A member of the VDOT Safety Services Patrol suffered serious injuries when a pickup truck struck him as he was assisting a disabled motorist along a Northern Virginia interstate. The crash occurred near the I-66/Route 29 interchange in Centreville, Virginia (VA), on January 29, 2016.
Police believe that at-fault pickup driver was falling asleep at the wheel even though the collision happened just after noon. He first struck the transportation department work vehicle from behind, then careened into both the VDOT worker and the person whose car had broken down. The car's driver also sustained injuries that required hospital treatment.
Charges for reckless driving and failing to yield to an emergency worker have been filed. The latter offense is a violation of a statute often called the "move-over law" because it requires drivers to slow down and change lanes when approaching police, EMTs, tow truck operators and road crews. Public safety workers and repair crews must be given time and space to do their jobs.
The real problem appears to be taking the wheel after going too long without getting adequate sleep. Fatigued driving has been shown to be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. This is because lack of sleep slows reaction time, clouds decision making and leads to people closing their eyes involuntarily. Any time a person takes his or her eyes and mind off the road, a crash that leaves others injured or dead becomes much more likely. And, as this wreck in Fairfax County shows, too-tired drivers can be on the road at any hour.