Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


2 Comments

Thank you

I can’t let another day go by without sending out a great big THANK YOU to all of you that supported my Giving Tuesday Facebook fundraiser for the Truck Safety Coalition. Monetary donations, as well as verbal and written support, all made my day. Sometimes I feel that working to make our roads safer is too hard, maybe even impossible, and I feel lonely in the fight. But you proved to me, once again, that I’m not alone, and that many people care about the victims and their families as well as the underlying purpose.

I started out with a goal of raising $1,000, the same amount I struggled to raise last year. I put the fundraiser up the evening before Giving Tuesday because I was afraid I’d have technical problems trying to do it early Tuesday. I don’t know why I assume things won’t go as planned, but I didn’t have any trouble getting the page to work, and by late evening I was already close to goal.

Well. I couldn’t start Giving Tuesday with only a couple hundred dollars to raise all day, so I upped the goal to $1200, and was quickly nearing that goal too. So I boosted it again to $1500 and by afternoon was slightly over. It felt kind of like cheating to raise it again, but I did, one last time, to $2000 and several more friends helped me make that final goal. I should have just started at $2000, but that felt so far out of the realm of reality, and I was afraid of failure.

Lesson learned.

So thank you. You give me renewed hope that the world can be a pretty wonderful place, and people are kind and compassionate and generous. You gave what you could, and it was, as a blogger friend of mine often says, enough.

Thank you.


16 Comments

Going live on Giving Tuesday

We’re going live tomorrow! I’ve rarely done any live work on Facebook before, but tomorrow is the day! The Truck Safety Coalition will be featuring volunteers, board members and staff in short presentations and interviews every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m tomorrow. You can see it all on their Facebook page.

I’m live at 10:00 a.m. I’ve been practicing, but you never know how it will really go. I’m not sure I can get through it without crying, so I may end up doing an abbreviated version. Or maybe tears are just what we need for people to realize how important safety is for us all.

Anyway.

Below is what I’m planning to say. What actually comes out of my mouth tomorrow may be completely different.

Hey everybody!  My name is Dawn King.  I’ve been a volunteer with the Truck Safety Coalition for more than 15 years.  When people first hear me talk about volunteering with TSC they assume I’m a retired truck driver or something. 

But that’s not it.

I volunteer with TSC to honor my dad.  Some of you know that he was killed a couple days before Christmas back in 2004 when he was driving to the airport to catch a flight, planning to spend the holidays with family.

He was on the interstate, early in the morning of December 23rd when he came upon a small crash.  He would  have called it a fender bender.  Police, ambulance and fire trucks were already on the scene, and traffic was slowly being directed around the crash. 

Dad was in back of a semi, and  both of them, along with most of  the rest of traffic, managed to slow down and move into the left lane.  But the semi behind dad never saw the slowed traffic.  He never saw all those revolving emergency lights on that dark early morning.  The semi behind dad slammed into him with the cruise control still engaged.  Dad’s vehicle was pushed into the semi ahead of him, then spun out into the median.  Dad was partially ejected through a rear window even though he was wearing his seatbelt. 

They say he died instantly. 

What should have been a joyous time of year turned into tragedy and my family’s lives were changed forever.  Dad was the trunk of our family tree, our last living parent.  Without him I and my 3 siblings felt lost.   We had no idea what we should do next, where we should turn.

And then someone searching randomly on the internet came across the Truck Safety Coalition and I called them asking for advice.   And that’s where it all began.

TSC helped connect us to an attorney who in turn told me the things I needed to do immediately to protect our interests.  That was a big first step.  And the further we got into the process the more I realized how huge the problems are in the trucking industry.  How often the families who are injured or killed are considered just another cost of doing business.

Every one of my siblings said they wanted to do something, to make sure no one ever had to go through the pain we were experiencing.  And volunteering for this organization is how we’re making a difference. 

Volunteering for TSC changed my life, it gave me a place to put my anger and my grief.   It gave me the opportunity to help other people.  To make positive change.  It gave me a direction.

