Pollard’s record on public safety becomes issue in campaign
Albert C. Pollard, the Democratic candidate for the senate seat for the 28th District, has come under scrutiny for past and present legislative programs that Republican opponent Richard Stuart and others claim would endanger public safety.
Pollard is also taking heat from transportation safety advocates who opposed his draft legislation to exempt mesh trailers under three thousand pounds from state inspection. Traditionally, Virginia legislation required that trailers weighing less than 3,000 pounds have either two or more reflectors of an approved type, or at least 100 square inches of reflective material, to outline the rear end of the trailer. In 2005, Pollard patroned legislation which would have redefined a utility trailer so as to exempt it entirely from the requirements of approved reflectors or reflectorized material to outline the trailer. Pollard’s bill (HB4290) defined a utility trailer as a device “whose body and tailgate consist largely or exclusively of mesh and whose end extends 18 inches or more beyond its tail lights.”
In 2005, the year of Pollard’s bill to reduce regulation of utility trailers, he received more than $3,200 in campaign money from Richmond and national lobbyists for transportation interests, including independent auto dealers and trucking interests, according to records maintained by the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP.org). Public safety crusader Ron Melancon, who successfully lobbied to remove Pollard’s definition of a utility trailer from the final bill, accuses Pollard of acting at the behest of the trucking and transportation industry to the detriment of public safety.
In an interview this week, Melancon noted that under Pollard’s attempted legal change, anyone could build a trailer under 3,000 pounds without any inspection requirement or trailer-outlining reflection. Campaigning on behalf of public-safety interests in 2005, Melancon convinced senators that under Pollard’s bill, one could have a mile-long trailer with only a single set of tail lights positioned 18 inches from the bumper. Melancon keeps a registry of all of the accidents involving defective utility trailers at www.dangeroustrailers.org, and his registry now includes the recent Bay Bridge accident that claimed three lives this spring. In 2005, the State Senate’s focus on examples of the evident danger doomed Pollard’s attempt to relax safety standards.