I just noticed that the Department of Energy employees have an Office of Ombudsman. It reminded me that Vulnerable Victims of Vehicle Violence do not have a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman to advocate on their behalf.
If you think you know what Vision Zero is all about or if you’re not really sure what it is, check out this article whose author interviewed Matt-Ake Belin from Sweden:
What were the main barriers that had to be overcome in initially adopting Sweden’s Vision Zero strategy?
I would say that the main problems that we had in the beginning were not really political, they were more on the expert side. The largest resistance we got to the idea about Vision Zero was from those political economists that have built their whole career on cost-benefit analysis. For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero.” Because in their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.
The problem is the whole transport sector is quite influenced by the whole utilitarianist mindset. Now we’re bringing in the idea that it’s not acceptable to be killed or seriously injured when you’re transporting. It’s more a civil-rights thing that you bring into the policy.
The other group that had trouble with Vision Zero was our friends, our expert friends. Because most of the people in the safety community had invested in the idea that safety work is about changing human behavior. Vision Zero says instead that people make mistakes, they have a certain tolerance for external violence, let’s create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system.
And there you have it, folks. . . some of the stumbling blocks in our country’s approach to traffic/road/highway safety. And that is why I am adamant in my push for a major change in our rulemaking process, in fact in our entire approach to road safety. It is why I keep bugging the powers-that-be to do something about it. . . because they can.
And if they don’t heed my pleas, and people continue to die from vehicle violence which might have been prevented had they acted upon my petitions, then who should will hold responsible?
Please, Secretary Foxx, act now before it is too late for you to pave the way for genuine Vision Zero Rulemaking. Set my case before President Obama.
How much impact could a nationwide network of Traffic Safety/Vision Zero community groups have on the death toll of vehicle violence? How could a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman be instrumental in bringing this about?
I continue to hear about safety factors which need to be brought to the attention of everyone. But probably won’t be without this kind of national focus and advocacy effort. . .
Just heard about these two today:
- Don’t put your feet on the dashboard: A deployed airbag inflates at about 320 km/h, and you don’t want your legs to be in the way when it does (Check out the photo of the car in this crash which collided with the rear of a tractor-trailer; was underride involved?) Not to mention the importance of emergency medical services in detecting internal injuries in passengers protected by air bags. Invisible disabilities can result.
- The color of your car and your clothes (when a pedestrian) could impact your safety: Years ago the Federal Highway Administration published a poster for the public with the statistic that 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur between the hours of 6:00pm and 6:00am. The “Be Safe, Be Bright” poster shows distances at which pedestrians can be seen wearing clothing of different colors – and retro reflective materials.
Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
You can increase your safety by 10%.
In 1961, my wife was in a white VW Beetle. She stalled coming out of a shopping center at night and was struck on the driver side by a car coming over a hill. The driver swerved to the right and struck the VW just behind the driver side door. Luckily, my wife was not physically injured but she was badly shaken. I had picked white as the color because it would be cooler (no air conditioning). I was not thinking safety back then.
During all my years working on safety I could not get NHTSA to do analyses on fatality rates by car color. Only after I left NHTSA did researchers in Australia do such research and found that white cars were 10% safer. See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-daylaightsavings.php
In 2015, I was pleased to learn that white had become the most popular car color on the planet. See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-whitecarsnews.php
For the year 2015, no one can be pleased to learn that NHTSA recorded:
* The Nation saw 2,348 more fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in 2015 than in 2014—a 7.2-percent increase.
For pedestrians and cyclists color is also important for safety.
* Pedestrian fatalities increased by 466 (a 9.5-percent increase) and are at their highest number since 1996.
* Pedalcyclist fatalities increased by 89 (a 12.2-percent increase), and are at their highest level since 1995.
Years ago the Federal Highway Administration published a poster for the public with the statistic that 60% of pedestrian fatalities occur between the hours of 6:00pm and 6:00am. The “Be Safe, Be Bright” poster shows distances at which pedestrians can be seen wearing clothing of different colors – and retro reflective materials. See
Be brighter and be safer.
I just watched a video of a young Canadian woman, Jessica Holman-Price, going on a skydiving adventure — not too long before she lost her life in a 2005 truck underride tragedy.
I was struck by the comment made before she went up (then down) in the air: “You’re going to be able to pull that ripcord and save your life!”
Saved for the moment only later to lose her life . Let’s make sure that this isn’t so for countless others because — just like someone invented a simple mechanism to release a parachute — there are solutions to prevent tragic truck underride.
That is why I continue to push for an audience to my Vision Zero requests and hope for a champion to make it come about.
