Monthly Archives: December 2015

Starting TZD Traffic Safety Conversation: Who should pay for the cost of Saved Lives?

The Economics of Traffic “Safety” has been on my mind for awhile. I am not really ready and/or qualified to write a full-fledged commentary on the topic, but I did want to jot down some of the thoughts and questions I have about this vital area.

Feel free to put in your 2 cents worth.

  1. Who should pay for the cost of Saved Lives?
  2. Who already pays for the cost of Lost Lives?
  3. In Michael Lemov’s book Car Safety Wars, he mentions, numerous times, the long-prevailing belief/attitude of the automotive industry that “Safety doesn’t sell.” It impacted their decisions and actions for many years and led to the delay of/opposition toward many safety measures.
  4. If traffic safety measures are adopted, how are they currently “paid” for?
  5. How might they best be paid for?
  6. In our quest to help prevent countless more lives from being foreverchanged, we have come up against the brick wall of attitudes which appear callous and too-accepting of crash deaths as an inevitable outcome of highway travel. See what an Australian engineer has to say about that attitude:
  7. Are we ready, as a society, to instead embrace the notion that a large percentage of traffic deaths could and therefore should be prevented?
  8. Are we willing, as a society, to commit to sharing the burden of the cost of safety measures to Save Lives rather than involuntarily sharing the burden of paying for the cost of tragically-Lost Lives (and those with serious life-changing injuries)–including the immeasurable worth of those no longer with us?
  9. See what some Americans are doing about this in a Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) effort:
  10. And here are the thoughts of Ted Miller, an economist, on “Looking at Violence in America with a Financial Lens”
  11. What would a Vision Zero philosophy/goal/policy mean to us as a country? Here is how Neil Arason, Canadian author of No Accident, views Vision Zero: “I think people have different views about vision zero but here is mine.  The airline industry does not apply cost benefit analysis to fixing aviation problems. They just fix problems and that is that.  Using a cost benefit model is incompatible with vision zero because it applies trade-offs and vision zero does not entail that. Vision zero is about making the system a safe one and does not assign value to a human life because doing that, the thinking goes, is unethical. “

We want to change this situation for the better; we want to bring Americans together in a massive movement Toward Zero Deaths. Stay tuned for our upcoming online launch of a Vision Zero Executive Order Petition.

Marcus and Vanessa & the memorial bricks

Memorial bricks placed for AnnaLeah & Mary Karth by Midland College (viewed by their niece & nephew)

Give $1 for IIHS crash tests on 5/5/16–3 yrs & 1 day after our deadly UNDERRIDE crash

UPDATE 1 year later, December 29, 2016: We are again raising money for crash testing. Crash Test of Innovative Large Truck Side Guard Could Advance Side Underride Prevention Donate here

It will happen:

  • Cars will continue to collide with larger trucks and ride under them when the too-weak underride guard buckles (or because there is no underride protection on the side of the truck)– with deadly consequences.
  • NHTSA will propose truck underride rules which are weaker than could be possible.
  • The trucking industry, for the most part, will wait to find out what new standards might be required of them for underride protection systems in 3 years or more.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) will sponsor an Underride Roundtable at their Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, Virginia, on May 5, 2016.

What we hope will happen is that:

  • Cars will, in the near future, be better protected from deadly underride when they unfortunately & inevitably collide with larger trucks due to human error and road conditions because. . .
  • NHTSA will propose stronger underride rules which provide the best possible protection for travelers on the road because clear evidence will be available (from underride research & crash tests) for all to see that collisions with trucks should be more survivable than previously thought.
  • The trucking industry will take responsibility and voluntarily work to provide better underride protection for collisions with smaller passenger vehicles–without even waiting for improved federal requirements to go into effect.
  • The Underride Roundtable at IIHS, on May 5, 2016, will bring together experts in many fields who will propose solutions, which will contribute greatly toward realizing a vision of Zero Deaths and Zero Serious Injuries from truck underride crashes.

Be a part of this vision. Contribute to support underride research and crash tests.

Update, April 22, 2016: At this point, any donations given will not be for the crash test taking place at the Roundtable on May 5, but would be used for future research/testing.

You can do so here & now:


Tell others about it. (See sharing icons below.)

For too long, this problem has been recognized but swept under a rug. It has not been considered a priority and money has not been earmarked to resolve the problem. If we don’t do something about it, who will?!

