

I have included the links to those posts along with the beginning paragraphs:

  1. Clarifying the ATA Position on Underride Guards After last week’s announcement by NHTSA of their initiation of the rulemaking process for underride guards, I have had four interviews. So far, I have seen two of the articles and both of them included a statement, obtained from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which disturbed me when I read them. I posted about it and you can read my thoughts here. . .
  2. The Passion of This Safety Advocate It gets really tiresome to hear the trucking industry come up with the same statements time after time after time. Nearly every time I read an article written about our crash, there are the obligatory responses from the trucking industry. Invariably, they try to shift the responsibility off of themselves to make the changes sought after and, instead, bring up some alternative solution to the “problem.” . . .
  3. Truck Underride Roundtable is one week away! May it be sehr gut! On June 25, 2014, after a tour of the research & design center of a truck trailer manufacturer in Georgia, I wrote down these perplexing thoughts about the too-long unresolved underride problem: Now, it is understandable, amid the multitude of demands and the tyranny of the urgent, that—without a ready solution, in fact, one which would require time and money to develop—this problem has not been given much attention. But, if those who bear responsibility for making sure that this problem gets solved (one way or another) had lost two of their beloved children—or any other loved one—I can guarantee you that they would have moved heaven and earth to find a way to prevent underride. . .
  4. UMTRI Reviews Opposition to Proposed & Proven Truck Underride Prevention Measures Back in 1989, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute examined features proposed for improving truck safety. In other words, they reviewed NHTSA underride rulemaking from years past. What they discovered was that a proposed underride rule in 1977 was opposed by practically “the entire trucking industry – both manufacturers and haulers.” The authors of this study noted “that failure to implement a rule on underride guards took place despite extensive research indicating their expected effectiveness.” .  .
  5. Tesla crash fatality could have been stopped by side guards. Tell NHTSA to require them on trucks. The U.S. has been talking about the tragedies of side underride and the possibility of using side guards on trucks since 1969. The recent Tesla S underride crash fatality could quite likely have been prevented if there had been a side guard on the tractor-trailer it collided with.So why is NHTSA still not requiring side guards on trucks? Why is the trailer manufacturing industry still opposing them? Why have so many years gone by with needless, preventable deaths continuing to occur? . . .

When we met with DOT in March 2016 to deliver our 20,000+ Vision Zero Petition signatures, Blair Anderson (NHTSA Deputy Administrator at the time,  now US DOT Undersecretary for Policy) smiled when I made the point about not either/or but both/and. He indicated that the Director had just been talking with staff about that very thing.

Let’s hope that this logical line of reasoning is widely understood and serves the purpose of moving both rulemaking and voluntary industry safety advancement full steam ahead.

Both And

“CAS Analysis Shows Tesla (Joshua Brown) & Jeep Shifter (Anton Yelchin) Deaths Lie at NHTSA’s Feet”

Tell-it-like-it-is email from Lou Lombardo (Care for Crash Victims):

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Americans should be thankful for the work of Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) for identifying the failures of NHTSA and DOT that resulted in the preventable recent deaths of two Americans here in the U.S.A.

Please see the CAS Analysis and letter to NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.


CAS Analysis Shows Tesla (Joshua Brown) & Jeep Shifter (Anton Yelchin) Deaths Lie at NHTSA’s Feet

July 15, 2016

The tragic deaths of Anton Yelchin and Joshua Brown due to faulty electronics must be placed squarely at NHTSA’s feet.  In its zeal to advance vehicle electronics, NHTSA has forgotten it is a regulatory agency to ensure vehicle safety, not a promotional agency to foster the development of vehicle technology.

Yelchin’s death is due to NHTSA creating a huge loophole in 1999 in FMVSS 102 governing transmission shift mechanisms.  Brown’s death is due to NHTSA’s failure to issue a FMVSS for self-driving controls and allowing Tesla to beta test an autopilot system using consumer as test drivers on public roads, something that has never before been done in NHTSA’s history.

Congress intended that compliance with the federal rules would both regulate and stimulate new technologies.  Today’s NHTSA has abandoned the regulatory side for the stimulation side at the expense of safety.  By issuing interpretative rules as it did on electronic shifters for BMW and not issuing Safety Standards as it did on self-driving vehicles, NHTSA created safety loopholes that inevitably led to the deaths of Joshua Brown and Anton Yelchin.

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Click here to view the CAS Letter to NHTSA Administrator Rosekind

America needs people in government, in industry, and the media to do their jobs protecting the American people.

In this election year, we are on the road to 4 million vehicle deaths in the U.S.A. in the next decade.  How many more deaths will it take to get the President to set a Vision Zero goal?  See http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MonthlyReportforJanuary2016-Corrected.pdf

Citizen Marianne Karth and her family have gathered 20,000 signatures for President Obama to issue an executive order to set a Vision Zero goal.  See


What hidden strings are holding him back?

Put safety first, please.


Mad Mary

“Victims of underride collision demand Vision Zero and an independent Traffic Safety Ombudsman”

Less than a week ago, I woke up thinking, “I need to start a petition on the White House website asking President Obama to appoint a Traffic Safety Ombudsman.” The idea of such a position/role had come to me a month earlier, but nobody was responding to my request to appoint one.

Now it seemed like I needed to take action. Since the petition site indicated that if we got 100,000 signatures in 30 days, then they would respond to it, it seemed like good timing to start July 1–with July 31 as the target date.

The first step was getting the ball rolling and it has been torturous watching the number of signatures slowly creep up. Once it reaches 150, then the petition will become searchable on their website. Meanwhile. . .

Maybe we’ll get a boost from an article published today on treehugger.com by managing editor, Lloyd Alter. I had commented on his article last weekend on the Tesla crash and Tweeted a message to him.

Today he published an article about our crash story, our advocacy efforts, and our Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition and Vision Zero goals. Perhaps this will give us a good jumpstart on the way to our 100,000 goal–and ultimately our goal of SAVING LIVES.

Victims of underride collision demand Vision Zero and an independent Traffic Safety Ombudsman

End Crash FatalitiesPetition TSO


 August 3 UPDATE: The petition on the White House site is expired. Please sign our new Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition at Care2;  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/