A female pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries when a driver making a left turn from Shady Oaks Drive struck her as she crossed Shore Drive. The nearly fatal collision happened shortly after 7 am on December 16, 2017.
News reports do not describe the nature of the pedestrian’s injuries. Nor do they mention whether the driver will be charged with causing the crash and inflicting critical injuries on the woman. Still, three provisions of the Virginia law regarding pedestrian rights will apply when the charging decision gets made.
Quoting from section 46.2-924 of the state code, a driver must yield right of way in all the following situations:
- At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.
- Entering, crossing, or turning at intersections … to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.
- Making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.
The driver involved in this Virginia Beach crash was turning to enter U.S. Route 60 -- the official designation for Shore Drive -- in an area where the speed limit is 35 mph. Additional factors that indicate the injured pedestrian may have had right of way are the crosswalks and stoplights at all four corners. Even if the driver had a red light switch to green, he or she would still have had a legal duty to wait for the woman crossing in a crosswalk to clear the intersection.
Left turn accidents that harm pedestrians are fairly commonly across Virginia. During 2015, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 319 such wrecks, indicating that a negligent left turn was the second-most common cause of a crash that injured or killed a pedestrian. Negligent right-hand turns were the third most-common cause of serious collisions with pedestrians in Virginia during 2015.
A few years ago, fatal and serious pedestrian crashes became so common along Shore Drive that the Virginia Beach City Council lowered the speed limit from Independence Boulevard to the Great Neck Road from 45 mph to 35 mph. Sadly, this crash at the intersection with Shady Oaks Drive shows that risks to pedestrians remain. My Beach-based Virginia personal injury lawyer colleagues and I urge all the drivers in our city to watch for people crossing Shore Drive and to respect crosswalks. We also wish the woman hurt in this wreck a full and rapid recovery.