A left turn from McClellan Road onto Appomattox Road in rural Guilford County, North Carolina (NC). set the stage for a deadly motorcycle accident on March 20, 2015. The crash in the town of Pleasant Garden, south of Greensboro, occurred early in the morning, and the driver of the pickup truck involved in the wreck has been charged with causing a death while operating a motor vehicle.
The fatal accident at the T intersection of two rural two-lane highways illustrates how even a minor miscalculation by one person can become a tragic and deadly error. The News & Record reported that the at-fault driver turned in front of the motorcycle rider because he "he saw a single [head]light and thought it was from a far-off car."
A left turn presents more dangers for every person on a road because a turning car or truck must cross oncoming traffic. Exercising the patience to wait until one has more than enough time and space to avoid a collision can prove too much for some drivers. While that explanation does not appear to apply to this deadly crash in central North Carolina, the related lesson that no person can be too careful behind the wheel applies -- especially when sharing the road with motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.
Correctly judging the speed and distance of a vehicle is never easy, and the difficulty increases when a vehicle is small. A safety guide from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration makes this point plainly: "Because of its small size, a motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle's speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks."
That noted, an honest mistake that leads to a preventable death remains the infliction of an irreplaceable loss for which the responsible person must be held liable. I join my Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues in sending my deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the deceased motorcycle rider, along with my hope that more people use greater caution when making left-hand turns.