Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Reflections on truck safety


Fall reflections

Fall reflections

I’ve been thinking about an injured family a lot lately.  And as our government grinds to a halt and people express their frustration with the gridlock which is Washington I recognize their frustrations in my own ongoing feelings about the slowness of change toward truck safety.  I know, I know…you don’t see the connection.  Let me try to illuminate.

As many of you know last May my family and I met in DC with other families who have been irreparably injured by large trucks.  Families who have had members lost, injured, families whose lives are altered forever.   The first day of our conference, Saturday, May 4, we told our stories, cried, welcomed with heavy hearts the new families, and talked strategy to make change.

That same day a mother and her three children were traveling on a road in Georgia.  Their car was hit by a truck, spun, and was pushed under the rear of a semi.   Her daughters, AnnaLeah, 17 and Mary, 13 were killed.    While we were sitting in a DOT boardroom hearing department after department tell us that they were studying a problem, contemplating a rule, considering change this mother was planning her daughters’ funerals.  While we were arguing that stronger wider rear guards should be mandated on commercial vehicles two more beautiful children died.  Beautiful people are dying every day.  And our government continues to study.  To discuss.  To consider.

Thoughts ripple

Thoughts ripple

So as I watch the government fight among itself I think the shutdown is a bigger reflection on our own fights for truck safety.  If you were to ask most Americans they would side with safety.  But the opinions of most Americans are not heard because we don’t have the dollars or the influence that the trucking industry has.  Even in the article I linked to this post  the truckers  are quoted saying the problem is with those of us in cars.  We need to pay better attention they say.  We need to drive more responsibly they say.  That’s all true.  But this mother was hit by someone else, and was spun into the semi.  A stronger wider rear guard could have saved her children.  Why can’t we do this thing that would save lives.  Why can’t we get even small changes mandated for the safety of us all.


Expanding changes

I get discouraged.  And all the news coverage over the current government shutdown just brings home the sense of hopelessness about getting anything positive done in Washington.  I get so discouraged.

But then last week as I was sorting through photos from our trip to DC I suddenly  came across a photo of the framed collage full of faces of our lost family members that hangs in a DOT elevator lobby.  There was Dad.  Like a slap across the face I remembered why I can’t be discouraged.  Because these people, and all the people that have been killed or injured since, have no voice but ours.  AnnaLeah and Mary have no voice but their mother’s…and now ours.  Their family is now part of our family.  They are our children.

We just can’t afford to let the incompetence in DC discourage us.  We can not give up.  No matter what.  You never know when you throw a pebble into a pond just how far the ripples will go.  Change is like that too.  Sometime, somewhere, somehow we will get safety mandated.   We just have to keep throwing those pebbles into the pond.

Marianne Karth, AnnaLeah and Mary’s mother, has a facebook page celebrating her daughters’ lives.  Put  faces on the numbers I so often quote…go visit her page.  Please support her now at the beginning of her new reality.

I’ll keep tossing those pebbles.

Tree of life

Tree of life

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

10 thoughts on “Reflections on truck safety

  1. We often tend to think memories are like those pebbles in the water as they ripple out they dissipate over time….but the pebble is always there – just below the surface. Keep fighting the good fight!


  2. Life is so fragile.

    Congress is mess. Too many egos, too much big business, too much waste. It’s very frustrating. There are a few congresspeople who I respect greatly, and my hope is that we can continue to elect more of the “good ones” as more Americans begin to realize that most congresspeople are working for big business not for us.


  3. This is an important message, Dawn. We all need to be reminded over and over again. Can change happen one person at a time? Someone — I forget who — said that’s the only way it has ever happened, so we all need to toss those pebbles, stand up and be counted, raise our voices, etc., etc.


  4. I agree, Dawn. Sometimes we need to toss those pebbles. It is vital that we stand up and be heard. It’s interesting–I just wrote a blog about not closing down, about staying open. What seems important to me is doing something with an open heart. Not letting *the system* or whatever close us up, harden us to the world. Whenever we start getting frustrated, perhaps we need to see the faces who need us urging us to more compassionate dedicated action. Kudos to you and to all of us who try, even when we get discouraged.


  5. Persevering in the face of the incompetence that is demonstrated by our government with sharp clarity now has got to be difficult. How many times can you run into that brick wall? I so admire your determination and I wish you the very best. Perhaps someday, before long, reality will enter politics and members of our congress will remember why they were elected, by the people, for the people. Not big business. Not their party.



  6. That poor woman, losing two daughters in such a senseless manner! Thank you for persevering in keeping the pressure on our representatives to do what it takes to see young Americans like AnnaLeah and Mary have a chance to grow up safely. I don’t know what the answer is, but those who are elected have an obligation to research and act, rather than play politics.


  7. We are so lucky to have people like you who are determined and dedicated and find the strength somewhere to keep going. I can’t thank you enough. On behalf of all the lives that may one day be saved.


