A collision between a tractor-trailer and a bicycle in Westmoreland County, Virginia (VA), led to the death of the bike rider. The fatal crash occurred on the evening of July 22, 2015, near the intersection of rural state highways Route 604 and Route 607. The highways are also known locally as Sandy Point Road and Kinsale Bridge Road, respectively.
Police continued to investigate the deadly wreck two days later. They told reporters that both the semi driver and the bicyclist had been traveling in the same direction along two-lane Route 604, but they did not disclose whether the crash was a rear-end collision or a sideswipe that occurred while one person tried to pass the other. Either scenario could have played out, as the road is separated in narrow lanes by double yellow lines and has no shoulders. If traffic was coming from the opposite direction, the truck driver may not have had time to move around the bike rider safely when approaching from behind. Also, the lack of space on even a clear roadway could make it easy to miscalculate how much distance could be created between the semi and the bicycle as they passed.
In reporting the incident, the Free Lance-Star newspaper of Fredericksburg, VA, reprinted a set of safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The excerpt from that Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Resource Guide includes these notes on mistakes bicyclist and drivers can make when sharing the road:
- Bicyclist turns or swerves suddenly into the path of a motorist. ... Ride in straight, predictable lines; look over your shoulder for traffic; and use hand signals before changing lane position.
- Driver turns in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
- Driver overtakes a bicyclist but doesn’t see them until it is too late. Factors may include speeding, inattention, and alcohol on the part of the driver, and poor visibility or alcohol on the part of the bicyclist. Always do visual scans of the roadway for other traffic, especially at night.
- Driver passes a bicycle too closely. These crashes tend to occur to riders 15 and older. Pass bicyclists as you would any other vehicle--when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.