By Evan Smith Herald Writer
A bill sponsored by Democratic state Rep. Ruth Kagi to help improve safety on roads and highways by requiring vehicles hauling sand, rock, gravel or dirt to cover those loads passed the state House over the weekend.
Kagi said Wednesday that the bill closes a gap in state law about unsecured loads. She noted that road safety has been one of her legislative priorities, noting that she had sponsored “Maria’s Law” in 2005 after a woman named Maria Federici was blinded and disfigured by a piece of furniture that fell from a trailer and flew through her car windshield.
“”Maria’s Law’ concerned unsecured loads, but it didn’t deal with things like rocks and gravel, which can be especially hazardous to motorcyclists,” Kagi said. “By passing this bill, we’re finishing the efforts we started in 2005 to make our roads safer for the traveling public.”
The coverage requirement would not apply to state and local government vehicles that are applying sand or gravel for de-icing purposes or other emergency road operations.
The House approved the bill on March 9, sending it to the state Senate. It has since been referred to the Senate Transportation committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Tuesday.
Besides the safety hazard posed by uncovered loads, Kagi points out that even small rocks can cause property damage to cars.
“Nobody likes a dinged windshield or chipped paint on their car,” Kagi said. “Data has shown that the primary source of this damage is uncovered loads of dirt, rocks and gravel.”
Kagi represents the 32nd Legislative District, including Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace, south Edmonds, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, Shoreline, and part of northwest Seattle.
Evan Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org