Tag Archives: trailer manufacturers

Understanding Underride IV: Side Underride

A panel of experts discuss underride at a Briefing on The Hill, October 12, 2017, to bring greater understanding of the problem and solutions of deadly but preventable truck underride. Robert Lane, VP of Product Engineering at Wabash National — a trailer manufacturer, discusses their commitment to development of underride protective devices for the prevention of underride deaths and debilitating injuries.

For more information on the STOP Underrides! Act of 2017, go to http://annaleahmary.com/ and/or https://stopunderrides.org/

Posts and articles on side underride:



Heading for DC to Discuss the Need for the Best Possible Underride Protection on All Trucks

This is why we are working so hard to get better underride protection. This is why I am getting up early tomorrow morning to get on Amtrak headed for DC to meet with DOT and the Senate Commerce Committee. Pray for fruitful meetings.

COMPARE THIS: A real-life underride death prevented by a new rear underride guard: New Stoughton Rear Underride Guard Proven Successful In Real Life Crash; Driver Survives

TO THIS: A real-life rear underride tragedy in a crash into an old, weak, and ineffective rear underride guard: Carroll deputy killed in crash

Within a week’s time, 1 driver survived a crash with a trailer, 1 driver did not.

Seems like a no-brainer to me to require that all of the 15.5 million trucks on the road have the best possible underride protection.

Note: How many trucks are on the road?

 2016 Top 25 North American Truck-Trailer & Chassis OEMs









Side Guard Petition Book Part 1

Side Guard Petition Book Part 2

Side Guard Petition Book Part 3

Crash Test Videos of Semi Trailers Earning New IIHS Toughguard Award

Here is a Youtube video, posted by Cars-Trucks TV, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the improved rear underride guards designed by five of the major trailer manufacturers — Great Dane, Manac, Stoughton, Vanguard, and Wabash — from 2013 to 2017. They received a Toughguard award from IIHS.

They have proven that creative minds can come up with better underride protection. The cars are damaged from the crash, but underride is prevented and lives are preserved.


IIHS Presents Toughguard Award to 5 Trailer Manufacturers For Voluntary Upgrade of Rear Underride Guard

On March 1, 2017, IIHS announced a new award, Toughguard, given to trailer manufacturers which have passed the IIHS rear underride guard crash testing:

Five North American semitrailer manufacturers earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new TOUGHGUARD award recognizing rear underride guards that are designed to prevent a range of deadly underride crashes. Semitrailers from Great Dane LLC, Manac Inc., Stoughton Trailers LLC, Vanguard National Trailer Corp. and Wabash National Corp. earn the accoladeIIHS recognizes semitrailers with good underride guards

Other articles covering this story:

  1. Trucks.com article: Insurance Institute Launches New Safety Ranking of Truck Trailers
  2. Today’s Trucking article on the Stoughton Press Conference: Activist applauds Stoughton for tougher guards
  3. Trucknews.comStoughton improves rear impact guard
  4. Fleetowner.com: New refrigerated model on the way from Stoughton Trailers
  5. Truckinginfo.com: Stoughton Underride Guard Earns Kudos from Crash Survivor, Insurance Institute

Thank you, IIHS for your commitment to this crash testing project, which has highlighted the continuing underride problem and guided the way to a solution. Thank you, as well, to the trailer manufacturers who have voluntarily improved the rear underride protection on the trailers which they produce and sell (and/or lease).

Please tell Marianne & Jerry that we believe in them:what they are doing can & WILL shape the industry.

I continue to be thankful and speechless at the response which we have received from G & P Trucking Company:

Please read this facebook post by Michelle Novak, a friend who lost her nephew in a truck crash:


I’m going to share this post by G&P Trucking Company so everyone can see the amazing difference that Marianne Waldron Karth , and her husband Jerry are making at the highest levels in the industry.

They responded to my comment of yesterday, and I want everyone in the TSC, and anyone who supports safer trucking, to read it. It made me cry to know that the heart of the man who runs this company has been touched so deeply by the Karths. This will save lives! People will be prevented from dying–and who knows how many?–by this kind of work the Karths tirelessly do! If you have any money, time or energy to give to the Karths as they crawl on pavement helping assemble under-ride guards that the industry will one day use, please offer it! These two are people who will persevere until they achieve a way to preserve life in memory of their daughters. I admit I’m not made of such stuff. But I do want to help.

