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.
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.
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.