Tag Archives: underride guards

Thanks to Clarence Ditlow Review of 1981 Underride Rule Sheds Light on Current Rulemaking Concerns

In June 2016, I received a link from Clarence Ditlow to a regulations.gov Federal Register 1981 proposed truck underride rule. As I was reflecting on Clarence’s recent death and his life as a car safety advocate, I remembered that email.

When I was able to locate the email, I realized that I had not fully read the proposed rule, so I took some time this morning to do so and have recorded highlights of that document below. Points or questions not in quotes are my own thoughts.

Because this was a lengthy summary, I am going to include a link for the reader:                “Old Underride Petition”; Highlights of a 1981 Rear Underride Rule

Federal Register Docket and Full Proposed Rule pdf can be found here: Rear Impact Guards/Protection: Docket ID: NHTSA-1996-1827

What I would like to know is whether NHTSA will be reviewing prior documents and research (such as this represents) as well as take into account the impact that advances in technology and knowledge when preparing future underride rulemaking? Just for example, would the crashworthiness of “modern” passenger vehicles (e.g., the installation of air bags) change the conclusions drawn in this document?

I would also like to know what the actual cost/benefit analysis formula was which they used in this document as well as in the current underride rulemaking. Does it take a Vision Zero/Road to Zero approach? And would they think that my daughters were worth saving?

Some of the key points of this 1981 proposed underride rule include:

  1. “The agency had tentatively determined that a better regulation was needed because of the continuing problem of fatalities and serious injuries occurring in accidents involving excessive underride, and because of the absence of efforts by the vehicle manufacturers generally to go sufficiently beyond the BMCS requirement.”

  2. “In 1971, after evaluating cost and accident data and reviewing all information received in response to the notices, NHTSA terminated those rulemaking efforts. The Administrator of the agency concluded that the safety benefits achievable with the particular type of underride guard then contemplated would not be commensurate with the cost of implementing the standard.”

  3. “The agency had estimated that the proposed rule would save 50-100 lives per year at an annual cost to the consumer of $500,000,000 .”

  4. “Most of the implementation costs estimated by NHTSA were related to the increase in guard weight which it thought was necessary to meet the proposed requirements.”

  5. “Efforts to improve underride protection resumed in 1977, after the Auto-Truck Crash Safety Hearing was held by Senator Wendell H. Ford. This hearing was the direct result of a program conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 1976.”

  6. “This program focused on the problem of preventing excessive underride. IIHS performed five tests in which passengers car were crashed into the rear of a typical semi-trailer van.

  7. “In addition, the TTI program tested a hydraulic energy-absorbing guard manufactured by Quinton-Hazell Automotive Ltd. (Quinton-Hazell). (An energy-absorbing guard is one that dissipates the energy of the impact in a controlled manner.)”

  8. “The Quinton-Hazell device was very effective both at preventing excessive underride, reducing occupant injury responses, and reducing damage to the colliding vehicle.”

  9. “Despite their apparent advantages, NHTSA will not mandate the use of energy-absorbing underride devices at this time because the agency feels that they are heavy and costly to use.”
  10. “NHTSA encourages the use of energy absorbing guards in light of their ability to mitigate injuries, as evidenced by the testing and the risk analysis.”
  11. “NHTSA stresses that the requirements set forth in the proposed rule are minimum requirements. If adopted truck and trailer manufacturers and owners would be able to place any type of underride guard — rigid, energy-absorbing, moderate strength, etc. — on their vehicle that meets the requirements of the rule.”
  12. “In light of the results of the risk analysis, however, the agency suggests that manufacturers interested in guards stronger than moderate load design consider using hydraulics or other means to absorb energy rather than merely making the guards more rigid.”
  13. “NHTSA estimates that the proposed requirements could have prevented as many as 80 fatal injuries per year if they had been fully implemented in the period from 1977 to 1979. An even greater number of serious injuries would have been prevented.”

Read the other 80 points here: old-underride-petition

How do you interpret those statements? What does it look like to you? Am I the only one who is appalled at their apparent “washing of their hands” of responsibility for the lives lost due to their negligence in mandating the best possible underride protection?

Even if I were willing to overlook their actions in the past, I am not willing to settle for a future rule to continue this kind of travesty. In conjunction with voluntary improvement in underride protection which we are beginning to see, I want to see effective underride protection installed all around trucks because I know it is possible.

