Monthly Archives: September 2017

Such exciting news! Wabash Trailers has taken initiative to save lives with prototype side guard!

I just heard the news tonight: Wabash has taken the initiative to develop a prototype side guard. They revealed it this week at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show.

I sure wish I had gone to that show. Or maybe not. If I had and had come upon that exhibit, they would have heard me all around the trade show hall. I probably would have run around, jumping up and down in excitement!

Developed in-house, the combination side impact guard and skirt prototype passed tests for a 90-degree centerline vehicle impact at 35 miles per hour, according to Mark D. Ehrlich, Wabash National product development manager. The system uses a braided cable and is 40% to 50% lighter than other designs.

Wabash prototype: Side underride guard with aero skirt, Trailer Body Builders, Charles Wilson, September 29, 2017

Thank you, Wabash Trailers, for taking this important step to make trucks safer for all of us to be around.

Lois Durso, Dick Giromini (CEO of Wabash), & Marianne Karth at the ATA TMC Conference in Nashville, February 2017

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory. . . Ephesians 3:20-21

Stoughton Trailers Stronger Rear Underride Guard Now Standard On All New Refrigerated Trailers

Stoughton Trailers is once again stepping up to the plate and offering their stronger rear underride guard as standard on all new refrigerated trailers. They made the announcement at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.

Wish I could have been there to see it.

The new refrigerated trailer comes standard with the company’s rear underride guard. It resists compartmental intrusion of an automobile when the location of impact is at 30% to 100% overlap of the width of the car to the guard. It complies with all applicable U.S. and Canadian regulations. The new Stoughton PureBlue refrigerated trailer will be available the beginning of first quarter of 2018.

Fleet Equipment Magazine, Jason Morgan, September 27, 2017,  Stoughton Trailers unveils a new refrigerated trailer

Thank you, Stoughton.

I hope that they will also have retrofit kits.

Here is someone who survived because of a stronger Stoughton rear underride guard on one of their new dry vans:

(Photos below are from Stoughton’s Press Conference at the February TMC Show in Nashville, February 28, 2017 — Marianne Karth with Gary Fenton, VP of Engineering, and Bob Wahlin, CEO)



Proper Maintenance of Underride Guards Can Spell the Difference Between L-i-f-e & D-e-a-t-h

Last night I reviewed proposed language for the Maintenance Section of the Stop Underrides legislation [aka the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017]. Working to accurately spell out what was important to include in requirements for proper maintenance of rear underride guards made me realize how imperative it is that the basic problem of underride be better understood.

A true appreciation of the fundamental underride issue could, in fact, lead to a better grasp of what is at stake if an underride guard is not properly maintained. So that is what I hope to foster here. Because this is not a simple matter of keeping a machine functioning so it can continue to drive down the road; it is a matter of maintaining the integrity of a piece of equipment which can, hopefully, prevent sure death or debilitating injury.

The basic underride problem is that trucks were, and are, designed so that the height of the bottom of the truck is higher than the part of the car which should ideally make first impact with the truck in the event of a collision. Instead, what happens is that the first point of impact with the truck is the windshield and then your head.

Maybe if trucks were all designed to ride lower to the ground — like most moving company trucks — we wouldn’t be in this situation. But they aren’t. So when people started dying because of this problem, engineers realized that something should be done. Instead of lowering the bottom of the truck, they decided to attach something, an underride guard, to the truck to fill in that gap –like this 1913 patent for a safety device for the sides of motor vehicles, referred to by one writer as a life-guard:

The only thing is, that will only work if the guard can be designed to be strong enough to withstand the force of a vehicle colliding with it. If the guard is not strong enough, then it will give way — bend or come off the truck — and allow the passenger vehicle to go under the truck. In fact, that’s what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety demonstrated in their in-depth research over the last decade: the rear underride guards designed according to the specifications of the current federal standard are not strong enough to withstand the force of a collision along the entire back of the trailer.

Fortunately, progress has been made to design stronger rear underride guards which have been tested to withstand a collision at 35 mph along the entire back of the trailer. But I will not rest until these improved guards have been tested successfully at higher speeds to determine if the new designs provide the best humanly possible protection, or whether we need to go back to the drawing board.

So where does maintenance come into the picture? If you have a piece of equipment which is supposed to guard against deadly underride  — if designed in a particular way (and that includes how it is attached to body of the truck), then it would need to be maintained in such a way that it would continue to provide that same strength.

