One 16-year-old moped rider died and the other teen on the motorized bike suffered critical injuries when a pickup driver struck them from behind. The deadly wreck in Hampton, Virginia (VA), on the evening of May 14, 2018, eventually involved four vehicles and sent two other innocent victims to the hospital.
Hampton emergency personnel received the first reports of the chain-reaction crash at 7:20 pm. They responded to the intersection of West Pembroke Avenue and Powhatan Parkway and determined that the moped riders were stopped at a red light waiting to make a left-hand turn when the pickup truck driver rear-ended them.
The force of the rear-end collision carried both the moped and the pickup through the intersection. They hit a car whose driver had a green light from Powhatan Parkway and only stopped when they collided with a rental truck waiting at the red light on the other side of West Pembroke Avenue.
Both teens on the moped initially survived, but one succumbed to their injuries at the hospital. The 60-year-old pickup driver suffered serious injuries, as did the driver and passenger in the rental truck.
News reports do not indicate whether the pickup driver will be charged with causing the rear-end collision and setting off the deadly chain reaction. It’s possible, however, that he violated section 46.2-816 of the Virginia Code, which is titled “Following too closely.” Additionally, the driver could have violated section 46.2-861 of the Virginia Code, which is titled “Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions.” Common interpretations of these statutes are that drivers who approach slowing or stopped traffic must also reduce their speed or come to a stop. A violation of a statute or ordinance can be used to establish a driver’s negligence under negligence per se.
Failing to comply with traffic laws often results in wrecks. And when moped riders get hit by larger vehicles, tragedy almost always results. As my Virginia wrongful death attorney colleagues and I explain elsewhere, “Moped operators do not fare well in accidents involving the moped and a car. Head injury, cervical spine injury, broken limbs and eternal organ damage are common results of these terrible accidents. It could take months, or even years, of rehabilitation to fully recover from a moped accident.”
Proving this grim conclusion, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 396 crashes involving mopeds in the state during 2017. Those wrecks left 8 people dead and 377 injured, which represents a very nearly one-to-one ratio of crashes to life-threatening or life-taking outcomes. As the weather warms and schools let out for the summer, drivers must watch for increased moped riding and take care to share the road safely.