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No passing zone crashes kill 2 since April on West Virginia road

Impatience is not a violation of the law unless a person unwilling to wait hurts someone. Some roads are not built to the satisfaction of impatient drivers. You've witnessed people irritated while waiting for a Charleston traffic light to change or seen the scowl of a tailgating driver in a rearview mirror.

There's an almost 15-mile section of U.S. 35 in West Virginia that is a two-lane road with several no-passing zones. A number of farm workers use the interstate highway. The combination of limited passing areas and slow farm traffic has combined to cause fatal motor vehicle accidents.

In April, a Southside man died when the farm tractor he was operating was hit by an SUV. The 68-year-old out-of-state driver was stuck in a slow line of cars behind the tractor in a no-passing area. The SUV driver's decision to pass at high speed coincided with the tractor operator's choice to make a turn.

The tractor was struck and rolled over, fatally injuring the operator. The car accident is still under investigation by state troopers, who also are handling the latest fatality on U.S. 35 in Southside. The most recent death involved a similar situation, with an out-of-state driver caught up behind traffic in a no-passing zone.

A Mazda driver broke free from the slow pack near the Mason County line and began to pass. The car hit a Harley Davidson motorcycle coming the opposite way. The 60-year-old Point Pleasant motorcyclist died and a female passenger in the Mazda was hospitalized with serious injuries.

After the first fatality, Mason County officials approached state transportation authorities about making U.S. 35 safer by adding two-lane warning signs. No action was taken before the second traffic death. Compensation for accident injuries and wrongful deaths is available through civil lawsuits that may name negligent drivers and, in some cases, parties responsible for unsafe road designs.

Source:  Point Pleasant Register, "Point man killed in U.S. 35 accident" Beth Sergent, Jun. 09, 2014

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