A three-vehicle crash in New Kent County, Virginia (VA), left a motorcycle rider dead while highlighting the dangers posed by drivers who do not or cannot recognize and respond appropriately to changes in the flow of traffic. The fatal chain-reaction wreck happened in the community of Eltham outside of West Point at 1:49 pm on August 6, 2017.
A Virginia State Police officer who responded to the fatal crash told reporters that the incident started with a rear-end collision between an SUV and a sedan. The SUV was stopped on Eltham Road/VA-33 and waiting to turn left onto Piper Drive. Its driver had activated the turn signal.
The man behind the wheel of the car failed to stop, struck the SUV and spun across the center line of Eltham Road into the path of a westbound motorcycle rider. The motorcyclist initially survived the resulting head-on collision but later died from his injuries at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center.
Preliminary charges for following too closely and failure to maintain proper control have been filed against the driver of the car. The second alleged offense, titled “Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes” in the Virginia Code, states, “A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.”
Troopers believe the man who caused the fatal wreck in New Kent County did not give himself enough time to stop when the SUV in front of him did, and also that the at-fault driver behaved recklessly, possibly by operating a car with worn or malfunctioning brakes.
When the National Transportation Safety Board investigated the causes of rear-end collisions that resulted in deaths, researchers discovered the following:
Common to all … accidents [analyzed in detail] was the rear following vehicle driver’s degraded perception of traffic conditions ahead. ... Some of these collisions occurred because atmospheric conditions, such as sun glare or fog and smoke, interfered with the driver's ability to detect slower moving or stopped traffic ahead. In other accidents, the driver did not notice that traffic had come to a halt due to congestion at work zones or to other accidents. Still others involved drivers who were distracted or fatigued.
Not paying attention, reacting slowly and operating with insufficient equipment may have all combined to taking an innocent motorcycle rider’s life on Eltham Road. Consulting with an experienced and caring Virginia wrongful death attorney will help the deceased victim’s family hold the at-fault driver accountable for the avoidable loss and emotional pain he inflicted.