RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One year after the death of 11-year-old Hailey Brooks at the Raleigh Christmas Parade, a bill that would put new safety requirements in place has not passed the General Assembly.
This year’s parade will occur on Saturday, but there will not be any motorized vehicles. City leaders initially denied the permit for the parade but reversed that decision after facing criticism, including from Hailey’s parents.
During last year’s parade, police say 20-year-old Landen Glass lost control of the pickup truck he was driving. Investigators said he had improper brakes.
The incident prompted a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sen. Mary Wills Bode (D-Granville), to push for new statewide regulations.
“One of the things many people have learned is there are no basic safety precautions in place,” she said. “If you have a child that wants to participate in a parade, as a parent now I would imagine you think twice.”
Sen. Bode is a lead sponsor of the “Shine Like Hailey Parde Safety Act.”
The bill would apply to municipalities with at least 35,000 people. It would require either the fire or police department to inspect each vehicle in a parade to ensure they’re registered and insured. Drivers would have to be at least 25 years old and have a valid driver’s license.
“As leaders, when we know more we have to do more, especially when children’s safety is concerned,” said Sen. Bode.
The House unanimously passed the bill last year, but the Senate never took action on it. Sen. Bode said she’s continuing to talk about the issue with Republican leaders in the chamber and will push to bring it up for a vote in the legislature’s “short session” that begins in late April.
Leaders in cities and towns across North Carolina are deciding how best to move forward after last year’s incident.
Raleigh is allowing the Christmas parade to go forward without motorized vehicles. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Holiday Parade, which takes place on Dec. 9, also will not include motorized vehicles.
The Durham Holiday Parade will still have floats. The city promises each one will undergo a “comprehensive city inspection.”
Last week, the town of Stem in Granville County hosted a parade that did include motorized vehicles. CBS 17 was there as inspectors took a look at the vehicles trying to ensure they were safe to participate.
Lee Clayton, president of the Stem Ruritan Club, said, “The conversation was, how can we put the vehicles in the parade and honor what happened to Hailey and try to be safe?”
Sen. Bode said the inspectors were able to prevent a vehicle from being in the parade that did not have an updated inspection.
“Basic, commonsense safety measures can make a difference,” said Sen. Bode.