July 2011 Archives

July 26, 2011

Action Against Unsafe Motorcoach Companies Should Reduce the Risks of Bus Accidents in Charlotte, Greensboro

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been busy issuing hazard demerits and out-of-service orders to charter bus companies across the U.S., so our Charlotte personal injury lawyers find it makes sense that bus safety has made the most wanted list for areas needing improvement, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Our final topic in the "Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements" series is bus safety. Other areas of emphasis by the NTSB that we have posted about in our series include teen driver safety, drunk driving accidents and motorcycle safety. Bus accidents in Greensboro and Charlotte are a growing concern because charter companies from these areas are being cited for an Unsatisfactory Safety Rating by the FMCSA as we posted on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog.
Not only has Sky Express Inc. from Charlotte been granted an out-of-service order but North Carolina-based United Tours, Inc. was issued an "Imminent Hazard - Out-of-Service" order for non-qualified drivers employed by the company.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports that approximately 750 million passengers are transported by motorcoaches each year. Rarely involved in highway accidents, most would probably consider charter buses one of the safest modes of transportation. However, companies who fail to provide quality buses with qualified drivers put a large number of people in jeopardy each time they step on the bus.

"From Day One, I have pledged to put public safety above all else, and we will continue to take action when we see carriers placing passengers at risk," said U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We have seen the tragic consequences of unsafe practices - whether it's ignoring fatigue regulations, providing inadequate driver training, or failing to conduct the proper maintenance of a bus or motorcoach. We continue using all of the tools at our disposal to get unsafe carriers off the road and hope that Congress will act on our proposal to provide us with the necessary authority to expand our safety oversight."

Two previous fatal bus crashes have made the government look at safety standards a little more closely. Numerous fatalities and injuries as a result of a 2008 bus crash in Texas and the 2009 rollover crash involving a motorcoach in Utah has upped the ante on bus safety.

Improving roof strength, protected seating areas and window glazing has become vital in improving safety of all passengers. Moving forward, government standards are needed to create consistency among members of the motorcoach industry. Motorcoach manufacturers must implement seat belts and make buses more occupant friendly in order to prevent injury and make buses safer in the event of a crash.

Exits should be well marked and easily accessible so that occupants can exit the motorcoach quickly. Consumers can help themselves by checking a charter company's safety record and rating. For a pre-trip safety checklist, visit FMCSA online for more information before you plan your next trip. Negligent drivers and charter companies should always be held accountable despite their safety rating.

Continue reading "Action Against Unsafe Motorcoach Companies Should Reduce the Risks of Bus Accidents in Charlotte, Greensboro" »

July 25, 2011

Most Wanted List Emphasizes Teen Driver Safety in Order to Reduce Car Accidents in North Carolina, Nationwide

The National Transportation Safety Board has put out a "Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements" regarding driving hazards that citizens in North Carolina and elsewhere can improve upon.

The third topic of our series is teen driver safety and what can be done to reduce the number of < a href="http://www.leelawoffices.org/">teen car accidents in North Carolina and throughout the country. Other topics deserving attention in the series are motorcycle safety, drunk driving accidents, and bus safety.
Parents can only hope that their teens make safe and responsible decisions every time they get behind the wheel to drive. Our Gastonia personal injury lawyers know this isn't always the case as in many instances teen drivers lack the experience and the presence of mind to avoid a car accident.

WSOC recently reported about the fatal crash in Charlotte involving a teen driver who went off the side of the road, hit a pole and killed the owner of the vehicle he was driving in. No one knows why the two were riding in the car together or why the teen borrowed the car in the first place. The teen was arrested and charged with DWI, hit-and-run and death by motor vehicle. The young driver not only allegedly made a poor decision to drive under the influence but also tried to run away following the crash.

Obtaining a driver's license is a privilege for most teens, but with that freedom comes a high risk of injury for the young driver, other motorists and passengers riding in the car with the young driver. Recent statistics show that eight teens are fatally injured in car crashes every day, making car accidents the leading cause of death for that age group.

Teens are more likely to die in a car crash than to die from the use of drugs, cancer or violence. In the last decade, teen drivers have made up less than 7 percent of the driving population but account for over 13 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes.