Watch the informative video below which I discovered yesterday from a 2012 investigative report on underride crashes:


And, out of the mouths of babes. . .

A New Year’s Plea to Focus on Working Together Toward Zero Crash Deaths Instead of Pointing the Finger of Blame

Here at the end of another calendar year–a year that AnnaLeah & Mary along with many other traffic fatalities did not get to enjoy–I want to say one more time: Let’s work together to solve the problem of Death by Motor Vehicle.

What if we truly worked together to reduce the number of deaths and very serious injuries from traffic crashes? In terms of why people die on the roads, there is no one reason. Pointing fingers at who is to blame and leaving it at that gets us where?

The first thing that I noticed, when I started reading investigative articles about underride guards on trucks, was how some people took the focus off of the problem of weak underride protection systems and wanted to talk about how car drivers were to blame for the crash anyway* and how the answer was to develop crash avoidance technology.

It seems to me that what wasn’t being understood here was the deaths which actually occur from Second Collisions rather than the first collision, which is often due to human error or road conditions or whatever might have been to blame for the crash to occur.

Who said that it had to be an Either/Or solution? This is a perfect example of something which we can work together to solve–improving truck underride protection systems because it can be done. The result: less people dying from what could be a survivable crash.

At the same time, people can be busy working on trying to reduce the number of crashes to begin with through development of tested crash avoidance technology  AND by raising awareness and motivating people to be Safer Drivers.

That sounds like a Win/Win solution which might actually lead us Toward Zero Crashes & Serious Injuries. Vision Zero.

And that is why I am about ready to launch a Vision Zero Executive Order Petition. And I will be asking you to hop on board with me. Let’s do this because we can and because somebody is counting on us to help them make it through another year.

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Establishing a White House Task Force to Protect Travelers From Truck Crashes (1)

* “‘The disproportion of passenger-vehicle driver errors in fatal crashes may be in a sense related to the fact that a fatality occurred, rather than that they are more culpable,” he says. “Rear-end collisions provide the clearest example, because a fatality is more likely to occur if a passenger vehicle strikes the rear of a truck, rather than the truck striking the rear of the passenger vehicle.’

“According to Blower, rear-end collisions caused by passenger-vehicle drivers may occur because of driver inattention, unsafe speed and truck conspicuity, while harder-to-explain head-on crashes may be due to alcohol use, night-time travel and weather.

“’It is clear that addressing the ‘truck safety problem’ must take into account more than just trucks and truck drivers,” he says. “The actions of other vehicles on the road contribute substantially to the toll. Even if all trucks were operated perfectly, only a minority of the fatal crashes would be eliminated.

“’Truck crashes do not occur in isolation, but as part of a larger system, involving the roadway and environment, vehicle condition and the other vehicles in the traffic system. If we want to reduce the toll of truck accidents, we need to broaden our understanding beyond just trucks and truck drivers.'”

And besides, did you ever think about the terrible ongoing trauma of those who survive horrific crashes when others do not? Let’s keep them in mind as well.

To clarify, my point is not that no one is to blame, but that if we each spend our time pointing at someone else who has to resolve their problem, it is too easy to forget that there are fingers pointing back at ourselves–things we need to take care of, as well.


An answer to holiday sadness: Christmas Through the Ages

For me, in the midst of ongoing grieving over the loss of AnnaLeah & Mary in a truck crash, I sometimes cannot shake off the gloom of living in the present without them to be able to joyfully look forward to seeing them someday again in what seems the far-off future. Especially at times like Christmas (any day really). . .

This program which I was inspired to write and direct in the fall of 2008 in Midland, Texas, reminds me of the hope which I have.The 4-Act pageant lasts an hour and a half but you could watch it a little bit at a time. Don’t let the length keep you away from the experience of seeing Christmas with new eyes.

Published on Youtube December 26, 2015

One morning in October 2008, I was inspired to jot down some ideas for a Christmas program which would involve ALL ages together and would not be simply about the birth of Jesus Christ but be about HIStory throughout the ages: Christmas Foretold, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. This was the result: CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE AGES.

It ended up involving over 60 people (hardly anyone at the small church was NOT involved in it in some way), including all of our family members living there at the time (AnnaLeah & Mary, too). And, as the Narrator mentioned in the Introduction, it has its share of glitches.