Herein lies the problem. The current rear underride guards on existing trucks might do what they are supposed to in some collisions and successfully prevent underride. However, if the guards (and their attachments to the trucks) are not properly maintained in like-new condition, then their integrity will be compromised and their strength will be weakened. Underride will be even more likely to occur, and people will die as a result.

And this is the reality for the millions of existing large trucks on the road today. As far as I can see, from simple observation when driving on the highways, many of the rear underride guards are not being properly maintained. Of course, this will be important for the newer, stronger guards, too, as they begin to be installed on new trucks or retrofitted to existing trucks.

But how does one determine if a guard is in disrepair? This has been spelled out by the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations in their Recommended Practice (RP) 732, VMRS 077, Trailer Rear Impact Guard Repair Guidelines:

Rear impact guards should be regularly inspected for cracked welds, cracked or fractured vertical members. Cuts and tears in any member for dimensional integrity. This includes:
  • cracked welds
  • cracked or fractured vertical members, including any additional bracing added by the manufactuer such as diagonal struts running from the center of the horizontal member to the vertical supports
  • cracked or loose fasteners joining the RIG members together
  • cracked or loose fasteners attaching the RIG to the trailer sill]
  • bends in any member
  • corrosion/rust in any RIG member and the trailer sill
  • cuts, punctures, and tears in any member
  • proper attachment to the trailer sill
  • rear cross members
  • rear trailer sill and at least the last six feet of the floor
  • and for dimensional and overall structural integrity.

Those sound like useful criteria for making sure that underride guards are in good shape. Yet, who even knows about those repair guidelines or is trained to evaluate the condition of underride prevention equipment?

In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) already has a stipulation on the books that these guards need to be maintained in like-new condition. But this requirement is, unfortunately, not included in the Vehicle Inspection Checklist provided to truck drivers and vehicle inspectors nor is it included in Appendix G, the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards, found in the FMCSA Safety Regulations.

As far as I know, a guard which is in “disrepair” is not considered a violation worthy of putting a truck “out-of-service.” So the end result is that trucks which are an underride tragedy waiting to happen continue to drive on the road — day after day, year after year.

My copy of the FMCSA Safety Regulations Pocketbook says,

FMCSA’s and CVSA’a (Commercial  Vehicle Safety Alliance) out-of-service criteria are intended to be used in random roadside inspections to identify critical vehicle inspection items and provide criteria for placing a vehicle(s) out-of–service.

A vehicle(s) is placed out-of-service only when by reason of its mechanical condition or loading it is determined to be so imminently hazardous as to likely cause an accident or breakdown, or when such condition(s) would likely contribute to loss of control of the vehicle(s) by the driver.

A certain amount of flexibility is given to the inspecting official whether to place the vehicle out-of-service at the inspection site or if it would be less hazardous to allow the vehicle to proceed to a repair facility for repair. The distance to the repair facility must not exceed 25 miles. The roadside type of inspection, however, does not necessarily mean that a vehicle has to be defect-free in order to continue in service.

In contrast, the Appendix G inspection procedure requires that all items required to be inspected are in proper adjustment, are not defective and function properly prior to the vehicle being placed in service. pp. 544-545

First of all, underride protective devices need to be added to the Vehicle Inspection Checklist. Secondly, the Safety Regulations need to be changed to reflect the seriousness of this problem. I would recommend that it read like this:

A vehicle(s) is placed out-of-service only when by reason of its mechanical condition or loading it is determined to be so imminently hazardous as to likely cause an accident or breakdown, or to allow death and/or injuries from truck underride (passenger compartment intrusion) upon collision, or when such condition(s) would likely contribute to loss of control of the vehicle(s) by the driver.

Truck drivers should be checking their underride protective devices in their daily pre-trip inspection. And they should be issued an out-of-service violation — requiring them to take the truck off the road — until the underride protection has been properly repaired. But, for that to actually take place, there will need to be appropriate training carried out for both trucking companies and inspection officials. Ongoing enforcement will be essential.

Until we put some teeth into this safety regulation, we will be responsible for continuing to allow people to die from Death by Underride — when some careful attention to proper maintenance might have spared their families such terrible grief.

1919 “Life-guard” Lawsuit Related To a 1913 Side Guard Patent for Safety of Motor Vehicles

When Jerry asked whether we could find any story about why Percy Hawksworth filed a patent in 1913 for a safety device for the sides of motor vehicles, this is what I found online:

A lawsuit related to that patent arguing that there was nothing novel about it. Nothing new under the sun.