We know we won’t stop all crashes.  We know change is slow and difficult.  But every step we make toward protecting both the motoring public AND the drivers of these trucks saves someone an injury, saves a life, keeps a family together.  Even though we can’t identify specific individuals who weren’t involved in a crash because , for example, a double 33 foot trailer wasn’t on their highway,  we know that working to keep longer double 33 foot trailers off many of  our roads  has saved lives.

The Truck Safety Coalition was there when my family needed it.  And we want to make sure they continue to be there for all the families, especially the new families far into the future.  People are beginning their long treks through grief and pain every single year.  Approximately 5,000 people die each year in crashes with commercial trucks.  Over 150,000 are injured! 

You never think it will happen to you or your family until it does. 

It takes money to keep an organization afloat.  We can’t let our families down, those new faces, so raw with grief can’t be ignored.  We have to raise enough money to keep talking in Washington, and to keep supporting the people who are affected by these crashes.

We need your help. 

Next spring we’ll be inviting families to Washington, to give them and their loved ones a voice on Capitol Hill.   It’s a conference called Sorrow to Strength which we do every other year.  The families, particularly the new families, come to the conference filled with sorrow, and through their time together with other families who have gone through similar experiences, they  learn more about the issues, and about themselves. 

We see people come the first day barely able to speak their story, who leave after four days with new confidence, strength and commitment, people who have found their voices.

We are all stronger than we ever thought we could be. 

We need money to be able to do that.  If you’re interested, there are a number of scholarships that need funding.  Every dollar helps.  You can learn more about the conference and the specific needs at our website, trucksafety.org, under the tab “Sorrow to Strength.”

And, at an every day level, we need funds to have someone answer the phone when a new family calls for help.

We need funds to attend meetings with the agencies that make the rules that govern the trucking industry, to make certain that safety is always involved in any decision.

We need funds for someone to reach out to families soon after the crash, to make sure they know we’re here.

There are so many things that need to be done to meet our duel mission of supporting families and affecting change.  And they all require funding.

Truck Safety affects everyone.  We all share the roads with commercial trucks.  We are all at risk.  Help us keep educating, keep supporting, keep pushing for change.

Please donate.  You’ll find my page on Facebook or you can go to the Truck Safety Coalition Facebook page and donate there. 

And if YOU or your family or friends have been in a crash with a commercial truck, and you’d like to join us in our work, or you want some advice, or just need to connect with other people with a similar experience, please contact us.

You can find out more about our organization and how to reach us at trucksafety.org.

If you knew my dad you know he wouldn’t have been quiet if one of his kids had been killed that December morning. 

I can’t be quiet either.

I would be grateful if you would find it in your heart to donate so we can continue this important work.

 Thank you in advance.


19 Comments

Heads up, Giving Tuesday is next week!

Giving Tuesday is November 30th, which is one week from today.

In case you’re not familiar with that concept, it’s a day where people use Facebook to showcase their favorite nonprofits, then ask their friends and family to donate, through a button on their Facebook post, in order to raise money for their good causes.

Long before he was a dad.

Most of you know I’m on the board of CRASH, which is part of the Truck Safety Coalition. CRASH stands for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. We work, alongside P.A.T.T. (Parents Against Tired Truckers) to make legislative and rule changes focusing on trucks driving with us on our nation’s roads.

I do this in honor of my dad, who was killed December 23, 2004 by a tired trucker who drove all night to get a load of electronics to retail outlets in time for holiday shopping. He fell asleep an hour from his destination, while still driving. Profits overroad safety that early morning, and my dad paid the ultimate price.

A young man with dreams.

CRASH and P.A.T.T. watch the hours of service rules and push back when industry tries to get those extended. We don’t always win, but we do some of the time, and we know that when we win fewer people die. We are also working on getting stronger rear underride guards, automatic emergency braking on all trucks, increased minimum liability insurance for all commercial trucks, and we’re fighting against teen drivers being allowed to drive across the country.

CRASH and P.A.T.T. also support the families of those killed or injured in a crash with a commercial truck. Nearly 5,000 people die every single year, and over 100,000 are injured. The loss of life has gone up 45% since 2009. Profits over safety makes me so angry.