Teen car crashes are often considered preventable because they often occur when a teen is distracted, speeding or driving under the influence. Over 58,000 young drivers were killed in car accidents from 2000-2009, all between the ages of 15-20 years old.

Many states have adopted a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program which has been an effective way of teaching young drivers the dangers of driving, as well as, allowing them to gain experience at a gradual level. The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act is a bill that will soon be introduced to the U.S House of Representatives that would mandate all states to have a GDL program in place and would require consistency with minimum federal requirements to be met.

The advantage to a GDL program is that it starts teens at a novice level, allowing them to drive in low-risk situations and gradually builds on the driving experiences and responsibilities of certain situations as the young driver matures. A recent study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that strong state GDL programs lower the rate of teen car accidents by roughly 40 percent.

Parents and teens in the early stages of the beginning to drive process are encouraged to visit Keys2Drive, an online guide to teen driver safety.

Continue reading "Most Wanted List Emphasizes Teen Driver Safety in Order to Reduce Car Accidents in North Carolina, Nationwide" »

July 23, 2011

Summer Hazards Can Cause High Risk of Greensboro Car Accidents

Most drivers, over 80 percent, are under the assumption that winter driving is more dangerous than summer driving, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota.

On the contrary, Charlotte car accident lawyers know that summertime brings more motorists to the highways and city streets for family vacations, holiday barbecues, trips to the beach, street festivals, and other warm-weather events. More vehicles traveling on roadways can only mean an increased risk of summertime car accidents in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Hickory or elsewhere in the state.
Most drivers, 79 percent, responded that they feel safe on two-lane highways in rural areas which often leads to more dangerous driving behaviors during the summer months. Of those who responded, 38 percent feel relaxed on rural highways.

Drivers who feel safe and relaxed while driving are more likely to entertain risky behaviors like speeding, using a cell phone and drinking and eating while driving, which can lead to a high risk of injury for other motorists. When asked why they feel safer in rural areas, 51 percent responded because there is less to worry about and 31 percent responded that they feel more comfortable in the area and the driver knew the area better.

According to an article in Reader's Digest, there are a number of summer driving hazards that motorists may want to try to avoid because they can be quite costly. The first of the summer dangers, hitting a wild animal while driving, is quite common, not to mention dangerous. State Farm Insurance reported an estimated 2.3 million collisions between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010 due to a vehicle hitting a deer. Motorists who want to reduce the risk of hitting an animal should drive with their high beams on and be particularly careful during early morning hours or at dusk. Strapping yourself in can also reduce the risk of serious injury in these types of crashes.

Summertime also brings the risk of severe storms passing through the area. In some cases, severe rain and thunderstorms can add an element of surprise and be quite dangerous if motorists don't change their driving behavior in certain driving conditions. If severe weather strikes while you are on the roadway, it is recommended that motorists should allow plenty of space between vehicles, reduce speed, pull off to the side of the road, clean your vehicles windows and windshield both inside and out, inspect all vehicle lights (hazard, brake and turn signal) to make sure they are working properly and use your headlights in poor visibility.

A third summer hazard is driving drowsy. Not only can warm weather make you drowsy but so can long road trips or driving late at night. Motorists are reminded to pull over at a rest stop if they get drowsy. A recent study by AAA Foundation indicated that 2 out of 5 drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel and 10 percent of drivers have done so in the last year.

Drivers may tend to keep a watchful eye for other motorists throughout the year but pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists are much more common on roadways during warmer weather and can be considered a summertime hazard. Motorists can avoid hitting bikers and walkers by knowing they are present and using a little extra caution at intersections or crossings.

The last of the summertime hazards to consider is speeding. Speeding is a contributing factor in approximately 33 percent of fatal crashes throughout the year and is always a concern. The omission of snow and ice on roadways doesn't give motorists the green light to speed even though most feel it is safe to do so. As motorists sneak in the last few trips of the summer, be reminded of these summertime hazards in order to reduce the risk of serious injury in a North Carolina car accident.