Some quotes:

  • A Patent was granted for Improvements in or relating to safety devices or life-
    guards for motor vehicles. One of the Claims was for A guard for a motor
    vehicle Consisting of a frame or the like carried along the side of the vehicle and
    crossing the path of the rear wheels at a slight inclination substantially as and
    for the purpose described.  At the trial of an action for infringement of
    the Patent, the only defences raised were want of novelty and of subjectmatter.
    It was proved that slatted guards of the same general construction as
    those described in the Specification had been in common use for many years between the front and back wheels of tramcars, and that the only difference in arrangement between those guards and the patented guards consisted in the fact that the tramcar guards, owing to the cars being run in either direction, were parallel to the sides of the cars, instead of being inclined to the sides. There was no constructional difficulty in giving the inclination to the guard. Guards similar to the patented guards had also been used for the front wheels of tramcars, and there was no constructional difficulty in adapting to the rear wheel of a motor omnibus the guards that had been used for the front wheels of tramcars. It was also proved that, in the prior Specification of P., guards for both the front and rear wheels of tramcars had been described, the inclination of the rear wheel guards being almost the same as that of the patented guards.
    Held, that in view of prior user on tramcars, of both side guards and front guards,
    and the publication of the Specification of P., there was no element of novelty or invention to support the Patent, and that it was invalid
  • ” This invention has reference to safety devices or life-guards for motor vehicles. It is well known that many, if not most, of the worst accidents with motor buses or heavy motor vehicles are  caused by the rear wheels. Now according to this invention, which is intended more particularly for use on motor buses, a life-guard, catcher or fender is provided for each of the rear wheels, consisting of a frame carried at each side of the bus or vehicle in such a way that with only a slight inclination its rear end overlaps or extends to the outside of the rear wheels, and thus serves to push anyone who may have been knocked down, or otherwise comes against it, clear of the said rear wheels.
  •  In this way if anyone should for instance be knocked down by the bonnet or front of the bus or other vehicle, and the driver has succeeded in clearing him with the front wheels, he will be pushed on one side by the advance of the inclined guard frame clear of the rear wheels, instead of being caught by the latter as frequently “happens.
  • Similarly, if anyone should be accidentally thrown towards the bus from the side,
    as for instance by a side-slip from a bicycle, and thus come against the inclined
    fender, it will act in the same way and prevent him from going under the bus
    or vehicle and from being run over by the rear wheels.
  • By the arrangement above described, a very simple efficient and reliable protection is provided against accidents from the rear wheels of motor vehicles and the device also acts as a side guard to close in and protect the side space between the front and
    rear wheels

See this previous post which includes an 1896 patent for side guards on tramcars/streetcars: History of Underride Research & Reports: 1896 to 2017

David Harkey, Experienced Highway Safety Research Director at UNC, To Be New IIHS President

I sat down this Spring with Dr. David Harkey, Director of the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, to discuss the truck underride problem and the fact that it is a major public health problem and not just a transportation issue. After that, I enthusiastically recommended that he be the keynote speaker at the Second Underride Roundtable on August 20 at IIHS.

So when I found out yesterday that he had been named the new president of the IIHS — replacing the accomplished Adrian Lund, whom I got to meet in March — I was very excited. I look forward to watching him effectively lead that safety organization and help bring us closer to zero deaths.

Read about it here:


The Naming of an Underride Bill; Out of the Mouths of Babes

Ever since we began sharing about our crash so that we could help to make trucks safer, people have been touched by the story of AnnaLeah and Mary. They tell us how they can’t drive down the highway and see trucks without thinking about them. It clearly touches their heads & hearts. They get what rear underride is.

The same is true when Lois Durso shares the story of her daughter Roya’s crash. People suddenly understand what a side underride crash is and why we are working to prevent these kinds of tragedies. Tears come to their eyes.

So that is why — when we saw that no one was doing anything to mandate side guards, front guards, and stronger rear guards on new trucks, including single unit [box] trucks, as well as retrofit existing trucks with the same life-saving protection and making sure that they were properly maintained — we decided to draft comprehensive underride protection legislation ourselves.

And, when we were figuring out what to call the bill, we naturally named it for what was so very precious to us — our beloved daughters, who were no more. We wrote it in memory of the countless loved ones whose lives had been forever changed — each of whom are very precious to the loved ones they left behind.

