Tag Archives: Vision Zero rulemaking

Trump’s EO allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters”

I could be wrong, but if what I just read is true, then President Trump is leaving the way open for regulations which would make us safer on the road.

President Trump issued Friday an order to executive agencies directing them to freeze all new regulations pending further review by Trump and his team. It’s unclear, however, whether this rule will affect any coming trucking regulations, especially since the administration’s memo, circulated by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters” to continue.  http://www.overdriveonline.com/unclear-how-trumps-freeze-on-regs-obamacare-relaxer-will-impact-trucking/

Now all we need is for public health and safety to be given the consideration it needs by means of Vision Zero rulemaking.

Equal Justice For All, Legal Reader, artist Neal Angeles
Equal Justice For All, Legal Reader, artist Neal Angeles

Ongoing Tired Trucker (HOS) Controversy on The Hill Proves Need for Vision Zero Rulemaking

It didn’t take me long — after our family’s tragic truck crash — to grasp the futility of lobbying on The Hill as a truck safety advocate in an attempt to push for safer roads through safer regulations.

And then I learned a secret (shh). . . DOT’s safety agencies have their hands tied by an Executive Order (12866) which requires stringent cost/benefit analysis during rulemaking that too often undervalues human life & health and effectually allows industry lobbyists to sabotage and snuff out regulations which could make our roads more safe to travel on.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the DOT agencies which were meant to be our protectors — the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier SAFETY Administration) & NHTSA (National Highway Traffic SAFETY Administration) — have not proven to be consistently effective voices for our SAFETY.

That revelation — in combination with my own experience in wasted lobbying hours and my realization that others had tried unsuccessfully for decades before me to push for truck safety rules which might have saved my daughters — spurred me on to launch the Vision Zero Petition in 2015. It garnered over 20,000 signatures online in support of our requests for:

  1. A National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. A White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. A Vision Zero Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking (which would favor saving LIVES over saving PROFIT).
  4. An Office of National Traffic Safety Ombudsman (an independent but influential and vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence who could facilitate these goals).
  5. A nationwide network of Vision Zero/Traffic Safety community action/advocacy groups.

Although we took this Petition to DC in March 2016, we have not yet received a response to our requests. And, as I expected, the month of December 2016 has presented us with one more example of the need for this essential strategy: a resurrection of the Tired Trucker hours of service tug-of-war.

All of this, and more — most especially my daughters’ truck crash deaths which might have been prevented had all of this nonsense been addressed appropriately — has led to my efforts to work with others to organize a successful Truck Underride Roundtable and an upcoming Tired Trucker Roundtable.

And I really do keep hoping that a national traffic safety advocate will be appointed and Vision Zero Rulemaking will become a thing. . .

1a85et

Good read on the essential elements of Sweden’s Vision Zero strategy. US could learn & act.

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.

Read more hereThe Swedish Approach to Road Safety: ‘The Accident Is Not the Major Problem’

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?

Lame Duck Actions Could Reverse the Tide of Highway Carnage

september-2013-069

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.

Pres. Obama, sign this Exec. Order–while you still can–to protect people from violent vehicle deaths!

 

Pres. Obama, sign this Exec. Order–while you still can–to protect people from violent vehicle deaths!

Dear President Obama,

A Canadian mom came to visit me at my home in North Carolina last weekend. We connected quickly on many levels because we have both lost daughters in truck underride tragedies. Tragedies which could have been prevented if Vision Zero Rulemaking had been in place before their deaths to pave the way for life-saving measures to be mandated. . .

You cannot bring Jessica, Mary, and AnnaLeah back to us. But you can prevent other families from suffering similar heart-wrenching, horrific, and unnecessary grief. You can do this by taking action on the Vision Zero strategy which we spelled out for you at great length. In fact, over 20,000 people have joined with us to ask for Vision Zero action:

  1. Set a National Vision Zero Goal.
  2. Establish a White House Vision Zero Task Force.
  3. Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order to authorize Vision Zero Rulemaking by DOT. Unless this is done, people will continue to die needlessly because technologically-feasible life-saving measures will be blocked or delayed because the current rulemaking process will deem them unworthy (too costly) to save!
  4. Establish a National Office of Traffic Safety Ombudsman to oversee this strategy as an independent and influential voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence.

