A collision between a motorcycle and a car in Albemarle County, Virginia (VA), led to the death of one of the motorcyclists. Another rider sustained serious injuries in the May 31, 2022, crash at an I-64 offramp to Monacan Trail.
The fatal crash happened just south of Charlottesville in the community of Redfields. Police and emergency medical responders found the motorcycle riders alive and had them transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center. Sadly, a Waynesboro resident publicly identified as 44-year-old Holly Marie Minter died several hours later. the other motorcyclist remained hospitalized the following day.
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- Virginia Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
The investigation into the crash continued through the week. Whether anyone will face charges will largely depend on who had right of way.
Exiting the Interstate Creates Crash Risks
Successfully navigating an interstate offramp typically involves merging with moving traffic. The exiting driver usually has the disadvantage of traveling slower than the car and trucks on the surface street. Additionally, merge lanes extending from offramps impose limits of time and distance for merging.
Drivers who approach offramps can make merging safer by keeping left and leaving the right-hand lane of the surface street open for mergers. Failing that, drivers can slow down near offramps to increase spaces for merging and lengthen the time exiting drivers have to spot vehicles.
Right of Way at Offramps
Unsurprisingly, Virginia state laws address the legalities of exiting interstates and other highways. Most broadly, section 46.2-820 of the Virginia Code treats the majority of offramps as uncontrolled intersections. That law states, “[W]hen two vehicles approach or enter an uncontrolled intersection at approximately the same time, the driver of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.”
Since drivers on a surface road will almost always be to the left of an exiting driver, the person leaving an interstate must yield. Similarly, exiting drivers must yield when a stop sign or yield sign greets them at the bottom of an offramp.
No absolute right of way exists, however. Section 46.2-823 of the Virginia Code explains, “The driver of any vehicle traveling at an unlawful speed shall forfeit any right-of-way which he might otherwise have under this article.” A drivers can also lose their right of way by changing lanes into the path of a merging vehicle and by entering a merge lane that does not also serves as the entrance to an onramp.
As noted, news reports do not indicate whether the driver of the car or the operator of the motorcycle had right of way in Albemarle County. If evidence shows that the person in the car should have yielded, the motorcyclists will have strong grounds for filing personal injury and wrongful death claims.