A 70-year-old woman from Virginia Beach, VA, died on impact when a cement mixer pulled out in front of her car in the 100 block of Oceana Boulevard on the morning of February 15, 2018. The fatal crash happened near Louisa Avenue as the construction vehicle exited a temporary private side road and attempted to turn left through the median.
A city police officer was following the deceased woman’s car at the time of the wreck just after 10:45 am. Despite reaching the victim within a minute of the collision and performing CPR for an extended period, he was unable to revive her.
The cement truck driver received an immediate citation for failing to yield right of way. The relevant state statute, section 46.2-863 of the Virginia Code, states
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who fails to bring his vehicle to a stop immediately before entering a highway from a side road when there is traffic approaching on such highway within 500 feet of such point of entrance, unless (i) a “Yield Right-of-Way” sign is posted or (ii) where such sign is posted, fails, upon entering such highway, to yield the right-of-way to the driver of a vehicle approaching on such highway from either direction.
A complete investigation will likely show that the person behind the wheel of the cement mixer could not see the elderly driver’s car. The size, height and width of the construction vehicle leaves its operator with expansive blind spots in front, along the sides and to the rear. Safety officials call these the “no zones,” and they can extend to 50 feet across 45 degrees depending on the dimensions of a vehicle and the placement of its mirrors. As the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles notes on a webpage devoted to risks posed by large commercial trucks, a “passenger vehicle disappears from the truck driver’s view” when it enters a blind spot.
Worksites often assign spotters to stand outside large trucks to watch for smaller vehicles, pedestrians and obstacles in the no zones. It is unclear if the cement mixer operator who caused the fatal collision on Oceana Boulevard had access to or followed the directions of a spotter. If the company in charge of the project did not deploy spotters, it might share legal responsibility for not doing enough to prevent a truck crash that inflicted deadly injuries.
My Virginia Beach-based wrongful death attorneys and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the woman killed near the naval air station. We also call on all large truck drivers to exercise extreme caution when backing up, making turns, merging and changing lanes.