My meeting with Jeannette Holman-Price on Saturday reminded me of what I have already painfully learned about one specific but simple example of the impact of the GM Nod where no one takes responsibility for doing anything about this tragic loss of life.

  1. Truck underride is the deadly result of a geometric mis-match between a smaller passenger vehicle and a larger commercial vehicle (truck).
  2. There are effective solutions to prevent this problem but the industry does not use them because the government does not require them and the government will not require them until there are proven products available to the industry to use but the industry does not put the money out to research, design, and manufacture these products [which engineers have shown will work] [and why should they if they are not legally required to do so?] and the people like Jeannette & I (who have lost loved ones) and Aaron Kiefer and Perry Ponder and Bruce Enz (engineers who have invented solutions) do not readily have the money to get these life-saving products on the market.
  3. As one person said in a conference call which Jeannette and I recently joined in to discuss underride solutions, many of the Single Unit Trucks — which are currently exempt from federal underride standards — actually have a “guard-looking thing” hanging down from the back of their truck. So it is perfectly logical to assume that they could easily have a genuine, more-effective underride guard installed instead. And why don’t they? Because they are not required to! As another person on that phone call said, “It is lazy and criminal!”

President Obama, I do not want more heartfelt condolences from you. I want you to do what no one else can: Sign the Vision Zero Executive Order and appoint a Traffic Safety Ombudsman!

Be my hero.

Respectfully and boldly and desperately,

Marianne Karth

p.s. Unfortunately, unless you act, the needless sabotage and/or delay of countless life-saving measures will continue to go on and on — as it has for so many years — and more innocent blood will be spilled on our roads. Who will be held accountable? And who will pay the price?

do-it-president-obama

 

With Road to Zero, DOT commits $3 million; compare that to $9.6 million Value of a Statistical Life

I should be jumping up and down for joy about the recent launch of the Road to Zero Coalition by the US DOT and the National Safety Council. So it doesn’t feel great to be one of those voices who are saying negative things about this great project.

I do look forward to watching how they coordinate the efforts of many organizations around this country who work to save lives. But I have some concerns about the process:

  1. Will they make any significant change in the strategies used to address the disturbing public health problem of 35,200+ Deaths by Vehicle Violence each year?
  2. Will they harness the energy and motivation of survivors/families of victims of vehicle violence?
  3. Will they mobilize citizens to be a significant part of the solution?
  4. Will they have a powerful voice to speak on behalf of the vulnerable victims who cannot speak for themselves?
  5. Will they take steps to address the imbalance of priority in rulemaking of profit over people?

Let’s just consider the last question. One thing which I have learned, after my life was catastrophically up-ended by my two youngest daughters’ deaths from a truck underride crash, is that there appears to be a hesitancy (to put it mildly) to put a meaningful monetary value on the cost of saving human lives.

To begin with, there is the difficulty of getting safety measures to pass the stringent test of the cost/benefit analysis required in federal rulemaking which, in my mind, inordinately favors the cost to industry vs benefit of preventing deaths and serious injuries. This is also reflected in the opposition to increasing the minimum liability insurance for truckers which was set at $750,000 in 1980 and has not been raised since then — despite the current Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) set by DOT at $9.6 million for 2016.

Value of a Statistical Life-guidance-2016

If you have read much of what I write, you might realize that I am in favor of reshaping the rulemaking process to ensure that it properly values human life. But aside from that, let’s just use that $9.6 million and do a little math.

The US DOT announced with the launch of the Road to Zero Coalition that it was committing $1 million/year for three years for grants to non-profit organizations that propose initiatives to save lives. Sounds great, right? But then I took out pen and paper (to get the hands-on sense of the calculation) and worked out the Value of the Statistical Lives of the 35,200 people who died on our roads in 2015 — keeping in mind that it was probably undercounted and does not include the cost of serious injuries.

$9.6 million X 35,200 = $337, 920,000,000 or almost $338 billion in one year alone

Then I decided to take it one step further and calculate the cost of the traffic fatalities over the next 30 years of the Road to Zero strategy to save lives — without taking into account the probable increase in the VSL.

