Last summer one of the most harrowing tales of a tractor trailer crash emerged when Morgan Lake of Calvert County, Maryland was catapulted into the Chesapeake Bay by virtue of being struck by a semi truck operated by Gabor Lovasz. Ms. Lake plunged into the Bay, where she managed to escape a watery grave by climbing out of her broken car window.
The incident prompted an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board which concluded that the tractor trailer driver was the cause of the crash and that his unfamiliarity with the bridge and its intermittent stop and go traffic, coupled with inattention, brought about the crash.
Investigation revealed that Mr. Lovasz was looking in his side mirror immediately prior to looking back in his direction of travel where Ms. Lake was traveling at a speed of approximately four miles per hour. Mr. Lovasz has accelerated to a speed of over fifty miles per hour and propelled the Lake vehicle into another car and then over the three foot high Jersey wall into the Bay.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has been the situs of 624 reported crashes between 2002 and 2012, resulting in five fatalities. This crash was only one of two such crashes known to have caused vehicles to leave the bridge and plunge into the bay.
In all 226 of the crashes produced personal injuries and 374 people sustained injury. The inevitable question, can such crashes be avoided in the future and if so how?
The Maryland Department of Transportation has come up with some short term fixes which seem to this author of dubious merit. These changes include mandatory headlight use, expanded 40-mph speed zones, curve warning signs and mounted signs warning of congestion nearby.
Hopefully, these measures and greater motorist caution will reduce the incidence of Cheaspeake Bay Bridge crashes henceforth. For more go to: http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/fulltext/HAB1401.html