It has become our calling card: the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 (RAMCUP). And we are concerned that we are being asked to take the girls’ names off of the bill title (so that other underride victims will not feel left out) — not because we think that they are more important than anyone else, but rather because we believe that their stories have been what have helped to bring national attention to this issue and better understanding of the problem, along with a willingness to do whatever it takes to end it. We would like to keep that momentum going until this bill gets passed.

In fact, it would never be possible to include a list of names in a bill which would honor all the victims of underride. There are thousands of them and, furthermore, because it is a hidden problem, many people might not even realize that underride was involved in their loved one’s death.

But it is our hope that we will be able to plan significant ways to honor those who have been injured or lost their lives through an underride crash, such as a Remembrance Ceremony in D.C. or an underride personal crash story interactive map and a webpage on the DOT website — giving family members a positive way to be involved in the effort to get effective underride protection on all trucks and to remember their loved ones in a special way. Hey, they could even get a shirt printed with their loved one’s picture and name on it!

December 13, 2017, UPDATE: We now have an Interactive Underride Crash Story Map. We have only just begun to add links to the countless underride tragedy stories. If you have information on an underride crash, or would like to add more details about the people touched by these tragedies, email us at Here is the map.

Just recently, Lois texted me with this encouragement:

The Lord is speaking to my heart — do not worry, all is well. He is my praise, hope, and strength.

Then she shared this story which made my heart hurt:

Today, my daughter-in-law was wearing her RAMCUP shirt. My 20 month-old granddaughter, Miriam Roya, pointed to and said the names of Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary. . . Even a baby can remember our beautiful daughters.

Miriam Roya, who will never know her Aunt Roya

Miriam’s daddy, Cyrus, with his sister Roya

We’re with you, Miriam. . . we will always remember this very important bill as the Roya, AnnaLeah & Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 — because it is our great love for those three girls, and our sense of urgency that no one else should undergo this kind of preventable loss, which has fueled our efforts to make sure that this major public health problem gets properly taken care of.

History of Underride Research & Reports: 1896 to 2017

Jerry Karth, Lois Durso, and I recently compiled this extensive list of U.S. underride research, reports, and recommendations beginning in 1896 and continuing to this day. I think that it speaks for itself: effective and comprehensive underride protection is long-overdue. This list is referred to in a recent post on this topic.

1896 This patent for a side underride protective device for street cars was issued on July 14 1896 and cited by numerous more recent underride patents:

1913 A patent was issued in 1913 for a “Safety Device for Motor Vehicles” to provide underride protection for the sides of large trucks. Since that time, numerous patents have been published which refer to this 1913 patent (with the patent information organized in these columns: Citing Patent, Filing date, Publication date, Applicant, Title):

