Charges are pending against a pickup truck driver who fatally struck a moped rider in Johnston County, North Carolina (NC), shortly before 6 am on January 24, 2018. The deadly two-vehicle crash happened near the intersection of U.S. 301/S. Bright Leaf Boulevard and Galilee Road, and it left the pickup driver badly injured and burned from a resulting fire.
The collision happened in the town of Smithfield, and local police are conducting the investigation. They have not yet told reporters why they believe the pickup and moped collided, and they are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to share what they saw by calling (919) 934-2121.
Nailing down a cause for the fatal crash will guide the police in issuing charges and also help the family of the moped rider who lost his life pursue wrongful death claims. If evidence shows that the pickup driver failed to yield right of way while turning, did not leave enough room to the right while passing or failed to reduce his speed while approaching the moped from behind, the man in the larger vehicle would have criminal culpability and civil liability.
North Carolina law gives moped riders almost all the same rights and responsibilities as motorcycle riders. Even though mopeds are restricted to a top speed of 30 mph, a moped rider can legally travel along a highway like S. Bright Leaf Boulevard, which has a posted speed limit of 45 mph, as long as the rider stays close to the right shoulder.
Drivers in cars and trucks, then, have legal duties to share the road safely and respectfully with moped riders. Tips for doing this that are listed in the driver’s manual published by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles include
- Give the moped rider the same right of way consideration as you would for the driver of any other vehicle;
- To pass a moped, you must stay at least two feet to the left; and
- You must leave enough room when you pass so your vehicle’s wind stream does cause the rider to lose control.
The DMV manual also cautions drivers to “be especially careful to look for” mopeds when “turning or changing lanes at intersections or entering the road from a driveway. Mopeds and motorcycles are difficult to see, and can be entirely hidden by your blind spots.“
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send or deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the moped rider who died in this Johnston County crash. We also want to take this opportunity to urge all drivers to heed the lifesaving advice presented in the North Carolina driver’s manual.