Monthly Archives: November 2015

A Number Line Method for Vision Zero Rulemaking

I thought of a very simple way of illustrating how I think that decisions should be made on highway safety rulemaking: a number line. For example, with rules impacting the trucking industry, the starting point would be the average annual truck crash fatality rate of 4,000.

If a proposed rule would be expected to lead to a greater chance of people dying, then the number line would make jumps to a point higher than 4,000 and it would be rejected.

If the proposed rule would help to reduce truck crash fatalities, then the number line would make jumps Toward Zero and would be adopted.

Number Line Rulemaking Method

And this method would require solid proof. If there is any question about whether or not it would save lives, i.e. if it there is any chance that it could lead to more tragic, unnecessary, preventable deaths, then forget it! Toss it out or make major changes to preserve human life and health! At minimum, it would require further study before moving forward with it. Much like innocent until proven guilty.

On the other hand, if there is any chance at all that it could save lives, then by all means: Go for it!

I’m a simple person with simple needs. photo of headstone


If your immediate response to my simplistic solution is in any way skeptical, please take 33 seconds of your valuable time to watch this:

USA Crash Death Clock shows 3,685,791 crash deaths & 895 million crash injuries (and counting) which is 3x military deaths & 400x the military injuries in all US wars since 1776: &

Yet There Is No National Vision Zero Goal For Crash Deaths

Trucking Fatalities Increase for Fourth Year in a Row:

Making a number line jumping tool is really simple, try it yourself:

And just this morning, I noticed the lid to a pickle jar with this message:

Do not purchase if safety button is up

I took a picture of it but I had a hard time getting the words in focus (I’m no pro). Aren’t we all glad that someone figured out how to make canning jars with that safety feature–once they figured out the danger of unsealed jars of food?! And then someone took a step further to educate the user how to ensure SAFETY.

Safety Button 003




“Public health is about saving lives… a million at a time”.

When steps are taken to make roads safer, the impact can mean many lives saved globally.

Vision Zero is all about moving towards zero crash fatalities and serious injuries. If we would view road safety as a public health challenge, then we might begin to grasp the immensity of this problem.

As Professor Simon Chapman has quoted, “Public health is about saving lives… a million at a time”.

When I attempted to find the source of his quote, I stumbled upon this article by another public health expert, Dr. Arshini Daytan. I did a mental double-take when I read her quote from David Jernigan (John Hopkins) on the strategies of large corporations who actively seek to make us unhealthy:

“Associate Professor David Jernigan from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health gave the Basil Hetzel Oration and highlighted the significant influence large multinational corporations had on shaping the environment in which people make health decisions and the need for public health to understand these organisations. He proceeded to explain how these organisations, for example alcohol companies, operate to influence the debates around their products and why we need to know this in terms of public health advocacy. He went through the 10 principles outlined in the book ‘Lethal but Legal – Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health’ by Nicholas Freudenberg.

1. Make disease promoting products ubiquitous

2. Encourage retailers to promote their products

3. Supersize products

4. Target marketing to vulnerable populations

5. Price unhealthy products to promote sale and use

6. Create monopolies that reduce bargaining power of consumers and government

7. Support candidates who oppose public health policies

8. Lobby against laws that protect public health

9. Threaten to take jobs out of communities that oppose their policies

10. Organise Astroturf groups to oppose public health policies.”

Okay, that made me learn about another concept/strategy: Astroturfing. What?! &

gertie 132

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for advances in car safety technology.

Safety technology is a matter of life and death. SAFE means: keeps people alive and free from life-altering injuries. It appears that at least some auto manufacturers are taking this seriously. This Thanks-giving, I’m thankful for that.

See what good things Honda is doing with their Honda Sensing: &

And see this from the Los Angeles Auto Show, where I am hearing good news about the trickle down effect of safety features which are moving from being high-priced extras to becoming affordable:

“Many features now ubiquitous in vehicles, such as antilock brakes, backup cameras and keyless entry, started as high-priced extras in luxury cars and trickled down to mainstream vehicles over many years. As in the case of electronic stability control, which became mandatory in 2011 — 15 years after it first appeared in the BMW 7 series — government pressure often speeds the shift.

“Yet with the latest wave of technologies, that trickle seems to be accelerating.”

I want to see more–no ALL–safety technology become MANDATORY–not optional extras. I want to see manufacturers take the high road and do all in their power to make them AFFORDABLE for everyone. We all know that technology gets cheaper over time. But let’s not wait that long. If the auto companies have to dip into their profits to do so, so be it. It’s the right thing to do.

Anything less would border on getting away with murder.

