Virginia Drivers Face Serious Risks While Navigating Mountain Roads


No matter how long you’ve lived in a mountain community, navigating steep mountain roads is a challenge. It becomes even more dangerous when drivers become complacent and forget the inherent risks of driving on a mountain.

Collision Occurred on Winding Mountain Road

In the small mountain community of Bent Mountain, which sits 3,000 miles above sea level, drivers rely on a network of narrow, winding roads to get around. A crash in late 2018 took place on U.S. 221, a two-lane road known for its steep incline and minimal visibility. A dump truck was coming down the mountain in the northbound lane when it collided with a car heading up the mountain. The force of the crash put both vehicles into a ravine.

One Driver Killed, One Left Unharmed

The driver of the passenger car died at the scene of the crash, while the driver of the dump truck was unharmed. U.S. 221 was closed and traffic was detoured after the accident.

Driving Safe While on Mountain Roads

Accidents like these, which remain relatively common on mountain roads, highlight the risks of navigating narrow, winding roads. While it’s always important to follow safe driving tips, minimize distractions while behind the wheel, and adjust your driving to accommodate road conditions, it’s even more important to be vigilant while on mountain roads. Following safety tips for mountain driving can minimize your risk of a crash.

  • While descending a mountain, you shouldn’t drive any faster than you could safely drive while ascending. It’s easy to pick up speed while heading down a mountain, but driving too fast for conditions significantly increases your risk of an accident. Watch your speedometer carefully and maintain a low speed.
  • Stay away from the center line. Many drivers hug the center line while on mountain roads, since many roads are flanked by deep ravines. There is a minimal margin of error on mountain roads, and if two vehicles pass each other while staying close to the center line, an accident is likely.
  • Yield right-of-way to vehicles going up the mountain. Cars at high elevations may not perform as well as those at lower elevations, so let an ascending car have the right of way before you proceed down the mountain.
  • Remain aware and watch for cars pulling out of side roads and driveways. Visibility is extremely limited on many mountain roadways, and vehicles pulling out of side roads may be unable to see approaching vehicles. Slow down so you can safely come to a stop if someone pulls out in front of you.
  • Drive more slowly in difficult weather conditions. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. If the weather turns foggy or rainy, use your headlights and drive slowly.
  • Keep your gas tank full. Vehicles use more gas while ascending steep mountains. Avoid a dangerous situation by filling up whenever possible.
  • Keep emergency gear in your car. Poor weather conditions can leave you stranded. Prepare for the worst-case scenario by keeping extra food, water, first aid, blankets, clothing, and tools in your vehicle.

What to Do After a Mountain Driving Accident

Mountain accidents can lead to substantial injuries and property damage. If you’re considering a personal injury case to recover your losses, Hilton & Somer is here to help. Call our Fairfax office at (703) 782-8349 to explore your options.

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