I am convinced that this kind of protection will be near to impossible to attain until this country understands and demands Vision Zero Rulemaking as an essential component of its Road to Zero Coalition strategy.

do-it-president-obamaCar Safety Wars

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

What will President Trump and the next Secretary of Transportation do about this?

New rear underride guard is std. at one trailer manufacturer; 4 manufacturers have passed IIHS test

Four trailer manufacturers have passed the IIHS offset crash test with their new rear underride guard designs. Here is a recent article about one of those manufacturers who has made it standard on their newly-manufactured trailers:

Stoughton engineers were challenged to design a guard based on the recommendations of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The challenge was met without adding weight, without negatively affecting aerodynamics, and without reducing the robustness of the undercarriage and rear structure. Better yet, the guard is one of only three on the market to pass the difficult 30-degree offset crash test.

Read more here: New under-ride guard is standard

Roads Safer

Read more here:

We have the ear of NHTSA. Now is the time to let them know that The People are speaking up with us.

We have the ear of NHTSA. Now is the time to let them know that The People are speaking up with us.

letter-of-receipt-from-nhtsa-for-underride-consensus-petition

SIGN our cross-border Comprehensive Underride Petition, launched with Canadian safety advocates, to get Underride Protection all around trucks — front, sides, & rear:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/929/955/764/end-preventable-death-by-truck-underride-north-americans-join-in-cross-border-effort-to-save-lives/

And now, my head & heart appeal to you:

For Mary, for AnnaLeah, for countless others already gone and for unknown people to whom we could give the gift of a longer life. . .

If status of truck safety rulemaking is reflection of gov’t FOR The People, The People need to take action.

This morning, I listened to the NTSB Board discuss a deadly 2015 truck crash. And then tonight, as I was going through a box of loose papers to file, I ran across NTSB Safety Recommendations from April 3, 2014. At that time NTSB was asking NHTSA for improvement in truck underride protection — for which we are still waiting.

Was it not the founders’ intent for the government of this country to act in the interest of The People? I think that it is high time that The People speak up and say that enough is enough! Whatever cost/benefit analysis process is being used has put the victims of vehicle violence totally at the mercy of the corporate world. They don’t appear to stand a chance.

Gertie reaching for Mary ...Susanna's film

Being convinced that we have already waited far too long for rulemaking that would protect The People from Death by Underride, I recently worked with a group of knowledgeable individuals to prepare a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition, which we submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on September 23, on behalf of The People:

Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition Letter to NHTSA, September 23, 2016

Today, I received a reply from NHTSA Rulemaking in response to that Petition:

This is to acknowledge receipt of your September 23, 2016 request to initiate rulemaking for comprehensive underride protection.

We will evaluate your request and notify you of our decision.

Letter from NHTSA in response to the Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition

What will their decision be? The Petition which we sent was signed by fourteen people. Will that be enough to sway their decision? What we need now is many more people to speak up with us and let NHTSA know that this is, in fact, the will of The People.

Please sign this recently-launched online petition to let NHTSA know that you want them to act swiftly to improve regulations which will prevent deadly underride crashes:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/929/955/764/end-preventable-death-by-truck-underride-north-americans-join-in-cross-border-effort-to-save-lives/

 

 

US/Canada Cross-Border Petition Calls for an End To Truck Underride Deaths–Front, Back & Sideguards

Speak up for victims like Jessica, Mary, and AnnaLeah. Let our government regulators and trucking industry leaders know that we want them to act now to save lives.

Sign & share our new cross-border petition: End Truck Underride Deaths–Sideguards, Front & Back; US/Canadian Cross-Border Effort To Save Lives

U.S. and Canadian safety advocates are calling for an end to preventable truck underride tragedies. Hundreds of people die every year when pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and passenger vehicles go underneath trucks.

It can happen to anyone — even if their car has a 5-Star Crash Rating. It can happen anywhere and at any time. It happened to AnnaLeah (17) & Mary Karth (13) when their car went under the rear of a semi-trailer on May 4, 2013, in Georgia. And it happened to Jessica Holman-Price (21) when she went under the side of a truck as a pedestrian on December 19, 2005, in Canada.

We don’t want it to happen to you or to someone you love. That is why we are calling for government regulators to act now to make trucks safer. We know that the technology is available to make this happen.

On September 23, we submitted a Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation (Clarification Document). It was signed by engineers and safety advocates who know that the problem can be solved. Similar efforts are being launched in Canada as well.

