COLUMBUS — The American Automobile Association of Ohio is calling for tougher penalties regarding everything from furniture to steel pipes flying off cars and trucks on Ohio roadways that result in injury and death.
In testimony submitted before the House Criminal Justice Committee AAA Ohio told lawmakers, “by failing to properly secure loads, resulting road debris creates a traffic safety hazard that may result in injury, death, or significant property damage.”
AAA Ohio’s support of House Bill 27 follows an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation that revealed nearly 3,000 unsecure load violations contributing to almost 7,000 crashes over the last five years which resulted in six deaths and 715 injuries.
In the days before AAA's testimony at the hearing, two more serious incidents involving unsecured loads resulted in serious damage and near loss of lives.
CLICK HERE to read a summary of HB 27.
Near Toledo, a steel pipe flew off the back of a truck and impaled the windshield of a car.
And in Cleveland, 28-year-old Morgan Eicher was lucky to escape being “decapitated” when a large piece of metal flew off the back of a truck ahead of her and crashed through her front window.
In an interview, AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs said, “It is the responsibility of all drivers—regardless of what kind of vehicle they are driving—to secure the load” adding that our exclusive investigation “illustrates the degree to which road debris crashes really are”.
Currently in Ohio, unsecured loads are a minor misdemeanor with fines capped at $150 and no jail time—even if someone is seriously injured. Under the proposed law, fines and penalties would increase from the current maximum of $150 to $500 dollars.
Plus, criminal penalties would include a $2,500 fine and jail time up to 60 days if you or your property are physically harmed.
HB 27 is sponsored by State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) and future hearings are expected before the measure comes to a vote.
If you've seen an unsecured load or been the victim of debris striking your vehicle, we would like to hear from you. CLICK HERE to email News 5 Chief Investigator Ron Regan your photos or story. You can also comment on the Facebook post below: