Tag Archives: safety advocacy

Court case could spell end to corporate cover-up of deadly defects secrets.

“Corporations can no longer hope to prevent public access to court records simply by settling a case before a court gets a chance to make a final determination.” – See more at: http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/ninth-circuit-hands-safety-advocates-victory-over-chrysler/#sthash.QFwAJeKU.dpuf

That’s good news because corporations need to be held accountable for what they produce. If they aren’t held liable for safety defects in their products, then what reason do they have for being vigilant themselves to make sure that their actions are not resulting in death or serious injuries?

I have written more on this topic here: http://annaleahmary.com/tag/trailer-manufacturers/.

Car Safety Wars book cover

(Photo is cover of enlightening safety advocacy historical chronicle. . .                               written by Michael R. Lemov)

Where is God when there are horrific tragedies? With us.

This is a follow-up to my previous post on the struggle to understand where God is at when there are horrific tragedies: http://annaleahmary.com/2016/01/do-what-it-takes-to-prevent-people-from-unnecessarily-dying-in-motor-vehicle-crashes/.

After writing that post, then I read an article which a friend had posted on facebook, called Slain in the Shadow of the Almightyhttp://www.desiringgod.org/articles/slain-in-the-shadow-of-the-almighty . I might agree with some things in that article. But what I read in the Bible, and what I have seen to be the case in my life, is that while we are not in total control we can make an impact on what happens in this world:

  • Man makes plans, but the LORD directs his steps–by the power of the Spirit.
  • Jesus, being tempted in the wilderness by Satan for 40 days, did not simply jump from the roof of the temple and expect God/an angel to catch Him.
  • Joseph, with the wisdom given to Him by God, made a plan to be prepared for a famine and doled out food to meet people’s needs (including his own family who were not prepared).
  • Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
  • I think that it is a matter of trust and I do trust Him. But I think that He wants us to take dominion over things in this world where we are capable of doing so–as in matters where we can take steps to prevent others from dying.
  • God’s love is the rule.
  • Faith without works is dead. We walk by faith and not by sight. By faith, this mountain can be moved.
  • A paradox of faith.
  • He works through our words and actions and plans. That includes advocating for measures which will lead to safer roads and prevent unnecessary deaths.
  • Until the race is finished and the work is done.

I sang this song at my daughters’ funeral and I still believe it to be true:

a66 AnnaLeah and Mary's balloons

The balloons we released at the burial of AnnaLeah (17 purple) and Mary (13 orange) as we said farewell.


Do what it takes to prevent people from unnecessarily dying in motor vehicle crashes.

It really bothers me when people frequently suggest that someone came out of a horrible crash alive because of the grace of God. I have a hard time thinking that because the flip side would be to conclude that His grace did not bother to save my girls.

Instead, I choose to trust Romans 8:28 that He will make all things work together for good and that He will give me the grace to get through what happened. And He did allow it to happen, which has caused me a great deal of struggle with some Bible verses which talk about His angels having charge over us, etc. (For example, Psalm 91)

On the other hand, I don’t think that it is exactly what He had in mind for people to die in such tragic ways. I think that He has given us the wisdom to do our part and whenever possible to do what it takes to prevent people from unnecessarily dying from motor vehicle crashes. He doesn’t mean for us to live carelessly or irresponsibly and simply expect that our guardian angels will always take up the slack for us.

The fact of the matter is that we all have responsibility to do our part–whether it is to drive responsibly or to determine what needs to be done to make our roads safer. This can include so many things such as technology, equipment design, road design, traffic laws, safety regulations, enforcement, and criminal justice.

And so, I feel confident that He will hear my prayer when I ask for breakthroughs in safety issues and that He will lead me in the path of safety advocacy and by His Spirit move through people to bring about change. And when there is resistance and opposition, I will do all in my power to draw attention to it and shed light on the truth.

Dragon Underride Protector 004

We Rescue Jesus Saves 00425 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052No no list 003


And when there is tragedy, then, as AnnaLeah’s craft project above says, “In my life, Lord, Thy will be done.”

Meanwhile, let’s join together and work Toward Zero Deaths: https://www.change.org/p/obama-adopt-a-vision-zero-goal-and-sign-an-executive-order-to-save-lives-not-dollars  and  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

OTHER POSTS RELEVANT TO THIS DIFFICULT TOPIC:   http://annaleahmary.com/tag/safety/

“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

Fall chores spark bittersweet memories & fuel renewed advocacy energy

As I took photos of Jerry raking pine needles in our backyard today it triggered memories of the good times we had with AnnaLeah and Mary our Last Fall Together–as well as all the other autumns of their short lives.

