Anne Arundel County, Maryland State’s Attorney Says No Charges Planned In May, 2007 Fatal Chesapeake Bay Bridge Accident

Vehicle Trailer Was Not Properly Secured, But Authorities Say No Current Maryland Laws Exist To Charge Responsible Driver

The Baltimore Sun reports that the driver of a Lincoln Navigator, who failed to properly secure his trailer will not be criminally charged, despite a clear finding of responsibility for the deadly multi-car collision on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge this May. According to a lengthy police investigation, the driver of the Navigator, Stephen A. Burt of Rockville, Maryland was responsible for the deadly collision, however, prosecutors have decided that they have no grounds for charging him with any traffic offenses. Investigators determined that Burt had failed to use a safety hitch pin to secure the single-axle trailer to his vehicle. Without the pin to hold the trailer latch securely, the trailer came loose as it bounced on the westbound span of the bridge, according to the report.

Investigators concluded also that the chains used to pull the trailer were too long, allowing the front of the trailer to hit the ground, after it came unsecured.

Notwithstanding these findings, the Anne Arundel County state’s attorney’s office concluded that “no current regulations exist” that would justify charges in the case.

Folks at the Maryland Injury Attorney Blog wonder how, after nearly 100 years of motor vehicles (and motor vehicle regulations) the State of Maryland could not have one traffic law dealing with vehicle trailers. We are skeptical, to say the least.

Interestingly, what this five month investigation does not address is whether two-way operations on the three-lane westbound bridge might have contributed to the collision. As most beach-goers know, the Maryland Transportation Authority opens the westbound span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to 2-way traffic during peak evening travel, to accommodate higher volumes of traffic. This is a disaster in the making, and Maryland knows it. You have incredibly high volumes of traffic, traveling at high speed, on a tall bridge, moving head-on, with not so much as a median or guardrail separating anyone. All for the sake of getting traffic across the Bridge faster! I challenge you to find any other highway in Maryland where this is permitted.

Shortly after the crash, Marcus Brown, chief of the Transportation Authority Police, said two-way traffic was not a factor, and his spokesman held to that position yesterday. “At this point, there’s no evidence two-way was a factor,” Cpl. Jonathan Green said. “That’s the way we look at it.”

We wonder if that position isn’t a little self serving. Do yourself a favor, don’t cross the westbound span of the Bay Bridge on that pleasant weekend trip to the beach. We all know it isn’t safe, unfortunately, some of us won’t admit it.

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