A rear-end collision in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (NC), left a 30-year-old motorcycle rider dead and 20-year-old Jeep driver facing multiple criminal charges. The deadly crash happened at the intersection of Kernersville Road and Sedge Garden Road on the night of July 9, 2017.
The motorcyclist had slowed or stopped for a red light on Kernersville when the Jeep slammed into her from behind. The impact sent the rider flying off her bike and carried the Jeep into the back of an SUV. Neither of the drivers of the larger vehicles suffered injuries, but the motorcycle rider died shortly after police and EMTs responded to the scene.
A witness who stopped and attempted to provide first-aid to the dying motorcycle rider described seeing the woman with her shoes and socks knocked off and her helmet sitting about 100 feet from her body. Police have charge the Jeep driver with driving after consuming alcohol, misdemeanor death by vehicle and failure to reduce speed, as well as other offenses.
North Carolina makes it illegal for a person younger than 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of measurable alcohol in his or her system. A criminal charge must be supported with results from a breath, blood or urine test. Specifically, section 20-138.3 of the state’s code reads: “It is unlawful for a person less than 21 years old to drive a motor vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area while consuming alcohol or at any time while he has remaining in his body any alcohol or controlled substance previously consumed.”
Another charge, failure to reduce speed, reflects the understanding that drivers can endanger other people’s lives even when they are not exceeding a posted speed limit. Avoiding the rear-end collision at the Kernersville-Sedge Garden intersection would have required slowing down to a stop. Failing to brake in time created a deadly situation.
The relevant passage from the North Carolina Code, section 20-141(m) states, “The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the foregoing limits shall not relieve the operator of a vehicle from the duty to decrease speed as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway, and to avoid injury to any person or property.”
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out the friends and family members of the motorcycle rider who lost her life in Winston-Salem. Inattentive, negligent and reckless drivers exact a great toll on motorcyclists. Staying sober and paying attention to changes in the flow of traffic will prevent thousands of needless injuries and deaths each year.