Improper Passing Plays Role in Fatal North Carolina Accident

Recently in Laurinburg, about 1 hour, 45 minutes from Greensboro, three people were killed when two cars collided on N.C. 79 after a pickup truck initiated a dangerous improper pass. sideview

According to news reports of the tragic incident, a 17-year-old was behind the wheel of a GMC Sierra pickup truck that was traveling west on the road when it passed in a no-passing zone. Authorities say the teen was driving far in excess of the posted speed limit – 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. He passed several vehicles in the no-passing zone before striking a Honda Accord head-on.

The violent impact killed a 23-year-old mother who was behind the wheel. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Laurinburg Exchange. Her infant son was rushed to nearby Scotland Memorial Hospital. He too died soon after arrival. Another passenger, a 21-year-old man, was transported to Sandhills Regional Hospital, where he too died.

Based on the evidence at the crash site and witness accounts, the 23-year-old mother ran off the road to the left to to avoid the collision. Even so, the two vehicles slammed into one another on the shoulder. It was nearly 3 p.m.

The teen alleged to be at fault was seriously injured, but those injuries appear to be non-life-threatening. He now faces criminal charges of vehicular manslaughter, though as of this writing, none had formally been filed.

Improper passing is addressed in NCGS 20-149. The statute requires any vehicle overtaking another proceeding in the same direction to grant at least two feet to the left. They can’t pass on the right, except when done pursuant to G.S. 20-150.1. Except when overtaking and passing on the right is allowed, the driver of the overtaken vehicle has to give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle, and shouldn’t increase his or her speed until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Violation of this statute is an infraction, unless someone is seriously hurt, in which case it’s considered a Class I misdemeanor.

However, in this case, the vehicle was not lawfully passing at the time of the incident because the crash occurred in a no-pass zone. Such areas may be marked by a solid double yellow line, and/or a triangular “No Passing Zone” yellow sign.

Improper passing puts everyone in grave jeopardy, but it can be especially dangerous when it occurs on a blind curve or shoulder. Depending on where it happens, it could result in up to four points on one’s driver’s record – and that’s if there is no accident and no one is hurt.

Our Greensboro car accident attorneys know that this is a prime example of negligent driving. Negligence occurs when a person fails in a duty owed to another, and injury or death results. In this case, the duty would have been to operate the motor vehicle in accordance with all applicable state laws and traffic guidelines. An argument could be made in this case that driver was reckless and grossly negligent, which could be grounds for punitive damages. However, because most auto insurance companies won’t pay punitive damages stemming from the grossly negligent acts of drivers, it will depend on the ability of the 17-year-old (or other liable parties) to pay such a judgment out of pocket.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Gibson woman, child and passenger killed in two-car accident, Dec. 1, 2015, Staff Report, Laurinburg Exchange

More Blog Entries:

Police Officer Both a Defendant and Plaintiff in Separate Auto Accident Lawsuits, Dec. 4, 2015, Greensboro Accident Lawyer Blog

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