Tag Archives: safe roads

Toward Zero Crash Deaths “…if there’s just one life we can save—we’ve got an obligation to try.” @BarackObama

Across the nation, there are numerous individuals and organizations calling and working for Vision Zero goals and actions. What is the point? There are tens of thousands of people dying unnatural and preventable deaths each year due to crashes on our roads.

We are working tirelessly to call for President Obama and DOT Secretary Foxx to set a National Vision Zero goal and to change the traffic safety rulemaking  policies so that every life possible will be saved.

At present, we have two Vision Zero petitions which we will be delivering to Washington, DC, as soon as we can arrange for it:

  1. One directed specifically to President Obama asking him to set a National Vision Zero Goal and to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order, which will–among other things–give DOT the authority to make rules which will save more lives.   https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars
  2. One directed to Secretary Foxx  (and OIRA/OMB) asking him to change rulemaking policy to move away from a cost/benefit model and adopt a more humanistic, rational Vision Zero safety strategy model which will impact all DOT safety regulations (with immediate impact on truck underride rulemaking).  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Please sign both of the above petitions now and spread the word that together we can save lives!

Petition screenshot 001


Truck Underride Kills: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

“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”.  http://drinktank.org.au/2015/04/reflections-on-a-38-year-career-in-public-health-advocacy/

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.”  http://sphpm.blogspot.com/2014/11/dr-darshini-ayton-writes-about-her.html

Okay, that made me learn about another concept/strategy: Astroturfing. What?! http://www.responsiblelending.org/media-center/center-for-straight-answers/astroturf-group-alert.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

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:  http://automobiles.honda.com/safety/?from=safety.honda.com & https://www.yahoo.com/autos/honda-s-best-new-feature-1307184767189046.html

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.”  http://ht.ly/V13tY

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:  http://europe.autonews.com/article/20151126/BLOG15/311279982/volvo-concept-26-imagines-the-interior-of-fully-autonomous-cars

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, http://tinyurl.com/ptqt3fq )

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


“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: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/


Owner-Operator describes what it takes to drive wiggle-wagons (twin trailers)

This owner-operator describes what it takes to drive a double trailer rig:

He calls them wiggle-wagons and makes this recommendation to drivers: “There is more to know when operating this type of unit, but these are the main points.  Fed Ex is pressing the government to allow twin 33′ trailers.  They are making a good case for the allowance stating that it will increase productivity and decrease fuel consumption.  With that in mind, I recommend that you get your doubles endorsement in order to make yourself more versatile and attractive to prospective employers. – See more at: http://www.365trucking.com/blog/2015/5/16/so-you-want-to-pull-wiggle-waggons-a-joey-slaughter#sthash.vWr9Zb5W.dpuf

It seems to me that it requires additional training and experience to drive these things. And I still need convincing (I am told that DOT might be studying this) that the sought-after increase in productivity & decrease in fuel consumption will not be paid for with the price of an increase in crash deaths.

Yesterday, the Senate voted 56 – 31 in favor of the Wicker Amendment: “Specifically, that amendment would require U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a comprehensive safety study before longer trucks are permitted on highways. It would also require the agency to conduct a formal rulemaking process with public notice and comment period. ” http://www.thetrucker.com/News/Stories/2015/11/10/Senatevotes56-31toopposetwin33s.aspx

We all share the road with trucks. Let’s make sure that our travels are as SAFE AS POSSIBLE.

Underride guards Great Dane trip 016

Insights on Potential Riders on Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act & Their Impact on Truck Safety

My family knows all too well, the great loss which can come from a truck crash. We are doing everything in our power to keep your family from experiencing such life-changing tragedy.

For those of you who have the ability to impact the upcoming HR 3763, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Actplease consider these insights from the Truck Safety Coalition on potential riders or amendments and their likely impact on safety for travelers on the roads of our country:

October 28, 2015

The surface transportation reauthorization legislation currently being considered by Congress will set transportation policy for the next six years.  During that time, approximately 24,000 people will be killed in truck crashes and 600,000 more will be injured.  This legislation is an opportunity to reverse the upward trend of the truck crash death and injury toll.  If the safety title in the bill is not enhanced when the House and Senate meet in conference on the legislation, the American public will pay with their lives and their wallets.

On Thursday, October 22, The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure passed H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015. While a large number of amendments were offered, the majority of those amendments were withdrawn due to a bipartisan agreement between the Committee leadership to pass a bill through the Committee. The bill will now move to the House floor for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We expect that many of the same amendments that were withdrawn could be offered when the full House takes up the legislation.

