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Turning Left From Right Lane Sets Stage for Fatal Crash

A rear-end collision between a dump truck and a pickup in southwest Virginia on the morning of January 24, 2017, left the driver of the smaller vehicle dead. The fatal collision happened on U.S. 460 near the interchange with State Route 713/Krantzs Corner Road.



Virginia State Police identified the deceased pickup driver as 55-year-old Mark Williams. Investigators say he was following the dump truck east of Bedford, VA, when the construction vehicle abruptly stopped in the right-hand lane. News reports indicate the dump truck operator intended to make a left-hand turn across three lanes, one of which was on his side of the divided rural highway.

A very similar fatal truck crash happened in Virginia Beach earlier this month. That tragedy occurred when a dump truck stopped on Princess Anne Road and began backing up in an attempt by its driver to enter a worksite. The person who lost his life in that wreck was also behind the wheel of a pickup.

Charges are pending against the commercial truck driver who state police say caused the deadly collision outside of Bedford. The nature of the alleged offenses were not disclosed to the press, but at least two traffic violations seem likely.

First, Virginia state law prohibits making a left-hand turn from the right-hand lane of a four-lane road. The actual statute is a bit more complicated to account for multilane interstates and state highways with six or more lanes, but the hard-and-fast rule is that a driver must move all the way left before trying to turn left.

The other traffic rule the dump truck driver likely violated on U.S. 460 was the one that states, “No person shall stop a vehicle in such manner as to impede or render dangerous the use of the highway by others, except in the case of an emergency, an accident, or a mechanical breakdown.” Even if the median where the dump truck driver stopped had a cut through for turning vehicles, he would still have been in violation of this ban on impeding the flow of traffic when he paused in the right-hand lane.

Stretches of U.S. 460 have posted speed limits of 60 mph. Where the fatal wreck occurred on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach, the speed limit is 55 mph. Stopping in traffic sets the stage for deadly rear-end collisions, and that potentiality became tragic reality in these two instances. Commercial truck drivers who ignore basic rules of the road do more than operate unsafely; they imperil other people’s lives.

Working with an empathetic and experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney will help the families of the men killed by the dump drivers’ negligent actions accountable. Succeeding with insurance claims or civil lawsuits will not depend on criminal convictions, but all the evidence collected by police investigators can be used when pursuing compensation from a personal injury claim from an insurance companies or in court.



Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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