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On anniversary of daughters' deaths, mom pushes for tougher truck safety rules

Posted May 2, 2014

— On Monday, exactly one year after losing two of her teenage daughters in a crash, a Rocky Mount mother will be in the nation's capital to advocate for stricter safety regulations for tractor-trailers.

Marianne Karth, a mother of nine, lost her 17-year-old daughter, Annaleah, and 13-year-old, Mary, after a truck crashed into their vehicle on Interstate 20 in Georgia.

"He hit our car so that it spun around, and then he hit it again so that it got pushed backward under the truck in front of us. Annaleah and Mary were in the backseat, and so when it went under, they were ... ," Karth said, pausing. "Annaleah went right away, and Mary had very serious injuries and died a few days later."

Karth and her 15-year-old son Caleb, who was in the front passenger seat, survived the crash. They were on their way to Texas to celebrate the wedding of Karth's oldest daughter, Rebecca, and the college graduations of four of her other children.

"We were looking forward to a good, big celebration," she said.

After the crash, Karth learned that tractor-trailers are required to have underride guards on the bumpers, which are supposed to keep cars from getting pushed under the truck. The truck involved in Karth's crash had a guard, but it failed.

Karth said she had never heard of an underride guard before the wreck. She found out that U.S. strength standards for them are much lower than other countries'. She learned about other problems, too, such as driver fatigue.

"They’re required currently to keep paper logs books – to have something where they write down their hours of service on the road. But that’s not always reliable," she said. "There is a rule that DOT has developed for electronic logging devices, which would be installed in trucks so that there would be a better record of what their hours of service are. Every day that goes by without that in place could mean another life, more lives. So, we’d like to see that be pushed along as quickly as possible."

Karth says she would like to see stronger standards for underride guards, electronic logs to keep better track of drivers' hours and higher insurance requirements for truck companies

She traveled to Washington, D.C., last fall to ask Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to make those changes to trucking rules. Foxx promised he would, Karth said, but nothing has happened.

On Monday, she plans to deliver 11,000 petitions to Foxx, asking him to keep his promise. They'll be wrapped in purple and orange – Annaleah's and Mary's favorite colors.

"They were cheated of those opportunities, and why? We just want to do everything we can to help other families from having to go through that," Karth said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a statement Friday on Karth's upcoming visit to Washington: “The Karth family have become strong advocates for increased safety in the commercial trucking industry. We share their commitment for higher safety standards and look forward to discussing with them the progress we have made on requiring electronic logging devices for drivers and updating financial responsibility levels for companies."

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  • mchljam2 May 8, 2014

    my husband is a driver as well, I believe like one writer posted, let someone ride with a driver for a week, and see all they are subjected to. I see so much more unsafe car drivers every day. Earbuds in while they fly down the road texting and driving. Sorry for the loss of life, but as the story pointed out, this truck was fitted with the required safety guards. My husband works for this company, and they are VERY strict and safety oriented. These trucks are put through safety inspections EVERY 3 months. Not yearly like cars! Signed, Million mile safe drivers wife

  • Malakai Bluebone May 5, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Tea party republicans? Seriously?

    Have you ever considered the amount of trucks on the road on any given day versus the amount of cars? On the average you are 4 times more likely to get hit by a drunk driver than any truck.

    No one is requesting breathalyzers in every new car are they?

    Instead of grasping at straws that have no basis in reality why don't you do a little research.

    My concern is based on fact. I have a family member that drives a truck every day inside the state. He is an owner operator, and he is rarely on the road more than 8 hours in a single day.

    He gets pulled every week at least twice by LEO's wanting to check his logs, his safety inspections, and his weight per axle and his medical card.

    For large companies it is not a big deal, but for owner operators like him this is a huge problem. Someone who has driven trucks for over 20 years with no accidents or problems.

    I hope they fail.

  • berniwheeler May 5, 2014

    I suggest before any more rules are changed, someone needs to spend a few weeks out on an actual big rig. See how drivers are treated as so much trash by the trucking companies and distributors. but thats ok because we have thousands more graduating every month!!! Brand new drivers never been in a rig before now. Sure bud heres the keys its cool!!
    The turnaround is astronomical because trucking co / distributors play games with your schedule, play games with your sleep, play games with your paycheck. and who can you call? the labor board? Oh sorry you have NO PROOF of your hours etc... because we use electronic logs which are company confidential... get a supeona!! Good luck with that with no proof!!!

  • Grand Union May 5, 2014

    "Because of something that happened with one truck, one driver, she is seeking to punish all drivers."

    Accidents due to drivers working too long hours are all too common. Such logging devices have been standard in Europe for decades and it absurd they are not required in the US where driving distances are even longer. Yes it will cost a little in truck transport but if applied to all trucks then no company or indidvidual is at an disadvantage.
    The Tea Party Republicans will, of course, block any such requirement though....whats the lives of dozens of people when compared to the profits of truck companies......

  • Malakai Bluebone May 5, 2014

    What happened to her daughters is sad, however what she intends to try to do to other truck drivers is even sadder. Because of something that happened with one truck, one driver, she is seeking to punish all drivers.

    The cost of putting electronic logging devices will be an added expense that most day drivers that are owner operators will not be able to afford. Most likely the end result will be putting honest capable law abiding drivers out of business while not doing anything to the trucks and drivers that push the limits of safety.

    The electronic logging system, increased rates for insurance, and even more requirements for truck drivers will only hurt the industry and increase the the price of everything that they haul, which then would be passed along to consumers.

    It is like requiring all cars to have a breathalyzer in order to start them up because someone was upset about a drunk driver hurting someone they love.

  • rduwxboy May 2, 2014

    I drive in Europe often, esp UK and Ireland and the guards on trucks are visibly safer than anything we have here in the US. Page truck guards here in the US are just defacto guillotines.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 2, 2014

    Terrible accident, and I'm sorry for their loss, but whle she's saying the truck's underguard failed, is there an actual report that verifies that and how it failed?
    Also, she's pushing for electronic truck loggers, but there's no mention in the story that either truck driver had been driving over the prescribed limit of time that day. Had they?
    Plus electronic loggers will only log how many hours a truck has been used on a given day; the truck could have more than one driver in a 24 hour period, so I'm not sure how that will help limit the amount of time the driver of the truck is behind the wheel within a 24-hour period of time.