It is expected that H.R. 3763 will be on the House floor next Tuesday and Wednesday, November 3-4.
Please take the time to contact your Representative either by phone or email, and urge him/her to oppose anti-truck safety provisions and amendments.
To Contact Your Representative Click Here:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Opposed Provisions in H.R. 3763:
Allowing Teen Truckers (Sec. 5404)                        
  • There is no data that analyzes whether it is safe to allow teenagers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate traffic.  In fact, research has demonstrated that truck drivers younger than age 21 have higher crash rates than drivers who are 21 years of age and older.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) previously declined to lower the minimum age for an unrestricted CDL to 18 as part of a pilot program because the agency could not conclude that the “safety performance of these younger drivers is sufficiently close to that of older drivers of CMVs[.]” The public overwhelmingly opposed the idea with 96 percent of individuals who responded opposing the proposal along with 88 percent of the truck drivers and 86 percent of the motor carriers who responded.
Changing Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Data (Secs. 5221, 5223, 5224)
  • Hiding critical safety information in the FMCSA’s CSA program will deprive consumers from learning about the comparative safety of motor carriers and bus companies when hiring a motor carrier company to transport goods or people.
  • Letting the public know the government safety scores promotes public accountability and improves safety. CSA is working as intended and includes a process so that it can continue to be fine-tuned and improved.
Delaying Rulemaking on Minimum Financial Responsibility (Sec. 5501)
  • Minimum insurance levels have not been increased once in over 35 years.
  • During this time medical care costs have increased significantly and the current minimum requirement of $750,000 is inadequate to cover the cost of one fatality or serious injury, let alone crashes in which there are multiple victims.
Limiting Shipper and Broker Liability (Sec. 5224)
  • Shields brokers and shippers from responsibility based on low standards related to hiring decisions. Reducing standards effectively removes safety from the carrier selection process.
Expected Amendments to Oppose to H.R.3763:
  • The Safe, Flexible and Efficient Trucking Act (H.R. 3488) increases the current federal 80,000 lbs. limit to 91,000 lbs. This bill, which is expected to be offered as an amendment by Rep. Reid Ribble (WI), contains a provision that would violate the federal bridge formula. Additionally, the U.S. DOT determined that introducing a 91,000 lb. weight limit would result in $1.1 billion immediate one-time bridge strengthening or replacement costs for non-interstate bridges on the National Highway System (NHS) as well as create bridge posting issues for nearly 5,000 bridges on the Interstate and NHS.
  • Mandate increasing the size of double tractor trailers from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet per trailer, resulting in trucks that are at least 84 feet long. Double 33s will be more dangerous to motorists and truck drivers, and more destructive to our nation’s already compromised roadways and bridges. This length increase will overturn the laws in a majority of states that currently prohibit Double 33s.
  • The recent U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (DOT Study) concluded there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of larger or heavier trucks and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.
    • By overwhelming margins in numerous public opinion polls over the last 20 years, the American public consistently and convincingly rejects sharing the road with bigger, heavier and longer trucks. The most recent poll in January 2015 by Harper Polling revealed that 76 percent of respondents oppose longer and heavier trucks on the highways and 79 percent are very or somewhat convinced that heavier and longer trucks will lead to more braking problems and longer stopping distances, causing an increase in the number of crashes involving trucks.
  • Special interest truck size and weight exemptions are essentially “earmarks” for states and “unfunded mandates” imposed on all American taxpayers who bear the cost of federally-financed infrastructure damage and repairs. We expect that there could be several amendments seeking size and weight exemptions.
The compounding effect of these anti-safety provisions will allow trucks, the size of an eight-story building, higher risk interstate truck drivers, and insufficient insurance for large trucks. A national surface transportation authorization bill should not be a legislative vehicle to pass special interest provisions that would never be supported by the public. Yet, this bill is rife with truck safety rollbacks that throw the safety agenda into reverse and further endanger everyone on the roads.
Put the Brakes on these Anti-Safety Provisions.  Save Lives, Taxpayer Costs and our Crumbling Infrastructure.


“Towards Zero – There’s no one someone won’t miss.”


Interesting read on how some engineers respond to criticism. . . by Charles Marohn, who is himself an engineer.


Charles lists the 5 most common lines he has heard, including:

  3. “WE CAN’T ELIMINATE ALL RISKS. ‘. . .With the odd exception, the public does not have an expectation that all risks can be eliminated. There is an odd incoherence, however. . .'”

