Two crashes in Virginia Beach, VA, separated by about 36 hours and 20 miles left two bicyclists hospitalized with serious injuries. The first car-bike collision occurred on Pungo Ferry Road at around 7:30 am on October 11, 2016. The second accident in which a car struck a bike happened on Shore Drive at a little after 7 pm on October 12.
News reports on these accidents do not include details on why the collisions could not be avoided. What is clear is that each happened at a time when drivers could experience difficulties with seeing and avoiding bicycles. Glare at sunrise could explain the car-bike crash in Pungo. Low visibility at dusk could explain the wreck on Shore Drive near the Virginia Beach-Norfolk city line. The most important thing to keep in mind about such explanations, however, is that drivers cannot escape civil charges of negligence simply by claiming they never saw the other vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian they hit.
Drivers who encouter glare or low-light conditions must exercise increased diligence and be prepared to slow down. Also, a provision of Virginia law states that drivers have a duty to see what can be seen. This objective standard consists of a measurement of what a typical driver would be expected to see if he or she were paying attention and traveling at a safe speed. This visibility standard may apply to one or both of these serious personal injury collisions in Virginia Beach.
Police investigating the crashes in Pungo and on Shore Drive must also look into possible traffic violations by the drivers. Errors by drivers that often lead to crashes that injure or kill bike riders include following too closely, not leaving enough room while passing and failing to yield right of way while turning or leaving a parking lot. Virginia law makes it legal for bicyclists to use almost any road, even where there are no bike lanes. This places a duty on people behind the wheels of cars and truck to share the road safely and respectfully.
My Virginia Beach-based personal injury law firm colleagues and I wish the bike riders hurt in Pungo and on Shore Drive full and rapid recoveries. We also urge all drivers to keep an eye out for bicyclists.