Tag Archives: safety technology

Innovative solution to modifying cell phone use while driving – from a family who knows dangers

After Josh and his sister survived a crash due to a texting driver, he decided to do something about the problem of distracted driving due to cell phone use.

“This honour system where we expect you to protect yourself, put your phone away while driving, it doesn’t work,” said Josh, now 26. “Technology created the problem and technology is the only way to solve the problem.”

Today, Josh and his father have a company called Keeping Roads Safe, which makes a product called DriveCare. The device prevents drivers’ mobile phones from displaying calls, texts and social media notifications while their vehicles are turned on, sending an automatic reply to incoming text messages informing the sender the recipient is driving and unable to respond.

– See more at: https://keepingroadssafe.ca/fatal-distraction-national-post/#sthash.NiEuBsxR.dpuf

Both AndIrreversible tragedies

Why would we suppress available technology that could be put to use to protect innocent lives?

Call on the Lord. Trust in Him. Rely on His strength.
41b AnnaLeah armor
The Battle is the LORD’s!
Surely it would be His will for available technology to be put to use to protect innocent lives.
Then Asa called to the LORD his God, and said, ‘Lord, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in Thee, and in Thy name have come against this multitude. O LORD, Thou are our God; let not man prevail against Thee.’
2 Chronicles 14:11
Car Safety Wars11wjd2Gertie reaching for Mary ...Susanna's film25 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052
Trip North May 2015 138IMG_4467

New on the Market: Angel Wing Side Guard Solution To Prevent Truck Underride Deaths & Injuries

Good news for those of us who travel on the roads. . . There will soon be a safety product on the market: a side guard to prevent passenger vehicles — as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders —  from riding under the sides of large trucks upon collision.

Airflow Deflector already supplies a line of  truck side guards — aimed mainly at pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders — and has been installing them on city-owned trucks in Boston and New York, two cities committed to Vision Zero.

As a result of opportunities to network with others at the May 5 Underride Roundtable, Robert Martineau has teamed up with Perry Ponder of Seven Hills Engineering to manufacture and market his side guard invention, Angel Wing. Robert recently shared this good news with me:

” . . . we will be bringing Angel WIng to market.  If you go to our site (http://airflowdeflector.com/angelwing_underride/) you can see our new post and video. 

“We are excited to launch this product which will be ready for market by the early fall.  We will be communicating with different people as to get it tested, certified and tried on trucks as part of a fleet valuation. Still some details to work out but we are now in production. 

“We believe this is a very good start and will fit the business model that the transportation industry knows and understands as it does address the issues that face the transportation market both from an economization of fuel and underride safety.

Another side guard designer, Aaron Kiefer, continues to develop his invention with the goal of making it a viable alternative for protecting people from the deadly side underride which he sees in his work as a crash reconstructionist. His guard actually attaches to the rear guard on trucks thereby strengthening the underride protection for collisions at the back of the truck as well as providing protection on the sides.

Given the vast number of trucks without side guards and the potential for horrific underride deaths and injuries just waiting to happen, I am encouraged to see this progress and look forward to more of the same.

Now what we need is a federal mandate for side underride protection on all large trucks. (Stay tuned for an online petition for Side Guards.)

August 7, 2016 UPDATE We just launched an online petition at Care2 petition site calliing on NHTSA to  Mandate Side Guards On Large Trucks To End Deadly Side Underride Crashes.

Please sign & share: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/026/213/mandate-side-guards-on-large-trucks-to-end-deadly-side-underride-crashes/

“Responsibility in Engineering: Toward a New Role for Engineering Ethicists”

Responsibility in Engineering: Toward a New Role for Engineering Ethicists

Traditionally, the management of technology has focused on the stages before or after development of technology. In this approach the technology itself is conceived as the result of a deterministic enterprise; a result that is to be either rejected or embraced. However, recent insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) have shown that there is ample room to modulate technology during development. This requires technology managers and engineering ethicists to become more involved in the technological research rather than assessing it from an outsider perspective. Instead of focusing on the question whether or not to authorize, approve, or adopt a certain technology or on the question of who is to blame for potential mistakes, the guiding question in this new approach is how research is to be carried out.

Responsibility in Engineering: Toward a New Role for Engineering Ethicists by Neelke Doorn, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, n.doorn{at}tudelft.nl
and Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

doi: 10.1177/0270467610372112
Bulletin of Science Technology Society June 2010 vol. 30 no. 3 222-230

Negotiated Rulemaking

Is it ethical to not use safety technology which could save human lives?

I still can’t believe that they are gone and won’t ever come back.

The circumstances that led to their deaths, and the way that fighting for safer roads has taken over my life, make it all seem so unreal.

Oh, sure, there are big chunks of normal everyday life. But overall, there is a sense that something is very wrong with this world and how can I ever go back to thinking otherwise?

I wrote those words last night in an effort to grapple with the aching grief.

As I reflect more upon that dilemma, I think that it stems from a kind of raging helplessness, an inability to change that which callously tosses aside the value of human life and is able to do so because there is always someone else at whom to point the finger of blame or to expect to shoulder the responsibility to do something about the problem.

So the end result, for the embittered mourner, may be that there is no easily-identified enemy to fight. Victory is elusive. Intangible. Slippery. If a battle is won, too often loopholes appear or the victory has come only through compromise.

And why should that be? Why don’t we place a higher value on saving human life from preventable, senseless deaths? Is compromise the only option?

Is it because of a lurking attitude of c’est la vie, que sera sera — that’s life, whatever will be , will be?

Until it touches your life. Then you’ll understand. Then it will be too late.

Car Safety Wars

Writing this because I miss them. . .

Note: After writing the above, I looked to see what I could find online regarding the ethics of saving human lives related to road safety. [My search terms were: Is it ethical to not use safety technology to save human lives?] I found an interesting essay on the topic, Saving lives in road traffic—ethical aspects, and am pasting the concluding remarks from that article here:

I would like to end this overview of ethical problem areas in traffic safety with some concluding thoughts on how these five ethical topics can be included and inform policy.


Attempts should be made to analyse the problem at hand carefully and as open-mindedly as possible before rushing to the conclusion that the best way to reduce or eliminate an unwanted and harmful behaviour is to criminalise and punish. Alternatives should be considered and creativity in problem solving encouraged. A good example is drunk driving where the alcohol interlock is a device worth considering as an alternative or at least additional measure to punishment.


Most measures to increase safety in road traffic can be motivated by the notion of protecting others against harm, which means that even a liberal can endorse them. However, there are some measures where the most beneficial to society may be to ignore it, for example motorcyclists not wearing a helmet, but where most people still believe society should protect individuals against harm by legislation or technology. It should be acknowledged that this is the case, and it would be helpful to carefully analyse and discuss new measures, keeping in mind the distinction between harming others and harming oneself. In some cases, most people share an intuition that a measure is justifiable even though it is paternalistic, but in other cases paternalistic measures appear unjustifiable. By acknowledging and discussing such issues freely and publicly we make sure that new laws and technologies are at least closer to being ethically justifiable.


There appears to be a fundamental difference between privacy in our own homes and privacy on the road. The reasons we are equally attached to the notion of privacy in our cars as we are to privacy in our homes are tradition, culture and habits. We should recognise that the great degree of risk-exposure associated with driving may imply that the expectation of privacy on the road is not reasonable.


A humane society protects vulnerable human beings. A humane infrastructure protects vulnerable road users, for example children, the elderly and disabled people. This implies that we should not count their lives or the quality of their lives less than others. It may even mean that additional attention should be directed at protecting such groups. A minimal requirement should be that potential damaging effects on vulnerable groups should always be taken into account when planning infrastructural projects.