Since underride fatalities are a universal problem, cross-border regulatory cooperation between the U.S. and Canada is essential. Duplication of efforts is not efficient, whereas cooperative efforts will move North America more quickly toward zero preventable truck underride deaths.

So far, the work on improving truck underride protection has taken place in silos. It is past time to break the walls of silos and the silence which ensues, to stop working behind closed doors, and to bring the discussion to the light so that we are all working together with open and transparent communication.

Therefore, in light of the tragic and unnecessary countless loss of lives which delays in underride prevention have already cost, as well as the continued tragic and preventable loss of life sure to occur if decisive action is not taken now, we are hereby petitioning the governments of the U.S. and Canada to immediately take the following step in order to bring about comprehensive underride protection:

Issue a memorandum to establish a Joint/International Underride Task Force to actively address this global public health problem.

Speak up for victims like Jessica, Mary, and AnnaLeah. Let our government regulators and trucking industry leaders know that we want them to act now to save lives.

Sign & share our new cross-border petition: End Truck Underride Deaths–Sideguards, Front & Back; US/Canadian Cross-Border Effort To Save Lives

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“In February 2011, President Obama & Prime Minister Harper launched the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC). . . to facilitate closer cooperation between our two countries. . . to protect the safety & welfare of our citizens.” UNITED STATES – CANADA REGULATORY COOPERATION COUNCIL Joint Forward Plan, August 2014

For more information on the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC):

The Glacial Pace of Truck Underride Improvements (along with countless other safety issues)

Recent (and past) events were spurring me to write this post this morning based on frustration with the way that progress is too often blocked and unnecessarily delayed on safety efforts when the people and organizations who could do something to prevent deaths tragically wait for somebody else to act before taking responsibility to move forward themselves.

The result is a Catch 22, chicken & egg dilemma which moves as slow as crystallized honey with the result that countless people die when something could have been done to make sure that they did not meet an untimely end due to Death by Motor Vehicle.

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So I appreciated a Tweet by the IIHS which I noticed this morning before I was able to start writing this post:

Well said, IIHS! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

See the glacial pace of underride prevention progress here: timeline-banner-for-underride-roundtable-meeting

I still say that a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman could be instrumental in changing this sorry state of affairs!

9/9/16 Motor Safety Act 50th Anniv. Miles to Go from Pres. Johnson vision of ‘cure for highway disease’

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?

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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!

 

Speed Limiters: The Controversy of Speed Differentials Between Trucks & Cars

The DOT recently published a proposed rule to require “speed limiters” on trucks — meaning there would be technology on trucks to limit how fast they could run. There is, of course, controversy about this proposed safety measure.

See the proposed rule (NPRM) at this link: U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiters For Large Commercial Vehicles

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports it. Some major trucking companies already use them.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposes it:  Among the various concerns the organization has are the possibility that truckers will speed more often in low-speed areas, such as construction zones, to make up time, and the potential for drivers to lose money because they couldn’t drive as many miles in a day. http://ht.ly/e2Hy303DTS0

According to Joel Stocksdale, Autoblog,

NHTSA’s proposal says vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more must be limited to 60, 65 or 68 mph. This would apply to both semi-trucks and buses. NHTSA explains that the amount of force a truck will exert in a crash goes up far more drastically than with cars because of the vehicle’s great mass; hence, a lower speed limit with more seriously impact safety. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx summed it up saying, “This is basic physics.” The organization also said that requiring limiters could also save over $1 billion in fuel each year.

I have corresponded with one independent truck owner-operator, Jeff Halling (and Linda, his wife–a truck driver team), about this safety issue (among others). This is what he says,

  • Personally Linda and I think this is a terrible idea. Not because we want to drive 80 miles an hour but because it totally eliminates our advantage of getting out of a situation if we have to speed up a little bit. Every credible study that has ever been conducted says traffic flows better when everyone is running the same speed. Several states have actually increased the truck speed to coincide with that of cars. Illinois and Arkansas being the most recent. Folks driving cars generally drive anywhere from 5 to 10 to 15 miles an hour above the posted limit. Trucks stuck at 65 will create major rear-end hazards. Not to mention the incredible traffic jams and road rages that will increase dramatically. The only way speed limiters will work is if all vehicles have them and we both know that’ll never happen. Very interested to see what the report says this week.
  • 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.

Jeff and his wife (they are a trucking team) recently had a good conversation, about truck safety concerns, with an Idaho DOT vehicle inspector while they were being inspected. This is what he told them:

  • While we never touched on the subject of speed limiters he did say he did not like speed differentials. Although we got the impression he wanted to lower the limit for cars not raise it for trucks. Makes sense everybody drives too damn fast.