US4688824 * Mar 4, 1986 Aug 25, 1987 Herring John D Safety device for vehicles
CN100572144C May 27, 2005 Dec 23, 2009 沃尔沃拉斯特瓦格纳公司 Device for a vehicle side anticollision box, and a vehicle comprising such a side anticollision box
US7407204 * Nov 27, 2006 Aug 5, 2008 Volvo Lastvagnar Ab Arrangement for a vehicle side fairing, and a vehicle comprising such a side fairing
US20070085355 * Nov 27, 2006 Apr 19, 2007 Volvo Lastvagnar Ab Arrangement for a vehicle side fairing, and a vehicle comprising such a side fairing
US7780224 Jun 9, 2008 Aug 24, 2010 Vanguard National Trailer Corporation Crash attenuating underride guard
US20080303311 * Jun 9, 2008 Dec 11, 2008 Vanguard National Trailer Corporation Crash attenuating underride guard
US7887120 Jan 26, 2009 Feb 15, 2011 Transtex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic trailer skirts
US7942467 Dec 24, 2009 May 17, 2011 Transtex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic skirt support member
US7942468 Dec 24, 2009 May 17, 2011 Transtex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic skirt securing mechanism
US7942469 Dec 24, 2009 May 17, 2011 Transtex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic skirt panel
US7942470 Dec 24, 2009 May 17, 2011 Transtex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic skirt opening
US7942471 Dec 24, 2009 May 17, 2011 Trnastex Composite Inc. Aerodynamic skirt shape
US20090189414 * Jan 26, 2009 Jul 30, 2009 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic trailer skirts
US20100096880 * Dec 24, 2009 Apr 22, 2010 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt panel
US20100096882 * Dec 24, 2009 Apr 22, 2010 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt opening
US20100096883 * Dec 24, 2009 Apr 22, 2010 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt shape
US20100187856 * Dec 24, 2009 Jul 29, 2010 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt support member
US20100187856 * Dec 24, 2009 Jul 29, 2010 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt support member
US20100264691 * Apr 15, 2010 Oct 21, 2010 Giromini Richard J Side underride cable system for a trailer
US8292351 Apr 3, 2011 Oct 23, 2012 Transtex Composite Inc. Resilient strut for aerodynamic skirt
US9004575 Aug 3, 2011 Apr 14, 2015 Gary Alan Grandominico Aerodynamic skirt assembly
US20110175396 * Apr 3, 2011 Jul 21, 2011 Mathieu Boivin Aerodynamic skirt
US8398150 Apr 17, 2012 Mar 19, 2013 Wabash National, L.P. Side skirt system for a trailer
US8449017 Sep 11, 2012 May 28, 2013 Transtex Composites Inc. Aerodynamic skirt resilient member
US20120169086 * Mar 7, 2012 Jul 5, 2012 Giromini Richard J Side underride cable system for a trailer
US8579359 Jan 15, 2013 Nov 12, 2013 Wabash National, L.P. Side skirt system for a trailer
US8678474 * May 17, 2013 Mar 25, 2014 Transtex Composite Inc. Self-repositioning aerodynamic skirt
US8783758 Mar 19, 2013 Jul 22, 2014 Wabash National, L.P. Folding side skirt system for a trailer
US8801078 Oct 9, 2013 Aug 12, 2014 Wabash National, L.P. Side skirt system for a trailer
US9199676 Jul 2, 2014 Dec 1, 2015 Wabash National, L. P. Side skirt system for a trailer
US9409610 Mar 11, 2015 Aug 9, 2016 Wabash National, L.P. Side skirt system for a trailer
US9573636 Mar 12, 2015 Feb 21, 2017 Ridge Corporation Aerodynamic skirt assembly
US9688320 Oct 27, 2015 Jun 27, 2017 Wabash National, L.P. Side skirt system for a trailer

1969 DOT published a document for rear underride proposed rulemaking on the Federal Register on March 19, 1969, indicating that they “anticipated that the proposed Standard will be amended, after technical studies have been completed, to extend the requirement for underride protection to the sides of large vehicles.”

1977 Page Patent guard rail for side protection on large wheel vehicles, 1977 US Side Guard Patent US4060268 William Page.pdf

1977 An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test research illustrates the ineffectiveness of 1953 rear underride guard.

1977 A Senate hearing leads to new calls for stronger underride protections, and illustrates the inadequacies of existing requirements.   

1996  Volvo began manufacturing trucks with Front Underrun Protection in 1996 in Europe. This is a patent filed in 2007 for an “Underrun protector and method of providing underrun protection.” Other relevant information on front underrun protection can be found here:

1997 Study illustrates the discrepancies in The Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) underride fatality count when compared to the NHTSA database, highlighting that more people are dying from underride than are being recorded.

2009 IIHS begins to call for the requirement of front and side underride guards, as well as improved rear guard requirements in its testimony to US House Committee on Energy and Commerce. file:///C:/Users/LD46500/Downloads/testimony_2009-05-18.pdf

2009 Patent filed for a Side impact guard device for industrial vehicles, particularly trailers or semi-trailers”

US7967349 Apr 7, 2009 Jun 28, 2011 C.R.F. Societa Consortile Per Azioni Side impact guard device for industrial vehicles, particularly trailers or semi-trailers


2010 An evaluation of U.S. rear underride guards meeting federal requirements shows that these protections still allow for severe passenger vehicle underride, often resulting in serious or fatal injury. file:///C:/Users/LD46500/Downloads/22esv-000074.pdf

2011 IIHS crash test study demonstrates that federal underride safety standards can fail in relatively low-speed crashes.

2012 Sapa Extrusions (inventor/engineer Malcolm Deighton) filed for a patent in 2012 for a Semi trailer under-run protection device” which they later developed into a rear underride guard which was successfully crash tested on a trailer in April 2017.

2013 New crash test study shows how underride guards on most heavy trucks fail to prevent underride and result in serious injury or fatality.

2015 NTSB recommends that regulators develop performance standards for side and front underride protection systems to improve highway vehicle crash compatibility with passenger vehicles.  

