A rear-end collision involving a tractor-trailer and a bicycle outside of Richmond, Virginia (VA), left the 18-year-old bike rider dead and the big rig operator facing a charge of reckless driving. The fatal wreck in the town of Ashland occurred at around 11 pm on June 7, 2015, near the intersection of South Washington Highway/U.S. 1 and Design Road.
Police did not find evidence that speed or alcohol use played a role in causing the deadly crash, but limited visibility may have. According to a report on television station WTVR, the bicyclist was not using a headlamp, handlebar-mounted headlight or a reflective vest. Her bike did have a rear reflector, however. Investigators will have to determine whether the commercial truck driver simply failed to spot the bike rider or became distracted in the minutes or seconds leading up to the collision. State law also requires cars and trucks to provide bikes three feet of lateral space while passing. Violating that law does not constitute reckless behavior in and of itself, but it could cause an easily avoided fatality.
Beyond that, mounting a defense based on "I never saw" can prove difficult for a driver trying to escape liability for settling insurance claims and paying damages for inflicting injuries or taking lives. Anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle is under legal obligations to watch for bicycles, pedestrians and other cars and trucks. Failing to meet that responsibility, even late at night while relying on the uncertain illumination of headlights and reflective surfaces, sets the stage for irreversible tragedy,