In fact, I found a September 2004 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) article on research related to this topic: The Safety Impacts of Differential Speed Limits on Rural Interstate Highways . They study the impact of Uniform Speed Limits (USL) and Differential Speed Limits (DSDL). Here are a couple of quotes from that article:

  • A 1974 study by Hall and Dickinson showed that speed differences contributed to crashes, primarily rear end and lane change collisions.
  • Table 1 shows that a higher proportion of car-into-truck and truck-into-car crashes occurred in USL States, except for rear end crashes where more car-into truck collisions happened in the DSL group.
  • A study by Garber and Gadiraju conducted in 1991 compared crash rates in the adjacent States of Virginia (DSL) and West Virginia (USL).(3) The increase in the posted speed limit for trucks to 105 km/h (65 mi/h) did not result in a significant increase in fatal, injury, and overall accident rates. There was, however, some evidence that the DSL may increase some types of crash rates while reducing others.

It will be some time before every car is equipped with crash avoidance technology, so cars rear-ending trucks will continue to be a problem and underride deaths will still be a problem until the underride regulation is drastically improved.

And, even with the crash avoidance technology, what will be the result of high speed differentials? Will the cars truly avoid colliding with the truck? Will the trucking industry be required to protect against underride at higher speed collisions than what is currently proposed: 35 mph?

Here is a previous post which I wrote on speed limiters last spring:

See why truckers oppose Speed Limiters & why others promote them #VisionZero strategy needed

How is it that I, as a self-made (Ha! like I had a choice) safety advocate, am waffling on this purported safety measure? Do these things ever get a truly comprehensive discussion around the table?

Talkin together

Yet one more traffic safety issue which could perhaps be more effectively negotiated with the help of a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman. . . just sayin’.

UPDATE, February 26, 2017:

Why would we suppress available technology that could be put to use to protect innocent lives?

Call on the Lord. Trust in Him. Rely on His strength.
41b AnnaLeah armor
The Battle is the LORD’s!
Surely it would be His will for available technology to be put to use to protect innocent lives.
 
Then Asa called to the LORD his God, and said, ‘Lord, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. O LORD, Thou are our God; let not man prevail against Thee.’
2 Chronicles 14:11
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Trip North May 2015 138IMG_4467

Truck Underride Tragedies Need to End; Enough is enough!

I recently asked DOT for a breakdown of truck underride deaths by type: front, side, and rear. Yesterday, they sent a chart of Underride Fatalities from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)–taken from crash reports submitted to DOT:

From 1994 to 2014, this is the breakdown of Deaths by Underride:

Collision at Front of the Truck: 625

Collision at Side of the Truck: 1534

Collision at Rear of the Truck: 1715

Collision Site Unknown: 132

Total Underride Deaths Reported: 4,006

Truck Underride Deaths by TYPE 1994-2014

Of course, we need to remember that these figures do not include all underride deaths, as it is well-known that they are commonly under-reported. In fact, this chart does not include underride crashes which happened when the truck was parked. When we include those types of crashes, the FARS records yield 5,081 underride deaths in that same time period.

Truck Underride Fatalities, 1994-2014

I have known for some time that there are many deaths due to side underride crashes. But to find out that there are almost as many deaths from side underride as rear underride?! How can NHTSA require rear underride guards and yet not mandate side underride guards? How can they possibly justify that? (Some kind of convoluted cost/benefit analysis, I suppose.) And why are trucks even sold without side guards?

The question must be asked: Whom shall we hold responsible for those 4,006+ deaths (and those not reported as underride deaths), along with the people who died before 1994? The government? The trucking industry? Ourselves for letting it happen in our ignorance or apathy? All of us?

And what about now–today? Will we hold those, who have the authority to act, accountable to do the right thing? Will we demand that they move ahead quickly to correct this tragic and unimaginable situation? Will we make sure that all trucks have the best possible underride protection?

Well?!

Mangled

our mangled Crown Vic on May 4, 2013

Life & DeathIf only

Sign our petition to NHTSA to initiate rulemaking on side guards: Mandate Side Guards On Large Trucks To End Deadly Side Underride Crashes

Demand that we act compassionately to preserve human life rather than protect profit. Otherwise, if we knowingly allow this to continue unabated, will we all be accessories to murder?

Two of the thousands we have lost: