A careless merge onto a rural highway north of Winston-Salem, North Carolina (NC), resulted in the death of an innocent driver and the hospitalization of three other people. The deadly three-vehicle crash happen at the intersection of Hartgrove Road/NC 1132 and Mountainview Road outside of the town of King at around 3:30 pm on May 2, 2017.
According to investigators with the Highway Patrol, a 17-year-old caused the fatal wreck by pulling out in front of a car traveling south on Hartgrove Road. The first impact caused the car to flip onto its side, and a third vehicle that had been following the flipped car crashed into it.
The woman behind the wheel of the partially overturned car died at the scene. A passenger in her car suffered serious injuries, as did the at-fault driver and a person in the vehicle that got caught up in the chain reaction. Multiple news outlets identified the woman who lost her life as 31-year-old Amber Lawson of Walnut Grove.
It is unclear if charges will be filed against the teen driver. Law enforcement officials have ruled out speed, distraction and alcohol or drugs as contributing factors, but they also mentioned that they believe failure to yield right of way before entering the highway caused the deadly crash.
A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study of lane change and merge crashes revealed that young male drivers are the most likely to initiate and be involved in those types of wrecks. Interestingly, that same analysis revealed that “obscuring of driver vision was noted very rarely (about 1 percent of involvements).” That leaves impatience and negligence as the leading behavioral factors.
Teen drivers are particularly prone to operating in impulsive and heedless ways. Research cited on the CDC’s Teen Drivers website indicates that “drivers ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.” Reasons for this primarily come down to making “critical decision errors” because they “underestimate dangerous situations or [fail] to recognize hazardous situations.”
Even if no charges get filed against the teen driver who set off this deadly chain reaction near King, NC, the family of the deceased victim may have grounds for filing a wrongful death insurance claim. Negligent actions while driving do not have to be criminal in order to impose legal duties for paying compensation and damages to people harmed by negligence. Consulting with a caring Carolina wrongful death attorney will help the family understand and exercise their legal rights.