2015 Aaron Kiefer, crash reconstructionist and forensic engineer, was issued a patent for an innovative combination side & rear trailer underride protection system: Please see the numerous underride patents referred to in this patent.

2015 This patent for a Trailer rear impact guard cites numerous other underride protection patents:

2016 NHTSA issued a grant to Texas A & M Transportation Institute for computer modeling research on side underride protection.

2017 IIHS tests side underride guards at 35 mph, and illustrates the dramatic impact side guards have in preventing serious injury and death.

2017 Seven Hills Engineering, Perry Ponder inventor of Angel Wing Underride Protection successfully crash tested at 35 MPH by IIHS on 3/30/2017 and 40 MPH on 8/29/2017. Patent Pending and

2017 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety urges DOT to put forth a federal mandate on side underride guards.

2017 NBC Today Show Link/Story

2017 DOE has issued grants for a Super Truck project which has included side skirts for fuel efficiency but not for safety.

Exposing the Truth about the Truck Underride Conspiracy of Silence

You cannot begin to imagine the riotous cacophony of emotions ricocheting about within this mother’s heart right now. Pain. Grief. Anger. Frustration. Outrage. Heartache.

These last few days, Lois and I have been on a journey together which has taken unexpected turns. After driving cross-country with my son to help him get settled in his new home in Santa Cruz, l took a red-eye flight to Chicago where Lois picked me up from the O’Hare airport.

Our original plan was to get on the highway and head for a cottage in Michigan. But it seemed good to us both to take this opportunity for Lois to give me a glimpse of her daughter Roya — the house where she grew up, a favorite restaurant, a school and church, her grandpa and the home he built, and finally her final resting place here on this earth.

It was a very good and a very hard thing for the two of us to do. And then we headed for my old stomping grounds.

We had made plans to spend a few days at a cottage on Lake Michigan where Jerry and I have created many memories. He and I discovered it one year on a getaway and thereafter brought our kids for many fun family times. It was also where we stayed with our nine children and their families when we returned North for my 90 year-old dad’s funeral in 2011. Twelve year-old Mary took over 600 photos on her hand-me-down camera that trip.

Perhaps you can imagine what it was like to arrive at a place so full of wonderful memories of AnnaLeah and Mary. Bittersweet. Heart-wrenching.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Lake that evening and contemplated our next steps in getting the Roya, AnnaLeah and Mary Comprehensive Underride Protection Act of 2017 introduced and passed as we tended a marvelous beach campfire.

The next morning, after sighting a rainbow on the Lake’s horizon, we set out for a local bagel shop to take advantage of their Wi-Fi. It was time to get down to business and compile a list of underride research which has been done over the years.

We had previously put together a list of underride recommendations and reports for the senator who intends to introduce the bill. Now we were responding to a request from her staff to add any additional underride research which we could find so that they could share it with Republican Offices in hopes of persuading them to jump on board with her in leading the way with this life-preserving legislation.

History of Underride Research & Reports: 1896 to 2017

In summary, this legislation is so vitally important because — all too often — it is not the collision of a car with a truck which is responsible for an ensuing tragedy but the lack of adequate underride protection. This results in a second collision where the truck collides with the passengers in the car and what is known as Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI) which occurs with truck underride.

The day before, we had updated Jerry and asked him to look for underride patents online. I knew of a couple in particular which we had already discovered in our unwelcome truck safety advocacy journey. What he then uncovered was beyond belief.

Jerry sent us a link to a U.S. patent for a side underride device invented in 1913. What?! That was before my 90 year-old father, who has been gone for six years, was born. Over a century ago!

But that’s not all! That patent from 1913 has been cited by 26 more recent patents — ones filed by engineers working on their own ideas for solving the problem of defective truck design which allows pedestrians, cyclists, motorcycles, and passenger vehicles to ride under the side of commercial motor vehicles. Unbelievable!

As if that were not enough to cause outrage to well up, we made another discovery as we began work on updating the research list. Jerry had also sent a link to an 1896 patent for a side underride device for streetcars. Again, this patent has been cited by numerous other patents for underride protection.

In the end, we were able to compile an extensive list of underride research, reports, and recommendations on front, side, and rear underride which provides incriminating evidence of an apparent conspiracy of silence. The negligence on the part of the trucking industry and the federal government to take the initiative to do whatever is necessary in order to protect the citizens of this country from a known deadly defect is appalling.

They can no longer cling to an excuse of ignorance. They have had more than enough time to put their heads together and come up with viable solutions.

