Two drivers suffered life-threatening injuries after one of them appears to have attempted an illegal pass on a two-lane rural highway through Alexander County, North Carolina (NC). The nearly fatal three-vehicle collision happened on State Highway 16 near Millersville Road on the morning of January 29, 2018.
State Highway Patrol troopers responded to the crash outside of Taylorsville shortly before 11 am. Their initial investigation revealed that a northbound driver crossed the double yellow line of NC 16 in order to get around another vehicle that was slowing down to make a turn. The maneuver led to a head-on collision with a southbound car, and the turning vehicle was caught up in the wreck.
Both the driver who tried to cut around the slowing vehicle and the woman behind the wheel of the car needed to be flown from the scene by helicopter to receive lifesaving treatment. News reports do not indicate whether anyone in the third vehicle suffered injuries.
Trooper told reporters that they intend to file charges. Two that may apply are making an unsafe pass and driving left of center. The first possible alleged traffic violation could come under section 20-150(a) of the North Carolina General Statutes. That paragraph reads:
The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center of a highway, in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be made in safety.
A driving left of center charge could come under section 20-146(d((1) of the NGS, which states, “A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.”
If the completed investigation into this head-on collision in Alexander County shows that the driver who tried to change lanes did so unsafely, the woman in the car would have very strong grounds for filing personal injury claims. The negligence and resulting liability for paying medical bills and other crash-related expenses would exist even if no convictions were achieved.
My Carolina personal injury lawyer colleagues and I urge all drivers who learn of this almost fatal wreck to exercise extreme caution when changing lanes or attempting to pass on two-lane highways. The consequences of misjudging the distance and speed of traffic coming from the opposite direction are too often tragic.