One man lost his life and two other drivers sustained serious injuries when three vehicles became involved in a chain-reaction on W.V 45 near Sheperdstown, West Virginia, on the evening of November 1, 2014. The fatal traffic accident occurred close to the intersection of Byer Lane and the rural state highway that is also known as Sheperdstown Road and Martinsburg Pike. It began with an illegal pass.
According to the Herald-Mail, the driver of a pickup truck cut around the right side of an SUV, whose driver had stopped to turn left. An embankment along the shoulder of the two-lane highway forced the pickup back onto the road and into the side of the SUV. That impact sent the first two vehicles across the center line and into the path of an oncoming pickup.
The head-on collision killed the man behind the wheel of the second truck. Both drivers of the other vehicles also sustained injuries that required hospital treatment. Charges appear to be pending, though news reports do not indicate whether the driver who initiated the wreck was speeding, distracted, impaired or otherwise reckless.
Highway shoulders exist for emergency stopping and passing. No driver should ever use the pavement or cleared area outside the outermost lane line as a passing zone simply because they feel impatient or inconvenienced. As this deadly crash shows, doing so puts both the aggressive driver and everyone else on the road at risk for becoming injured and getting killed.
My West Virginia personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues and I can only hope that individuals who learn of such tragedies resist the urge to pass slower or stopped vehicles unsafely or illegally.