He was in the Army too.

There’s more, but details aren’t the point of this post. The point is that next Tuesday I’ll be asking friends and family to donate to CRASH. We’re making it easy, over on Facebook, and I hope you’ll consider chipping in. I know you have lots of places you support, and I’d be honored if you decide to add CRASH to your list of nonprofits deserving your attention.

And then he was a dad.

Last year I took a leap of faith and set my goal at $1,000, way over my usual effort of $250. I didn’t really think I could raise that much, but I was surprised and humbled when so many friends donated. A few dollars here, a few dollars there, and, late in the afternoon, I was close to my goal. And then a special friend made the effort to get me over the top.

I almost cried.

Reading the Sunday comics to his girls.

These days I work with families whose crashes are recent; their grief is so raw. It hurts me to the core, but it’s necessary work. And in order for us to keep working with them, to keep giving them support, to continue to include them in our truck safety family, we need financial support. It’s not easy to ask, but I need to.

I hope you will be in a position to help. One week from today. Next Tuesday you’ll find me on Facebook all day.

The father of the bride.

Regardless of what you decide, I appreicate all the support you’ve given me in the years since dad was killed. It will be 17 years next month, though it feels like yesterday.

I miss him every day. All of this is in his honor.

He’s on a different adventure now.


23 Comments

What’s the difference?

You all know my dad was killed in a preventable truck crash December 23, 2004, and that ever since then I’ve been a volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition. Our mission is to provide compassionate support to victims and their families, and to educate people and policymakers about changes that should be implemented to make our roads safer for everyone.

And, you all know that change is slow and hard.

Many of you have expressed frustration in support of me and our organization’s effort, and here’s an easy way that you can help.

The Senate is taking up S. 2016, the Surface Transportation Investment Act (you have heard it referred to as the Infrastructure Bill) this week. They’ll probably debate into next week. Inside that bill is a weak attempt at getting automatic emergency braking systems (AEB) on trucks.

Due to pressure from the trucking industry, the bill only calls for this lifesaving technology to be mandated on new Class 7 and 8 trucks. Those are the biggest trucks out there, and yes it will be very good to have mandated AEB on the new trucks that size. But what about all the medium and small commercial trucks running around in our neighborhoods?

Last year there was a bill that mandated AEB on all vehicles. Doesn’t that make more sense? Car manufacturers have agreed to have AEB on all their new vehicles in the next few years. Truck cab manufacturers already offer it, but it’s not mandated and companies, looking to save some money, often order new cabs without it.

In case you’re interested, the cost of adding AEB to a new truck will run about $270 to $290. For perspective, the cost of a new Class 6 truck can be $90,000 or more. Seems a small price to pay for safety, don’t you think?

Based on new truck sales data there are about 500,000 new Class 3-6 trucks sold every year. New sales of these medium and small trucks has increased by 16% in the past 5 years alone. And many thousands of these trucks are running through our neighborhoods daily, delivering all the stuff we buy online these days.

Kids playing, people walking or biking, or just driving home through their neighborhoods are exposed to all the delivery trucks, all days of the week, early in the morning and late into the evening. Why would we not want these trucks equipped with available and inexpensive safety technology?

One last statistic. Small and medium trucks are responsible for 27% of all fatalities in commercial truck crashes. In 2019 there were almost 5,000 people killed in truck related crashes. So approximately 1350 people were killed in crashes with small and medium trucks. I don’t know how many of those were crashes, like my dad’s, where the victims were waiting in traffic and were struck from behind. But even if it’s only a few, are those lives not as valuable as the lives lost to crashes with huge trucks?

It should be a simple decision to mandate Automatic Emergency Braking on all vehicles, all cars, all trucks, no matter the size. That way, no matter the reason for the inattention of a vehicle driver, be it a medical event, distraction, or sleepiness, the vehicle can sense when something is up ahead and slow or stop before the crash happens.

If you were sitting in that car, stuck in traffic with nowhere to go, while another vehicle, car or truck, was bearing down on you, wouldn’t you be hoping they had AEB? I think about it all the time, maybe you will too, now that you’re heard about an easy solution.

