Thursday, March 6, 2008

Victims seek support for trailer-towing bill

Victims seek support for trailer-towing bill

The Bay Bridge accident that killed three people last May could have been avoided if Maryland had a law outlining how trailers should be hooked up, friends and family members of the victims told lawmakers Monday.

“He gets a $60 fine, and we get life,” said April McDonald, referring to the driver whose small utility trailer became separated from his sport utility vehicle, causing the crash.

McDonald’s father was killed in the crash.

McDonald and others urged a House committee to support Del. Richard Sossi’s bill, which defines how trailers should be connected to a towing vehicle.

The bill makes it illegal to tow with a rope or chain, unless a driver is in the towed vehicle. It also establishes a $1,000 maximum penalty for a violation that leads to serious bodily injury or death.

The penalty for violating towing provisions is $60.

The measure “corrects the situation that resulted in a horrific accident on the Bay Bridge,” said Sossi, a Republican from Queen Anne’s County.

Monday was the first day Missy Orff has crossed the Bay Bridge since the accident, in which her son and husband were killed.

“I will tell you it was rough, but this is worth it,” she said.

An identical bill also was introduced by Dels. Saqib Ali and James Malone, and Sossi said it didn’t matter which one passed.

A similar measure defining which devices are used to tow vehicles and setting a $1,000 fine passed the Senate last month.

The legislation was introduced in response to the May 10 crash that killed three people and seriously injured another. Investigators found no evidence the safety pin on the trailer hitch was installed, and the safety chains were too long. There were no laws that allowed charges to be filed against the driver, the Anne Arundel state’s attorney found.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bill defining devices for towing is passed by Senate

Bill defining devices for towing is passed by Senate

Legislation aimed at preventing accidents like one that killed three people on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge last year was approved by the Maryland Senate today.

The Senate voted 45-0 for the measure, which defines various devices that are used to tow vehicles.

The bill also sets a maximum penalty of $1,000, if a violation of the new regulations causes death or serious injury.