When someone climbs behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are in control of a multi-ton projectile. The common sense of self preservation and consideration for others would seem to dictate the exercise of caution. It often doesn’t happen.

The problem, perhaps, is that driving is so much a part of our daily routines that we don’t give much thought to it. A person coming off a hard day’s work might be unusually tired, but the thought they might fall asleep at the wheel probably doesn’t even cross their minds.  

When it happens, it’s too late. An accident, often fatal, occurs. The question then becomes what steps to take to hold the responsible driver accountable. Criminal charges may follow. Victims of such accidents may have a right to seek compensation for their injuries or losses through a claim of driver negligence

These are matters that may be under consideration in a case out of the Washington, D.C., area that claimed the life of an elderly woman and another woman’s fetus, and left the mother and four other women injured. All the women were from Texas.

According to authorities, the accident happened on Oct. 4 in mid-afternoon. The group of women was driving on a road in Northern Virginia in a van. In the oncoming lane was an SUV driven by 74-year-old Jacqueline Badger Mars, one of the co-owners of the Mars candy company.

The official report on the accident says that Mars’ SUV crossed the double yellow line and struck the van. It also quotes Mars as saying that she fell asleep at the wheel, and police determined she failed to maintain proper control.

An 86-year-old Huntsville woman died in the wreck. The five other women in the van all suffered various injuries. The driver, who was in the third trimester of a pregnancy, lost her baby.

Mars has been charged with misdemeanor reckless driving. According to legal experts in Virginia, that’s all authorities could do under provisions of state law.

Source: LeesburgToday.com, “Fatigue Cited As Factor In Fatal Rt. 50 Crash,” Erika Jacobson Moore, Nov. 6, 2013