A 44-year-old man faces reckless driving and misdemeanor death by vehicle charges in connection to a North Carolina traffic accident that left his girlfriend dead. According to a report from the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the truck crash occurred when the driver lost control of his 18-wheeler, causing the vehicle to fly over an off-ramp guardrail near a connection between two Interstate highways. Both the driver and his girlfriend, who was sleeping inside the truck's cab at the time of the accident, sustained serious injuries requiring treatment at a medical care facility. The woman died several hours later. Police say the truck appeared to have been traveling roughly 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
The fatal crash has fueled an ongoing debate about the safety of the off-ramp where it occurred. According to a communications officer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, 26 accidents have taken place on the ramp, though she explained that the most-recent incident was the only crash resulting in death. The officer said that the ramp is configured similarly as many other ramps in the area, and that it sees a significant amount of truck traffic every day. "Most of the accidents on that ramp are due to speeding," she explained.
While the NCDOT has blamed most of the crashes on human errors, many North Carolina residents have argued that the ramp itself is a hazard to motorists. Several Internet commenters on a prominent North Carolina news website agreed that the state government needs to take action to improve safety around the ramp.
One commenter called the ramp "poorly marked" and "banked wrong," explaining that it is easy for drivers to miss a hard left turn on the ramp due to an "optical illusion" that makes it appear as though the ramp continues straight. She suggested the addition of wall to block the "visual deception," as well as blinking lights and additional signage telling drivers to slow down.
In accidents such as this one, it is important for investigators to review all of the evidence in order to accurately determine each party's level of liability. If it can be proven that the purportedly dangerous off-ramp has a history of recorded accidents, a court could decide that the state should shoulder at least partial blame.
Some victims are able to pursue monetary damages to help cover the cost of lost wages, medical bills and in this case, funeral expenses. A personal injury attorney is able to evaluate each claim and determine what course of action, if any, can be pursued.
Source: Welland Tribune, "26 crashes on U.S. off-ramp within three years," Victoria Gray, Aug. 13, 2012