It still has power to move me; I hope that you will take the time to enjoy the experience of re-living CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE AGES.


December 14, 2008, Our Savior Lutheran, Midland, Texas

Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, verses 1 & 2
Choir: First Song of Isaiah
Cantors: Psalm 22
Congregation: Ancient of Days

CHRISTMAS PAST (The First Christmas)
Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, v. 3
Choir: Do You Hear What I Hear?
Duet: O Holy Night
Kings Kids: Away in a Manger
Congregation: One Small Child
Duet: The Lamb
Congregation: Lord, I Lift Your Name On High

CHRISTMAS PRESENT (Emmanuel—God is With Us)
Congregation: Emmanuel
Kings Kids: I Heard the Bells; Come on Ring Those Bells
Youth Group Drama
Duet: Go Light Your World

CHRISTMAS FUTURE (The King is Coming Again!)
Congregation: In the Shattered Bliss of Eden, v. 4-6
Assembling of the Throne Room: The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili
Dance: I Can Only Imagine
Brief Order of Confession & Forgiveness
Choir: This is the Mystery, Congregation joins in Chorus
The Lord’s Supper
Congregation: O Come, Let Us Adore Him

Thank you to all who helped with this program, including:

Narrator: K.C. Blackketter
Adam: Rod Curtis
Eve: Kris Curtis
Angel in Garden: T. J. Freese
God’s Voice: Jerry Karth
Samuel: Jack VanCleave
Isaiah: Peter Karth
Daniel: Mark Gygax
Micah: Gene Makowsky
Zechariah: John Langhoff
Shepherds: T. K. Freese, Isaac Wilcox, Trenton Fisher, Jeremy Jones
Angels: May Lee, Amberle Carroll, Sydney & Jamie Walker
Sheep: Tori Freese, Anna Lee, Marcus Karth
Mary: Erin Wilcox
Joseph: Chase VanCleave
Boy Jesus: Keaton Curtis
Adult Jesus: Todd Freese
Magi (Wise Men): Kason Curtis, Grayson Stark, Wilson Stark
Cow (Head, Back & Middle): Caleb Karth, Alexander Hoak, William Hoak
Reader (Anna in the Temple): Kathy Odom
Disciples on the Road to Emmaus: John Leather, Joe Gassie
Actors in the Christmas Present Drama: T. J. Freese, Taylor Freese, Susanna Karth, AnnaLeah Karth, Logan Pickett, Cole VanCleave, Erin Chalfant
Apostle John: Mike Gygax
Throne Room Angels: Mary Karth, Leanna Blackketter
The Assembled Ones: All of Us!

Coordinator of Props and Costumes: Wendi Tully
Her Assistants: Jane Phillips, Marty & Sherry Wallace, Patricia and Jack VanCleave, Mike Tully, John and Nancy Langhoff, Regina Neal
Producer of Kings Kids Practice DVD: Levi Karth
Producer & Director of Motions for Away in a Manger: Danelle Karth, Susanna Karth
Assistant Director: Susanna Karth
Assistant with Children’s Involvement (and Encouragement to Go for it!): Jennifer Wilcox
Program/Service Pianist: Lisa Lee
Prelude Music: Hannah Wilcox
Postlude Music: Katherine Allen
Guitarist: Jonah Starck
Drummer: Cole VanCleave
Choir Director: Amanda Starck
Choir Members: Regina Neal, Linda Scheele, Sandy Brazil, Marianne Karth, Susanna Karth, Emily Lee, & May Lee (along with apprentice Anna Lee)
Cantors: Katherine Allen, Susanna Karth, Marianne Karth
Duets: Emily & May Lee; Susanna & Marianne Karth; Chris & Amberle Carroll
Audio/Visual: Jerry Karth
Sound Dude: Caleb Karth
Prayer Closet: Katherine Allen
Acolyte: Jonah Starck
Directors of Christmas Present Drama: Todd & Melissa Freese
Lighting: Katherine Allen & Kathy Odom
Dancer: Susanna Karth
Ushers: Jack VanCleave & Gene Makowsky
Technical Support: Isaac Karth
Communications & Publications: Rhonda Carroll
Inspiration for use of In the Shattered Bliss of Eden: AnnaLeah Karth
Inspiration for use of The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili: Rebekah Karth

Thanks, you all! Marianne Karth, Director
(I hope that I didn’t forget anyone; it took all of us working together and then some!)

