A three-vehicle collision in Roanoke County, Virginia (VA), illustrated the ever-present dangers of fatigued driving. The wreck happened in the community of Cave Springs a little before 4 pm on November 10, 2017.
According to police, the man behind the wheel of a GMC pickup truck lost control of his vehicle in the 5800 block of Merriman Road when he fell asleep, After crossing the double yellow line separating the two lanes of Merriman, the pickup sideswiped a Chevy SUV and collided head-on with a Honda Accord.
The woman driving the SUV escaped injury, but the female driver and male passenger in the Honda required hospital treatment for injuries that news reports categorized as not life-threatening. They sustained their injuries from both the impact of the head-on collision and from running into the side of a house after having their car knocked off the road.
Police have filed preliminary charges for not driving on the right of the road and not wearing a seat belt against the pickup truck driver. The relevant state statute, section 46.2-802 of the Virginia Code, states, “Except as otherwise provided by law, on all highways of sufficient width, the driver of a vehicle shall drive on the right half of the highway, unless it is impracticable to travel on such side of the highway and except when overtaking and passing another vehicle, subject to the provisions applicable to overtaking and passing.”
The driver who was at-fault for this crash on Merriman Road in Roanoke County cannot claim any of the allowable exemptions from keeping right because he fell asleep at the wheel and could not consciously control his vehicle. The risks for such problems are higher at night and early in the morning, but people can drift off while driving at any time.
On its “Drowsy Driving: Asleep at the Wheel” webpage, the Centers for Disease and Prevention includes these statistics:
- An estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers (aged 18 years or older) report having fallen asleep while driving in the previous 30 days.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers.
While no one lost his or life in this wreck, the injured victims likely face long, difficult and expensive recoveries. They should have strong grounds for filing insurance claims against the fatigued driver who crossed the center line and hit their car. Working with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer while dealing with the insurance company will help them since a complication may arise over their own seat belt use. Neglecting to buckle up does not automatically disqualify claims in Virginia, but an insurance company representative may act like it will.