Becoming educated about underride was not a direction I had planned on going with my life and time. But I have gained a great deal of knowledge related to the fact that AnnaLeah’s and Mary’s deaths (and Roya’s, too, along with countless other individual loved ones) might have been prevented had adequate underride protection been on the truck, into which our sturdy Crown Vic crashed — along with the fact that many more countless, unknown individuals will die unless this country takes decisive action.
This information, along with my unresolved grief due to the frustration of knowing that years have gone by without effective protection, fuels my efforts to work collaboratively to bring about widespread and significant change. It is now my aim to equip everyone with the same information — without the accompanying unwanted grief.
Why, you might ask, would we write a piece of legislation calling for a comprehensive underride protection rule? Why not have separate bills for side underride and rear underride and front underride and Single Unit Trucks (SUTs), et cetera?
I am convinced of the importance of this strategy and want to share some of my thoughts here.
RAM CUP: A DIFFERENT STRATEGY
TO ACHIEVE UNDERRIDE PROTECTION
For Such A Time As This
International Research and the Underride Roundtable: On May 5, 2016, over 65 representatives from the trucking industry, government, safety advocates, engineers, crash reconstructionists, attorneys, and media will be on hand at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center to discuss and demonstrate truck underride crashes.
In order to prepare for that, I am going to highlight some past and current underride research papers and efforts here. It will, of course, not cover everything and others are welcome to send additional information my way, which I would be more than happy to add to the list.
Although most of the research below will not appear as a presentation on the agenda, I am hopeful that the information will be considered by all as recommendations for underride protection are discussed and proposed.
Media Coverage of the first Truck Underride Roundtable held at IIHS on May 5, 2016You will find multiple links below reporting on the Underride Roundtable, which took place on May 5, 2016 at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville Center, co-hosted by them with the Truck Safety Coalition, and our family (AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety).Please note: If you are visiting this site for the first time, please be aware that the reason this Underride Roundtable was organized was because the CURRENT DOT/NHTSA underride standards are TOO WEAK. In way too many cases, even new trucks with underride guards meeting current rules (not just corroded ones) fail and allow underride by a passenger vehicle colliding with them. People die from these kinds of crashes and it has been proven that stronger guards (if required and manufactured) could stop this deadly underride!I know about this because my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), died because of this kind of crash on May 4, 2013. I was driving. A truck hit us–spinning us around so that we went backwards into the tractor-trailer ahead of us. AnnaLeah and Mary were in the back seat which went under the truck. They died. I did not. . .
Comprehensive Underride Consensus Petition Letter to Secretary Foxx:
In fact, the development of a COMPREHENSIVE approach to taking care of the truck underride problem was probably first planted in my mind at the Underride Roundtable on May 5, 2016, with the suggestion of a member of the trucking industry.
One thing missing from the current draft is a requirement for retrofit of effective comprehensive underride protection (both rear and side) on the millions of large trucks already on the road — especially because of the availability of retrofit solutions– to prevent rear underride crashes on existing trailers and thereby save lives. There are about 2 million trailers on the road with weak & ineffective rear underride guards. Trailers could have a lifespan of 15 years.
We want a retrofit requirement included in the mandate.
It’s past time for the industry, truck and trailer manufacturers and NHTSA to get together and establish tough standards for underride guards. We need guards that will withstand the impact of a spinning Crown Victoria like mine and prevent the deadly underride that killed my daughters.
There’s precedent for collaborative action. NHTSA and 20 automakers representing virtually every light vehicle sold in America reached an agreement to make life-saving automatic emergency braking a standard feature on new cars no later than late 2022. And that involves the implementation of advanced technology across tens of millions of vehicles.
The Underride Roundtable demonstrated that communication and collaboration are possible. IIHS has shown that manufacturers can make voluntary improvement, and J.B. Hunt has proved that trailer buyers are willing to purchase safer trucks.
Plenty of engineers say that installing robust underride protection on trucks would be easy. Read our latest petition to NHTSA. Let’s stop stalling on underride protection.
Move Heaven & Earth: 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.
What makes it even more distressing is that there are many individuals and organizations, who truly seem concerned about safety, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the trailer manufacturers. Yet, from what I can see, very little communication has taken place to move this problem forward from point A (guards that fail and result in death and/or horrific injuries) to Point B (coming up with a better design that will provide the best protection possible). . . Is cost truly not a factor? Is safety really a priority and not a competitive matter? Is it possible to improve the communication necessary to prevent more unnecessary deaths? Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out?
And that is why I acted, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety & the Truck Safety Coalition, to catalyze the coming together of 100 people at the Underride Roundtable at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center on May 5, 2016, 3 years after AnnaLeah & Mary were killed in a truck underride crash and am working with others to get the Second Underride Roundtable underway on August 29, 2017 — encouraging us all to work together collaboratively to solve this tragic but preventable public health problem.
So. . . I get off Amtrak at Union Station in D. C. ready to walk to the Hart Senate building to join Lois Durso in a meeting with Senate committee staff. I had a general idea of which way to head. But when I couldn’t figure out which crosswalk to cross at, I decided to ask a couple of men who were heading in the same direction.
They were very gracious when I asked them which street was Massachusetts and which was the Hart Building. Then I realized one of them was Senator Cory Booker and he confirmed it was so. He and his chief of staff each began pulling one of my bags.
I mentioned that I had met him at the truck safety Subcommittee hearing recently and had lost two daughters. He remembered. As we kept walking, he was periodically swamped by grateful constituents and I carried on a great conversation with his chief of staff about the underride protection bill which Lois and I had drafted in an attempt to solve this deadly problem once and for all.
An amazing start in this crusade to garner support for a very important piece of lifesaving legislation! I could hardly wait to tell Lois how Someone was continuing to go before us and guide our steps.
Lois and I talking with Senator Booker at the Senate hearing on March 14 — one day before we jumped on the idea of writing an underride protection bill and the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 was born.
Crash Reconstructionist Aaron Kiefer is developing an innovative combination side/rear underride guard. Help him get it ready to put into the hands of manufacturers. See Aaron’s side guard research here.
Collegiate Engineering Senior Design Competition 2017/18: Support a student competition to creatively solve the side underride problem. Student teams will present their research at the IIHS Vehicle Research Center in the Spring of 2018, and one team’s side guard design will be selected for a crash test. (Last year’s Virginia Tech Senior Design Project presented at the Underride Roundtable.)
We also promote other underride research & solutions which will be discussed at the Second Underride Roundtable on August 29, 2017 at the IIHS, including the AngelWing side underride protection device.
AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is eligible to receive contributions that may be tax deductible for the donor. Your donation will help fund projects that will save lives!
I am looking forward to meeting another mom-who-knows-the-grief-of-truck-underride. Jeannette Holman-Price has been traveling this week in the U.S. to advocate for safer trucks. Our home in North Carolina is her last stop and tomorrow is the day.
We are anticipating non-stop talking and expect that we can accomplish some powerful planning to multiply our advocacy efforts through cross-border collaboration in the days ahead. Watch out, world! We’re on the “warpath” to defeat preventable vehicle violence.
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 aresolutions to prevent tragic truck underride.
I am convinced that the recently-launched and much-needed Road to Zero effort will fall short of its goals if it does not include a strategy to attain Vision Zero rulemaking.
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://annaleahmary.com/tag/traffic-safety-ombudsman/.
Should there be criminal penalties for cases in which persons are killed as a result of known safety defects in vehicles?
What is a “safety defect” anyway?
http://resources.lawinfo.com/personal-injury/products-liability/toyota-recall/what-is-a-safety-related-motor-vehicle-defect.html “The United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.” A defect includes “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.” As reported by the Office of Defects Investigation ( www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov) a “safety defect” is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that:
poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and
may exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.”
If there is a known safety defect and no attempt is made to correct the problem and someone dies or is seriously injured as a result, who should be held responsible for this and what price should they have to pay?
When I read the above article this morning, it reminded me of things said by Michael Lemov–in his book, Car Safety Wars; 100 Years of Technology, Politics, and Death, which chronicles interesting quotes and facts concerning the history of vehicle safety defects and their impact on matters of life and death:
“Enforcement should be strengthened to include criminal penalties, because drivers, Nader said, already face criminal penalties for reckless driving and similar offenses.”
p. 92, “…the miniscule amount that senator Robert Kennedy (New York) established the industry spent for automotive safety, in comparison to its billions in annual profits (less than one percent it turned out). Or the large number of ‘dealer recalls’ for defects (478 in 1965), many of which the manufacturers had not told car owners anything about.”
p. 92, “…the Johnson administration’s ensuing decision to ask Congress for the passage of the first federal motor vehicle safety law in history.”
p. 92, “President Johnson had included a statement on the motor vehicle safety issue in his 1966 State of the Union message to Congress–and to the millions of Americans listening that January evening. Johnson spoke mostly about the two overriding issues of the day–the administration’s ‘War on Poverty’ and the quagmire of the bloody, seemingly endless Vietnam War. In his ten-page State of the Union address the President devoted just two sentences to highway safety. He called for the nation to ‘arrest the destruction of life and property on our highways.’ And he said he would propose a Highway Safety Act to ‘end this mounting tragedy.”
p. 92-93, “The President’s transportation message released in early March 1966 further spelled out the administration’s traffic-safety plan. It forcefully stated the need for legislation on vehicle design-safety, placing it squarely in the forefront of the public’s consciousness: Last year, the highway death toll set a new record. The prediction for this year is more than 50,000 persons will die on our streets and highways–more than 50,000 useful and promising lives will be lost, and as many families stung by grief. The toll of Americans killed in this way since the introduction of the automobile is truly unbelievable. It is 1.5 million–more than all the combat deaths suffered in all our wars. . . No other necessity of modern life has brought more convenience to the “American people–or more tragedy–than the automobile. . . the carnage on the highways must be arrested. . . we must replace suicide with sanity and anarchy with safety.
p. 95, “Despite all the rhetoric, the main issue was relatively simple. How extensive should the new federal authority be to set enforceable national motor vehicle safety standards? That power was central to the proposed law. It was delegated in the administration’s bill to the inexperienced, business-friendly Department of Commerce. Ultimately it was to be transferred to the as yet nonexistent Department of Transportation. . . In handing off the issue to his senior colleague Magnuson, Senator Ribicoff was specific in his recommendations. Ribicoff repeated the gruesome statistics of rising deaths and injuries. He asked: Could it be that we have reached the point where we simply accept the highway toll as an ordinary fact of life? Is this one of the prices we must pay for the privilege for living in a modern, technological society? I hope not. We must concern ourselves with more than the causes of accidents.
p. 95, “Ribicoff endorsed the decades-old position of doctors, accident investigators, and university researchers, which had long been ignored by the manufacturers and the safety establishment: ‘We must look beyond the accident to the cause of the injury that results. I am speaking, of course, about the so-called second collision, the often lethal battering which the occupants of a vehicle incur as the result of even a minor crash.’
p. 95, “And Ribicoff challenged one of the key arguments of the manufacturers: ‘The automobile industry seems inclined to believe that the American public will not buy a safe car. In fact, some spokesmen for the industry have stated that safety doesn’t sell, and that they have no choice if they want to stay in business but to give the public what the public wants.'”
p. 95, “But Ribicoff argued that the public and the press were now ‘aroused’ and had finally grasped the ‘significance of the second collision’–and presumably the need for federal vehicle standards as a means of preventing the deaths and injuries ‘that inevitably result from accidents.'”
p. 95, “. . .Ribicoff said: ‘We believe the president’s highway safety bill can be and should be strengthened and improved.'”
p. 97, “Nader followed with a laundry list of defects in the proposed administration bill:
“It should ensure that motor vehicle safety standards applied to pedestrian safety.
“The federal standards should include their technical or engineering basis, so they could be evaluated by independent experts and the public[these technical specifications might be deemed trade secrets by the carmakers].
“The bill should make government issuance of the standards within one year, mandatory [not discretionary as provided in the administration’s bill].
“Court review should be broadened to include a right to sue for ‘affected parties’ and a right of review by ‘consumers and insurers.’
“The production of prototype ‘safe cars’ should be mandated.
“Vehicle manufacturers should be required to submit annual performance [crash] data, showing how well their cars were performing in actual use.
“All car-maker communications with their dealers regarding safety should be submitted to the government and be made public.
“Enforcement should be strengthened to include criminal penalties, because drivers, Nader said, already face criminal penalties for reckless driving and similar offenses.”