Zero crash deaths and serious injuries
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- AnnaLeah Mary for Truck Safety
- Contents vii Introduction ix I Vision Zero 1
- III Executive Order 493 10 Why do we need a Vision Zero Executive Order 495
- 12 Petition Letter to President Obama 513 13 Letter of Support for the AnnaLeah Mary for Truck Safety
- A Vision Zero Posts from AnnaLeahMary.com 523
- Part I Vision Zero
- National Vision Zero Goal and for a Vision Zero rulemaking policy
- Vision Zero Executive Order
- End Homelessness, One
- Vision Zero: Reduce Crash Deaths Serious Injuries
- Preventable Death by Motor Vehicle
In Memory of
AnnaLeah and Mary Karth
ZERO CRASH DEATHS AND SERIOUS INJURIES
ZERO CRASH DEATHS AND SERIOUS INJURIES
ZERO CRASH DEATHS AND SERIOUS INJURIES
AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
© 2016 Marianne W. Karth. All rights reserved.
Published by AnnaLeah & Mary For Truck Safety
Interior design, layout, and production: Isaac Karth
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
This book is
in memory of
Mary Lydia Karth
your lives were cut
far too short.
1 What is Vision Zero?
2 Why Are We Advocating For Vision Zero?
3 Traffic Injuries & Fatalities Data
4 Truck Underride: A Practical Application of a Vision Zero Goal 11
5 Petition Letter to Secretary Foxx
6 About the Signers
7 Selected Comments by Signers of the Vision Zero Petition
8 Signatures to the Petition
9 Comments by Signers of the Petition
III Executive Order
10 Why do we need a Vision Zero Executive Order?
11 What is Needed to Bring About a National Vision Zero Goal? 501
11.1 Action One: Set a National Vision Zero Goal . . . . . . 502
11.2 Action Two: Establish a White House Vision Zero Task
Force To Achieve Significant Crash Death Reduction . . 503
11.3 Action Three: Sign a Vision Zero Executive Order To Au-
thorize Vision Zero Rulemaking Policies . . . . . . . . . 507
12 Petition Letter to President Obama
13 Letter of Support for the AnnaLeah & Mary for Truck Safety
Vision Zero Executive Order Petition
14 Selected Comments From Current Executive Order Petition
A Vision Zero Posts from AnnaLeahMary.com
A.1 Chronologically archived: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 523
A.2 Alphabetical listing of Vision Zero posts: . . . . . . . . . 529
In the aftermath of losing our two youngest daughters, AnnaLeah (17)
and Mary (13), due to a truck underride crash on May 4, 2013, we became
aware of far too many facts about traffic fatalities.
Along the way, we discovered that a global movement is underway-called
Vision Zero. This term was coined in Sweden and has as its basis a couple
of “ethical rules”
• “Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within
• “Whenever someone is killed or seriously injured, necessary steps
must be taken to avoid a similar event”
Every life is worth saving; there is no person who will not be missed by
In an effort to do more than just put a bandaid on the problem, we
launched a campaign to call for major change in how safety laws and
regulations are determined. This book is a compilation of our request for
a National Vision Zero Goal and for a Vision Zero rulemaking policy.
It includes our petition letters to President Obama and DOT Secretary
Foxx—along with the signatures and comments of thousands of people
who signed the petitions and are speaking up with us to call for a move
Towards Zero Crash Deaths & Serious Injuries.
What is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero, in the simplest language, is the embracing of a vision or hope
that we could work toward reducing crash deaths (and serious injuries)
to zero. That no one would ever die in a traffic crash. It is, of course,
understood that—life being what it is—we will never actually reach zero.
But Vision Zero insists that certainly such a goal is desirable and, in fact,
so much so that everything humanly possible should be done to accom-
plish it. One life at a time. To do anything less would be unthinkable.
What would a Vision Zero philosophy/goal/policy mean to us as a coun-
try? Here is how Neil Arason, Canadian author of No Accident, views
“I think people have different views about vision zero but here
is mine. The airline industry does not apply cost benefit anal-
ysis to fixing aviation problems. They just fix problems and
that is that. Using a cost benefit model is incompatible with
vision zero because it applies trade-offs and vision zero does
not entail that. Vision zero is about making the system a safe
one and does not assign value to a human life because doing
that, the thinking goes, is unethical.”
