A 78-year-old driver faces a charge for failing to yield right of way to a pedestrian after hitting a man in a crosswalk in Newport News, Virginia (VA). The crash happened at the intersection of Warwick Boulevard and Snidow Boulevard at around 9:30 am on November 1, 2017.
Police said the 78-year-old driver was attempting to make a right-hand turn at a red light when he struck the 63-year-old pedestrian. Officials did not release information on the types or severity of the injuries the pedestrian suffered, but news reports indicate that the injured man was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Virginia allows drivers to make right-hand turns at most red lights. The state statute that permits this maneuver, however, makes it clear that any driver who decides to turn through a stop signal must wait for the intersection to clear before moving forward. Section 46.2-835 of the Virginia Code reads, in part, “Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after coming to a full stop, may cautiously enter the intersection and make a right turn. Such turning traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic using the intersection.”
Failing to yield right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk constitutes negligence of the kind that makes a driver legally responsible for paying compensation and damages to the person he or she injures. It is also an act of negligence an elderly driver may be more at risk for committing.
On its Mature Driver Safety webpage, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles states that “driving skills tend to decline as drivers age. This decline is especially true of mature drivers who take certain medications or have conditions associated with the aging process such as vision problems, arthritis or Parkinson's disease.” Starting at age 75, all drivers must submit to eye tests in order to renew their driver’s licenses, and the DMV can require elderly drivers to provide additional proof of mental acuity and physical health.
We cannot know if health issues contributed to the serious pedestrian crash on Warwick Boulevard in Newport News. We do know that the driver involved either did not see or ignored the man in the crosswalk. The confirmed fact is enough to lead my Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I to urge all drivers of all ages to exercise excessive caution when making right turns at red lights.