House, Senate Introduce Road-Crash Bill for Victims

May 15, 2024
Goal is to ensure concerns from families of those injured or killed are heard

Marianne Karth lost two daughters in a truck crash 11 years ago and has been on a mission since then to get regulators in Washington to step up oversight of truck safety so that other parents can avoid her trauma.

A major development in that quest was the introduction last week of identical bills in the U.S. House and Senate to establish a career victim advocate position within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).

The goal is to ensure that concerns from families of those injured or killed on the nation’s roads are heard in Washington while also making USDOT road safety policy more accessible to victims and their families.

On May 4, 2013, while driving from North Carolina to Texas with three of her children, Karth was hit by a truck in an adjacent lane that did not stop in time for slowed traffic. The impact spun her car around and the truck hit her car a second time, forcing it backward and underneath a second truck’s trailer, a type of car-truck collision known as an “underride” crash.

Karth and her son, who was riding in the front seat, survived the impact. But her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary, riding in the back seat, died because of catastrophic injuries.

“Eight years ago this month, I woke up with the thought in my head that a missing piece of the puzzle was a National Roadway Safety Advocate — someone to be a vigilant voice for vulnerable victims of vehicle violence … someone who would enable citizens to harness their grief and more effectively bring about change,” Karth said in statement.

“Indeed, may it become a reality and a blessing both to those families whose lives will never be the same and to others whose lives will be spared as a result.” She said.

Karth shared her vision with New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who introduced the Senate version of the DOT Victim and Survivor Advocate Act on Thursday. The House bill was introduced on Friday by Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen.

“Traffic accident victims and their families deserve an advocate in the Department of Transportation listening to their ideas for improving roadway safety, especially after suffering from a traffic crash,” Cohen said in a statement. “The DOT Victim and Survivor Advocate Act will help ensure that victim-advocates have a point of contact to work with at USDOT and give them a more permanent voice in USDOT decision-making.”

The legislation is supported by 11 safety organizations, including the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition and the Institute for Safer Trucking (IST).

“After the devastating loss of my New Mexico-raised teenager in a side underride crash with a semitrailer, I know the critical need for a dedicated point of contact within the Department of Transportation,” said Eric Hein, an IST board member in a statement.

According to the bill, in addition to communicating to the Transportation secretary recommendations from safety advocates on the needs and objectives of DOT programs and activities relating to roadway safety, the national roadway safety advocate will be expected, among other things, to:

·         Explain USDOT processes, procedures, scientific principles and technical information to stakeholders in plain language.

·         Publish educational materials for enhancing stakeholder understanding of activities and procedures of USDOT in accessible formats and venues, with easy-to-understand wording.

·         Consult with and make recommendations to the USDOT secretary relating to the appointment of stakeholders who may be appropriate for roles on advisory roadway safety committees.

·         Meet at least once a quarter with the USDOT secretary to highlight issues, make recommendations for resolving problems and alleviating stakeholder roadway safety concerns, and summarize input from stakeholders on proposed roadway safety initiatives.


Source: Yahoo News,

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