In fact, I am looking forward to working with professionals, industry representatives, safety advocates, government officials, and victims as a team next May at our Underride Roundtable to solve the underride problem together and aim for Vision Zero Crash Deaths one life at a time. I am ready to deflect all arguments that it cannot be done. The Best Possible Protection.

Sign & Share our Vision Zero Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

Underride Research–It Can Be Done! https://www.fortrucksafety.com/


Comments from Signers of the Vision Zero Petition

We are thankful for everyone who has signed the Vision Zero Petition. And certainly your signature is enough, but I wanted to share the comments which I have found on The Petition Site from those who have signed our petition:

  1. Michelle Novak, NY Another family member whose deceased 22 year-old nephew’s life was weighed against a load of cookies and found lacking. We have had enough. You can stop this. But your political will seems to always lose to the monetary will of those executives and shareholders in the industry. Oh, if you could feel shame…..or empathy.
  2. David M. Dunn, MI
    Seriously? Putting profit before human life is short term thinking and, by the way, immoral.
  3. Ed Slattery, MD
    My wife was killed and two sons seriously injured, one permanently, when a trucker fell asleep at the wheel and pushed their car under the rear end of another semi in front of them while coming into a construction zone.
  4. Sonya Silver, NC
    Everyone’s life is priceless. So is the unconditional love that we express to our loved ones. So we need to make a change and to anyone denying us to do so need to ask themselves how much is their families worth?
  5. Ryan McMahan, NC
    I work in the accident reconstruction industry and see countless underride accidents each year, many ending in serious injury or death. The severity of injury in these types of crashes could be significantly reduced with the simple implementation of additional bracing on the trailers that travel our roadways.
  6. Brie Handgraaf, NC
    The bottom line should NEVER outweigh the cost of a human life. The status quo needs to be changed before anyone else suffers such a tragedy as the Karths.
  7. Rebekah Black, TX
    Please adopt stronger safety rules so that more lives can be saved. My sisters AnnaLeah and Mary Lydia are gone forever due to a truck collision, and no other family should have to go through this. Save lives.
  8. Name not displayed, IL
    I worry every day about my children’s safety.
  9. Marianne Karth, NC
    There is no one that this does not potentially impact in some way. We are asking for bold and decisive action to reduce tragic, preventable crash fatalities. Don’t wait until it touches you personally to move heaven & earth to identify and require the best possible protection. Once a loved one becomes a motor vehicle crash statistic, it will be too late–they will not come back to you.
  10. Janet Watson, NC
    I have good friends who lost 2 beautiful daughters in a horrific truck underride accident that could have been prevented with tougher trucking laws. Please sign this petition to help make a change in regulations that will help prevent more deaths on the road.
  11. Name not displayed, IL
    I always want to avert my eyes when I see the highway billboards that announce the number of traffic death to date in Illinois, but I make myself look to remind myself and my kids to drive safely and defensively. The numbers are staggering and devastating.
  12. Sherri Gillespie, CA
    OMB & DOT 1. Adopt rational Vision Zero Safety strategy. 2. Apply Vision Zero principles initiating rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance.
  13. Lana Briscoe, NY
    Secretary Foxx, it is avoidable and inexcusable that about 40,000 Americans die in vehicular crashes every year. Stop the cost/benefit analysis bean counting. The lives of Americans are at stake.
  14. Lucy Schneider, NJ
    This is a horrific tragedy that could have been prevented. I urge the Department of Transportation to adopt a VISION ZERO Policy!
  15. Jeanette Naumann, TX
    I was with members of this family when they suffered the tragic loss of their sisters and daughters. No parent should have to go through this when it can be prevented.
  16. Keith C Schnip, WA
    Big trucks, i.e. 18 wheelers, etc. should be banned from the nation’s Interstate Highway System. They cannot coexist safely with regular automotive traffic, i.e. cars. The roads simply are not big enough or safe enough.
  17. Name not displayed, CA
    Bring back freight trains! Lessen roadway and highway long hauls by bring back freight trains.
  18. Todd Freese, TX
    These dear friends lost their daughters due to a needless crash. Would you please join me as I join them in their quest for safer roads. God Bless You.
  19. Charlie Gray, NC
    Driver training and qualification standards must be heightened
  20. Darla Creel, TX
    I knew this family. What was sad is that these lives were lost going to a weekend of three graduations and a wedding. We need to support change for lives.
  21. Road Crash, United Kingdom
    Best wishes Marianne not far to 6,000
  22. Isaac Karth, NC
    Three years ago, I was sitting in my apartment, working on my class projects, when I got a phone call that turned my world upside down. My family’s car had been hit by a truck, and I was the first person that the hospital was able to reach. There was a lot of confusion; no one knew where my two sisters who had been in the back seat of the car had been taken. I had a pair of dice in my pocket that day, the same pair of dice that I had when my father called me later that evening with the news that my sister had died in the crash. Humans are bad at estimating probabilities. A one-in-a-million chance sounds rare, but that’s close to the odds the NWS reports for being struck by lightning, and 330 Americans are injured that way every year. It’s rare, but it happens. In probability theory, it’s called the law of large numbers. If you roll the dice often enough, or for enough people, the dice are going to come up as ones at a predictable, measurable rate. The IIHS reported that in 2013, there were 10.3 deaths from motor vehicle crashes per 100,000 people. That’s about one-in-ten-thousand, way more likely than one-in-a-million. And, unlike other leading causes of death, this is an entirely human-created problem, one that didn’t exist two hundred years ago. Automotive safety has been improving over time. But it is still one of the leading causes of death in America. Curing cancer, one of the other leading causes, is expensive and difficult, requiring research just to figure out if it is even possible. In contrast, for motor vehicle deaths there are many cases where we already know simple ways to reduce motor vehicle fatalities, such as effective underride guards, and we have promising research for even more. We shouldn’t settle for one-in-ten thousand, or even one-in-a-hundred-thousand. We should strive to be better than that. Human lives shouldn’t be a nickel and dime proposition. Even low chances of death are still too high. I shouldn’t have to roll the dice every time I need to leave my house. I shouldn’t have to wonder, every time my family is out on the road, if today is going to be the day that they roll too many ones again.
  23. Catherine Memmer, MI
    You could put signs way ahead!!! This is senseless. What if it was your kids that were killed!! Don’t be so cheap!!!!
  24.  Donna Profeta, NY Our families’ lives are worth more than the cost in dollars.

