A rear-end collision in Johnston County, North Carolina (NC), involving a group of bicyclists and a car left four bike riders injured and two in critical condition. The February 20, 2016, crash occurred on Massengill Pond Road in the town of Angier.
The driver reportedly swerved off the road after topping a hill and rounding a curve near the intersection with Sue Lane. She spotted a car approaching from the opposite direction along the two-lane road but did not see the bicyclists. Seeing the oncoming car induced a panic, according to her daughter, who spoke with journalists at the scene, and her decision was to steer toward the shoulder.
Eyewitnesses said the impact of the collision sent the four bikers into the air. The exact nature of the bicyclists' injuries was not reported, but skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries are common occurrences from such wrecks.
The bike riders were in a single file on the solid white line separating the pavement from the grassy shoulder. The area does not have bike lanes, and there is little room outside the travel lanes for cars and trucks. These factors should not have placed the bicyclists in undue danger, however, because North Carolina permits bike riders to use roads in the same manner as drivers. Also, each of the injured bikers was identified as an experienced rider who often went on long-distance group rides through the county. The injured bicyclists appear to have followed all the rules of the road only to be hit and hospitalized by a confused and inattentive driver.
Bike riders' safety is often literally in the hands of drivers gripping steering wheels. Anyone operating a car or truck must keep an eye out for bicyclists and respect bike riders' rights to share the road.