Failing to watch out for and yield to a bicyclist appears to have resulted in a fatal crash near the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus on the morning of April 21, 2018. The deadly collision happened at Selwyn Avenue and Bucknell Avenue while a driver was attempting to turn left and the bike rider was legally moving straight through the intersection.
Mecklenburg-Charlotte police received the first reports of the wreck at 10:54 am. They found the 55-year-old female bike rider laying in the roadway and severely injured. Despite wearing a helmet, she died shortly after being taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Main.
The driver, who did not suffer any injuries, remained at the scene and has been charged with failing to yield the right of way and with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. The failure to yield charge was made under section 20-153(b) of the North Carolina General Statutes, which reads
Left Turns. — The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of that vehicle, and, after entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction upon the roadway being entered.
The 2200 block of Selwyn Avenue where this deadly wreck happens sits in the heart of a residential neighborhood that borders a large college campus. The location indicates that drivers should know to expect bike riders at any time on any day. Additionally, since North Carolina law classifies bicycles as vehicles, drivers must treat riders just as they would another car or truck.
When drivers do not look for or miss seeing bicyclists, disabling injuries or deaths are practically guaranteed. For this reason, the National Transportation Safety Board reminds every driver that they must “yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.”
As winter finally gives way to spring this late April, my Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I urge everyone to share the road safely and respectfully with bike riders. More bicycles mean more risks for crashes like this one in Charlotte, but such risks do not have to become realities.