If the comments don’t show up under the piece, please do go to their site, read it, leave a comment and sign up for their blog, which will be detailing their brand new safety effort. And do be sure to encourage the Karths as they labor to accomplish things i didn’t think were possible!

Michelle’s comments to her post:

  • Comment from Michelle Novak to the president of G & P Trucking: Mr. Clifton Parker, I’m sending a comment to thank you for your heartfelt and immediate response to a letter you received from a grieving parent who lost two daughters to a preventable under-ride crash. I’ll be following this up with an actual letter to express my gratitude in more detail, but wanted you to know how much what you’re doing means to those of us who have lost loved ones to companies that don’t focus on safety as number one. I have subscribed to your company’s blog and will follow what this company is doing to improve the safety of the industry as a whole.
  • Reply to Michelle from G & P Trucking: Ms. Michelle, thank you for your kind words! Mr. Parker was deeply affected by his conversation with Marianne. You should know, we had a safety meeting today detailing our goals to keep our equipment (and drivers) the safest on the road–and it stemmed from their conversation. In the following days, we will post more information about our plan in the company blog and social media outlets. Please tell Marianne and Jerry that we believe in them–what they are doing can AND WILL shape the industry.


Please Join Us In Thanking Other Trucking Companies For Their Voluntary Actions To Make Their Trucks Safer To Be Around:

  1. G & P Trucking Company: Online Contact Form
  2. Manac was the first trailer manufacturer to re-design their rear underride guard to protect against underride at the outer edges of the trailer. Online Questions & Comments Form
  3. Vanguard followed. http://vanguardnationalparts.com/
  4. Next came Wabash and JB Hunt who immediately ordered 4,000 new trailers with the improved guards from Wabash. Online Contact Form
  5. Stoughton was the fourth manufacturer to upgrade and was crash tested at the First Underride Roundtable at IIHS on May 5, 2016, three years after our crash. They have made the new guard standard on all new trailers and are offering it at no cost or weight penalty to their customers. Stoughton Contacts

Thank you 3

SAVE THE DATE for the Second Underride Roundtable: Tuesday, August 29, 2017

We will continue to discuss how to bring about


IIHS will once again co-host this event, with the Truck Safety Coalition and AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, at their Vehicle Research Center.

Trucking co. responds to dad’s plea to only use safe trucks: “Your request is not falling on deaf ears”

Today, I was taken by surprise when I got a phone call from Clifton Parker, President/CEO of G & P Trucking Company. He was responding to the letter which a bereaved dad (Jerry) sent to him — asking him to make sure that the trailers, which his company uses, have the strongest possible rear underride guards.

First of all, Mr. Parker told me how sorry he was about our loss of AnnaLeah and Mary. Then he told me several times how the letter had impacted him and how he wanted us to know that our appeal was not falling on deaf ears.

He then told me in great depth how in the last 24 hours since he received our letter, he had made the decision to send back the trailers which they had been renting from the companies which have not yet voluntarily stepped up and improved their rear underride guards. He had gone out in his yard and looked at the trailers and intends to follow-through and have his company figure out which trailers could be retrofitted to get stronger rear underride guards, including trailers with damaged guards — as well as making sure that new purchases have safer rear underride guards.

Jerry has written letters to trucking companies in the past with good results. Recently, he decided that it was time to contact some more companies. When we were traveling, we started making note of trailers produced by the four major manufacturers, who have not yet voluntarily stepped up to the challenge to offer better rear underride guards–Great Dane, Hyundai, Strick, and Utility. We would also write down the name of the trucking company (on the tractor) which was pulling that trailer and then we wrote them a letter.

Here is the letter which we sent to Clifton Parker earlier this week), Letter to G & P Trucking 2017 ,

including this excerpt:

We have been told that the initial correspondence which we sent, in early 2014, to the major trailer manufacturers, as well as to transport companies like Crete Carrier, has spurred three of the eight major trailer manufacturers—Wabash, Vanguard, and Stoughton—to design a new underride guard which surpasses the present U.S. and Canadian standards. A fourth, Manac, had already improved their guard a short time before our fatal underride crash. . .