So here’s what you can do. Call or email your two Senators and tell them that you want Senate Bill S. 2016 to require the DOT (Department of Transportation) to mandate Automatic Emergency Braking systems on all vehicles, not just Class 7 and 8 trucks. Tell them every life that can be saved should be saved, regardless of the size of the vehicles involved.

You can find the phone number and/or the websites of your Senators by going to this link. You put in your state and it will bring up your two Senators. You can click on them and go directly to their email contact form. Their phone numbers are there too, so if you’d rather call, you can. Just tell the person that answers the phone what your concern is. Don’t be nervous. It’s their job to listen to you.

We don’t know if we will be able to get all vehicles into this bill. But for darn sure it won’t happen if we don’t try.

Your voice is important, and I’m grateful, as always, for your support. Next time you see that delivery van zipping around your neighborhood wonder, like I do, if it has Automatic Emergency Braking. And look forward to the day, sometime in the future, when you won’t have to wonder about that anymore.

Thanks, dad, for being the inspiration for my work. You never gave up. We won’t either.


7 Comments

Every day is Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day, dad.

On this day when people everywhere are celebrating their dads, I celebrate you.

1953

I wonder what you’d look like today, at age 91. I can’t quite imagine you any other way than how I’ve always known you. You never seemed to change much, you never aged.

1959

But you will always be 75, the age you were when you were stolen from us.

I know I’m lucky we had you that long. I know plenty of families where people have been stolen or injured much earlier than 75. I know plenty of people whose parents were taken when they were much younger than I was.

1980

I know parents whose children were taken. That’s beyond anything I can even imagine.

1990

So I know we were lucky. .

2003

But I can’t help but wish you were here today.

Every day is Father’s Day, dad, because we all think about you every day.

But, I know you know that.


3 Comments

Giving Tuesday thanks

Here it is Friday already and I haven’t been back to thank so many of you for your support of my Giving Tuesday Facebook fundraiser.

As you may remember I was raising funds for CRASH (Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways) which is a 501c3 under the umbrella of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC). I’m a volunteer with them, and have been since dad was killed December 23, 2004 by a tired semi driver who failed to see traffic stopped ahead of him.

Anyway, giving Tuesday is a way for people to easily donate to nonprofits and many of you donated to mine, and I can’t thank you enough.

This year we had two anonymous donors each willing to match the first $10,000 we raised, so it was very important that collectively we get to that magic mark, and we did! We actually raised about $13,000, so all in all the organizations, between CRASH and P.A.T.T (Parents Against Tired Trucking, the other organization under the TSC umbrella) raised $33,000.

This is much more than we’ve ever been able to raise on this platform before, and that’s due to our First Reponse Coordinator getting behind the effort, organizing us and cheering us on. Next year we hope to have even more volunteers put up their own fundraiser on Giving Tuesday so that we can raise even more.

By maintaining our fundraisers, talking about them throughout the day (I even did a live interview), changing the images at the top, sharing it often, we not only kept ourselves front and center, but we reenergized our donor base and our volunteers.

Now we’re ready to start work — there is much to be done, and with your help we’ll be able to move forward, helping more people, one family at a time. If you weren’t able to help, that’s OK, I appreciate your emotional support as much as your monetary support. I know you guys have my back and that counts more than you can ever know.

Again, thank you all so much.


24 Comments

Another Father’s Day

When your dad dies you’re in the moment of loss and you don’t really consider how permanent it is. But dead is forever and that’s a very long time.

In the beginning you get through each day, each moment really, one moment at a time and you try to accomplish all the things you have to do, from arranging a funeral to cancelling his next doctor appointment, and you don’t think about what it will be like sixteen Father’s Days later.

But I can tell you what it’s like. It’s like the first one, just a little softer around the edges. Less the slice of a knife, more the dull ache of a bruise.

Dad would have turned 91 last February. There’s no guarantee he’d still be alive today, but I know for certain that a sleepy truck driver took several years from him — and us — sixteen years ago when he failed to see dad stopped on the freeway ahead.