Continue reading "Summer Hazards Can Cause High Risk of Greensboro Car Accidents" »

July 20, 2011

Statewide Distracted Driving Programs Could Reduce Car Accidents in Asheville, Elsewhere in North Carolina

With millions of cell phone subscribers throughout the United States getting behind the wheel to drive each day, it is no doubt becoming a problem of epic proportions to contain the number of car accidents in North Carolina, South Carolina and throughout the country that are caused by distractions.

State lawmakers are placing a ban on texting in some states but many states still allow handheld or hands-free devices to be used while driving. Cognitive distractions, like texting or talking, can lead to dangerous situations for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists who are often severely injured or killed in distracted driving accidents.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has been experimenting with pilot projects in Syracuse, NY and Hartford, CT in an effort to curb texting while driving. The results have been positive but our Asheville car accident attorneys are wondering whether it's the enforcement of laws or the public awareness that is doing the trick.

According to Your News Now, there are three key ingredients that have led to the success of the Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other Campaign in Syracuse and Hartford. Tougher laws, stricter enforcement and city-wide public awareness have made the distracted driving program successful, similar to how drunk driving and seat belt campaigns have shown success in the past.

Each city received $200,000 in federal funds and an additional $100,000 from the state to put into increased police enforcement, press releases to engage the news media and paid advertising. Over the past year, police enforcement was enhanced over four periods which led to over 9,500 citations for drivers using a cell phone in Syracuse and 9,658 tickets issued to Hartford distracted drivers using a cell phone illegally. Driving behavior also changed noticeably in each city. Syracuse detected cell phone use by drivers decreased by 32 percent, while Hartford reported a 57 percent decrease in handheld cell phone use, as well as, 72 percent less texting occurring while behind the wheel during the four phases of the project.

"These findings show that strong laws, combined with highly-visible police enforcement, can significantly reduce dangerous texting and cell phone use behind the wheel," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Based on these results, it is crystal clear that those who try to minimize this dangerous behavior are making a serious error in judgment, especially when half a million people are injured and thousands more are killed in distracted driving accidents."

The Governors Highway Safety Association is encouraged by the positive results but knows that more research needs to be done before states like North Carolina and South Carolina will fully implement a ban on all cell phones for all drivers. South Carolina currently doesn't place any restrictions on drivers when it comes to cell phone use and allows all drivers to use cell phones of any kind while driving. North Carolina only bans novice drivers and school bus drivers from talking on handheld devices while driving. Texting is not permitted by anyone behind the wheel in North Carolina.

More and more evidence is showing that distractions are dangerous while you drive. It is expected that these pilot programs will become statewide so motorists are reminded to eliminate as many distractions while driving as possible in order to maintain safety for you and other motorists or pedestrians sharing the same roadways.

Continue reading "Statewide Distracted Driving Programs Could Reduce Car Accidents in Asheville, Elsewhere in North Carolina" »

July 18, 2011

Truckers Driving Under the Influence Often Lead to Fatal North Carolina Car Accidents

The News & Observer reports that a recent fatal crash involving a tractor trailer on I-40 killed the drivers of three other vehicles. The driver of the semi-truck who caused the accident was found to have marijuana and methadone in his system, as well as drug paraphernalia in his cab.

Our Gastonia personal injury lawyers feel for the families who are dealing with the loss and devastation following what should have been three preventable deaths. Negligent behavior on behalf of the driver and the East Tennessee trucking company is a serious crime and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Too many times we see cases of drivers under the influence who cause a trucking accident in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Statesville or elsewhere where the driver should never have been hired by the trucking company in the first place. As is often the case, the driver had several previous blemishes on his record, including being a convicted rapist and burglar. He was driving on-duty for an East Tennessee trucking company which has also been cited for several violations by its employed drivers for drowsy and unsafe driving.

According to news reports, the tractor trailer first collided with a pickup truck followed by a collision with a Chevy Equinox. The third vehicle that was crashed into burst into flames and investigators couldn't discover the make and model because of the damage. These three drivers were killed. A fourth vehicle involved in the accident was hit moments later as the tractor trailer kept making its way down the highway. The driver of the fourth vehicle was transported to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Driver fatigue is a common cause of large truck accidents throughout the country which is why the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been trying to get a handle on it.

We posted earlier this year on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog that the FMCSA is tightening down on the hours-of-service rules for trucking and charter bus companies and the drivers who are employed by them.

