Driving drowsy and over correcting were two factors that turned an early morning drive on Interstate 81 in north western Virginia (VA) into a chain of horrific events, which caused a New York man to be run over three times.

The driver was three-tenths of a mile north of Route 683 and the Exit 54 off-ramp driving Southbound when he fell asleep.  His civic ran off the left side of the road which caused him to awake and overcorrect,

As he jerked his wheel his car came back onto the road and crossed over both lanes of traffic and ran off the left side of the interstate.  He struck a guardrail, overturned and stopped.

“Within seconds, a tractor-trailer struck the overturned Civic. The impact of the crash caused the driver and his passenger to be ejected from the Civic even though they were wearing seat belts,” Geller state police spokesman said.  

The big rig then struck the prone driver and continued into the median before finally coming to a stop.  A chain reaction ensued when the darkened road and swiftness of the accident rendered the driver of a 2008 Chevrolet van unable to avoid the crash.  The van ran over the injured drive yet again, who was still lying in the roadway.

 The van immediately pulled off onto the right shoulder. A 2006 Saturn Ion was also unable to brake in time and ended up striking the twice run over driver. The Saturn then ran off the left of the interstate,” Geller said.

Sadly the driver died at the scene, and his passenger was transported by ambulance for treatment of life-threatening injuries.  We express our sincere grief that anyone should have to be struck by a vehicle, especially when they were doing the safe thing by wearing a seat belt.  None of the other three was injured in the crash and all were wearing seat belts.  It’s too early to know if the seat belts in the Honda Civic were defective but we will learn more as Police release the accident report.

The tractor-trailer driver was not charged and the crash remains under investigation, Geller said.

Unfortunately, according to a recent poll by Sleep in America, 36 percent of drivers admit to nodding off or falling asleep while behind the wheel of a car. The odds of a licensed car driver over the age of 18 getting into a car accident or near-accident due to drowsiness this past year were 1 in 50, according to bookofodds.com. 

Over correcting is a major cause of car accidents. This is especially true with young drivers who have not experienced off roadway correction techniques first hand, but over correcting can affect any driver. All it can take is a small error or a distraction and the results can be tragic, such as the car accident that took place Wednesday evening in Gastonia.

If you find yourself in an off roadway situation there is a technique you can employ to avoid being the victim of another over correcting car accident. First, do not panic. Panic can lead to errors while operating a vehicle. Simply stop accelerating, do not break your vehicle. Once you have slowed to a lesser speed, gently ease the vehicle back on to the roadway, being careful not to jerk the wheel too suddenly or too far towards the roadway.