It brings good but bittersweet memories as I remember all-too-well how they cannot be here at this time in this place to enjoy these moments. They had come with us to tour this house in anticipation of purchasing it the following spring–walking through this backyard which they never got to enjoy as their own.

Iowa and pine needles 032 Iowa and pine needles 036

And then it reminds me why I have thrown myself into this huge endeavor called Safety Advocacy. For some other mom who–I hope–will never know this heartache.

Remembering Our Last Fall Together, a photo album   https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.519997071416145.1073741912.464993830249803&type=3


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.”

Blindsided By Unexpected Loss; The many facets of grief

I recently returned from a trip to DC where Jerry, Isaac, and I joined with other families who had experienced unexpected loss by way of devastating truck crashes. At the Truck Safety Coalition’s Sorrow to Strength Conference we shared our stories with one another, attended workshops to learn more about truck safety issues and how to advocate for change, as well as participated in meetings on The Hill.

One of the workshops was on the topic of grief and I had made the comment that what we all experienced in our horrific, tragic losses made the grief more complicated because of the anger and frustration we all too often feel when too little is done too late to save (other) lives. It is sometimes hard to move on fully with, as they say, “a new normal” when you witness the seemingly calloused and indifferent attitude toward what should be preventable deaths.

Supposedly its a risk you take when you choose to get on the road, you know. Or, changes would not be “cost effective.”

In any case, I wanted to share an article which I read last year. It helped me process my feelings of grief at the unexpected loss I have felt after discovering in 2010 that many of our family members face challenges we had never anticipated with a progressive hereditary peripheral neuropathy (Charcot Marie Tooth or CMT). What they tell us is that it is not life-threatening, but it is a life-changer.

I had searched online and found this interesting article about the grieving of parents with disabled children, which could be helpful for any grieving person–no matter what their loss, The Impact of Childhood Disability: The Parent’s Struggle, by Ken Moses, Ph.D.:

I just now re-read it and noticed this statement by the author:  After working with parents of the impaired for many years, I have come to believe that I was given bad advice. I have come to believe that pain is the solution, not the problem.

That reminded me of something my 5 year-old granddaughter said earlier this year:

One day, Vanessa asked me (out of the blue), “Does pain fix sadness?

Me: “Well. . .?”

Vanessa: Runs off to play. . .

I don’t know. Will the pain which I am going through eventually “fix” my sadness? Is the pain a process–or at least a signal or indication that a process of healing is taking place? If I were not feeling the pain, would it be harder to complete that process? Will the pain ever lessen?

I have also known real peace in this season. It also comes and goes–seeming elusive. Comes mostly when I am focused on the promises of God–in word or song–like the song I sang at their funeral, In Christ Alone. I really believed it then and I believe it now. It just seems in stiff competition with the real pain.

Read more in that post, Real Pain, Real Peacehttp://annaleahmary.com/2015/03/real-pain-real-peace/

I was glad to see that Jerry and Isaac had an opportunity to tell our story themselves for the preparation of videos which I just discovered are now posted on the Truck Safety Coalition’s website:


Other families share their truck crash stories here: http://trucksafety.org/get-involved/personal-stories/ .

Just yesterday, I read a facebook post and comments by some of the TSC family members. They were commenting on how hard it was to get back into things after the conference in DC and how they struggled anew with the grief and sadness. It reminded me of how thankful I was for the comment made several times at the conference that we will not tell each other, “Get over it.” It is such a complicated grief; we will never fully get over it.

But, with hope, we will carry on because we know that someday we will see their face again:


JFK: The Passing of the Torch; Spontaneous combustion ignited by a petition signed by UM students

This morning, I was reminded of my early beginnings as an advocate for nursing home patients. My first job out of college was as the Chapter Director of a local advocate organization for nursing home patients. The position was as a VISTA Volunteer–a stateside version of the Peace Corps.

I have thought many times how that role prepared me to speak up on behalf of the defenseless–victims who could not speak for themselves. It taught me to be tough and diligent and thorough. It paved the way for me to be an advocate for crash victims.

Then, I read my email and found the latest edition of the University of Michigan digital newsletter, Michigan Today, which I receive as an alumni. One particular article caught my attention: the early beginnings of the Peace Corps which took place in October 1960 at the University of Michigan. I read it with great interest.


The birth of a movement
Over the next two weeks, events moved fast. [Alan and Judy Guskin] were contacted by Samuel Hayes, the professor who had written the position paper on a youth corps for Kennedy. Together, they called a mass meeting. Some 250 students came out to sign a petition saying they would volunteer. Hundreds more signers followed within days. . .

On Sunday, Nov. 6, two days before the election, Kennedy was expected at the Toledo airport. Three carloads of U-M students, including the Guskins, drove down to show him the petitions. “He took them in his hands and started looking through the names,” Judy Guskin recalled later. “He was very interested.”

