On our birthday, an apology to trucking victims.

I and the Underride Network were born or officially filed on October 2nd and so today we look back at a very troubling year and gains or losses made since I began my efforts for trucking safety in 1993. I am saddened to report in over twenty years of effort I have failed to make any gains for better underride guards on trucks and trailers. We did manage to pass the tape laws for trucks and some of our members even received presidential medals, but even with this success we failed to achieve modern fluorescent colors for tape that are much brighter and would have saved more lives especially in daytime crashes. The U.S. still allows non-emergency truck parking on Interstate Highways. Truckers still face lax enforcement for parking on high-speed roadways and failing to place triangles, states even brag about their non-enforcement of current safety laws. We still have no law for modern in any way underride guards on single-unit trucks, we were no match for campaign money from some American car companies which make most of these type of trucks. We were responsible for the founding of the FMCSA, an agency founded with a safety mandate and yet they have worked tirelessly against trucking victims. We now wish to move underride guard testing back to the FHWA, the agency we removed truck safety responsibility from, OOPS!

We have seen the power of trucking unions usurp any power left from trucking victims. One of the presidential campaigns even spoke against self-driving car technology which has the potential to save one million world car driver lives a year because it could cost truck driver jobs. Even Joan Claybrook and other activists have spoken out against this technology and the rush to save lives. The organization that used to represent victims has now come out for changing U.S. underride guard law to Canadian underride guard law and has abandoned energy absorbing underride guards in favor of low-speed stiff guards, guards that kill more victims every day! CRASH has supported energy absorbing guards for trucks as the only guards that are acceptable since 1992 since only energy absorbing guards will allow high speed protection in crashes. CRASH now the Truck Safety Coalition, we believe this year, has bowed to money and pressure from unions to now side with industry and against trucking victims. Protect trucker jobs rather than lives.

They have now through the so-called Truck Safety Roundtable made recommendations to legalize or condone the high-speed killing of trucking victims by approving low-speed 35 mph guards by the incorporation of the weak and outdated Canadian guard regulation, a regulation most experts railed against years ago. It is now the truck safety organizations public stance that killing trucking victims in high-speed crashes is morally acceptable as they have  approved low-speed stiff guards as morally positive. Trucking victims interests across the board have been subverted to union arguments for jobs over lives. I cannot offer any organizations that trucking victims can trust to not have alternative interests. We simply have gone backwards since 1992 and I offer my apologies to all trucking victims. I promise we will keep fighting! Technology has given us hope, we just have to get industry and government to use it and stop the unnecessary killing!

My letter to the Roundtable below!

Marianne, IIHS, and Roundtable,
I have worked very hard for twenty years to increase underride guard effectiveness. Since 1992 CRASH and the victim community consensus has been that nothing less than energy absorbing guards are acceptable. Stiff guards are low-speed guards and cannot be made to be high-speed. They do not protect trailer frames from high stress and very possible failure. We now have most new cars with object detection sensors which should vastly decrease lower speed crashes, their failures will tend to be at high-speed. Your Roundtable which I was excluded from for unknown reasons, if on purpose or technical glitch, seems to me clearly to have adopted the consensus industry position. I strongly feel a scientific crash testing regime such as MASH testing at FHWA is the future as Australia has already adopted this best approach. They crash test crash attenuators for trucks at 62 mph which is a real world crash speed unlike the phony 35 mph. We have crash tested guards at 30 to 35 mph for 50 years and have guards that are only effective to 30 to 35 mph. Attenuators which must pass a far more rigorous crash test are effective at speeds beyond 70 mph. If they have a crash test they must improve guards to pass they will improve guards. When they know they will pass the test they will spend nothing to improve safety. Stiff guards are murder and a sellout. Australia and Brazil have crash tested energy absorbing guards effective to near 50 mph since the early 1990’s. Your Roundtable is approving guards CRASH in 1992 would have and did label guillotine guards. Will you testify in cases against victims killed at 40 mph? These guards will be law for the next 30 years, stiff low-speed guards in 2046? We will have small plastic bodied cars, we will be transforming our fleet to energy efficient designs probably all smaller and lighter with people scared of the more efficient vehicles because of big trucks. These guards will spell the end of front guards with rounded ends to deflect bikes and pedestrians, these will spell the end of stronger side guards that work for cars. Cheap guards and designs will rule the roads for another 30 years. I am one victim that is extremely disappointed. Crash testing of vehicles at 35 mph is fraud to fool the American and world publics including crash victims.
This is an open public letter,
The viewpoints of the Underride Network were not presented at the Roundtable,
Stephen Hadley