What motivates me to keep asking for this near-to-impossible change in the way this problem is addressed? On top of the unbearable grief of losing two children — who did nothing to bring about their deaths — to preventable vehicle violence, I survived the same crash and have learned that it is not an insurmountable problem to prevent underride. And yet it continues to be neglected and underride victims pay the price. I have had the advantage of observing the work of other advocates who have gone before me, as well as the convincing research by IIHS.
I have also observed the many victims and advocates who keep pushing for change — year after deadly year — and wonder why nothing much is different.
Furthermore, I think that it is important that the victims of vehicle violence — past and future — be given a powerful and independent voice through the establishment of a National Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman. Please read why I think that this is necessary: http://
Despite much progress in highway safety, the death toll still is rising from one year to the next. Why do we mindlessly accept it? Why don’t we rally together and conquer this dreadful enemy of innocent lives?
September 9 marks the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s signing of the Federal Highway Safety Act of 1966:
According to the July 15, 1966, Public Works committee report on the House version of the bill (H.R. 13290), each state must “have a highway safety program approved by the [Secretary of Commerce] . . . in accordance with uniform standards to be approved by the Secretary.” The legislation addressed a broad range of issues: driver education; licensing; pedestrian performance; vehicle registration and inspection; traffic control; highway design and maintenance; accident prevention, investigation, and record keeping; and emergency services. Congress authorized funds for distribution to the states, with a requirement that each state implement a highway safety program by December 31, 1968, or suffer a 10 percent reduction in apportioned funds. The legislation enjoyed strong, bipartisan support in the House. Chairman Fallon stated, “[This bill] continues the policy of meaningful cooperation between the States and the Federal Government on highway matters. I believe it is a firm step forward in the struggle to save lives, and I urge that we act with strong voice to put it into effect.” The measure passed the House by a vote of 318-3, and President Johnson signed the Highway Safety Act into law on September 9, 1966.
I only wish that we could get that same kind of support for the appointment of a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman and a nationwide network of citizens active in community Traffic Safety Advocacy Groups in 2016!
Yet, according to a recent FairWarning article, Miles to Go on Highway Safety, we are far from acting as responsibly and conscientiously as we would if we really cared about saving innocent lives from preventable vehicle violence — and that includes the oversight of “self-driving” vehicle technology development!
Concerns about driverless cars pop up more often than not. Some which I read today:
- NHTSA creates safety vacuum: Opposing view, Clarence Ditlow, USA Today, Driverless vehicles are a marketing marvel. But it’s not a safety miracle as the auto industry and its captive regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claim. In its zeal to advance driverless vehicles, NHTSA has forgotten its mission is to ensure safety, not promote gee-whiz vehicle technology to increase sales. It is an inherent conflict of interest for any agency to both promote and regulate technology. . .
- The other bump on path to driverless cars: Crumbling roads Richard Truett Automotive News You should take claims of self-driving cars being road-ready soon with a 50-pound bag of salt, not a grain.
While automakers, suppliers and ride providers such as Uber race to develop and deploy the technology, one aspect of self-driving cars is not being reported on much, if at all: The nation’s infrastructure is simply not ready for cars that can drive themselves 100 percent safely, 100 percent of the time. . .
Could a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman advocate for solutions to these and other traffic safety issues? Just sayin’. . .
I just got back from an errand. Something triggered a memory of AnnaLeah & Mary. I think that it was driving by a park here in Rocky Mount to which Mary and AnnaLeah never got to go. We had lived here less than a year before the crash.
It made me wonder (as I do so often) what they might be doing right now. How might their lives have unfolded?
All my anger poured out, about how they have been cheated and how wrong it all is. I was yelling in my car, “Who gave power to the trucking industry over life & death matters? Who has the right to block efforts to end Preventable Death by Underride?”
And that is only one of the many safety issues involved.
Yesterday I was frustrated with the whole side guard issue and the well-known under-reporting of side underride fatalities (in fact, of all types of underride). As far as I can tell, it has contributed to more underride victims as a direct result of the inaccurate cost/benefit analysis that has taken place.
Of course — in case you didn’t already know — I think that the whole cost/benefit analysis basis of safety rulemaking is flawed and unethical and needs to be re-examined. I have clearly laid out my thoughts on this in a drafted Vision Zero Executive Order.
Two more areas which make me concerned — because they do not seem to be taking into account the whole picture — are:
- Hours of Service (Have truckers been asked what they think would work best?) and
- Speed Limiters (What will truckers do when they need to speed up to get around someone but their speed limiter technology will not allow it? And speed limiters will not change situations where drivers cause crashes because they are driving “too fast for conditions.”)
One trucker, Jeff Halling, recently said to me (regarding speed limiters),
“Can you imagine how this will affect the Move Over Law? I’m running down the interstate stuck at 65 cars are running 80 and 85 miles an hour. An emergency vehicle is on the shoulder in front of me. What do I do? If I move over, it’s guaranteed rear-end crash. If I slow down to 40 miles an hour, which is what they recommend, another possibility of rear-end crash. Just not a good idea. I can say this though, If this law does pass we definitely need to get stronger rear end guards on trailers. Because rear-end crashes will go up ten-fold.”