    Sign The Vision Petition:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

    Petition screenshot 001

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

On average, 40,000 people die each year in crashes.  Currently, the Department of Transportation makes highway safety rules based upon how much safety measures will cost. We are hoping to change that and promote a Vision Zero safety strategy model with goals of Zero Deaths, Zero Injuries, Zero Fear of Traffic.


One of the biggest challenges to making change is the cost/benefit analysis. On the one side there are lives to be saved and on the other side there are companies working to make money. The trick is to try and meet everyone’s needs. The solution has to be effective in saving lives while still being affordable for companies so that they can make the changes necessary without a lot of struggle.

The problem comes in when human life and health get the short end of the stick. The result is that many safety measures are stopped because they would cost more to implement than the “worth” of the “small” number of human lives which would be saved. That’s just not right.

After losing two daughters in a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, our family made a positive impact one year later by taking over 11,000 signatures on our AnnaLeah & Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety Care2 Petition to DOT in Washington, DC. And we have set up a non-profit to promote highway safety research and federal regulations to protect motorists, pedestrians, & cyclists.

Sign our new petition to let DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx know that we want him to:

1. Change rulemaking policy to move away from an economic-rationalist cost/benefit model and adopt a more humanistic, rational Vision Zero safety strategy model. “Vision Zero states that the loss of human life and health is unacceptable and therefore the road transport system should be designed in a way that such events do not occur.” http://tinyurl.com/9uhzyux

2. Apply Vision Zero principles by requiring crash test-based performance standards for truck underride guards rather than force-based design standards along with success at higher speeds—to include rear (both centered and offset) and side guards for both Single Unit Trucks and trailers.

3. Apply Vision Zero principles by requiring NHTSA to initiate rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM) systems on all new large trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs. or more.

Please sign & share this petition in memory of AnnaLeah & Mary
and make the roads safer for us all:   http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

For more information: https://www.fortrucksafety.com/

You can do it! Ignore your phone until you can safely answer it.

You can do it! Ignore your phone until you can safely answer it. Mary recorded herself for my ringtone. She wanted to be famous. While she might not have died from distracted driving (we don’t know what made the truck driver crash into our car), I think that she would have liked to be known for helping others to drive more safely.

(Photos taken from various stages of Mary’s life.) http://annaleahmary.com/about/