$337,920,000,000  X 30 = $10,137,600,000,000 or over $10 trillion (which includes the cost to society)

And how much is DOT dedicating to this project to try and put a dent on the estimated 1,056,000 Deaths by Vehicle Violence? $3 million (of taxpayer money) — not even 1/3  the supposed value of a person’s life. Why, my two daughters alone were supposedly worth $18.2 million combined in 2013. Two immeasurably precious ones gone far too soon.

$3,000,000 vs $10,137,600,000,000

Now I had trouble even typing those numbers in accurately, so it is entirely possible that I made a mathematical error (didn’t use a calculator). So, please, do the math yourself. And then let me know if you think that we, as a country, are making a truly meaningful effort to do something new to stem the tide of bloodshed.

IMG_4464

 

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

Car Safety WarsPetition

How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars? To err is to be human. But we can do this.

I had read a blogpost before by a parent who had lost a child in a hot car death. And recently I have heard about the increase of such deaths and the push to get doable solutions to reduce these horrible tragedies.

Then I read an article today by Janette Fennell, director of KidsAndCars.org, who mentioned the need for parent education but along with other solutions:

. . . education is not enough. We cannot educate every single parent, grandparent, babysitter and caregiver in the country. And most parents don’t believe that the worst mistake a parent can make could happen to them. But blaming them only deepens the heart-rending impact of these incidents for families who are already overwhelmed by guilt and grief. To err is to be human. How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars

Reading that immediately brought to mind the days and weeks after our truck underride crash, on May 4, 2013 (a date embedded in my mind) in which we lost AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13). I was in the hospital myself for almost a week and due to the circumstances it was some time before I heard the news that AnnaLeah had died instantly and later the news that Mary had died due to her injuries.

When I did find out, I can’t really describe it for you to fully grasp, but I just wanted it to be me instead of them. “Why couldn’t it have been me? They had so much life yet to live. Let me take their place.” But, of course, nothing was going to change the awful reality. They were gone. They would never come back.

And, as I learned the circumstances of the crash, that a truck had hit us spinning us around and hitting us again — sending us backwards into the back of another truck (whose weak, ineffective underride guard failed) and AnnaLeah & Mary in the back seat took the brunt of it, their bodies broken by the truck — I wanted it to have been me. [Especially since I had been driving and if we had simply rear-ended the truck, it would have been me that died.]

They were totally innocent; they had done nothing to deserve their lives to be snatched senselessly from them. I wasn’t sure that I could bear going on living with the knowledge that they were gone and I had lived.

Let it be me, Lord.

I think of that now — knowing that I was not responsible for their deaths (although I could have left the restaurant 5 minutes sooner and not been in that place at that time). And then I try to imagine the guilt those parents must feel for having left their child in a car — even though they did not do it on purpose. On top of the ongoing grief which will be a daily part of their lives.

Makes my heart break.

Today, I read another article by a professor of cognitive and neural sciences who has been researching this problem for some time now and says that it is a problem of habit memory taking over — especially when parents are stressed and sleep-deprived and. . . well, read more here to understand what could happen to any of us:

An epidemic of children dying in hot cars: a tragedy that can be prevented by David Diamond, June 20, 2016

Oh, my goodness! I just read a couple of the comments on this article. One person commented that it was high time that we make use of technology which could make these tragedies a thing of the past. The other person was disgusted that they would be expected to foot the bill for a feature that they would never make use of just to make up for “negligent parents!”

That attitude makes my blood boil!

I’m glad to see that one manufacturer has put a solution into one of their new cars:

This year, one manufacturer, GMC, finally stepped up and included a reminder system in one of their 2017 models. Just one vehicle, the Acadia, in the entire United States being sold will have a reminder system. GM unveils new feature to prevent child deaths in hot cars

But what about the rest of their models? And what about the rest of the car companies? What kind of society are we that would think it is okay to remind ourselves (and our consumers) that we forgot to turn off our lights (so our battery doesn’t get worn down) but refuse to pay the cost to protect innocent lives from being tragically ended?

Is it going to take a federal mandate to require manufacturers to put the available technology into every car? Is this one more safety matter that the industry would successfully block and declare that it is “not cost effective” because too few lives would be saved compared to the costs?

Another situation of preventable tragedies.

What will be the outcome, America? Will we do what is right? Will we be compassionate?

