Many of you know that I volunteer for the Truck Safety Coalition, a nonprofit in Washington DC that works to make our roads safer by pushing for legislative and rule making changes. We work both through our members of Congress and through the Department of Transportation and other agencies that regulate the trucking industry. You know that I do this in memory of my Dad who was killed by a tired trucker in December of 2004. So when you read a post dedicated to the issue of safety on our roads you run the risk of having to listen to me get on my soapbox. I’m grateful that you humor me on this because I tend to get a bit passionate, and I know that most of you are already on my side and I’m probably preaching to the choir. Still…
Humor me one more time and listen to the story of AnnaLeah and Mary.
Last May while my family and I were joined in Washington DC with many other families who have been touched by needless tragedy, while we were sitting in the DOT board room being told by different members of that agency why they hadn’t accomplished tasks they’ve been working on for years, while we listened to excuse after excuse why minimum insurance requirements hadn’t been raised yet, why stronger rear underride guards hadn’t been mandated, why there were no studies of side underride guards at all, why the federally legislated electronic onboard recorders weren’t already implemented ..well… while we were there listening to all these excuses AnnaLeah and Mary were dying in a horrific crash. Two beautiful girls just gone, another family irreparably changed.
You can hear their mother tell her story here, she does a lovely job, but I understand if you don’t want to listen. If you want to remain untouched. If it can happen to them, it can happen to anyone. Best not to know, right?
Well, here’s the short version: They were driving from North Carolina, heading to Texas for the wedding of their oldest sister. In Georgia they were hit by another vehicle and were spun under a semi. If that truck had had underride guards perhaps the girls would not have been killed. Did you know that every industrialized country in the world has underride guards on their semi trucks? But not the United States. Next time you’re driving next to a semi glance over and see where that underside of that trailer would hit you in a crash. Even a crash that you didn’t cause.
Think about that. It doesn’t have to be your fault and you can still die. Family and friends can still die. Truck companies don’t want to put protection on their vehicles to save lives of people in cars. They don’t think it’s their responsibility. They don’t want to incur the costs. It’s all about profit. But who is really paying for their profit? You and I and our families are paying that cost. Every single day.
OK. I’ll get off the soapbox now. Please, just go to this site and read a little bit. Sign the petition that we plan to take to Secretary of Transportation Foxx in May, one year after AnnaLeah and Mary died. We want to convince him to join us in the fight on three issues:
1. Increase the minimum insurance truck companies have to carry to cover the damage to families involved in crashes with them. It hasn’t been raised in 30 years.
2. Get the electronic onboard recorders implemented to keep drivers from cheating on their logbooks and driving longer hours than allowed.
3. Act to improve the safety of trucks by requiring better underride guards.
Even if you can’t listen to AnnaLeah and Mary’s Mom talk about her girls and the trip across country that ended not in a family wedding but in family tragedy, take a moment to read to the end to find out what else you can do to help. And think about these two beautiful kids next time you’re on the road driving behind or beside or in front of a semi. Think about these kids and convince yourself it’s not your problem.
I dare you.