Both of these situations — in my mind — need someone to facilitate rulemaking who has only safety in mind. Such as a Traffic Safety Ombudsman.
And, one more thing. . . the pervasive idea in this country has to be confronted that it is an inevitable and acceptable risk you take when you drive on the roads, instead of understanding that there are so many things which could be done to prevent crash deaths.
Did you ever sing “The Song That Never Ends”, or some variation thereof? That’s what the unending report of crash deaths on our roads seems like.
Work Zone crashes often involve multiple factors, including the actions of the drivers on the road. Hear this heartfelt plea from the widow of a highway construction worker that we all be a part of the solution:
Amy Fletcher, 7 hrs
Another Horrible crash on the Ohio Turnpike today. Something we’re all getting way to used to hearing about and, for some of us, re-living the terrifyingly devastating day of our loved one’s death. Fatal crash in construction zone on the Ohio Turnpike.
WHY should YOU care?…. “accidents” happen all the time, right? . . .
Do we have to just accept this situation as inevitable? I happen to think that we could make a big dent in it if we would set a national goal of Vision Zero Preventable Crash Deaths & Serious Injuries. I have lots of ideas on how we could work toward that — together — all of us. And I think that we need to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman to help us accomplish it.
Unfortunately, the political climate does not favor that solution. President Obama doesn’t even seem to think that our 35,200 vehicle violence deaths in 2015 (compared to 32,514 deaths from gun violence in 2015) warrant any special attention.
And, also unfortunately, I’m thinking that some people think that we are already addressing the problem through the work of DOT. Yet their hands are too-often tied politically. Working collaboratively with them is a bit of a challenge when they can’t usually have open discussions because they can’t show even a hint of favoritism. And cost/benefit analysis restrictions have a stranglehold on any attempts to do something as radical as save lives.
It is insane that four decades have gone by without a comprehensive solution being implemented to protect us against Death by Underride. We who have gone to the moon and can have face time with someone on the other side of the globe. And that deadly problem is one example among thousands of safety issues that still need to be tackled.
Sign our Petition calling for a Traffic Safety Ombudsman (an advocate for past & future crash victims): http://www.thepetitionsite.com/384/321/600/end-preventable-crash-fatalities-appoint-a-national-traffic-safety-ombudsman/
How can this country continue to turn a cold shoulder to preventable crash deaths? It is so easy to point the finger of blame and not participate in solving the problem ourselves. And it is equally easy to act like it is just a risk that travelers take — and there is nothing that can be done about the problem!
This is a recent comment from a reader (which I did NOT approve to be published on our website) on a post which I wrote related to the Tesla side underride fatal crash:
“This Proves that the Autonomous vehicles are not ready for use. Only an Imbecile would have made millions of truck owners spend thousands to millions because a few Idiots refuse to be Attentive drivers . The time for the Autonomous car is not here ,and the Whole idea needs to be SCRAPED”
And here is another:
“Here’s a novel idea. Require drivers of cars to PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD! Ban self driving cars or anything else. The autopilot system failed. It did not recognize the white side of the trailer. It failed to distinguish between the trailer and the sky. Stop trying to put extra burden on the trucking industry. Learn to actually drive. Take a defensive driving course . Don’t rely solely on technology . Relearn to use your brain.”
How can my daughters be gone. . . how did it come to this, that innocent lives would be required to pay the price for this travesty?
Traffic Safety Ombudsman Petition: End Preventable Crash Fatalities: Appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman
Two more terrible truck crashes. I hear it over and over: traffic back up; truck doesn’t stop in time. People die.
- Young family killed in I-80 crash was headed to Colorado for missionary training
- Car lodged under semi trailer in crash; 1 dead
By following a facebook group Work Zone & Truck Safety, I have learned about the countless deaths which occur in those areas. Can we and should we do better at protecting workers & travelers on our roads?
See this NHTSA Report on TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS 2014. Go to page 112 for stats on 2014 fatalities in Work Zones. It shows that there were 669 fatalities of which 260 were in the largest subcategory.
I have mentioned many times that our crash was not an accident and that many factors contribute to crashes and traffic fatalities — including drowsy & distracted truck drivers who are driving death machines — which is why I proposed a Tired Trucker Roundtable.
Don’t you think that we really need to do something about these senseless, preventable tragedies? I have proposed that the President and Congress work together to appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman.
I just launched a new petition asking them to do so: End Preventable Crash Fatalities: Appoint a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman
Please sign this now to send a life-saving message loud & clear: http://tinyurl.com/hep29wg