A bike rider lost his life in Robeson County, North Carolina (NC), on January 6, 2014, after getting hit from behind on McLeod Road. The fatal rear-end collision outside of the town of Lumberton occurred at around 5 pm, and the at-fault driver told State Highway Patrol investigators she never saw the bicyclist because she became blinded by the setting sun. Despite her explanation, law enforcement officials filed multiple criminal charges in relation to the crash, including causing a death by motor vehicle.
Even though the rural highway where the accident took place has a posted speed limit of 55 mph, it is open for bike riders because it is not a restricted -access tollway or interstate. While bikes may not be common in the area, they are classified as vehicles appropriate for the roadway under North Carolina and federal law. Because drivers may encounter bikers on McLeod Road, people in cars and trucks must watch for them, slow down when passing is not safe or practical, and leave safe distance behind and beside bikes. Failing to do any of these can lead directly to avoidable tragedy.
The other lesson about operating a car safely that can be drawn from this deadly crash is that drivers must take precautions to ensure they can maintain a proper lookout. The setting and rising sun temporarily blinds nearly everyone at some point, but wearing sunglasses, using windshield visors and even shielding one's eyes with a hand or forearm helps mitigate that problem. Experienced drivers taking familiar routes should be able to anticipate spots and times that present the most risks for experiencing sun blindness.