The traditional view of responsibility for traffic safety is closely attached to the notion that safety is about individuals driving safely and that accidents are caused by drivers. While this is true to some extent, the emerging view that a major role can and should be played by institutions, for example governments and vehicle-producing companies, is useful and reasonable. The implied notion is that responsibility has to be distributed and shared between different actors if a safer road traffic environment is to be achieved.

People in industrialised societies are so used to road traffic that it is almost considered a part of nature. Consequently, we do not acknowledge that we can introduce change and that we can affect the role we have given road traffic and cars. By acknowledging the ethical aspects of road traffic and illuminating the way the choices society makes are ethically charged, it becomes clear that there are alternative ways to design the road traffic system. The most important general conclusion is that discussion concerning these alternative ways of designing the system should be encouraged. Here are some examples of questions to address in public debates:

  • What are the reasons for prohibiting certain behaviour or requiring a certain safety device—to protect the individual from herself, to protect others or to save money? Which of these reasons are valid?
  • Should society criminalise unsafe behaviour or use technology (when possible) to eliminate the unwanted behaviour?
  • To what extent is it reasonable to expect privacy on the road?
  • Should additional measures be used to protect vulnerable road users?
  • Should safety be seen as the result of individuals behaving responsibly or the system designers designing safe systems?

Saving lives in road traffic—ethical aspects

1Department of Philosophy, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5015, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
2Division of Philosophy, Royal Institute of Technology, Teknikringen 78B, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist, Phone: +46-739-853215, ln.tfledut@tsiuqlhaf-nelhin.a.j.

Could it have been you? Could you ever be the parent that left their child in a car?

I can’t get it out of my mind. After reading the explanation of how it is a parent could be forgetful and end up leaving their child in the car, it didn’t take much for me to recall ways that I have been distracted or known others who were. Oh, not by leaving a child all day in a car, but. . .

I will never forget the time when our AnnaLeah was 2 and her younger brother had just been born. She and her 6 older siblings stayed overnight with my aunt so that I could have a break at home with the newborn. Brave woman. When we went to pick up the kids later, we found out that they had had some excitement. . .

My aunt put AnnaLeah on her bed to change her diaper. In the process, something came up and my aunt told AnnaLeah to stay right there, not to move, and she would be right back. As it turns out, while AnnaLeah lay there obediently, her great-aunt had forgotten about her and taken the other 6 for a walk with the dog down the road nearby. All of a sudden, my aunt realized somebody was missing and said, “Where’s AnnaLeah?”

They hurried back to the house and there AnnaLeah was waiting patiently on the bed like she was told to do! We always teased my aunt about that incident and laughed about it many times over the years because we thought it so funny. But how tragic that would have been for all of us had AnnaLeah been left in a car and forgotten. Imagine.

It could happen to anyone. Even me. Even you or someone you know.

Or, like today, our family had medical appointments at Duke Clinic where we left the car with the Valet service. After getting the parking stub and handing over the keys, Jerry got his things from the car and started to go inside the building and then thought, “Did I leave the parking ticket in the car?” It turns out he hadn’t. But, in the rush of trying to get somewhere, the wires got crisscrossed.

Then, later, while we were waiting to get our car, another woman went up to the Valet booth and said that the woman with her had left her purse in the car which had already been parked. In a hurry. Forgetful.

The point is that no one intends for these children to be forgotten in hot cars, and we could work together as a society to prevent these unbearably tragic deaths. If only we would.

Hot car deathsLook before you lock


How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars? To err is to be human. But we can do this.

I had read a blogpost before by a parent who had lost a child in a hot car death. And recently I have heard about the increase of such deaths and the push to get doable solutions to reduce these horrible tragedies.

Then I read an article today by Janette Fennell, director of KidsAndCars.org, who mentioned the need for parent education but along with other solutions:

. . . education is not enough. We cannot educate every single parent, grandparent, babysitter and caregiver in the country. And most parents don’t believe that the worst mistake a parent can make could happen to them. But blaming them only deepens the heart-rending impact of these incidents for families who are already overwhelmed by guilt and grief. To err is to be human. How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars

Reading that immediately brought to mind the days and weeks after our truck underride crash, on May 4, 2013 (a date embedded in my mind) in which we lost AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13). I was in the hospital myself for almost a week and due to the circumstances it was some time before I heard the news that AnnaLeah had died instantly and later the news that Mary had died due to her injuries.

