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Falls Church, VA Car-Pickup Crash Kills Two, Injures One

A tragic accident on Labor Day Weekend 2011 in Falls Church, Virginia (VA), illustrates the dangers of making left-hand turns at busy intersections. According to news radio station WTOP, an elderly couple in their 80s died when the car they were in was struck by a pickup truck. The fatal accident occurred near the intersection of Route 50/Wilson Boulevard and Patrick Henry Drive.

View a larger map of the Falls Chur, VA, area along Route 50

The map above provides geographic reference but gives no sense of how busy -- and, therefore, dangerous -- Route 50 through much of Northern Virginia can get. The urban sections of the highway are among the most-heavily traveled stretches of roads in the Commonwealth. Drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians using Route 50 must be alert at all times for turning and approaching vehicles.

One of the drivers involved in the fatal wreck on September 4, 2011, appears to have lost his focus or otherwise been negligent. The Washington Post is reporting that both the car and the pickup truck had green lights in their direction, but the collision occurred because either the older gentleman turning left failed to yield right of way or because the 41-year-old truck driver was speeding. The accident remained under investigation at the time I was writing this.

Regardless of the exact cause, the result is truly sad. My condolences go out to the family and friends of the man and woman who died.

Left on green, as opposed to left on arrow, often creates opportunities for accidents. Virginia Beach, VA, where my personal injury attorney colleagues and I have our main offices, recently installed a new type of traffic light at several intersection along busy Rosemont Road to make it clearer to motorists when it was safe to turn left and when they needed to let all traffic going straight pass. The results of this change will take time to become clear, but any innovation that can make left turns safer is welcome.

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