We have observed that G & P Trucking is utilizing 1,500 trailers – at least some of them from Utility, who has not yet stepped up to the new de facto standards that are now in existence for the underride guard. This leaves your company in the position of having a liability exposure due to the trailers which you are presently utilizing. We are writing to encourage you to consider replacing your fleet of trailers from one of the four companies, who have voluntarily upgraded their trailers to safer standards.

Along with the letter, we included a hard copy of the IIHS Status Report which reported on our crash and on the weakness which IIHS had found in the current federal regulations for rear underride guards.

I cannot adequately describe to you what it meant to me to have Mr. Parker express his reaction and resulting actions upon reading the letter from our family — and to take the time to call us. He encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing, to keep making the industry safe.

If you would like to do join us in thanking Clifton Parker, you can write him at this address:

Clifton Parker, President
G & P Trucking
126 Access Road
Gaston, South Carolina 29053


And you can help us inform other trucking companies in the same way — because raising awareness seems to be making a big difference. Simply write down the manufacturer name on trailers which you see — like Great Dane, Hyundai, Strick, and Utility — and the name of the trucking company as marked on the tractor. Send that information to us at marianne@annaleahmary.com, or write to them yourself.

Roads Safer


Stoughton improved underride guards–standard “at no cost or weight penalty.”

We just received good news from Gary Fenton, VP of Engineering at Stoughton Trailers, with the announcement that their newly-designed rear underride guard is now available, as of November 1, 2016, on all new trailers produced by and purchased from them. Gary’s email to me on December 12, was very encouraging:

“Please find attached a press release and ad sheets associated with the Stoughton move to standardize a new under ride structure, designed to widen the area of impact protection on the rear of Stoughton Trailers.  Stoughton is now standard on this new design for all straight vans (dry and reefer).  The implementation of the design as standard began on Nov. 1, 2016 (pilot run of 100 units built in August).  The inclusion of this new protection feature is standard to the customer at no cost or weight penalty.

Stoughton Rear Underride Guard Brochure August 2016 pdf

Stoughton Trailers Introduces Underride Guard Press Release June 2016

Stoughton Safety Ad for Rear Underride Guard 10/17/16

This is good in more than one way:

  1. First of all, it means that — here on out — all new trailers purchased from Stoughton will be safer.
  2. Secondly, it means that Stoughton has set a new example for the industry in offering it as standard equipment and not merely an option.

Stoughton Trailers is one of four out of the eight major trailer manufacturers, tested recently by IIHS, which have responded to our request for voluntary improvement to their underride protection. The others are Manac (which improved their guard shortly before our crash), Vanguard, and Wabash. One more manufacturer hopes to have their upgrade crash tested early next year.

Thank you, Stoughton, and Gary Fenton, for your hard work and dedication to truly making safety a priority.

A more detailed explanation of the underride dilemma is available here: Underride Guards: Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out? June 27, 2014

Media Coverage of the first Truck Underride Roundtable held at IIHS on May 5, 2016

Roads Safer

Additional response from trucking industry to our request for voluntary action on underride problem

In our efforts to not only improve regulatory federal standards on underride guards but, also, to catalyze voluntary industry improvement, we heard back from several companies to whom we had written, including:

  • UPS in Atlanta (Dan)
  • CR England (Chad England)
  • Extra Mile Transportation (Brent)
  • J.B. Hunt (Greer Woodruff, Lowell, AK
  • UPS (buys from Great Dane)
  • FedEx

Chad England committed his company to looking into the matter seriously. (CR England) And Dean Engelage (Great Dane) invited Jerry and I to visit their Research & Design Center in Savannah in June 2014:


We’re looking forward to hosting you and your wife next week.  I thought we would start the day off with an 8:30 am breakfast at a local favorite, J. Christopher’s which is near the hotel 122 E Liberty Street.  Brandie Fuller, our VP of Marketing, will join us.  Parking for the restaurant is street-side at a meter. 