When I did find out, I can’t really describe it for you to fully grasp, but I just wanted it to be me instead of them. “Why couldn’t it have been me? They had so much life yet to live. Let me take their place.” But, of course, nothing was going to change the awful reality. They were gone. They would never come back.

And, as I learned the circumstances of the crash, that a truck had hit us spinning us around and hitting us again — sending us backwards into the back of another truck (whose weak, ineffective underride guard failed) and AnnaLeah & Mary in the back seat took the brunt of it, their bodies broken by the truck — I wanted it to have been me. [Especially since I had been driving and if we had simply rear-ended the truck, it would have been me that died.]

They were totally innocent; they had done nothing to deserve their lives to be snatched senselessly from them. I wasn’t sure that I could bear going on living with the knowledge that they were gone and I had lived.

Let it be me, Lord.

I think of that now — knowing that I was not responsible for their deaths (although I could have left the restaurant 5 minutes sooner and not been in that place at that time). And then I try to imagine the guilt those parents must feel for having left their child in a car — even though they did not do it on purpose. On top of the ongoing grief which will be a daily part of their lives.

Makes my heart break.

Today, I read another article by a professor of cognitive and neural sciences who has been researching this problem for some time now and says that it is a problem of habit memory taking over — especially when parents are stressed and sleep-deprived and. . . well, read more here to understand what could happen to any of us:

An epidemic of children dying in hot cars: a tragedy that can be prevented by David Diamond, June 20, 2016

Oh, my goodness! I just read a couple of the comments on this article. One person commented that it was high time that we make use of technology which could make these tragedies a thing of the past. The other person was disgusted that they would be expected to foot the bill for a feature that they would never make use of just to make up for “negligent parents!”

That attitude makes my blood boil!

I’m glad to see that one manufacturer has put a solution into one of their new cars:

This year, one manufacturer, GMC, finally stepped up and included a reminder system in one of their 2017 models. Just one vehicle, the Acadia, in the entire United States being sold will have a reminder system. GM unveils new feature to prevent child deaths in hot cars

But what about the rest of their models? And what about the rest of the car companies? What kind of society are we that would think it is okay to remind ourselves (and our consumers) that we forgot to turn off our lights (so our battery doesn’t get worn down) but refuse to pay the cost to protect innocent lives from being tragically ended?

Is it going to take a federal mandate to require manufacturers to put the available technology into every car? Is this one more safety matter that the industry would successfully block and declare that it is “not cost effective” because too few lives would be saved compared to the costs?

Another situation of preventable tragedies.

What will be the outcome, America? Will we do what is right? Will we be compassionate?

Hot car deaths


“E-Class: Saving Lives with Fine Print”

Advice from Roger Lanctot for future of car safety technology:

Television spots for cars are becoming a little like pharmaceutical ads filled with fine print and warnings about side effects and clarifications.  Safety advocates are taking Mercedes to task for its latest TV ads for the 2017 E Class, claiming that the car company is misleading consumers into thinking the car can drive itself.  For me, fine print is the trade-off on the road to saving lives.

E-Class: Saving Lives with Fine Print

Another thing which I think that a Traffic Safety Ombudsman could initiate with a nationwide network of traffic safety community advocacy groups: hold community educational seminars to better equip drivers to make best use of the safety technology available — now and in the not-too-far future.

Tragic deaths

“U.S. won’t mandate tech fix to prevent hot car deaths”

A Detroit News article from a year ago indicated that NHTSA — despite a mandate from Congress in 2012 to study the problem — had no plans to mandate technology to prevent hot car deaths.

