Local News

Demo shows dangers of eased boat-towing restrictions

Posted August 21, 2008 2:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2008 3:13 p.m. EDT

— State troopers staged a demonstration Thursday for the media to illustrate their concerns about a proposed bill that would ease boat-towing restrictions for North Carolina motorists.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Easley vetoed legislation that would have allowed drivers to pull boats up to 10 feet wide on any day of the week without first obtaining a special permit. Motorists also would have been allowed to tow watercraft up to 9.5 feet wide at night.

State law allows boats up to 8 1/2 feet wide to be towed only during daylight hours on weekdays.

Troopers say has 60,000 miles of two-lane roads which are too narrow to accommodate 9.5-foot-wide boats safely. (Watch video of the demonstration.)

"If this bill becomes law, allowing these overwidth boats to travel on our highways and roads at night, someone's husband, someone's wife, someone's child will be killed, and the governor and I don't want to be a part of that," Bryan Beatty, secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, said.

Approximately 26,000 miles of the state's roads are two-lanes with each lane 9.5 feet or less wide. Another 29,000 miles have 10.5 feet or less.

The bill now returns to the General Assembly, where legislative leaders will decide whether to accept Easley's veto or try to override it.

To revive the measure, three-fifths of the House and Senate members present in each chamber would need to vote for the measure.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously. The House approved it 108-5.

Bill sponsor Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, has challenged Easley's claims that the measure is unsafe, saying that the wider boats would be resting on the same sized trailers and that an extra five or six inches on each side would not jeopardize motorists' safety.