Hot car deaths

 

Where does underride prevention fit into ESV? I think it’s catch-up time for underride victims.

Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESV) is the designation for experimental concept cars which are used to test car safety ideas.

In 1973 the U.S. DOT announced its ESV project, the aim of which was to obtain safer vehicles by 1981.[1] A car produced by this effort was known as the Minicar RSV.

In 1991, the ESV abbreviation was backronymed to Enhanced Safety of Vehicles.[2]

Experimental Safety Vehicle From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What about truck underride prevention? This issue seems to fall between the cracks. Has anyone developed an Experimental Safety Truck (EST) for testing of underride prevention best practices? I’m no expert on how that could work, but surely there is potential there. Without a doubt (in my mind), this Goliath could be taken on as a collaborative effort.

How much money, by the way, has been put into this kind of safety research? Especially compared to trucking industry profit.

Every time I bring up a possible solution to underride crashes, the problem of cost comes up as an obstacle to moving forward — either for the research or the implementation. “Don’t ask for that because then the industry will oppose it.” It is like running into a brick wall.

Oh, well, it is safer to run into a brick wall than the back of a truck, they say.

And then there is the faulty (in my opinion) process of making regulatory decisions based on a cost/benefit analysis that compares industry costs with the worth of lost or shattered human lives. So far, we have gotten ZERO response to our 20,000+ Vision Zero Petitions delivered to Washington, DC, in March 2016.

We asked for President Obama and Secretary Foxx to take some very specific steps to rectify that situation. No response.

I have also asked for help in determining what percentage of trucking industry profit has been devoted to underride research. I have an idea that the results of  such fact-finding might prove an embarrassment to them and might even give safety advocates a leg to stand on.

When I find out, I’d like to take a cue from former Senator Robert Kennedy and ask the trucking industry to stop whining about what they “can’t” do to fix the underride problem — because of how much it would cost them — and to stop wielding their unfair lobbying advantage to delay or block needed underride prevention technology.

After all, if you do the cost/benefit analysis math for truck side guards — which DOT intended to mandate for large trucks as far back as 1969 — the cost/”life saved” is not likely to be something for them to complain about.

Truck Underride Fatalities, 1994-2014

I think it’s catch-up time for underride victims.

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

Two documents to compare:

Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition

Underride Network want list for topics at IIHS Underride Roundtable

Request for Law Review Articles on the Cost/Benefit Analysis in Traffic Safety Rulemaking

After losing our two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), due to a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, our family has taken on the goal of improving the regulatory and voluntary standards for currently weak and ineffective truck underride guards. On May 5, 2016, we were co-sponsors, with IIHS and the Truck Safety Coalition, of an Underride Roundtable.

Current truck underride regulations too often do not prevent underride crashes—which led to 228 recorded crash fatalities in 2014. http://annaleahmary.com/2016/04/truck-underride-fatalities-chart-from-the-fars-1994-2014/truck-underride-fatalities-1994-2014/

As we have participated in safety advocacy, we have become aware of the challenges often faced by those who seek to bring about greater safety through legislative or rulemaking means. Because we have observed that the industry’s lobby exerts a great deal of influence and has been successful in delaying proven safety measures, we have petitioned the federal government to adopt a Vision Zero Rulemaking Policy.

In order to understand the details of our vision to bring about a process that would truly be concerned about saving lives more than saving profit, please see our Vision Zero Petition Delivery Book:

http://annaleahmary.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Vision-Zero-Petition-Book-3rd-Edition.pdf

Also available from Lulu Publishing: http://www.lulu.com/shop/marianne-karth/the-vision-zero-petition/paperback/product-22648853.html

Also, read these Vision Zero Rulemaking posts: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/vision-zero-rulemaking/

We have not received any feedback from the White House or from the Department of Transportation in response to our petition. Therefore, we are proceeding to call upon experts in law to research this timely topic and write law review articles to shed light on the appropriateness of our requests to re-shape the process through which this country’s citizens are meant to be protected.

It is our hope that students of the law, as well as law professors, judges, and legal practitioners, will take it upon themselves to clarify the process by which safety measures – which are proven to save lives and/or prevent serious injuries – are determined to be cost effective or not, and what exactly that means. We will compile the results (or links to published articles) and make them publicly available.

