State Representative John Yates’ bill to require the use of safety chains when towing trailers finally passed through the Senate on the 39th day of this year’s 40-day Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session.
“It was a long, hard journey, but we got it through at the very end,” Yates said Wednesday morning.
Yates, a Griffin resident whose district includes much of southern Fayette County, wrote the bill after Tiphanie Fletcher’s mother visited Yates at his State Capitol office and asked him to do so. Tiphanie Fletcher died last fall as a result of an unchained trailer slipping loose from its ball hitch just before crossing the median of Hwy. 92 and striking her SUV head-on. Fletcher’s vehicle immediately left the roadway and slammed into a tree, the impact of which eventually killed her.
Yates says he was surprised to learn Georgia had no such law on the books. He says he bought a trailer decades ago when living in Colorado, and even back then Colorado had a law requiring trailers be chained to vehicles in addition to using the main hitch. Yates says “it was a no-brainer” to introduce this legislation, especially after being approached by Fletcher’s mother.
Yates initially introduced HB 123 on Jan. 27, but it only made it out of the Public Safety and Homeland Security committee on Feb. 26. House members passed an amended version of the bill unanimously on Mar. 11 before sending it to the senate for their approval.
Senator Rick Jeffares of McDonough sponsored HB 123 as it coursed through the senate, though Yates says he personally attended all of the committee meetings as well.
The senate passed an unaltered version of HB 123 on Tuesday. That vote was also unanimous.
Yates says he hopes Governor Nathan Deal will officially sign the bill into law. However, unless Deal for some reason vetoes the bill within 40 days of its passage, it automatically becomes law.