Two people helping to move a broken-down SUV off the highway suffered serious injuries when they were hit from behind by another vehicle on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day 2017. The crash happened in the 9000 block of U.S. 60/Pocahontas Trail in New Kent County, Virginia (VA).
State Police received the call about the rear-end collision at 2:55 pm. They found only the people who were pushing the disabled vehicle off the road injured. One of the crash victims was hurt so badly that he needed to be flown by helicopter to VCU Medical Center for lifesaving treatment. The other injured person was taken to a hospital by ambulance.
News reports do not include information on the types of injuries the victims suffered. Nor is it clear whether the driver of the vehicle that struck the people will be charged for causing the rear-end collision. Virginia laws allow motorists and good Samaritans to move broken-down vehicles out of the flow of traffic, and other statutes require drivers to yield to pedestrians and move safely around hazards like disabled vehicles.
When a mechanical problem or an earlier crash forces people out of their vehicles, all other drivers have the duty to see and avoid them. Not keeping an eye out for pedestrians and failing to yield leads to irreversible tragedies. As noted on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s pedestrian safety research resources webpage, “On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes. Fourteen percent of all traffic fatalities and an estimated 3 percent of those injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians.”
That agency also links to the website of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, which offers the following tips for drivers:
- Scan the road and the sides of the road ahead for potential pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians crossing or bicyclists coming up the road.
- Do not drive distracted or after consuming alcohol or other drugs.
- Do not use your cell phone while driving.
- Look carefully behind your vehicle for approaching pedestrians, especially small children, before backing-up.
- For maximum visibility, keep your windshield clean and headlights on.
Elsewhere on its site, the center reminds drivers to “Obey speed limits and come to a complete stop at STOP signs,” and to “always be prepared to stop for pedestrians.”
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I wish the people injured in this rear-end collision on Pocahontas Trail in New Kent County full and rapid recoveries. As the 2017 year-end holiday season begins, more people will be on the roads, both in and out of vehicles. We urge all drivers to operate soberly and safely, and to always watch for unexpected crash risks like disabled vehicles on the highway.