When the future gets here, I’m okay with fancier features still being optional–like this ultra-comfortable “driver’s” seat in a driverless car:

But thoroughly-tested technology that prevents tragedy? That should be a no-brainer. Come on, America, we can do this! This should not be another battle in our country’s unbelievable history of unnecessary “Car Safety Wars.”

Car Safety Wars book cover

(Cover of book by Michael R. Lemov, )

The potential casualties of such a war are scattered among us–our friends and members of our families. Ourselves. No one is untouched.

Who are no more with photo


Facing Grief as a Whole Person

Participating in a webinar last night about Essential Oils and Grief got me thinking further about some of my struggles in grieving the traumatic loss of my two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) in a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013.

It has been such a complicated grief. I know that writing about it along the way has helped me tremendously (not sure what shape I would be in otherwise):

But beyond that, I would like to say that it makes sense to me that approaching grief in a way that addresses the needs of the whole person is most likely to bring about wholeness. That includes taking into account the ways that our spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical needs impact one another.

A book by Dr. Caroline Leaf outlines the ways that our very memories are neurologically impacted by our emotions and that there is an impact of stress on the health of the whole person. Not only that, but she also gives suggestions for how to “detox” and move toward a more healthy lifestyle.

As a part of that webinar I mentioned, I made the comment that I am thankful for the sensory experience which I have known during my grieving by embracing quiet moments of peace in times outside as I breathe in the fresh air and sometimes the fragrance of pine trees or blossoms and become calmer listening to the sounds of the birds or the wind rustling leaves all around. Walking gives me a time away from responsibilities and reminders of the loss–or at least, if I cannot escape reminders entirely I am able to freely express my weeping heart or angry thoughts in the stillness of nature.

And it also makes sense that essential oils could be made a part of the process of promoting whole person healing.

In terms of how I am dealing with the grief spiritually, I know that God allowed their deaths to occur. I also know that He can work to bring good out of their deaths. I have been an obsessive participant in the process as a highway safety advocate because I have observed that God generally does not intervene to protect people from the impact of collisions and that it makes sense that He has given us the brains to figure out what we can do to make people safer.  I also know that nothing I do, or help to bring about, will ever bring them back.

Perhaps it is anger at what has not been done compared to what could be done to protect people from preventable crash fatalities that puts me in a position of helpless frustration. When I think of all the things which could have resulted in a different outcome, it leaves me with a roaring rage at the senselessness of their deaths. How can that ever lead to lasting peace?

Just yesterday, I was on an errand and took a different route than usual–because a major year-long construction project had just finished. As a result, I passed by a house which we had considered renting when we first moved to this city. The thought came to me that if we had rented that house, instead of the one we were living in on May 4, 2013, then we probably would not have been at that exact spot in our journey when the truck driver made the fatal mistake of hitting a car. If only. . .

Of course, I understand that there are so many things out of my control and that no one is guaranteed a long life. Nonetheless, I am quite certain that if we had left the restaurant 5 minutes earlier, AnnaLeah and Mary might be with us still today. Or if underride guards had been made stronger or the driver had been paying better attention (no matter what the reason was that he wasn’t). . .

Perhaps that line of thinking won’t get me any closer to accepting their deaths and being okay with their loss and mine. But it gives me an ongoing purpose of promoting safer roads through Vision Zero advocacy efforts to prevent loss and grief for others, as well as devoting my efforts to preserving the memories of two girls who knew how to love and laugh.

AnnaLeah and Mary


Donate $1 toward creation of the Dragon Underride Protector

Dragon Underride Protector 004

Not too long before their untimely death due to a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) had acquired stuffed dragons–red, gold, and blue–along with one of their older sisters Susanna (now 23).

Now we have seized the opportunity to create the best possible underride protection –with the help of engineers globally. Their brother, who was also in the car when it was struck but did not experience underride, suggested we call it the Dragon Underride Protector.

So, in memory of Mary & AnnaLeah, help us raise the funds necessary to stop underride tragedies–once & for all!

Make the Dragon Underride Protector a reality. Donate now to AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety:

Why We Are Doing This:

The engineer, Dean Sicking, who created the NASCAR Safer Barrier–which has saved the lives of many NASCAR drivers–thinks that he can create a Safer Underride Guard:

What AnnaLeah & Mary’s dad says about why we are doing this:

NTSB: Trucker’s Use of Synthetic Marijuana Caused Fatal Crash of Texas Students on Sept. 26, 2014

From HDT Trucking Info.

NTSB: Trucker’s Use of Synthetic Marijuana Caused Fatal Crash

November 18, 2015,  By David Cullen

“As a result of its investigation of a truck crash that killed four college athletes last year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued recommendations on Nov. 17 aimed at helping motor carriers address ‘impairing substances’ that are not tested for under federal regulations.

