Two people lost their lives and a third suffered serious injuries when the disabled car in which they were riding was struck from behind on I-40 in Wake County, North Carolina (NC), just before 1 am on September 7, 2014. The fatal accident occurred in the far right-hand lane of the highway near the exit for White Oak Road.
According to the News & Observer, the car in which the driver and a rear seat passenger died was moving slowly on a flat tire. The person who rear-ended them failed to slow down or change lanes in time to avoid the collision. That at-fault driver also sustained injuries that required hospital treatment. News reports did not indicate whether distraction, fatigue or impairment by drugs or alcohol contributed to causing the wreck, but the newspaper did note that police are considering filing charges.
As this deadly crash illustrates, mechanical problems create significant hazards for both people in damaged and malfunctioning vehicles and everyone else on the road. A driver whose car or truck has blown a tire or developed engine trouble should get out of the flow of traffic as quickly as he or she can do so safely. That could be what the man behind the wheel of the car with the flat tire on I-40 was doing by moving all the way over and nearing an exit.
At the same time, drivers approaching a disabled vehicle have responsibilities to reduce their speed and create space. For reasons that have yet to be made public, that did not happen very early in the morning on I-40.
Sadly, these types of accidents are not uncommon. Highway speeds, areas of heavy traffic and everything from road rage to failure to pay proper attention lead to many rear-end collisions on interstates each day. Tragically, many of those highly preventable crashes result in deaths.