A 14-year-old walking along the shoulder of a residential street outside of Erwin, North Carolina (NC), died after being struck from behind by the driver of an SUV who apparently fell asleep behind the wheel and ran off the road. The fatal pedestrian accident occurred on the afternoon of November 10, 2015, at the intersection of Red Hill Church Road and Tobacco Barn Lane in Harnett County.
Investigators from the State Highway Patrol also believe the driver was speeding at the time of the crash. They have charged the man in the SUV with causing a death and with careless and reckless driving. The latter violation covers many actions that lead to losing control of one's vehicle and threatening other people with injuries, but key to the definition of "reckless" is acting in a way that demonstrates lack of care for safety and consequences. Certainly, a sleeping driver cannot care about avoiding wrecks.
News reports do not include information on why the driver who killed the teenager could not stay awake and off the shoulder being used as a sidewalk. Perhaps the man suffered a fainting spell brought on by illness. Maybe he had been working through the previous night. He could have been impaired by drugs or alcohol. Whatever the explanation, the result of his failure to remain alert and in control of his vehicle resulted in an irreversible tragedy.
All drivers must ensure they are fully awake and in reasonable health before they even pick up their keys. Doing less creates deadly risks.