Veto likely in bill on boat towing

Gov. Mike Easley probably will veto legislation that would let fishermen and other recreational boaters haul wider boats on state roads – unless the bill is changed to ban towing at night, an aide told legislators Thursday.

“The governor believes strongly that these wide boats at night are a safety hazard, that there would be additional deaths on the highway,” Franklin Freeman, an adviser to Easley, told the House Finance Committee.

The General Assembly is considering several bills to relax limits on hauling wide boat trailers. The proposals would allow boaters to pull trailers up to 10 feet wide, day or night, without a permit. Current law requires permits for boat trailers more than 8.5 feet wide and outlaws towing on Sundays, nights and holidays.

Rep. Jennifer Weiss of Cary echoed concerns expressed by the State Highway Patrol about the hazards of hauling 10-foot-wide boats at night on narrow roads with travel lanes less than 9.5 feet wide. She cited a review of regulations in 14 southeastern states.

“Every single one of them has statutes governing boats wider than 8.5 feet, and not one of them allows towing the boats at night,” Weiss said.