A young man with big dreams

I wonder if that driver ever thinks of dad. Or us. I think of him often; he’s a father too, and I am sure there will be some Father’s Day thing happening for him this weekend. I don’t begrudge him that. I just wish…I wish he had pulled over when he got sleepy that morning.

I know you all expected some sort of uplifting Father’s Day post, but that’s not where I am this year. Grief ebbs and flows, but the work remains.

In fact I’m working on some truck safety stuff over the weekend. In some ways that’s in honor of my dad. I guess, for me, just about every day is Father’s Day as we fight to improve safety on our roads. Can’t give up, though sometimes it feels futile.

I like to think of him up in heaven sitting with some of your folks who have gone on too, sitting around in easy chairs telling stories about all of us, sharing experiences. Smiling a lot. Don’t see why this isn’t possible, after all, most of us met over the internet, just as unlikely as our folks meeting in the afterlife, right?

Anyway, now I’m rambling. I hope those of you that still have your dad here get the chance to give him a hug or a call or a card. Sometimes dads get lost in our busy worlds, but time is not infinite. Don’t waste any of it.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. No matter where you are.

A new dad.


2 Comments

Giving Tuesday

Dad at my wedding in 1990

Dad at my wedding in 1990

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day to remind people to donate to charitable organizations. I’d like to plead the case for donating to the Truck Safety Coalition.

Many of you already know this organization because of all my posts about Dad who was killed by a tired trucker December 23, 2004. We’re coming up on the anniversary again, and though it’s twelve years now, it seems like yesterday that my family’s world was turned upside down.

Back then we weren’t sure what had happened to us, or why, but we knew it wasn’t right. And the more we learned, about the long hours truck drivers work, the conditions they work under, the more we realized it was something we wanted to help fix.

Just like Dad always fixed stuff for us.

TSC is the only organization singularly devoted to supporting victims of truck crashes as well as the families and friends who have lost a loved one in a truck crash. I encourage you to go to their website to learn more about all the supportive programs and advocacy in which the Truck Safety Coalition is involved.

Please donate to TSC this Giving Tuesday by clicking here (http://trucksafety.org/get-involved/donate/) to help make a difference in the lives of people dealing with tragic crashes and to help save lives by improving highway safety for everyone, including those driving commercial trucks.

If you were to talk to any of the families volunteering for TSC they’d tell you that they work for safety to honor their loved ones and to keep other families from suffering the same tragedy they cope with every day.

Please join us as we stand for safety.

And thank you very much for all the emotional support you’ve provided my own family over the years. We couldn’t have made it through without all of you.

Grew up to be my Dad.

Grew up to be my Dad.


8 Comments

Nothing left to add this Father’s Day

Imported Photos 00068For days I’ve felt Father’s Day coming. And I’ve tried to conjure up a Father’s Day post, something sweet and reminiscent like I wrote last year. But for some reason I just don’t have anything profound to say. Nor anything less stirring. This year my mind can’t get around the fact that he’s not here.

He should be.

I should be able to give him a call, send him a card, even go for a visit. A couple weeks ago I did an interview and at the end the reporter asked me to send her pictures of me and dad. I realized I didn’t really have any of him and me together, just the two of us. I thought to myself that I should get a few taken next time I was home.

And then I remembered. Again. I have to keep remembering over and over and it’s just as painful each time.

Imported Photos 00095

I can’t make any more pictures. Can’t make any more memories. What I have is all there will be. All there will ever be.

I know I’m lucky that I have the vast number of memories and life experiences that our family created over the decades. Some people don’t have any memories at all. But I’m feeling greedy and wish there could be more.

1987 Dad skiing 4

He was a good man, a good provider, a good dad. He was doing the best he could to adjust to the loss of his life partner, my mom, when he was taken from us.

He should still be here.

This Father’s Day seems harder for me than most of the last twelve that our family has managed to get through. I don’t know why. But I know that tomorrow will be better. And I know we were lucky to have had him at all.

Still, I wish he was here today.

1985 Dad laughing at the lake