We’ll then head to the Great Dane office which is also close by.  A series of meetings and a tour of our R&D lab followed by lunch.  If all goes as planned we should be finished right after lunch. 
I look forward to meeting you both and safe travels to Savannah. If you have any questions, please email me or call me.
Dean Engelage 
Great Dane
Underride guards Great Dane trip 040Underride guards Great Dane trip 044

This is what we learned from the Great Dane visit: Underride Guards: Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?

In addition, we received a letter from Brent Hudson at Extra Mile Transportation:

I am in receipt of your letter and packet dated 17 Feb 14.

First, let me offer you my most sincere condolences on the loss of your beautiful daughters.  I have a daughter who is two months shy of her 18th birthday, so I do not even want to imagine the heartache associated with this tragedy.  I can only offer you my most sincere respect in working to turn such a tragedy into something good.

 Extra Mile Transportation is a non-asset based, third party freight broker.  That means that we don’t own any equipment, we contract out for everything we move.  However, we are in a position to exert some influence on this matter.  By copy of this email, I am requesting our Director of Logistical Solutions incorporate this awareness campaign into some of his efforts.  I will be meeting with him to go over this issue and we’ll see what impact we may have.

 I wish you only the best for the times you share with your other children and hope that your memories of Mary and AnnaLeah continue to have a positive impact on our safety.

 My warmest personal regards,

 Brent Hudson, Vice President

Extra Mile Transportation

For more details of our efforts in reaching out to the trucking industry and, in particular, the encouraging response from J. B. Hunt, see: An unexpected phone call from a trailer buyer with good news on underride guards

All in all, we are hopeful that the combination of calling for both more appropriate regulations through Vision Zero rulemaking and, at the same time, voluntary action will yield the desired result–SAVED LIVES. Together, we can do this!

Taking the Vision Zero Petition to DC on March 3 & 4! Sign & Share: Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

An unexpected phone call from a trailer buyer with good news on underride guards

Jerry was pleasantly surprised tonight by a phone call from Greer Woodruff, Vice President of Safety & Security at J.B. Hunt.   J. B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. is a trucking and transportation company that was founded by Johnnie Bryan Hunt, and based in the Northwest Arkansas city of Lowell.

Greer was calling to let Jerry know that Wabash National, a trailer manufacturer, had redesigned their rear underride guard to provide better protection at the outer edges of the guard. And he also wanted us to know that J.B. Hunt was the first to purchase the new trailers–having ordered 4,000 of them in January.

We had already heard about that yesterday morning. Thank you, Wabash, for creating a safer truck rear underride guard!

But then Greer went on to say that he had wanted to be sure and tell us about it and thank us for the letters, which Jerry wrote to J.B. Hunt–along with the major trailer manufacturers and many other trailer buyers, back in 2014 before we launched our first petition. Those letters, he said, had raised their awareness about the underride problem and spurred them on to talk to the trailer manufacturers about producing safer trailers.

That brought a smile to Jerry’s face.

We look forward to finding out more details about its design features and what level of protection it provides. Also, we hope to see additional attention given to side and front underride protection and retrofitting existing trailers as well.

Meanwhile, we are encouraged to see that progress is being made in moving toward the best possible protection with both voluntary and regulatory action. The Vision Zero Petition Book has arrived!

Dragon Underride Protector 004Father Daughter Dance2111a Picture 14322 (1)12a Christmas 2012 Rocky Mount 066

Father Daughter Dance 2.18.09 0078 Mary AnnaLeah Vanessa Dad Father Daughter Dance 001


First set of letters which Jerry  sent to trailer buyers in February 2014 (a variation of this went to trailer manufacturers):

Trailer Buyer Letter JB Hunt February 2014

One of the letters which went out to trailer manufacturers in February 2014:

Letter to trailer manufacturer February 2014

A second set of letters went out in March 2014 to clarify our role/position:

Dear CEO trailer buyers JB HuntDear CEO trailer buyers JB Hunt 2

Another letter went out asking for support to our petition request for stronger underride guards:

Request for Statement from JB HuntRequest for Statement from JB Hunt 2

And then Jerry sent a follow-up letter in the fall of 2014, including with it copies of the IIHS Status Reports which had articles on underride guards:

Letter to trailer buyers fall 2014 JB Hunt

IIHS Status Reports with articles on underride guards, which we included with the letters to the trucking companies:

Finally, after setting up our non-profit, AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety, in the summer of 2015, we wrote to all of the truck companies again–asking for their help to voluntarily find safer underride guard designs:

Underride Research Project Letter JB Hunt

Also, sometime after our letter writing, we were discussing our efforts with John Lannen at the Truck Safety Coalition. He asked for our list and said, “Thanks – I’ll follow up with Greer since I know him well.  What reaction did you get?”