A group called Kids and Cars noted that Congress granted NHTSA authority to study technological fixes in 2012 and called on NHTSA to take faster action. Senate Democrats this month introduced legislation that would direct NHTSA to conduct new research into the issue and “either commence a rule making within a year of completing the two-year research initiative or to submit a report to Congress on its reasons for not commencing such a rule making.”

NHTSA has been studying since 2011 the issue of whether after-market devices would be effective in preventing children from being left behind. No major automaker has added any in-vehicle technology to prevent children from being left behind. In a new report released Friday, NHTSA said its review of seven aftermarket products — including three unveiled last year — “offer product developers a set of testing applications that may be used to benchmark their designs and to improve system performance.”

Some systems send an alert to a driver’s mobile phone if they forgot a child, while others send an alert to the key fob or horn. They could also be added to more new car seats, Rosekind said.

General Motors vice president for safety Jeff Boyer said the automaker is also studying the technology, but he said in the meantime it is important to keep up the work on outreach and education to parents. A Chevrolet Volt was part of the demonstration with Safe Kids Worldwide showing firefighters responding to a report of a child left behind in a car.

Some industry experts think automakers are concerned about liability issues and the need for any system to be nearly perfect which is one reason none have added the devices to vehicles.

Really? Surely with all of the technological gizmos appearing in new cars and the ability for smartphones to be connected to vehicles, we can conquer this problem.

Surely we can take on this Goliath as a nation. Sounds like this issue is a good candidate for a Roundtable to address this problem. We cannot let these tragedies continue just because, “It would be difficult to justify an expensive technological fix to address a small number of deaths on a cost-benefit analysis.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think that the answer lies in a combination of personal and social responsibility.  Come on, America, let’s tackle this tragedy together!

Tragic deaths

SIGN  & SHARE the TRAFFIC SAFETY OMBUDSMAN Petition:  https://wh.gov/i6kUj

PLEASE NOTE: If you sign the petition, be sure to go to your email. We the People will send you an email which will say this in the subject line:  “Almost done! Verify your Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov account.” Follow the instructions to verify your signature.

Adopting needed safety technology should not have to be such a battle. Why is it then?

The Best Possible Protection

Studies have been done which show that trucks, even if they are equipped with rear underride guards, do not pass all of the crash tests. In fact, out of 8 truck companies tested, only one, Manac, passed all of the tests: http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr031413.html .

So, it may be a true statement, according to The American Trucking Association, “that many manufacturers are producing trucks with better than required safety underride guards.”http://myfox8.com/2013/08/13/families-push-for-tractor-trailer-regulations/ Nonetheless, the bottomline is that there are many trucks which are NOT equipped with the best possible protection, which means that someone somewhere sometime might crash with one of those trucks and not live to know it.

Why would there be resistance to providing the best possible protection? Is it money? Quite possibly… Yet, according to Manac President Charles Dutil, the Manac underride guard “doesn’t weigh 200 pounds more than anybody else’s; it doesn’t cost $200 more,” estimating the difference to be at most 20 pounds and $20.

“If trailer manufacturers can make guards that do a better job of protecting passenger vehicle occupants while also promising lower repair costs for their customers, that’s a win-win,” says David Zuby, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s chief research officer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhQdYSSEJO8

What I want most of all, in this situation, is to help reduce the number of families who open their mail to find a death certificate for a family member because of a preventable death.

death certificate envelopes

NOTE: I wrote the above as a facebook post just a few months (August 14, 2013) after the crash which took AnnaLeah and Mary from us. Since then, almost three years later, three more trailer manufacturers have voluntarily improved their rear underride protection.

But there are four major manufacturers who have not and federal underride standards have not yet been improved. And then there are side guards and exempt single unit (straight, box) trucks which still need to be addressed. Not to mention the 12 million existing trucks on the road which probably won’t be required to be retrofitted with improvements.

Meanwhile people continue to die. Needlessly.

The Best Possible Protection

Adopting needed safety technology should not have to be such a battle. Why is it then?

Too Often, Too Little, Too Late; A Conspiracy of Silence