The East Tennessee trucking company involved in this fatal crash has been cited for 11 separate driver fatigue cases in which driver records reporting hours-of-service were false or incomplete. The company had also reported two previous crashes in 2010.

More important than driver fatigue in this incident was the use of drugs while the driver was on duty. The trucking company is required to test for drugs of any newly hired employee.

According to FMCSA, all employers and employees who operate a commercial motor vehicle in any state must be tested for marijuana, cocaine, opiates (which include opium and codeine derivatives), amphetamines and phencyclidine (PCP).

Tests that are required:

  • Pre-employment: negative results must be received before a driver is asked to perform any duty by a motor carrier company.

  • Reasonable suspicion: given to any employee that is suspected of using alcohol or a controlled substance by another trained supervisor or employer.

  • Random: drivers are selected randomly to keep employees drug-free. Driver names are to be kept confidential and the driver must immediately report to the drug testing center upon being selected.

  • Post-accident: any driver involved in a fatal crash or CDL drivers who are cited for moving violations in a crash resulting in injury must be tested for drugs and alcohol.

Continue reading "Truckers Driving Under the Influence Often Lead to Fatal North Carolina Car Accidents" »

July 16, 2011

Feds Look to Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents in North Carolina, South Carolina

I think everyone would agree that reducing the number of distraction-related car accidents in Asheville, Winston-Salem and elsewhere in the state would be ideal. After all, the hassle of getting your car fixed after a fender bender, having to get medically treated following an accident and facing possible lost time from work can be quite costly, not to mention stressful.

Our Charlotte car accident attorneys are always here to help ease the pain and stress that follows a traffic accident, especially in a time when cell phones and other distractions are so prominent in causing them.
The federal government is continuing to be vigilant in its fight to control distracted driving accidents nationwide. To date, states have been taking an individual approach in implementing bans on texting and talking on cell phones while driving.

According to a recent article in Auto Trends Magazine, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy is taking a giant step forward with the proposal of the Safe Drivers Act of 2011.

Similar to the national drunk driving blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 being standard throughout the country, the new bill would ban cell phone use while motorists are behind the wheel no matter what state you are driving in, making it uniform across the board and not just in certain states.

The Governors Highway Safety Association certifies that only 30 states ban texting for all drivers as a primary offense. There is currently no state that bans cell phone (hand held or hands-free) use for all drivers but many states stipulate certain drivers are banned from using a cell phone.

Specifically, beginner drivers (30 states and D.C.) and school bus drivers (19 states and D.C.) are banned from all cell phone use. North Carolina does not prohibit handheld cell phone use for drivers but does ban school bus drivers and novice drivers from any type of cell phone use while driving.

North Carolina prohibits texting by any driver while behind the wheel, no matter what the age or circumstance. Violation of the law for beginner drivers, school bus drivers and texters are all considered a primary offense and can be stopped without further provocation.

South Carolina, on the other hand, does not ban cell phone use or texting by any driver and only addresses the issue under the distracted/inattention attribute of the state law as stipulated under contributing factors. The new bill would get states, such as South Carolina, that have not been proactive in curbing cell phone use to comply on a federal level, much like the old 55 mph speed limit that was standard at one time nationwide.

The only allowable exception to the new safe drivers bill would be for drivers who need to make an emergency call. Legislation has also been proposed allowing drivers to be permitted to use voice-operated vehicle-integrated devices such as phones or GPS devices that you can talk to and not have to push buttons to operate.

The next step under the new bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct an investigation on distracted driving with particular attention paid to cognitive distraction and the effect that distraction has on inexperienced drivers. At the end of two years, the DOT would need to report their findings back to Congress at which time recommendations would be made on distracted driving laws and penalties faced if states don't comply.

Failure for states to comply would lead to 25 percent of federal funding being taken away.

"Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common," Rep. McCarthy said. "With some basic common sense rules that are already in place in some parts of the country, we can reduce injuries and save lives in America."

Continue reading "Feds Look to Reduce Distracted Driving Accidents in North Carolina, South Carolina" »

July 14, 2011

Upcoming House Vote Could Remove Red Light Cameras in North Carolina, Leading to Increase Of Accidents in Charlotte, Elsewhere

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has completed a survey as a follow up to their recent study on the effectiveness of red light cameras used as a method to decrease crash fatalities in U.S. cities.

