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Accident Report Detail

Multivehicle collision and subsequent vehicle fall from bridge

Executive Summary

On Friday, July 19, 2013, about 8:24 p.m., a 2007 Chrysler Sebring passenger car operated by a 24-year-old female driver was traveling eastbound on US Route 50/301 near Annapolis, Maryland. The Chrysler had passed through the toll plaza to enter onto the eastbound span of the William Preston Lane, Jr., Memorial Bridge (Chesapeake Bay Bridge). Less than a mile past the toll plaza, after vehicles had merged from 11 toll lanes into two travel lanes, traffic began to slow as the bridge ascended above the Chesapeake Bay and curved to the left.

The Chrysler was in the right lane and had reduced speed to 4 mph due to the traffic queue ahead when it was struck from behind by a 2010 International truck-tractor and refrigerated semitrailer combination unit traveling 47 mph. The truck-tractor, operated by a 29 year-old male driver, collided with the left rear corner of the Chrysler, pushing it into the concrete barrier adjacent to the right lane. As the truck-tractor and the Chrysler continued forward, the front of the Chrysler collided with a 2014 Mazda CX-5 occupied by a 65-year-old male driver and his wife. During the collision sequence, the Chrysler was pushed up onto the barrier wall and then rode along the top of it, before falling approximately 27 feet into the Chesapeake Bay. The Chrysler came to rest between two bridge piers to the south of the eastbound span, in approximately 7 feet of water. The Mazda rotated counter-clockwise and came to rest near the left front corner of the truck-tractor in the middle of the two travel lanes.

 As a result of the collision, the driver of the Chrysler received minor injuries. She was able to swim to one of the nearby bridge piers, from which she was rescued and transported to an area hospital. The driver of the truck-tractor and both occupants of the Mazda were uninjured. Weather conditions were clear and dry, and it was near sunset at the time of the crash.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the July 19, 2013, crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was the failure of the truck tractor driver to slow for traffic due to his inattention to the forward roadway while looking in his side view mirror. Contributing to the crash were the truck driver's unfamiliarity with the area and lack of knowledge that traffic routinely slows on the eastbound span of the bridge after exiting the toll plaza and before entering the leftward curve. Contributing to the severity of the crash were the unusual collision dynamics that allowed for a passenger vehicle to be pushed over the barrier wall and into the water.

Accident Location: Annapolis , MD   US Route 50/301, eastbound span of William Preston Lane, Jr., Memorial Bridge (Chesapeake Bay Bridge)
Accident Date: 7/19/2013
Accident ID: HWY13FH018

Date Adopted: 3/14/2014
NTSB Number: HAB-14-01
NTIS Number:  

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