The NC 24/U.S.17 interchange near the northwest corner of Camp Lejeune was the site of a fatal rear-end collision on the morning of April 17, 2015. According to the Daily News of Jacksonville, North Carolina, a pickup truck ran in to the back of a construction tractor that was towing a batwing mower (picture something like this). The impact knocked the tractor operator out of his driver's seat, and the man got crushed to death when the rig rolled over and landed on top of him.
Although police told reporters that excessive speed did not appear to have been a factor that contributed to causing the deadly crash, the woman behind the wheel of the pickup has been charged with failing to slow down enough to avoid an accident and with causing a death while operating a motor vehicle. The investigation into the wreck continued through the weekend, with authorities likely checking into whether the pickup driver became distracted before hitting the tractor-mower rig and whether alcohol or drug use not detected via field tests impaired the driver.
Getting stuck behind a slow-moving commercial truck or tractor on the highway can be frustrating. Even when the rigs can maintain minimum safe speeds of 35 mph or 45 mph, not being able to travel at the expected 55-65 mph can leave drivers feeling stuck in place and trapped for what feels like hours. Losing patience can never be an option, however, nor can following too closely. The worst option, and the one taken by far too many drivers who wind up in head-on collisions, is to cut around trucks and tractors without making completely sure that the opposite lane is clear.
From now until the end of October, or even into November, towed mowers will be frequent sights on North Carolina state highways and interstates. Anyone sharing the road with these large, and sometimes maddeningly slow rigs, must slow down and only attempt to pass when doing so is safe for both them and the commercial vehicle operators.