This book is a compilation of our request for a National Vision Zero Goal
and for a Vision Zero rulemaking policy. It includes our petition letters
to President Obama and DOT Secretary Foxx—along with the signatures
and comments of thousands of people who signed the petitions and are
speaking up with us to call for a move Towards Zero Crash Deaths &
CHAPTER 1. WHAT IS VISION ZERO?
The book also includes an appendix full of annaleahmary.com
ten on how and why Vision Zero should be applied. For example, one
of the posts describes why we are pushing so hard to get people to sign a
Vision Zero petition. What difference would it make anyway? The reason
we are devoting our lives to pounding on this door and asking for change
is that our daughters may have lost their lives due to the lack of a Vision
A decision which concluded that recommended changes would not be
cost effective—in other words, that it would supposedly cost more to im-
plement safety measures than the lives saved would be worth—may have
led to lax underride guard standards. If the best possible protection had
been pursued when the regulations were last updated (1996), the trucks
on the road today (including the one on the road May 4, 2013) might be
much safer to be driving around.
Mary and AnnaLeah might even still be around.
Furthermore, the issue of underride guards is just one among many prob-
lems which, if a National Vision Zero Goal were in place, could be ad-
dressed more compassionately—as if human lives were really more impor-
tant to us than our pocketbook.
There is also a drafted Vision Zero Executive Order as a recommendation
for outlining a means of implementing a National Vision Zero Goal and
granting DOT the authority to adopt a Vision Zero rulemaking policy.
Finally, there is a draft for a presidential memorandum mandating a task
force to address these issues in a collaborative effort at a national level in
order to establish national traffic safety standards which should be adopted
by all states.
Why Are We Advocating For
32,675 people died in U.S. traffic crashes in 2013.
Two of those peo-
ple were my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13). That number
decreased to 32,675 deaths in 2014. Down by 44, but still far too many
deaths in my book. In fact, early estimates show an increase in traffic
fatalities in 2015.
I survived a horrific truck crash in which our car was pushed by a truck
into the rear of another truck. Backwards. My daughters in the back seat
were not so fortunate; they went under the truck and the truck broke their
Underride deaths are preventable and unnecessary and now is the time to
take extreme action to reduce these deaths—no matter who caused the
crash! Let’s not wait for collision avoidance technology to kick in before
kicking out preventable underride deaths!
The underride problem is just one example of the fixable problems we need
to address. Michael Lemov has written an eye-opener, Car Safety Wars:
that in the more than 110 years since the first traffic crash in 1898, more
than 3.5 million Americans have been killed and more than 300,000,000
injured in motor vehicle crashes [p.9]. This, I learned, is 3x the number
of Americans who have been killed and 200x the number wounded in all
of the wars fought by our nation since the Revolution [p.10]. Imagine.
6 CHAPTER 2. WHY ARE WE ADVOCATING FOR VISION ZERO?
Are you aware that Death by Motor Vehicle is one of the leading causes
“Worldwide it was estimated that 1.2 million people were
killed and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle
collisions in 2004. Also in 2010 alone, around 1.23 million
people were killed due to traffic collisions. This makes
motor vehicle collisions the leading cause of death among
children 10–19 years of age (260,000 children die a year, 10
million are injured) and the sixth leading preventable cause
of death in the United States (45,800 people died and 2.4
million were injured in 2005). It is estimated that motor
vehicle collisions caused the deaths of around 60 million
people during the 20th century, around the same as the
number of World War II casualties.”
Lemov’s book sheds light on many things including the fact that, although
the blame was often put on the driver for crashes in the 20th century,
in fact crashes and crash deaths are additionally caused by other factors
including environmental and vehicle factors. He uses a term which I had
never heard before—post-crash injury or “second collision.” He describes
it this way:
“It is the collision of the occupants of a vehicle with its interior,
or the road, after the initial impact of a car crash. Ultimately
the creativity of a few scientists, doctors, and investigators. . .
developed an understanding of what actually happens to a hu-
man body in a car crash. . . Researchers gradually developed
ideas they hoped would prevent this second collision.” [p.16]
We can thank these researchers for paving the way for improved vehicle
safety, including things like seat belts, air bags, and even car seats that lock
in position. But, for far too long, it has been a major battle—as Lemov
says, a car safety war—to bring about changes which will save lives.
