A fatal pedestrian crash in the Cedar Lakes area of Chesapeake, Virginia (VA), on the night of July 22, 2017, capped a tragic four days across Hampton Roads. The deadly wreck on Cedar Road was the third such incident since the morning of July 19, and two of the collisions also highlighted the damage done by hit-and run drivers.
The 1200 block of Tyler Avenue in Newport News, VA, served as the scene of the first crash in what would become a rash of serious and deadly collisions around the region. In this incident, a white paint company van struck a bike rider and fled the scene. Tyler Avenue is an undivided two-lane road through a residential neighborhood, so the bicyclist had every right to use the roadway, and the van’s driver had legal obligations to pass with caution or follow at a reduced speed until three feet of space could be provided for a passing maneuver.
The bike rider in the Newport News hit and run survived with severe injuries, Sadly, a Norfolk, VA, pedestrian struck two days later did not. A driver took off after hitting a woman at the intersection of E. Ocean View Avenue and Sturgis Street. The location is controlled by a stoplight and marked with crosswalks. While it is unclear from news reports whether the pedestrian who lost her life was using the crosswalk and crossing with the light, the driver should have remained on the scene to render aid and speak with police regardless of who had right of way.
Little has been reported on the deadly wreck in Chesapeake, but following this advice on sharing the road safely with pedestrians and bicycles prepared by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration may have saved a life.
For drivers, sharing the road begins with understanding that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as you.
Treat bicyclists as you would other drivers and be as aware of them in traffic as you are of vehicles. Pass bicyclists as you would vehicles—when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane. Give them sufficient room. Do not pass too closely.
But also look for bikes where vehicles do not appear. For example, before making a right hand turn at an intersection, make sure a bicyclist isn’t approaching from the right rear of your vehicle. ….
Pedestrians have rights on the road, too, particularly in crosswalks. Always slow down and be prepared to yield to pedestrians when they’re in a crosswalk. Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk, as there may be people crossing whom you can’t see. And be extra cautious when backing up across sidewalks or in parking lots.
My Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney colleagues and I hope all drivers heed these messages. We also want the injured bike rider and family of the Norfolk pedestrian to know they may options for receiving compensation and monetary damages even if the at-fault drivers are not identified. Filing claims under the uninsured motorist provisions of their own auto insurance policies is possible. The Virginia Bureau of Insurance describes such coverage this way:
The Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) provides bodily injury and property damage protection to you if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist or a “hit-and-run” driver. If your vehicle is damaged by a “hit and run” driver who cannot be identified, you must pay the first $200. Every policy which offers motor vehicle liability coverage must include this coverage. Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage protects you directly in the event you are injured by a driver whose liability limits are not high enough to cover the damages and not as high as the UM/UIM liability limits on your policy. This minimum amount of coverage required by law is $25,000/$50,000/$20,000.