The blood of countless underride victims has been unnecessarily shed. Our precious daughters have paid the price.

Whereas it is clear that there have been many individuals who have put forth effort to solve the underride problem, the overall inaction, on the part of the industry and government, and their refusal to take responsibility for effective collaboration to find a solution has taken its toll on American families. When will this behind-closed-doors conspiracy of silence end? Very soon, I hope! In fact, we have seen significant progress in recent years — although too little and too late to save our daughters.

I know that tomorrow, as Lois and I visit the cemetery where AnnaLeah and Mary saw their grandpa buried less than two years before we buried them close by, l will weep bitter tears. I only hope that our combined efforts will be fruitful and turn the tide.

I have often shared a photo of AnnaLeah and Mary with their arms raised in joyous victory. Yesterday, l was able, for the first time, to visit the luge victors’ stand in Muskegon State Park’s winter sports complex where that photo was taken. It broke my heart to see it empty and know that they will never be able to stand there again.

I look forward to the day when I can share their victory photo once more with the world because a step will have been taken to end this travesty once and for all. Mary will get her wish to be famous somehow.

May it be so. To God be the glory for orchestrating this difficult and long-time-in-coming strategy to end preventable underride tragedies.

How you can help:

In underride, first point of contact with the truck is your windshield, then your head.

Just yesterday, as Isaac and I were nearing the end of our road trip from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, Isaac said, “Maybe next time we make this trip, the trucks will look different and be a whole lot safer.”
I am very grateful that we are seeing significant progress in underride protection. And the gathering of almost 100 people at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on August 29 has helped to continue the work of many people to make that possible.
Dawn King, president of the Truck Safety Coalition, with photos and video, describes the recent Underride Roundtable at the IIHS and why it was so important. Because a truck underride crash can happen to anyone. To AnnaLeah & Mary. To you or somebody you care about.
As Dawn explained,
“When you slide under a trailer your car’s safety features aren’t activated because your front bumper doesn’t hit anything. The first part of your car to come in contact with the trailer is your windshield. And then your head.”
“Someday soon the results of lots of peoples dreams will come to fruition. And it will happen because people from all walks of life sat down and talked. Trailer manufacturers, truck companies, safety experts, devastated families, government officials.”
Just what I’ve been hoping for:
After our crash, Jerry wrote to numerous trailer manufacturing companies asking them to voluntarily step up their underride guard standards. We got some positive response and stirred up interest in companies — to whom he also wrote — who purchase trailers–enlightening them as well. One of the manufacturers, Great Dane, invited us to tour their Research & Design Center on June 25, 2014.
Afterwards, I posted this: Underride Guards: Can we “sit down at the table together” and work this out? with this video: “Underride Guards: Now What?” to summarize what I saw as the frustrating lack of progress on improving underride guards and the seeming lack of communication among the various responsible parties with the authority to do something about it.
Of course, we weren’t the only ones frustrated with the inaction on what seems to be a drastically-needed change. When we took our 11,000+ signed petitions to DC in May 2014, we met with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). At that time, they put it like this: “It is safer to run into a brick wall than into the back of a truck.” Yet, seemingly, nothing was being done about it. So we helped to organize the first and then the second Underride Roundtable.
Now something is being done about it.
We don’t have to let this continue to happen. We can do something to prevent deadly truck underride crashes. I’ve put together some ways that YOU, too, can help make trucks safer:
See more video and media coverage here: Media Coverage of the Second Underride Roundtable

“Fatal Jeep Crash Renews Criticism of Recall Fix to Prevent Fires”

A woman died this week when her Jeep SUV was rear ended while stopped at a traffic light.

Fuel from the Jeep then caught fire. . .

The driver of the Buick was cited for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol but those charges have since been dropped, he said.

Hammonds also said investigators suspect excessive speed to be involved but declined to estimate how fast the other driver was going at the time of the crash citing the early stages of the investigation.

After Fiat Chrysler agreed to recall the Jeeps, NHTSA closed its investigation in November of 2014. It concluded in a memo at the time that the trailer hitch provided “incremental safety benefits in certain low and moderate speed crash incidents, Fatal Jeep Crash Renews Criticism of Recall Fix to Prevent Fires” while also noting that the repair “will not necessarily be effective in the most severe crashes.”

Is this another example of a person whose life would have been spared had those with responsibility to act not been negligent? When will we understand that we hold the power of life & death in our hands?