Cell Phone Use Partly To Blame For Skagit River Bridge Collapse

Jul 15, 2014

The Skagit River bridge after its collapse on March 23, 2013.
The Skagit River bridge after its collapse on March 23, 2013.
Credit Associated Press Photo/Elaine Thompson

Poor planning and distracted driving were two reasons for the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River, federal officials said Tuesday.

The March 23 accident, which sent several cars hurtling into the river, could have been prevented, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said in a presentation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning. They delivered 18 recommendations based on lessons learned from the collapse.

David Mayer, managing director of the NTSB, listed the multiple failures led to the collapse of the bridge.

“Insufficient route planning by Mullen Trucking LP and the oversized vehicle. Failure of the certified pilot vehicle driver to perform required duty and report potential hazards, due in part to distraction caused by cell phone use. And inadequate evaluation of oversized load permit requests. And no provision of low clearance signage in advance of the bridge by the Washington state department of transportation," Mayer said.

The NTSB said a sign on the bridge could have helped inform the driver and the pilot car of the bridge height.

Meantime, the Washington State Department of Transportation said it has already begun to work to improve access to data to help the freight industry better plan routes. The state transportation department says it will also work with the legislature to implement recommendations that require legislative action.