This Call for Research & Review is available as a pdf: Request for Law Reviews on Cost Benefit Analysis in Rulemaking

Please send questions and submissions to:
Marianne Karth
marianne@annaleahmary.com.

2 crash deaths

CBA Victim Cost Benefit Analysis Victim

We will accept reviews at any time but encourage law students to incorporate this project into their university schedule. Please share this post with others whom you think would be interested in this opportunity to change the face of traffic safety rulemaking.

INSIGHTS: HOW AND WHY U.S. NCAP IS CHANGING

Last December 8, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced plans for a major upgrade to its 5-Star Safety Ratings new car assessment program, effective for vehicles manufactured after January 1, 2019. A major driver behind this announcement has been the heavy criticism from the US Congress following the failure of NHTSA to remedy the GM ignition and Takata airbag defect before they resulted in the deaths of 133 people.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind took up his post in December 2014 and quickly found himself playing defense against an assault of accusations, especially following the release of the NHTSA Inspector General’s report detailing shortcomings in the agency’s Office of Defects Investigations. In an effort to get ahead of this criticism, Rosekind has moved aggressively to assuage congressional concerns. . .

. . . the new NCAP would incorporate a number of collision avoidance technologies into the five-star rating (rather than listed as recommendations) described as: (1) forward collision warning, (2) crash imminent braking, (3) dynamic brake support, (4) lower beam headlight performance, (5) semi-automatic headlamp beam switching, (6) amber rear turn signal lamps, (7) lane departure warning, (8) rollover resistance, and (9) blind spot detection. NHTSA also plans to include pedestrian collision avoidance and rear automatic braking within its pedestrian safety rating under the NCAP.

 INSIGHTS: HOW AND WHY U.S. NCAP IS CHANGING? by John Creamer

The author mentions this possible concern with the process:

Nonetheless, rapid advances in vehicle safety technologies have challenged NHTSA capabilities, especially since the US rulemaking system requires NHTSA to clear a series of high hurdles before any new regulation can be enacted. Unable to rapidly issue changes to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), NHTSA has resorted to a voluntary agreement with automakers on automatic braking and the upgrade to its consumer information NCAP to reassure Congress that it is on the job and up to the challenge of new technologies.

Care 2 Petition Poster 008Washiington Vision Zero Petition photos 013

Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy

John Creamer is the founder of GlobalAutoRegs.com and a partner in The Potomac Alliance, a Washington-based international regulatory affairs consultancy. In his client advisory role, Mr. Creamer is regularly involved with meetings of the UN World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). Previously, he has held positions with the US International Trade Commission and the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (representing the US automotive supplier industry), as the representative of the US auto parts industry in Japan, and with TRW Inc. (a leading global automotive safety systems supplier).

 

 

Is Cost/Benefit Analysis Appropriate for Life & Death Matters? Were their lives worth saving?

After we were instrumental in getting underride rulemaking initiated in July 2014, I realized that, though we had made it over one hurdle, in reality  the battle had only begun. I became concerned that the cost/benefit analysis which had so often compromised past underride rulemaking was still a very real threat. It was then that I surmised that a Vision Zero Executive Order to modify the regulatory analysis process might well be necessary. Thus the Vision Zero Petition was birthed.

CBA Victim

Some of the warning signs that the Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA) bugaboo might be lurking around the corner can be seen in the Preliminary Cost/Benefit Analysis for the current underride rulemaking:

  1. To avoid making this post too-lengthy, I will provide the link to my initial reactions when the proposed rule was published in December 2015: A Mom’s Knee-Jerk Reaction to NHTSA’s Proposed Rule to Improve Rear Underride Protection  with an excerpt here–“NHTSA’s comments in the NPRM indicate that they do not want to compromise safety in the more common crash scenario and so have proposed to concentrate on making that area of the trailer safer and do nothing, at least at this stage in the game, about the other weaker area where crashes are reportedly less common. (See p. 44, ” NHTSA is not convinced that improved protection in the less frequent 30 percent overlap crashes should come at the cost of adequate protection in the more common 50 and 100 percent overlap crashes.”)I just have to ask, Is it really an Either/Or situation? Are we sure that we cannot reasonably address both problems?”
  2. Back in December, I put together a handy-dandy document highlighting important points in the Preliminary Analysis:  NPRM Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection December 2015 document; A Summary of Some of the Highlights
  3. Hey, I forgot about this: They are asking for information about higher (than 35 mph) speeds.  We recognize, however, that benefits may accrue from underride crashes at speeds higher than 56 km/h (35 mph), if, e.g., a vehicle’s guard exceeded the minimum performance requirements of the FMVSS. NHTSA requests information that would assist the agency in quantifying the possible benefits of CMVSS No. 223 rear impact guards in crashes with speeds higher than 56 km/h (35 mph)What are we waiting for?!
  4. Based on their proposed requirements, their CBA comes up with a figure which is very close to the current Value of a Statistical Life (VSL), $9.4 million–which tells me that if more improvements were added to the proposed rule, that figure would go up and they would then say that such a counter-measure was “not cost-effective.” Get it? p. 55 The agency estimates that the net cost per equivalent lives saved is $9.1 million and $9.5 million discounted at 3 percent and 7 percent, respectively. 
  5. See what I mean? p. 55 “We have tentatively decided not to require used trailers be retrofitted with CMVSS No. 223 compliant rear impact guards. Our analysis indicates such a retrofitting requirement would be very costly without sufficient safety benefits
  6. Of course, they aren’t figuring in (that I can see) the additional lives which would be saved with better protection or adequately considering undercounted lives–like AnnaLeah and Mary. Our FARS report said, “Compartment Intrusion Unknown.” Crash Report data on underride from our crash
  7. Why on earth, anyway, are they playing God and deciding that it isn’t worth it to save a certain number of lives? Besides, have they taken into account the fact that the underride victims are not the consumer of the product (improved guards on trailers)? The consumer is the trailer buyer who has already shown a willingness to seek safer trailers. And the manufacturers have responded to that by producing safer trailers (to a degree). See my recent comment on the Federal Register: Public Comment on the NPRM by Marianne Karth

When it gets right down to it, I want to just throw the cost/benefit analysis out the window. It is downright unethical and considers profit over people. Jerry says that the Cost Effectiveness Analysis would be more appropriate and is, in fact, mentioned in OMB Circular A-4 as a regulatory requirement.  Circular A-4, “Regulatory Impact Analysis: A Primer”

It is my hope that we can pursue a recommendation, made by a participant of the Underride Roundtable during the afternoon panel discussion, and organize a group of affected individuals and organizations/companies to meet together and develop a proposal to take to NHTSA in order to bring about a comprehensive negotiated rulemaking. The result could more quickly bring about a more effective underride rule which would cover all the bases to save as many lives as is humanly possible through improved technology. It would also get the manufacturing companies out of limbo so that they can make long-term plans and move forward with designing and producing safer products. Win/Win. N’est-ce pas?

Side note to Cost/Benefit Analysis Question: The fallacy behind the Australian fed. gov’t’s CBA.

Last night, I decided to find out if anyone agrees with my opinion that cost/benefit analysis is inappropriate for rulemaking related to traffic safety matters of life and death. Here is what I am finding:

  1. “Cost-Benefit Analysis: An Inadequate Basis for Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulatory Decisionmaking”* Michael S Baram ** “INTRODUCTION The use of cost-benefit analysis in agency decisionmaking has been hailed as the cure for numerous dissatisfactions with governmental regulation. Using this form of economic analysis arguably promotes rational decisionmaking and prevents health, safety, and environmental regulations from having inflationary and other adverse economic impacts. Closer analysis, however, reveals that the cost-benefit approach to regulatory decisionmaking suffers from major methodological limitations and institutional abuses. In practice, regulatory uses of cost-benefit analysis stifle and obstruct the achievement of legislated health, safety, and environmental goals.  The Article concludes that if the health, safety, and environmental regulators continue to use cost-benefit analysis, procedural reforms are needed to promote greater accountability and public participation in the decisionmaking process. Further, to the extent that economic factors are permissible considerations under enabling statutes, agencies should conduct cost-effectiveness analysis, which aids in determining the least costly means to designated goals, rather than cost-benefit analysis, which improperly determines regulatory ends as well as means.” Cost-Benefit Analysis: An Inadequate Basis for Health, Safety, and Environmental Regulatory Decisionmaking*
  2. “Since 1981, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the White House has reviewed significant proposed and final regulations for conformity with cost-benefit tests.3 Under a series of executive orders, OIRA has performed this role through Republican and Democratic presidencies.4 These policy reviews are controversial: Some claim that OIRA promotes the use of sound social-scientific reasoning; others see it as a front for business interests and a triumph of cold and heartless economic reasoning.” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 2 by Susan Rose-Ackerman
  3. President Barak Obama has continued the practice of regulatory review under the executive order originally issued by President Bill Clinton and kept in place by President George W. Bush. However, in January 2009, the Administration expressed an interest in revising the executive order. OIRA opened a comment period and received a broad response from the policy community.6 So far, nothing has happened. The comments seem to have fallen into a black hole. OIRA has not attempted a full-blown reconsideration of the executive order. It has concentrated instead on increasing the transparency of government, and especially, on the ease of access to regulatory information and data sets. Otherwise, it is “business as usual”—with the staff reviewing proposed and final rules with only an occasional flare-up over controversial issues, such as whether or not to designate coal ash as a hazardous waste.7 The failure to rethink the executive order is unfortunate—especially given the global trend to institutionalize something called impact assessment (IA).” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 3
  4. With no change in the executive order, CBA will continue to be enshrined as the ideal standard for regulation in the United States. Even if the actual cost-benefit studies performed by U.S. government agencies are highly variable in quality and often lack key components, the technique remains a benchmark for analysis.10 I seek to challenge the hegemony of CBA on two grounds. First, cost-benefit analysis should be used to evaluate only a limited class of regulatory policies, and even then it should be supplemented with value choices not dictated by welfare economics. Second, CBA presents an impoverished normative framework for policy choices that do not fall into this first category.”  Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p.4
  5. “Here, the main problems are measurement difficulties that are sometimes so fundamental that better analysis or consultation with experts cannot solve them. I am thinking mainly of debates over the proper discount rate for future benefits and costs; efforts to incorporate attitudes toward risk; and the vexing problems of measuring the value of human life, of aesthetic and cultural benefits, and of harm to the natural world. Disputes over these issues turn on deep philosophical questions—for example, valuing future generations versus” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 5
  6. “These issues do not have “right” answers within economics. They should not be obscured by efforts to put them under the rubric of a CBA. Politically responsible officials in the agencies and the White House should resolve them in a transparent way. ” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 6
  7. ” There is no need to resolve difficult conceptual and philosophical issues if the preferred outcome does not depend on the choice of a discount rate or the value given to human life. ” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 6
  8. “I review the limitations of CBA as a policy criterion and use my critique as a ground for proposing a revised executive order to the Obama Administration. The new executive order should continue to require both up-front consultation on the regulatory agenda and ongoing review of major regulations above some minimum level of importance. As Revesz and Livermore recommend, OIRA could play a larger role in overall agenda setting and policy coordination across agencies.13 Such review serves the interest of any president seeking to influence the overall regulatory environment. Hence, both consultation and review should be mandatory for core executive agencies, but, under my proposed framework, the executive order would only require agencies to carry out formal CBAs for a subset of regulations.” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 7
  9. “To avoid conflicts with the political pressures facing the President, an advisory body independent of the White House should provide expert analytic advice to agency policy analysts and to OIRA. In this, I build on Stephen Breyer, who urges the creation of a separate expert agency with the mission of rationalizing regulatory policy across programs that regulate risk.14 Bruce Ackerman also recommends the creation of an integrity branch, concerned with transparency and limiting corruption, and a regulatory branch insulated from day-to-day political influences but required to justify its actions publicly.15 Either OIRA, or this new advisory body, should create a library of innovative tools for achieving regulatory goals that go beyond the much criticized command-and-control model. Agency policymakers could access this library as they look for innovative ways to achieve goals, as could those contemplating amendments to existing laws” Putting Cost-Benefit Analysis in Its Place: Rethinking Regulatory Review p. 7-8

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Letter to President Obama from the Karth Family, including the Vision Zero Executive Order

Vision Zero Petition Book 3rd Edition

Cost Benefit Analysis Victim