To the praise of His glory!

Missing you this Christmas, AnnaLeah & Mary. With hope, we carry on.

I just read a post by a friend whom I’ve met because she also lost a loved one in a truck crash. It uncorked those feelings of sadness that the season brings.

On Christmas Eve, she wrote, “I am sad that tomorrow means nothing to me at all. I feel like there’s something wrong with me because I feel nothing at all.”

I commented, “I find that familiar Christmas carols bring on a peculiar melancholy feeling which I never would have imagined. An enduring sadness which I can’t shake. I suppose it is because this is a time so packed with memories–bittersweet–and it takes more work to create new ones (without them).”

It’s a shame really because I love music. So, I’d like to share this song which has the power to bring forth my feelings which are lurking under the surface–along with healing tears.

I miss you so much, Mary and AnnaLeah.

And my post from Christmas 2014:

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Up for debate: Could & should the proposed UNDERRIDE rule be made stronger?

Stephen Hadley from the Underride Network ( indicated to me recently his opinion that,

“We need to get media on board that guards must exceed Canadian Standard which only legalizes within two years of implementation 98 % of guards already on the road, this is our best bet to force NHTSA to re-evaluate.”

I have already made this very clear in four media interviews (and two posts) which I had after the proposed rear underride trailer rule was announced:

I’m hoping that the rulemaking process will truly end in the Best Possible Protection.  Somebody’s future is counting on it.


Senior Underride Design Project Mid-Year Report Presented by Virginia Tech Students

The coordinator, Jared Bryson, for the Virginia Tech Senior Underride Design Team sent their end of semester report on the underride project to me yesterday.

I have not had time to read it fully yet (rather busy this weekend). But I did look it over quickly and am intrigued by their emphasis on a Wrap Around Bumper concept.

You can read their report here: Virginia Tech Senior Student Underride Design Project December 2015 Report

They are off for Christmas break. But rumor has it that NHTSA’s proposed underride rule for trailers is assigned reading before they come back after the holidays so that they can submit a Public Comment as a team.

“The student’s final fall presentation is tonight.  I will forward the NPRM tomorrow, for reading over the break. We will discuss in length in January, and formulate a group or individual submissions.”

Good work, team. Looking forward to more good news. . .

Underride Research Memegertie 3271

AnnaLeah & Mary would have been excited about Star Wars.

Our family will be going to Star Wars on Christmas Eve. I know that AnnaLeah & Mary would have been looking forward to it.
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AnnaLeah in costume–about 10 maybe?
 AnnaLeah could have been a script/screen writer. She wrote down ideas for a whole season of Dr. Who.  And here’s a 72 minute LEGO movie that AnnaLeah wrote the script for. It definitely shows how creative she was:
I was thinking about writing this post, and then this morning read these verses:
“. . . in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking upon the sea. 
And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’
And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’
And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’
And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying ‘You are certainly God’s Son!'”
Matthew 14:25-33
May the [very real] power of God be with you–today and to infinity, and beyond!

Public Comment Period Now Open for Proposed Rule for Rear Underride Guards on Trailers

Comments can now be submitted on NHTSA’s proposed rule for rear impact guards and rear impact protection on trailers. The Public Comment period will end on February 16, 2016.

More information on this rule and how to submit comments can be found here:!documentDetail;D=NHTSA_FRDOC_0001-1548

IIHS October 2014 Status Report Article First Page

article can be found at: IIHS Status Report October 2014

It is our hope that public comments on this rule, and the Underride Roundtable planned for May 5, 2016, will result in the best possible protection on the backs of trucks. Please pray for this important process.

A Gadget to Alert Drivers When They Nod Off at the Wheel; What are we waiting for, America?!

“Gadget to stop drivers nodding off at the wheel could become compulsory could be included in new European regulations” My goodness, if this can be done & would Save Lives, why would we NOT do it, America?!

“Germans Develop Device to Stop Drivers Falling Asleep at the Wheel.” I remember reading about this previously:

DWF = Driving While Fatigued is a widespread problem that is largely ignored and difficult to recognize while you are in the thick of things (which makes it even more disastrous) — with potentially disastrous consequences. Under-reported. . . because it is not measurable after the fact.


Our crash may have been caused by truck driver drowsy driving.