Our Charlotte car accident attorneys understand that intersections are some of the deadliest sites for fatal crashes, so anything that can help to reduce intersection-related accidents in Asheville, Charlotte and elsewhere in our state is welcomed at this point.
We posted on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog that there is a continued debate on whether the cost effectiveness of red light cameras outweighs the safety advantages and reduction of accidents occurring at red-lights because motorists opt to blow through them rather than stop like the law requires.

Our state is not the only one debating the red light camera saga. According to MSNBC, there are a vast number of cities that are weighing the benefits and hardships of continuing to use cameras at intersections. In April, the North Carolina Senate voted to get rid of the cameras and the decision now awaits judgment from the House.

Other notable cities considering votes are:

-Los Angeles Police Commission voted unanimously to remove the cameras in the city at the end of the contract in July. The issue is now being given consideration by a City Council committee.
-Houston is in the midst of a court battle where a judge recently ruled that the vote to shut down 70 red light cameras in the city was invalid based on procedural grounds.
-The City Council in Albuquerque, N.M is going to let residents vote in October on whether to continue to use the 20 cameras placed at intersections.
-A Missouri judge recently issued a ruling that the bill authorizing 51 cameras to be installed in St. Louis was illegally ratified.
-Governor Bill Haslam from Tennessee is ready to sign a bill that would limit, but not ban, cameras used at busy intersections.
-The Senate denied a bill passed by Florida House in May to remove red light cameras placed at intersections throughout the state.
-The use of cameras used in Spokane, Washington has been shut down by a Superior Court Judge ruling that citations are invalid because they were not signed by an officer of the law.

The recent survey conducted by IIHS concludes that 66 percent of drivers in the 14 cities used as a case-study earlier this year support red light camera use in their state. Only one city surveyed found less than half the drivers in favor of red light cameras. The percentages in favor of keeping cameras ranged from 48 percent in Santa Ana, CA to 78 percent in Washington, D.C.

Even though opponents of the use of red light cameras are quite vocal, they are in the minority when it comes to people who want to do away with the cameras at intersections.

"Most drivers don't buy the argument that it's somehow wrong to enforce the law just because you're using a camera to do it," says Anne McCartt, the Institute's senior vice president for research. "They understand that this technology is preventing crashes in their cities."

Based on responses given by the drivers surveyed, over 90 percent feel running a red light is unacceptable; 80 percent feel that running a red light puts motorists in danger; 89 percent feel that red light cameras have made intersections safer; and over 40 percent responded they strongly favor red light cameras. For more information about the national campaign to stop red light running visit the website.

Continue reading "Upcoming House Vote Could Remove Red Light Cameras in North Carolina, Leading to Increase Of Accidents in Charlotte, Elsewhere" »

July 11, 2011

Summer Days Most Deadly for Motorcyclists in Winston-Salem and Throughout North Carolina

Recent preliminary data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that motorcyclists fatalities were down nationwide for the first nine months of 2010.

Winston-Salem injury lawyers find this news somewhat shocking considering the number of motorcyclists sharing roadways with motorists and the growing popularity of 2-wheeled vehicles now that gas prices have skyrocketed.

Two recent motorcycle accidents in North Carolina have us mindful of the dangers we all face on roadways now that we are in the days of summer. According to WRAL, the first involved an unlicensed driver that caused a motorcycle and pickup truck to collide with her Saturn while making a left turn. The turn caused a fourth vehicle to swerve and hit two other cars making a total of six vehicles involved in the Fayetteville accident.The motorcyclist was seriously injured and taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in critical condition. The two passengers in the vehicle that that caused the accident sustained minor injuries.

The second accident, according to WSOCTV, resulted in a National Weather Service Advisory when a 17-year-old boy was struck by lightning on a motorcycle. The accident points out that not only should motorcyclists be cautious of other drivers but also of the weather conditions they opt to ride in. The boy was riding on his motorcycle on Brown Mountain Beach Road in Burke County when lightning struck, causing burns to his legs according to emergency officials.

