Tag Archives: Vision Zero rulemaking

FMCSA will withdraw rule to raise truck min. liability ins. Who is responsible & who will pay the price?

Please pray for us to have wisdom on how to respond to the upcoming action (on Monday, June 5, 2017) by the DOT/FMCSA to WITHDRAW RULEMAKING on trucking minimum liability insurance  — which has not been raised in over 30 years.

This issue is one of the three #trucksafety issues which we included in our 2014 AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition. FMCSA responded with rulemaking in November 2014. The 11,000+ petition signatures were added to the Public Comments for this Proposed Rule.

The AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/957/501/869/stand-up-for-truck-safety/

The signtures were posted on the Federal Register hereThe is a Comment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Proposed Rule: Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders and Brokers: AnnaLeah and Mary Karth – Comments

Articles on this upcoming action:

  1. FMCSA Yanks Minimum Insurance Rulemaking, Heavy Duty Trucking, Truckinginfo.com, David Cullen, June 2, 2017
  2. FMCSA officially nixes rule on increasing minimum liability insurance required for carriers, Overdrive|June 02, 2017
  3. FMCSA Drops Plans to Study Raising Insurance Minimums for Motor Carriers, Brokers  This article even mentions that our 11,366 petition signatures were included in the Public Comments considered by FMCSA .
Who bears responsibility for this decades-long delay?
  1. The trucking industry for acting to delay progress on this important issue.
  2. FMCSA for not using their authority to subpoena the insurance industry to provide the necessary information for the required cost/benefit analysis.
  3. The insurance industry for not providing the requested information.
  4. The Secretary of Transportation for not using his/her authority to sign in an increase — as was originally intended.
  5. Congress for not acting to make sure that this issue is properly addressed.
  6. The President for not signing a Vision Zero Executive Order to ensure that safety rules are not delayed or diluted by cost/benefit analysis that does not give appropriate value to the preservation of human life and health.

See the April 2014 FMCSA Report on this issue: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf

Read more about this issue here:

Fortunately we plan on submitting a public comment to the upcoming FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee public meeting on June 12 in D.C.

Despite our requests for Congress to hold a hearing to force the insurance industry to provide the necessary financial information, no one has been willing to do this. As Jerry says, it is a very one-sided situation: The FMCSA is apparently accepting the information that the rates will sky-rocket and trucking companies will go out of business  — although no one has been able to offer proof of this. At the same time, the FMCSA is apparently not accepting the proof that the current liability level is not adequate to cover the costs to society of these truck crashes.

Furthermore, this issue not only impacts the compensation for truck crash tragedies to the victims and the cost to society, but it also limits the ability of the market to ensure that trucking companies are held accountable for their safety practices.

 What will break through this roadblock?

Senators’ Concern About OSHA Change In Direction Points To Need For Vision Zero Rulemaking

According to a recent Fair Warning article, there has been a change in procedures at the OSHA which could result in diluted rulemaking and standards —  leading to more lax safety practices in the workplace:

In the four months since President Trump took office, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued four news releases announcing penalties for job safety violations.

By the end of May last year, it had issued 199.

The recent reticence has spurred six U.S. senators, all Democrats, to ask what’s up at OSHA. In a letter to OSHA’s parent agency, the Department of Labor, the six lawmakers are demanding a review of the agency’s “decision to cease public notification of major findings.”

Under previous Democratic and Republican administration, OSHA has used announcements of major enforcement actions, and the threat of bad publicity, to combat health and safety hazards. . . U.S. Senators Ask: What’s Up at OSHA?, Fair Warning, Paul Feldman, May 30, 2017

Should this concern us? Will this negatively impact the health and safety of American workplaces?

The Democratic lawmakers say in their letter that the spotlight on violators during the Obama administration rankled some employers, who viewed it as unfair public shaming. “Lobbyists for trade groups and large employers have opposed these disclosures, claiming that the data will be ‘distorted’ or ‘misconstrued,’” the senators wrote.

But, they added, “public communication regarding these findings is important for OSHA to fulfill its mission.’

Labor advocates say highlighting abuses is a crucial tool to deter bad employers because OSHA is so thinly staffed that, according to union researchers, it would take the agency 145 years working at its normal pace to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction just once. . .

Is this one more example, along with traffic safety issues, of the need for Vision Zero Rulemaking?

Vision Zero Petition Book

President Trump: Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order which will make protecting life & health the highest priority by empowering all federal agencies to apply Vision Zero principles to rulemaking.

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

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.