NTSB said it has determined that the truck driver charged with killing four members of the North Central Texas College softball team by crashing his tractor-trailer into the bus they were riding in caused the accident ‘due to incapacitation stemming from his likely use of a synthetic cannabinoid,’ commonly known as synthetic marijuana. . .

NTSB pointed out that while federal law prohibits CDL drivers from operating a vehicle while impaired, federal regulations require testing for only a few impairing substances.

The board said this crash investigation highlights the challenges that disconnect presents to both employers and law enforcement. ‘Motor carriers need to know about this emerging class of drugs, and they need better tools to detect driver impairment,’ said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.”

See more at:


“Our grandma wants to make roads safer.” Support Underride Research to Save Lives

I woke up this morning and got into conversation with Jerry about why people are not donating to our truck underride research project. There have been a few who have done so for which we are very thankful.

But what is stopping people who hear our story from being a part of this effort which has so much potential to prevent people from needlessly dying? I don’t understand, do you?

Our grandchildren get it–and wish that underride guards would have been made stronger sooner so that Mary and AnnaLeah might still be  here.

I’m desperate enough to beg you all to help save somebody else this heartache. Just donate $5 to AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety’s Underride Research Project, and then ask your friends to join you. Our website explains it all:


“Our grandma wants to make the roads safer.” Remembering 2 girls in the aftermath of a truck crash

Marcus & Vanessa were particularly close to their aunts–having spent countless hours with them from birth until AnnaLeah & Mary moved away from Texas in 2012 when Marcus was 6 and Vanessa was 3. So the tragic truck underride crash, which killed AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) on May 4, 2013, was especially devastating for Marcus and Vanessa.

The other day, I thought about the idea of “interviewing” Marcus and Vanessa about their memories of AnnaLeah and Mary and what they thought could make underride guards stronger. After asking their mom and dad about the idea, I bought a toy big rig and a car and sat down with Marcus and Vanessa to talk.

Vanessa, her mom said, gets frustrated because she can’t remember very much. But I thought that it was important for her to talk about it. Marcus, on the other hand, says that he remembers them clearly.

After talking in generalities and moving to specifics, it got harder for Marcus to talk about it all. So, when my camera memory got full, it was just as well. I took Marcus on my lap, and we cried together–wishing that they were with us “right now.” These are some of the things which Marcus shared off camera:

  • Why did they have to die?
  • I wish that they could be here now and I could be doing things with them. I don’t know what we’d be doing. But I wouldn’t be crying.
  • I thought Mary was going to be fine when I found out she was at the hospital. I was sure. But it happened anyway.
  • Aunt Mary was my favorite person in the family.
  • Aunt AnnaLeah was a bookworm so I did more things with Aunt Mary. . . but I want both of them to be here!

Marcus and Vanessa both had some ideas about how trucks could be made safer so that cars wouldn’t go under them and people wouldn’t get hurt and die. Out of the mouths of babes. . .

Marcus & Vanessa talk about AnnaLeah & Mary and about how underride guards could be stronger:

A longer version of the interview with Marcus and Vanessa: 

Facebook Photo Album of Marcus & Vanessa with AnnaLeah & Mary:

Marcus & Vanessa’s mom talks about their loss: &

Underride Research: &

Vision Zero Petition:

AnnaLeah & Mary left “unfinished business”; Congress, Finish your business: Make sure HR22 leads to Safer Roads

Unfinished Business

On one of our road trips North, AnnaLeah used a motel note pad to sketch her feelings about Mary’s stealing the blanket at night and exposing her feet:

“Beware the giggling Mary, your feet she wishes to freeze!”

Now, whenever we stop at a LaQuinta, I see those blank note pads–thinking of that silly memory and feeling sorrow at the unfinished business which AnnaLeah & Mary left behind–all that they would have done that they will now never do–because of a truck crash on May 4, 2013.

Here’s hoping that Congress will not leave the Highway Bill (HR 22) with Unfinished Business–but rather make every effort to shape it so that the result is Safer Roads and not increased Highway Carnage.

“Be still and know (breath in) that I am God “(breath out): a spiritual & physical relaxing technique.

Something to try. . .

Here is an idea which I read this morning on a friend’s Care Pages message (she is undergoing treatment for aggressive cancer): “‘Be still and know (breath in) that I am God ‘ (breath out) is a spiritual and physical relaxing technique which may help.”

Mary (two years old) & I:

And because music has power to soothe my soul:

There is a Balm in Gilead. . .

“Be Still, My Soul”
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Hymn #651
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Psalm 46:10
Author: Catharine Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, 1752, cento
Translated by: Jane Borthwick, 1855
Titled: “Stille, mein Wille”
Composer: Jean Sibelius, b. 1865, arr.
Tune: “Finlandia”

getting farther away patch of blueAnnaLeah, Mary at Muskegon