According to the GHSA preliminary data, North Carolina motorcyclist fatalities were up during the first nine months of 2010 when compared to the previous year during the same time period. Most states show a substantial increase in motorcyclist fatalities during the third quarter.

For instance, North Carolina reported 80 biker deaths during the first 6 months of 2010 and by the end of September 2010 a total of 144 motorcyclist fatalities were reported, showing an increase of 64 deaths over a 3-month period from July 1 to September 30, 2010.

The best riding weather in most states, especially in colder climates, is now through the end of September. During the next few months, motorcyclists can enhance safety by following these Tips of the Day by Dr. Ray:

  • Waiting in pairs is permissible at stop signs or traffic lights but never pair up on roadways while in motion.
  • Your passenger should look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn when cornering.
  • Only pass other vehicles individually, never in large groups or pairs.
  • Make sure your passenger holds on to the hand grips located on most bikes or grabs on around your waist.
  • Avoid taking medicine for common colds before you ride because they often make you drowsy. Read all labels before taking.
  • If your throttle becomes stuck, hit the cut-off switch.
  • Winds of 25 mph can make motorcycle riding difficult. If high winds, thunderstorms, hail or other inclement weather conditions are expected, refrain from taking your motorcycle out on the road.
  • To find a motorcycle safety course near you, click on Motorcycle Safety Foundation to get started.

Continue reading "Summer Days Most Deadly for Motorcyclists in Winston-Salem and Throughout North Carolina" »

July 7, 2011

Statesville Scooter Accidents a High Risk During Height of Motorcycle Season in North Carolina

A recent scooter accident in Salisbury has our Statesville car accident lawyers reminding motorists to keep a watchful eye as we are in the height of motorcycle season. Motorized scooters are even more difficult to see and hear as they are much smaller in size and quieter on roadways.

The Salisbury Post reports that a woman was hospitalized with serious head and leg injuries following a crash on her motor scooter. She was driving her moped on Mooresville Road when she collided with another vehicle at an intersection. The driver of the vehicle saw two mopeds riding together, thought he could get through the intersection without hitting them, but collided with the second scooter. The woman was thrown from her scooter and later flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for medical care. The driver of the vehicle was not injured but was cited for failing to yield at a stop sign.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a powered scooter study from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004. During that period, there were an estimated 10,015 powered scooter-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Furthermore, almost 23,500 injuries were medically treated (meaning doctor's offices, clinics or hospitals) during that period that were caused by some sort of power scooter vehicle. Most of the victims were male under the age of 15. The most common types of injuries were hematomas, cuts, bruises and contusions and fractures. A small percentage of injuries (8.4 percent) were concussions or internal organ-related injuries.

Most of us may consider the term scooter to be like a children's toy but the fact of the matter is they are more like a motorcycle. Motorized scooters to be driven on roadways can be dangerous for inexperienced riders. The North Carolina motorcycle helmet law, which covers mopeds and scooters, dictates that a legal helmet will have a permanent DOT symbol stuck to the back of the helmet. Riders should only use accredited helmets while riding.

Safety tips for scooter users:

  • Find and take an approved safety course for scooters near you.

  • Never carry a passenger on a scooter that is only meant for one person.

  • Ride with your headlights on.

  • Travel at a safe speed in the flow of traffic. If your scooter only maintains lower speeds, ride in the right hand lane.

  • Obey laws like not sharing a lane, stop signs and yielding the right of way.

  • Remain attentive for opening car doors or parked vehicles pulling out of a parking spot that may not see you coming.

  • Check the owner's manual for maximum weight requirements and stay within the parameters when carrying bags or luggage.

Scooter riders should use caution on uneven or gravel roadways. Avoiding an accident is difficult under certain circumstances so drive defensively and always be alert when traveling on roadways.

Continue reading "Statesville Scooter Accidents a High Risk During Height of Motorcycle Season in North Carolina" »

July 5, 2011

Distracted Truck Drivers Lead to Deadly Incidents at North Carolina Railroad Crossings

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released that Nevada has become the 34th state to ban all drivers from texting while driving. This announcement follows the recent tragic event of a truck driver crashing into an Amtrak train which killed and injured several people.

