A head-on collision in Augusta County, Virginia (VA), on the afternoon of October 11, 2016, left one driver dead and the other woman facing charges. The deadly crash happened near the intersection of Route 11/Lee Highway and Stagecoach Roach, just north of the town of Mint Spring.
A preliminary State Police report indicates that the 74-year-old driver of an SUV crossed the double yellow line of the two-lane rural highway before crashing into a car traveling in the opposite direction. The woman behind the wheel of the smaller vehicle died at the scene, and the SUV driver survived with life-threatening injuries. Police announced their intention to cite the surviving driver for causing the fatal wreck, but they did not mention what the charges would be.
Crossing a double yellow line is a traffic violation, as is driving left of center on a two-lane road. More serious criminal charges might involve causing a death while operating a motor vehicle. It is unclear whether alcohol or drug use played a role.
Two possible explanations for this tragedy are that the at-fault driver became distracted or that she got confused and lost focus. Using a phone while driving leads people to take their eyes and mind off the road, making drifting into the path of oncoming traffic all too easy. At the same time, drivers over the age of the 70 are at increased risk for letting their thoughts wander from keeping their vehicles under control and in their own lane.
The family members of the younger woman will have to wait for the complete official police report on the fatal head-on collision before knowing why the tragedy occurred. Distraction, age-related infirmities, or impairment by drugs or alcohol would all make the elderly driver negligent and liable for settling wrongful death insurance claims.