Maryland bridge crash report blames driver inattention

Ryan Ross
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Screen grab from an NBC video in which Morgan Lake, 22, of Maryland describes escaping from her submerged car in Chesapeake Bay after being struck by a tractor-trailer driven by a Prince Edward Island man.

A crash on a Maryland bridge involving a truck driver from P.E.I. was likely due to driver inattention, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report, which was adopted March 14, found Gabor Lavasz didn't slow his Bulk Carriers truck for traffic due to his inattention while looking in the side view mirror.

On July 19, 2013, Lavasz was driving on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland at around 8 p.m. when his truck hit a Chrysler Sebring and pushed it over the side where it landed in about 10 feet of water.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A MAP OF LAVASZ'S TRIP FROM CHARLOTTETOWN TO MARYLAND

The Sebring's driver, Morgan Lake, was able to get out of the car and swim to the safety of a pile of rocks near one of the bridge piers.

She was taken to hospital and released the next day.

Lavasz and the occupants of a third vehicle involved in the crash weren't injured.

There are two structures that make up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and traffic normally flows in one direction on each of them, although that can be changed when necessary.

In its report, the National Transportation Safety Board found Lavasz's unfamiliarity with the area and a lack of knowledge that traffic often slows after leaving a toll plaza on the span he was on were factors in the crash.

An examination of data stored in the truck's engine control module found that in the minute before the crash the truck accelerated before reducing its speed slightly at the time of the collision.

A review of the Sebring's airbag control module found the car had slowed in the five seconds before the crash.

The report said the unusual "collision dynamics" that allowed for a vehicle to be pushed up and over the barrier contributed to the severity of the crash.

In response to the collision, the Maryland Transportation Authority, has undertaken a short-term action plan that will be implemented this spring, including requiring headlights be used on the bridge at all times and installing more speed limit signs.

The Maryland Transportation Authority also plans to install flashing lights that can be used to warn drivers of the potential for stopped vehicles on parts of the bridge and install speed readout signs to warn drivers how fast they are going.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

 

Organizations: National Transportation Safety Board, Maryland Transportation Authority

Geographic location: Maryland, P.E.I.

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  • Pete
    March 21, 2014 - 07:04

    "Sebring" not "Seabring" ... named after the city of Sebring, Florida which hosts a famed car race. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_Sebring