One woman is dead and two other drivers are hospitalized with injuries following a predawn crash in Wise County, Virginia (VA), on February 8, 2018. The three-vehicle wreck happened near mile marker 48 on U.S. 23.
Virginia State Police received the first report of the deadly crash at 5:36 am. Investigators determined that the incident began when the 41-year-old woman driving a northbound SUV ran off the right side of the highway and overcorrected her steering while attempting to get all four tires back onto the pavement.
She ended up crossing the median of U.S. 23 and colliding with a southbound pickup truck. The SUV careened from the collision and ran into a ditch. The pickup continued forward and struck a car.
The male drivers of the pickup and the car went to a local hospital with injuries. They are expected to survive. Sadly, the woman behind the wheel of the SUV died at the scene.
State troopers did not have an immediate explanation for why the SUV driver went off the right side of the highway. U.S. 23 goes into a sharp curve at the location where the incident began. Knowing that and taking into consideration the early hour of the crash, it is easy to think that drowsy driving played a role.
In a just-released report based on experts’ analyses of in-vehicle video from more than 700 crashes, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety noted that “9.5 percent of all crashes and 10.8 percent of crashes resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness.” This increases the current federal estimate of the role falling asleep at the wheel plays in causing collisions by nearly 500 percent.
Signs of driver fatigue, according to the foundation, include
- Having trouble keeping your eyes open
- Drifting from your lane
- Not remembering the last few miles driven
Loss of visual focus, physical control and mental concentration could each explain leaving the roadway and panicking once the realization strikes that the vehicle has gone onto the shoulder.
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I have called attention to the dangers of drowsy driving and to the risks of overcorrecting one’s steering many times. Any action that makes it difficult to keep a vehicle completely under control and in its proper lane threatens the safety and lives of everyone on the road. This head-on collision and chain reaction crash on U.S. 23 through Wise County in Southwest Virginia tragically illustrates many of the worst outcomes of both types of driver error.
We send our condolences out to the friends and family of the woman who lost her life, and we hope that the two injured drivers make full and rapid recoveries.