In our efforts to not only improve regulatory federal standards on underride guards but, also, to catalyze voluntary industry improvement, we heard back from several other companies to whom we had written, including:

  • UPS in Atlanta (Dan)
  • CR England (Chad England)
  • Extra Mile Transportation (Brent)
  • J.B. Hunt (Greer Woodruff, Lowell, AK
  • UPS (buys from Great Dane)
  • FedEx

For more details on the response we got from them, see: Additional response from trucking industry to our request for voluntary action on underride problem.

Photo Album of Jerry and his girls:  With Dad. . . Family Man Jerry prays for his children every morning (lifting them before their heavenly Father/Abba). He is proud of them, teases them, enjoys spending time with them, and treasures each of his special children.

Jerry shares our story at the Fall 2015 Sorrow to Strength conference in DC hosted by the Truck Safety Coalition:



Does a vehicle manufacturer bear responsibility for death and injury caused by a safety defect in their product?

After writing a post yesterday,  http://annaleahmary.com/2015/07/who-should-bear-the-responsibility-for-deaths-injuries-due-to-known-safety-defects/,  I have been wrestling with this question:

Does a vehicle manufacturer bear responsibility for death and injury caused by a safety defect in their product:

  • ever?
  • and, especially do they do so when it is publicly known (in the engineering realm) that there is a solution to the problem which could — if implemented — prevent death and horrific injury?

Or, are they protected by following the letter of the law — which likewise might have been negligent to require the best possible protection?

Furthermore, if they do bear responsibility, then what price should they pay for negligence to act on that knowledge in a timely fashion?

I have been trying to look at it every which way and not merely as the mother of two daughters, AnnaLeah (forever 17) and Mary (forever 13), who happened to get killed by a truck underride crash in which the underride guard met current federal standards, and possibly even the Canadian standards, but did not make use of safer known technology and did not withstand the crash.

Before & After PhotosI am plagued by so many questions:

  • Did the manufacturer’s act of omission contribute to Mary’s and AnnaLeah’s deaths? (omission: http://tinyurl.com/o2z6meb )
  • If so, why are they not being held responsible for such a heinous action? (heinous: http://tinyurl.com/ncak6o2 )
  • What consequences should they pay for their negligence?
  • Can it be considered criminal negligence? (criminal: http://tinyurl.com/p5syqnl )
  • Can a charge of manslaughter be applied? (manslaughter: http://tinyurl.com/nl6ms8l )
  • Is the manufacturer excused from responsibility for their deaths because it was not technically illegal (they abided by the letter of the law)?
  • If current and future research shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that safer underride prevention systems can, in fact, be put in place on trucks, can truck manufacturers be freed from responsibility to implement such technology due to supposed “unreasonable” costs? (A frequent reason for less-than-adequate rules to be issued — if issued at all.)
  • Do informed regulators who do not write into law the safest possible technology bear any responsibility?
  • Do informed truck purchasers who do not buy trucks with the safest possible technology (even if not required by law) bear responsibility?
  • I even have to ask myself if I am taking the chance of sabotaging our goal of seeking stronger federal standards by raising these controversial, potentially-inflammatory questions.

So you see, I am not struggling with easy questions. But you have to admit, don’t you, that they are questions with life & death implications.



This question of manufacturer criminal liability is addressed in a New York Times editorial today (July 21, 2015):

“The Senate bill also falls well short of addressing important issues raised by recent scandals involving defects in General Motors’ ignition switches and Takata airbags. While it would raise the maximum fine that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can levy against automakers that do not promptly disclose defects to $70 million from $35 million, that increase is a pittance for companies that make billions in profits. And by not proposing criminal liability for executives who knowingly hide the life-threatening dangers of their products, the bill simply sidesteps the issue of individual accountability.”


From my morning reading: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The Law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” Psalm 37:30-31