Our own crash demonstrated the many factors which can contribute to the
occurrence of crashes as well as to the deaths and horrific injuries which
too often occur as a result. We learned the hard way that many of these
are preventable and that Our Crash Was Not An Accident.
Following our truck crash, on May 4, 2013, we have learned more than we
ever wanted to about traffic safety issues. We took the AnnaLeah & Mary
Stand Up for Truck Safety—Save Lives and Prevent Injuries! Petition to
DC on May 5, 2014 and helped to initiate an update in the underride
protection for tractor-trailers.
Following that, we worked to promote underride research and have helped
to organize an international Underride Roundtable on Thursday, May 5,
2016, when researchers, government officials, and industry leaders will
gather to discuss truck underride crashes and how to reduce the risks for
passenger vehicle occupants, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We will explore
the scope of the problem and how regulation and voluntary action can
help address it. There will also be a demonstration of underride guard
performance in a crash test.
But, along the way, as I engaged in safety advocacy efforts—calling, email-
ing, and meeting with legislators—I quickly realized that all too-often it
was 2 steps forward 3 steps backward. I began to ask, “Why is it so diffi-
cult to get anything done to save lives?” and “Why isn’t the best possible
protection being adopted?”
I learned that one of the biggest obstacles was that public policy and
more specifically DOT rulemaking is impacted by a requirement for
cost/benefit analysis which tips the scale in the favor of industry lobby
and the almighty dollar and makes a mockery out of the word safety.
Human life becomes devalued in the process when a safety measure is
rejected because it “may not have significant safety consequence.”
This is illustrated in the history of Federal rulemaking on truck underride
guards outlined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it
was indicated that in “1974: US Secretary of Transportation says deaths
in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride
protection would be considered cost beneficial.”
I determined to battle such an inconceivable, incomprehensible, and un-
conscionable attitude and determined to find a better way to protect trav-
elers on the road. After talking with numerous engineers who either were
convinced that safer underride guards could be made or had already de-
signed ones, I also discovered a global movement that calls for the re-
duction of crash deaths and serious injuries: Vision Zero—An ethical
approach to safety and mobility.
After launching an online petition Save Lives Not Dollars: Urge DOT
to Adopt a Vision Zero Policy on September 29, 2015, I discovered that
8 CHAPTER 2. WHY ARE WE ADVOCATING FOR VISION ZERO?
an Executive Order had been signed by Clinton which had set in place
the cost/benefit analysis rulemaking policy which all-too-often delays or
blocks traffic safety regulations. I immediately set out to petition President
Obama to set a National Vision Zero Goal with the establishment of a
White House Task Force to Achieve a Vision Zero Goal of Crash Death
Reduction. Furthermore, I believe that it is necessary to cancel out the
negative impact of Executive Order 12866 in order to end this senseless
war over safety. That is why I am asking President Obama to sign a new
Vision Zero Executive Order.
Why are we devoting our lives to pushing for a DOT Vision Zero pol-
icy? Because I truly believe that it can have an impact not just on truck
safety but on all issues related to highway and auto safety—including auto
safety defects, driver training requirements, all kinds of impaired driving
(including distracted driving, drunk driving, and driving while fatigued),
and proven national traffic safety standards which should be adopted by
We are taking these petitions (over 16,000 signatures to date) to Wash-
ington, DC, on March 4, where we will be meeting with DOT policy
officials to discuss the need for this radical change in how our nation pro-
tects the travelers on our roads. Help us persuade President Obama to set
a National Vision Zero Goal & to sign a Vision Zero Executive Order
which will allow DOT to adopt a Vision Zero rulemaking policy.
It is time to stop acting like the value of a human life can be measured
with and compared to corporate dollars. Every delay costs someone their
Let’s get it right, America. Somebody’s life depends on it. Lots of some-
Traffic Injuries & Fatalities Data
Figure 3.1: In 2004-2014, the leading cause of death in the United States
for ages 1-45 was Unintentional Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic
CHAPTER 3. TRAFFIC INJURIES & FATALITIES DATA
Figure 3.2: Motor Vehicle Traffic continues to be a leading cause of death
in the Unintentional Injury category for all ages.
