A collision between a motorcycle and an SUV in Portsmouth, Virginia (VA), left the motorcycle rider dead. The fatal crash at the intersection of High Street and Jamestown Avenue happened a few minutes before 8 am on May 5, 2017.
According to police, the motorcyclist was traveling west on High Street when he hit the SUV that was crossing in front of him. The entrances from Jamestown Avenue are marked with stop signs, while traffic on High Street has no impediments to movement.
The motorcycle rider died from his injuries before being taken to a hospital. The SUV driver remained on the scene, but news reports did not indicate whether any charges were filed.
One of the things crash investigators will need to determine is whether the SUV driver violated the motorcycle rider’s right of way. The Virginia Code of Laws makes it illegal for a driver at a stop sign to enter an intersection before he or she is sure that no vehicles are approaching in ways that create the possibility of a collision. Specifically, section 46.2-821 states
The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection on a highway controlled by a stop sign shall, immediately before entering such intersection, stop … at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway. Before proceeding, he shall yield the right-of-way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction.
This deadly wreck in Portsmouth sadly highlights the need for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, which the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration sponsors each May. On its 2017 page devoted to motorcycle safety, the National Safety Council (NSC) notes that “in 2015, 4,976 motorcycle riders and passengers died in crashes, and nonfatal injuries that year totaled 88,000.” A leading cause of those deaths and injuries was drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs negligently failing to yield right of way to motorcyclists.
The NSC lists these reasons for why drivers cut off, turn in front of and change lanes into motorcycle riders:
- Motorcycles are relatively small and drivers don’t see them.
- Drivers don’t anticipate motorcycles' movements.
- The driver’s view of the motorcyclist is obstructed, often by the vehicle’s blind spots or other vehicles.
- The driver is distracted.
If any of those reasons can be found for the collision between the motorcycle and SUV on High Street in Portsmouth, the SUV driver could be at fault due and responsible for paying wrongful death insurance claims. Consulting with a Virginia wrongful death attorney who has experience helping victims of motorcycle wrecks would help the family of the deceased rider learn and exercise their legal options.