Five people suffered serious injuries and one woman lost her life in a head-on collision in Dickenson County, Virginia (VA). The fatal wreck occurred on U.S. 83, which is known locally as Dickenson Highway, west of State Route 721/Jakes Branch.
According to news reports, the deadly crash in the town of Clintwood began when a 76-year-old driver ran off the road and onto a gravel shoulder. She jerked her steering wheel while trying to reenter the roadway and wound up crossing the center line. The deceased victim was a passenger in the car the out-of-control driver struck. Two children, aged 3 and 16, were among the injured.
Police could not immediately determine why the at-fault driver was unable to stay in her lane in the first place. The area of highway where the crash occurred has single lanes going in opposite directions, but there is no indication that the lanes are especially narrow or curved. Perhaps the driver became distracted or experienced a medical emergency. Either way, she would likely remain liable for settling personal injury and wrongful claims through her automobile insurance policy. She may also face criminal charges, though no indication was given what those might be.
This tragedy highlights the importance of remaining calm and steering cautiously when unexpectedly running off the side of the road. The instinct to get all wheels back on pavement as quickly as possible can be strong, but slowing down gradually by only taking one's foot off the accelerator while continuing for some way without altering course is safer. Getting off the road and stopping completely may make sense if the shoulder is wide enough, but the real key is to be fully in control before steering back into the proper lane.