Driving on I-64 and I-81 in Western Virginia
I spend a fair bit of time traveling on the road in the western part of the state as does my law partner, Jim Hurley. There are lots of railroad towns where I have represented railroad workers against their employers CSX Railroad under the FELA in towns like Clifton Forge and Covington. Jim Hurley and I have also represented numerous people in tractor trailer accidents that occur on the highway in towns like Harrisonburg and Lexington on the corridor between Winchester and Roanoke which sees lots of big rigs involved in collisions with other commercial trucks or passenger cars.
More recently I’ve been coming out to visit Virginia colleges and universities as my kids are getting to those ages where they are either applying or attending schools like UVA in Charlottesville, Virginia or JMU in Harrisonburg. Jim has family in the Harrisonburg and Lexington area where his wife grew up and comes up this way a lot.
There are features of these road systems which make them more prone to accidents and wrecks than other parts of Virginia and the interstate highway system. One feature that’s very different from Hampton Roads where I live is the mountains. The grades of going uphill and downhill and coming around curves through the mountains and hills pose driving hazards that are quite different from places that are flat. More attention is required coming around curves at grade at highway speeds like 70 miles an hour and motorists need to follow the caution signs with yellow arrows as to where they need to at least tap on the brakes to slow down.
Another feature of the road that involves the mountains that can be dangerous is the fog. As I was passing by Afton Mountain between Charlottesville and Staunton on a recent trip I was amazed at how dense the fog was in circumstances where other parts of the area appeared just overcast and normal. The fog made it so that you couldn’t see more than a car length in front of you.
Interstate 64 in that area has little orange electrical lights showing where the edges of the roadway are but if you were to plow through the guardrails there you would risk dropping over a thousand feet off the side of the road in many places. These are special risks that are not seen in other places on Interstate 64 back in Richmond or other parts of the state toward the coast. All cars need to slow down with low visibility like fog but that is especially true of 18-wheelers who have much less room for error in terms of their braking, handling and weight.
The interstate system in the Shenandoah Valley has a ton of tractor trailer traffic and other people like tourists who are passing through but are not necessarily familiar with the area. This in itself can pose a danger as people less familiar with the roadway may get surprised by sudden changes in the conditions whether it be traffic congestion at the point where I‑64 meets I‑81 or a particular bit of road construction or other bottleneck.
As a result of all these features there are a large number of serious collisions on these roadways some resulting in death of occupants of vehicles and many involving serious injuries like traumatic brain injury and hospitalization. Having said that this is some of the most beautiful country in the entire nation and can be enjoyed and easily accessed by road. Everyone just needs to pay full attention to the roadway when they’re driving and give a little extra space to the commercial drivers who are facing extra dangers each day as they are on the road in their large trucks.
If you have been hurt in a truck or an auto accident in Virginia, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.