A driver who attempted an unsafe passing maneuver on I-295 around Richmond, Virginia (VA), caused a crash that left a tractor-trailer operator dead. The at-fault driver faces numerous charges following the deadly wreck in Hanover County on the afternoon of March 12, 2018.
Virginia State Police received the first report of the fatal collision at around 4:20 pm. Responding to the scene near Exit 41B to Chamberlayne Road, troopers found a car and the tractor-trailer crashed into trees in the median of the interstate. Their investigation revealed that the 25-year-old Norfolk woman in the car had attempted to pass the semi but lost control and hit the rear of the trailer.
That impact made both drivers lose control and run off the road. The truck driver became trapped in his cab and died from his injuries before emergency crews could rescue him. The woman behind the wheel of the car also suffered serious injuries. She now faces charges for reckless driving, driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions, and operating without a valid driver’s license.
The second charge reflects language in section 46.2-861 of the Virginia Code, which states, “A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.”
It applies to this deadly crash on I-295 in Hanover County because the roadway was covered with ice. In such conditions, all drivers are expected to travel at far below the posted speed limit of 65 mph in order to maintain traction and increase stopping time.
My Virginia wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our condolences out to the friends and family of the tractor-trailer driver who died in this highly preventable wreck. The publicly reported details about the crash indicate that the deceased victim’s family has strong grounds for filing insurance claims or a lawsuit against the woman who caused the collision. Such efforts will likely be complicated by the fact that the at-fault driver lacks a valid license and probably does not carry car insurance. Consulting with a knowledgeable and caring wrongful death attorney will help the family understand how to deal with uninsured motorists.
More broadly, everyone who drives during winter weather must exercise care and caution. AAA offers these tips for driving safely on icy roads:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning -- nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
- The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
- Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.