Truck Underride: A Practical
Application of a Vision Zero Goal
It is a common business practice to develop a Vision Statement which
exemplifies the goals of the organization and which will direct its decisions,
practices, and activities.
Let me give an example of this. Our family helped to develop a Vision
Statement for Family Promise of Midland, Texas: End Homelessness, One
Family at a Time. Will there ever be zero homeless families? Probably
not. But that vision is what we aimed for; it guided our steps.
What can a vision statement do? It can, “encourage strategic thinking
and help organizations share concise information about their plans and
progress toward impact.”
Similarly, Vision Zero: Reduce Crash Deaths & Serious Injuries is a vision
statement that serves to move us ever closer to ending preventable, sense-
less and tragic crash deaths & serious injuries—one life saved at a time.
That vision guides our steps to discover and implement proven means to
save lives—to make saving human life a priority over saving money.
Specifically, we have chosen to advocate for resolution of a problem which
has too-long been ignored: truck underride crashes. It is well-known that
the current underride guard standards are inadequate; they result in guards
that are weak and ineffective and all-too often lead to tragic deaths and
horrific injuries. The really bad thing about this is that many people have
CHAPTER 4. TRUCK UNDERRIDE
already taken the time to prove that this situation is unnecessary and that
better protection is possible.
Therefore this is what I am asking for as a Vision Zero strategic applica-
We have spent a lot of time reflecting on the inadequacy of current rear-
impact guards to prevent underride by passenger vehicles along with the
concomitant difficulty of holding trailer manufacturers accountable for the
horrific injuries and deaths which all-too-often occur as a result.
The current means of regulating the manufacture of underride guards re-
quires the trailer manufacturer to design its underride guards to meet cer-
tain specifications. Once the manufacturer has met those requirements,
then, currently, it cannot normally be held liable for any failure of the
guard to withstand a crash–along with any resultant property damages,
injuries, or death.
We would like to propose a change in the approach to regulating truck un-
derride guards. We are requesting/recommending that the manufacturer
be required to design and crash test a guard which would withstand a crash
at any speed up to 50 mph and at any point along the back of the trailer.
Furthermore, we are requesting that, when a real-life underride crash does
occur with one of their trucks, the manufacturer be held financially re-
sponsible for the cost of a thorough crash reconstruction, which would
identify—at minimum—the speed which was traveled and whether the
guard gave way with the impact of the crash.
With this new approach to regulating underride guards, the manufacturer
would thereby be accountable for any failure of the guard to withstand
a crash and thus be held responsible for ensuring a very important pub-
lic outcome: prevention of horrific injuries and deaths due to underride
This is in sharp contrast to the current situation where no penalty is nor-
mally paid for a failed underride guard–except by the victims and their
p.s. This link provides a perspective on prevention of crash fatalities as a
public health outcome (although it does not mention truck safety issues in
particular): World Health Organization: Road Traffic Injuries
also: NHTSA: The Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System (CODES)
And Applications to Improve Traffic Safety Decision-Making
p.p.s. We do not pretend to be experts on details such as whether 50 mph
is the most appropriate speed limit to require. We do know, however, that
requiring manufacturers to prevent crashes only at lower speeds inevitably
means that many lives will be unnecessarily lost–placing a low value on
human life. Corporate gain over tragic, preventable, and irrevocable loss
p.p.p.s. Additionally, we have been told that this level of protection is
highly possible and we are taking steps to encourage further research on
this in the near future.
p.p.p.p.s. Oh, and did I ask for a requirement to install not only rear un-
derride guards but to likewise protect people from side and front underride
collisions on all new trucks, as well as retrofitting existing trucks?
The stated mission of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) is “to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs
due to road traffic crashes, through education, research, safety standards,
and enforcement activity.”
To be in accord with that mission, NHTSA
should act now to make a comprehensive underride regulation in a timely
and decisive manner. Why wait?
To not provide the best possible protection, and thereby sentence countless
people to Preventable Death by Motor Vehicle, is ethically and morally
unconscionable and unthinkable.
The Survivor of a truck crash
which resulted in rear underride
and Passenger Compartment Intrusion (PCI)
into the back seat of her Crown Victoria
where AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13) met their untimely end
February 5, 2016
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