Victim’s mother pushing for tougher unsecured-load laws

OLYMPIA, Wash. — It will be nine years next month since an unsecured load on Interstate 405 blinded Maria Federici.
And her mother is still pushing for legislation.

It is now a state crime to not cover and secure your vehicle’s load. But Federici’s mom, Robin Abel, says that is not enough.

Abel is selling her paintings, collectibles, coats, and furniture to support her nine-year fight for secured load laws.

“Financially, it’s devastated my, but (it is) so important to me I can’t not do it. So I’ve been selling my asset,” she said.

Abel began her push to make drivers securely fasten their loads after a board flew off a trailer, smashing through her daughter’s windshield and disfiguring her face.

“I know what can happen because of what happened to my daughter. And it can change your life, just like that,” she said.

Abel achieved stiffer penalties for unsecured loads, but gravel trucks got a pass. They can pile their haul as high as they want as long as the sides of their loads are 6 inches below side panels. Abel is teaming up with motorcyclist Jeff Henshaw to change that.

“I will get hit at least two or three times a week with loose gravel flying off truck,” Henshaw said.

Next week, the House Transportation Committee is considering legislation that would make all trucks hauling gravel, dirt, or sand cover their loads. And Abel plans to camp outside their meeting to continue her all-consuming mission.

“I know that if I don’t do this, I couldn’t live with myself any longer,” she said. “I’ve been able to accomplish so much that I can’t stop now.”

Abel is pushing for national legislation that would require all states to have secured load laws. She is working with the Washington State Patrol to make an educational video for the academy to teach recruits about secured loads.