  8. Why we are fighting for Better Under ride guards (ICC Bumpers) and Liability insurance increase.
    The goal:
    What we 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 and eliminate the heartfelt grief.

    T he issue concerning under ride guards or ICC Bumpers is for safety of the driving public. The standards have not been increased since 1998 even thou technology and lighter smaller automobiles have increased. The changed being requested is to increase or upgrade the standards for rear end collisions on “trailers” to meet or exceed the Canadian standard. Presently there is one manufacturer that does this Manac out of Quebec Canada for a cost of $20.00 per trailer and an added 20 pounds per trailer. A small cost to pay to save someone’s life. Even the President of the American Trucking Association agrees with this position. See the following from this web site article
    The NHTSA is already looking at ways to strengthen the safety standards. Bill Graves, President of the American Trucking Association said, “There clearly is a step that needs to be taken” to address the guards. What the federal government thought was adequate a numbers of years ago when the specifications were developed is not adequate today.
    The federal government first required guards on trucks in 1953. There was an upgrade to the standard in 1998 but did not impose changes to make the guards strong enough.

    The web links below will verify this position.
    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.
    In 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration culminated a decades-long debate over how to protect motorists who crash into the rear of trailers.
    The design of rear bumpers for trailers had been argued off and on almost since the old Interstate Commerce Commission created the ICC bumper in the 1950s. Some may have thought that the issue was settled after NHTSA’s underride regulations became final almost six years ago.
    But final rules aren’t necessarily final, and debate never really has stopped. This includes questions raised by trailer manufacturers, whose job it is to deliver compliant guards to the marketplace. In particular, manufacturers of specialized trailers have continued to ask NHTSA for clarification and for some minor changes intended to fine-tune the regulations to the environment in which underride guards are installed and to the conditions in which they operate.
    In recent months, though, underride has once again moved to the regulatory forefront. In October, Transport Canada published its new underride regulations. In November, NHTSA kept the Federal Register printing presses busy with no fewer than three new final rules that modify FMVSS 223 and 224.
    NHTSA may have produced more final rules, but it is Canada’s new rear underride standard that promises to send U S and Canadian engineers back to the CAD station.
    While many of the requirements mirror U S regulations, the Canadian standard substantially raises the bar (figuratively speaking). For example, the new Canadian regulation requires underride guards to resist at least 350,000 newtons (78,680 pounds) without deflecting more than 125 mm (4.92 inches). As an option, the guard can be tested without considering the amount of energy it absorbs. But if it is tested without regard to energy absorption, the guard must withstand a 700,000-newton load (157,360 pounds).
    The difference between the Canadian and U S requirements for energy absorption is huge.
    “Where energy absorption is required, the guard must be capable of absorbing the equivalent of at least 20,000 joules of energy by plastic deformation within the first 125 mm of deflection,” according to the Oct 6 Canada Gazette, “an amount 3.5 times the U S minimum of 5,650 joules.”
    In addition, the Canadian standard requires the guard to remain no more than 560 mm (22 inches) above the ground after the uniform load test is completed.
    The Canada Gazette notice said that Transport Canada tries to maintain uniformity between U S and Canadian regulations in order to facilitate trade between the two neighbors and to reduce the regulatory burden. But according to the Canada Gazettenotice, the Ministry of Transport made the underride regulation more stringent than NHTSA’s because smaller automobiles are more common in Canada than in the United States. Subcompacts represent approximately 12% of the Canadian market, compared with about 2.5% in the United States.
    Effects of the new regulation are being felt in both countries.
    In Canada, the higher standards have the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA) taking a new look at its innovative underride guard program. CTEA and Canada’s National Research Council teamed up to produce an underride guard that could be used by multiple trailer manufacturers. The idea behind the generic underride program was to enable Canada’s small manufacturers — those that may not have the resources to design and test their own underride guard — to obtain one that meets existing applicable standards. The generic guard, however, was designed for existing U S regulations, not the new Canadian measure.
    The law becomes effective next year. When it does, manufacturers will have the option to build to U S or Canadian standards. That option expires Sept 1, 2007, when trailers will be required to meet the more stringent requirements. Details are available from CTEA (, or the rule can be read by visiting
    Some Canadian trailer manufacturers argued that the proposal would put them at a competitive disadvantage against U S trailer manufacturers that do not have to build an underride guard to the higher standards.
    We would argue that over the long term, trailer manufacturers that build to the higher standard — regardless of nationality — will have the advantage. Stronger, more expensive guards may or may not be a selling point in the marketplace, but they will be a huge advantage in the courtroom. The real disadvantage will belong to the trailer manufacturer who has to explain to a jury why he used a weaker underride guard when a stronger one was available. And the advantage will go to the manufacturer that builds to higher standards.

    ICC Bumpers not adequate JD power 3/19/2013

    Keep fighting we are with you


  9. Pingback: For AnnaLeah and Mary | Change Is Hard

  10. Pingback: With amazing technology advances, why are we slow as a snail to solve traffic safety problems? | AnnaLeah & Mary

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