Alan asked: “Are you really serious about the Peace Corps?”

“Until Tuesday we’ll worry about this nation,” Kennedy said. “After Tuesday, the world.”

Two days later, Kennedy defeated Nixon by some 120,000 votes, one of the slimmest margins in U.S. history. Some argue the Peace Corps proposal may have swayed enough votes to make the difference.

“It might still be just an idea but for the affirmative response of those Michigan students and faculty,” wrote Sargent Shriver, JFK’s brother-in-law and the Peace Corps’ first director, in his memoir. “Possibly Kennedy would have tried it once more on some other occasion, but without a strong popular response he would have concluded the idea was impractical or premature. That probably would have ended it then and there. Instead, it was almost a case of spontaneous combustion.

I pray that our Vision Zero Petition and our truck safety advocacy efforts will likewise garner countless signatures and sway the hearts and minds of those who have the authority to make the difference in ways that will mean many saved lives for years to come.

Please sign & share our petitionhttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/417/742/234/save-lives-not-dollars-urge-dot-to-adopt-vision-zero-policy/

I was additionally intrigued by the mention of Kennedy’s campaign trip through Michigan because one of my vivid childhood memories was when he came through Grand Rapids when I was 5 on a train and went by at a spot which was a 10-minute walk from my home.

Senator John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into Ann Arbor very early on the morning of Friday, Oct. 14, 1960. The election was three and a half weeks away. The Democratic nominee for president and his staff had just flown into Willow Run Airport. A few hours earlier, in New York, Kennedy had fought Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, in the third of their four nationally televised debates. The race was extremely close, and Michigan was up for grabs. Kennedy’s schedule called for a few hours of sleep, then a one-day whistle-stop train tour across the state.

My family still talks about it because his train was delayed and so we were gone from home longer than expected. My mother had put a batch of bread in the oven and it ended up being overbaked so that it had a very thick & dark crust. In the future, whenever bread got overdone, we called it “Kennedy Bread.”

Petition Photo Bags at DOT, best

“Automatic emergency braking in all new cars, a step transportation officials say could significantly reduce traffic deaths and injuries.”

“Ten automakers have committed to the government [NHTSA] and a private safety group [IIHS] that they will include automatic emergency braking in all new cars, a step transportation officials say could significantly reduce traffic deaths and injuries.”

But I am glad to see that those “watchdogs” plan on pursuing regulations for that technology.  http://tinyurl.com/oc4cqy2

What do safety ratings really mean? http://ht.ly/PlP4h

Michael R. Lemov in his book, Car Safety Wars, describes the impact of the passing of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act in 1966:

“Detroit had lost its bid to prevent federal regulation of the safety of motor vehicles and highways. The companies promised to ‘live with the bill.’ But the industry continued its efforts to weaken key safety standards under the new act. It had only temporarily lost its political clout. It raised objections to the first standards issued by NHTSA in 1968 and later, to most things the safety agency proposed. Manufacturers sent their chief executives to the White House and to President Nixon. They pressed Secretaries of Transportation. They lobbied administrators of NHTSA. They argued, often successfully, to the House and Senate Appropriations committees for restrictions on the safety agency’s funding. The car safety wars did not end.

The enactment of strong federal motor vehicle and highway safety laws marked the single biggest milestone in the century-long fight for safer cars and roads. But the long struggle against death and injury on the highways was really just beginning.” p. 106

It is important for verbal commitment to safety to be followed up with regulatory provisions to ensure that it, in fact, becomes a reality.

A Twitter Conversation About Improved Auto Safety Compromised by Truck Safety Flaw  http://annaleahmary.com/tag/iihs/

Car Safety Wars book cover

If more people drove stick shift cars, would they be more focused on driving & less distracted?

Interesting thought: I just read an article which made me think,  If more people drove stick shift cars, would they be more focused on driving & less distracted?


Making the transmission automatic took a step out of the driving process, and in exchange, drivers lost touch with the reality of what driving is: shoving a 4,000 lb brick through space with consequences. Driving while doing something else isn’t like letting go of your handlebars while riding a bike. It’s like operating a missile without paying attention to where it’s going.

And while advances in car technology have made vehicles safer, those same advances have also made cars bubbles of infotainment with texting, calls and Facebook at hand. In 2013, 424,000 people were injured in “distracted driving accidents”, up from 421,000 people the year before, and 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the accident.

People who “grew up in the automotive industry or have this passion for vehicles – those are the guys that are driving manuals,” says Petrovski. “Everyone else is more in tune with what’s happening on their iPhones. They’re texting and driving. That’s pretty tough to do on a manual.”