On anniversary of daughters' deaths, mom pushes for tougher truck safety rules
Posted May 2, 2014
Rocky Mount, N.C. — 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."