An Apex, North Carolina (NC), 4-year-old became pinned under a car that crashed through her bedroom wall on the night of November 21, 2017. Local police received the call about the wreck in the 400 block of Kinship Lane just after 8 pm on November 21, 2017.
The young girl was freed and taken to a nearby hospital with injuries that appeared to be survivable. The driver also required medical treatment, but news reports do not include information on whether she got hurt in the fixed object collision or if she suffered a medical emergency before running off Kinship Lane.
Investigators and researchers classify wrecks like this one in Apex as run-off-road crashes. In a 2009 report titled Contributing Factors to Run-Off-Road Crashes and Near-Crashes, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration listed the following reasons for why drivers leave the roadway:
The most common contributing factor was distraction/inattention (40% of ROR events), with 36 percent of the events involving secondary task distraction and 4 percent involving driving-related inattention to the forward roadway. Changes in roadway boundaries such as the start of a median, narrowing of the lane from the right, loss of a lane, or atypical roadway geometry were considered a contributing factor in 22 percent of the events. Short following distance (14%), fatigue/impairment (11%), low friction (11%), and another vehicle encroaching on the subject vehicle (10%) were the next most commonly identified contributing factors. Less frequently identified contributing factors include low-speed maneuvering errors, lead-vehicle braking, and late route selection.
When drivers do run off the road, they often crash into fixed objects, which a Wisconsin Department of Transportation guide defines as “is an object that can be considered part of the road way, naturally occurring objects, and those objects otherwise fixed to the ground. This includes, but [is] not limited to, curbs, ditches, fences, cable and concrete barriers, mailboxes, trees, traffic signals and signs, and fire hydrants.” Houses sitting close to the street also fall under the definition.
Injuries, and even deaths, to people insides houses run into by cars and trucks are not rare. Drivers bear responsibility for avoiding such wrecks because the building cannot move, the residents have no reason to expect to be threatened by or to anticipate the need get out of the way of a vehicle, and drivers have legal duties to stay on the road and in their lane at all times.
My Carolina personal injury law firm colleagues and I hope the 4-year-old girl in Apex makes a full and rapid recovery. We also urge all drivers to avoid distractions, to stay well-rested and sober, and to slow down on wet and icy roads.