Editorial: Traffic laws can prevent tragedies
Monday, October 18, 20105 Comments | Leave a Comment
The thunderstorm that pushed across Pitt County on Thursday brought spells of heavy rainfall, making the morning commute for local drivers a bit more treacherous. While all motorists used their wipers for a clear view, few switched on their headlights as mandated by state law, a requirement intended to make vehicles more visible in inclement weather.
That represents one casual bit of illegal behavior repeated incessantly on area roadways, but another example of habits that can endanger others and contribute to accidents could prove responsible for a fatality. Drivers in eastern North Carolina should do better by one another by adhering to proper practices, just as law enforcement should strive to improve road safety whenever they can.
Tragedy visited Pitt County on Tuesday when a truck moving north on N.C. 43 had its trailer unhinge and collide with an SUV traveling south. Lisa Langemann, a 27-year-old teacher at Bethel Elementary School, was killed in the accident, and her two daughters in the car were injured. The ensuing investigation found that the trailer was homemade and lacked the safety cables and chains required by state law. The other driver has been charged in Langemann's death.
Motorists in Pitt County are likely to have seen such trailers countless times in their travels. Though they must be inspected by the Department of Transportation or the N.C. Highway Patrol, it is not a leap to question how many who use such equipment are even aware that is the case. It means accidents like this one, a wreck that claimed a young life, are more likely than the average motorist might consider.
Safety on area roadways can sometimes seem like a gamble. Narrow roadways with an abundance of traffic and the occasional piece of farm equipment can all contribute to unpredictability when driving. Factor in drivers' unsafe behavior — speeding, eating, talking on cell phones and other distractions — and it is little wonder that AAA Carolinas ranked Pitt County tops in the state for accidents in 2008.
Motorists must accept more responsibility for their habits behind the wheel by learning state laws and following them. Their repeated refusal to do so should inspire area law enforcement to provide additional encouragement through more rigorous ticketing for moving violations. Even the little things — like using the headlights during downpours — can bolster safety on area roadways. That, in turn, could prevent an accident and even save a life.
Our Letter That Was Published!
Letter: Stricter standards for trailers
Friday, October 22, 2010
I read with interest the Oct. 18 editorial, “Traffic laws can prevent tragedies,” which referenced the tragic loss of a mom, wife and teacher due to a loose utility trailer. This accident was totally preventable had we had an inspection and safety standards for trailers under 3,000 gross vehicle weight rating.
Please note the reason these trailers are not getting pulled over is because the way the law is currently written it is a secondary offense and not a primary. An offender must be committing an offense, like running a stop sign. Then the officer can provide a ticket for not having safety chains.
The clearest example I can provide of the magnitude of the infraction is the following: Would you secure your own child in a child safety seat without using the seat belt, improper level and homemade? In this example, do we allow people to make homemade child safety seats? I ask then why is the person behind you any less important than your own child?
In closing, the Dangerous Trailers Web site has been addressing the total lack of safety standards, quality and training on passenger cars that tow trailers for more than eight years. We have documentation from the highest level of our government and yet nothing on a national level has been done. We know what needs to be done and I am willing to help. We just need the support.
RON J. MELANCON
Glen Allen, Va.