Inexperience, impatience and possible distraction may have contributed to causing a two-vehicle crash at the northeastern corner of Staunton, Virginia (VA), that sent both drivers to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The June 6, 2017, wreck happened at the foot of Exit 225 from I-81 onto State Route 262, which is also known as Woodrow Wilson Parkway.
According to State Police, a teenaged driver ran the stop sign at the end of the off ramp in Augusta County. She pulled into the path of an oncoming Cadillac, which struck her vehicle in its driver’s side door. The stop sign runner was not wearing a seat belt and was immediately flown by helicopter to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville.
The 61-year-old woman in the Cadillac was buckled up but also needed to be airlifted from the local hospital to UVA Medical Center for advanced medical treatment. Law enforcement officials confirmed that they will file charges against the teen driver.
No details have been reported on exactly why the young driver ran the stop sign. Research into such wrecks, however, suggests that she may have paused briefly and entered the intersection without recognizing that the Cadillac was rushing toward her. As reported from a study of collisions at intersections in the Journal of Safety Research, “In about two-thirds of stop sign violation crashes, drivers said they had first come to a stop. In these cases, inability or failure to see approaching traffic often was cited as the cause of the crash. Drivers younger than 18 as well as drivers 65 and older were disproportionately found to be at fault in crashes at stop signs.”
The at-fault driver’s age is also a relevant consideration. A 2017 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that teens were nearly four times as likely to be involved in a crash than older drivers. The most common explanations for those wrecks and their tragic outcomes are
- Distraction, which plays a role in about 60 percent of crashes involving teens;
- Speeding, about which the report notes, “A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive”; and
- Failing to use a seat belt, which does not directly cause collision but does greatly increase the risks for serious injuries and deaths.
Evidence collected by State Police investigators to substantiate the charges they bring against the teen driver who caused the crash at I-81 and Route 262 can also be used to support claims of negligence while seeking insurance coverage for medical bills and other damages. Working with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer will help the innocent victim do that.