North Carolina banned all drivers from using cell phones previously in hopes of reducing the number of distracted driving accidents in Asheville , Greensboro and elsewhere in the state. Winston-Salem car accident lawyers agree that truck drivers and school bus operators should be included in the texting ban because they are on the clock and have a responsibility to be safe drivers. Cell phones and texting are the leading cause of distraction while driving in our country and take the lives of so many each and every year.
CNN reports that John Davis Trucking Company is under investigation following a crash that involved one of their truckers, who crashed into an Amtrak train carrying 195 passengers and 14 crew members at a railroad crossing.

The crash killed 5 passengers and the truck driver and injured several other passengers. The National Transportation Safety Board is meeting with the company to obtain records on their employee. It is reported that the trucking company has 19 previous safety violations along with a fatal single-vehicle crash last May.

Investigators believe the truck driver was using his cell phone prior to the crash and will send the phone to a D.C. lab to determine if it was a factor leading to the crash. Safety measures at the crossing are not believed to have contributed since the intersection is equipped with cantilevers, lights, crossing gates, signs and pavement markings. The flashing warning light for an approaching train is set longer at this railroad crossing than is required by the federal standard.

Trucking companies have a responsibility to hire responsible and reliable employees. If a company hires a new driver, previous driving records should be obtained and considered before signing on the dotted line. The Associated Press reports that the driver involved in the Amtrak crash had received four speeding tickets since 2008. According to Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, three of the four speeding tickets were while operating a school bus over the posted speed limit.

The Federal Railroad Administration offers an instructional video for professional drivers to illustrate railroad crossing safety. For more information about the legal responsibilities at railroad crossings and situational awareness click the link to view the video.

Railroad crossing safety tips for all drivers:

  • When gates are lowered, do not drive around them.

  • Never speed up to race a train to the crossing.

  • Do not enter a crossing unless you know you can make it completely across before the train approaches.

  • Multiple tracks often have multiple trains so always be prepared for a second train to appear.

  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, immediately get out and walk to a safe location.

  • A train traveling at 55 mph can take up to one mile to get completely stopped so always be aware that they can't brake quickly to avoid a collision.

  • If traffic is backed up at crossing, be alert and never sit on the tracks waiting for traffic to move in front of you.

Continue reading "Distracted Truck Drivers Lead to Deadly Incidents at North Carolina Railroad Crossings" »

July 3, 2011

Government Funding to Help Reduce Risk of Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries in North Carolina

Our Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys frequently report about the dangers of pedestrian accidents in our state.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently announced that 15 municipalities throughout the state will receive in total $343,550 in grants to be used towards reducing the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in North Carolina.

We posted previously on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog that very little federal funding is spent on improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety in North Carolina each year. Considering how important exercise is to improving our healthy lifestyle, it is good to know that some cities will be benefiting from funds granted towards improving safety for walkers and bikers.

Representatives from rural and metropolitan planning organizations and councils of government formed a committee and reviewed 23 applications that were submitted to request funding. Transportation planners selected 15 municipalities from both large urban areas and small rural towns throughout western, central and eastern regions of the state to receive the grant. The following municipalities will receive funding from a joint sponsorship by North Carolina Department of Transportation's Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and NCDOT's Transportation Planning Branch:

-$28,000 to Atlantic Beach
-$24,500 to Belmont
-$15,000 to Clyde
-$20,000 to Elizabethtown
-$31,500 to Kings Mountain
-$28,000 to Knightdale
-$15,000 to Marshall
-$22,050 to Mount Airy
-$20,000 to Oak Ridge
-$24,000 to Oxford
-$15,000 to Pilot Mountain
-$28,000 to Rolesville
-$24,500 to Sanford
-$28,000 to Washington
-$20,000 to Wingate

The planning process will begin this fall for each of these municipalities in which improving bicycle and pedestrian safety will be the goal and priority of each project initiated.

Transportation of America reports that 47,000 people died and 688,000 were injured from 2000-2009 in pedestrian accidents.

More than 1,600 people were killed in North Carolina while walking during this same time period. North Carolina ranked 11th in the country in overall Pedestrian Danger Index.

North Carolina cities and the percentage of traffic fatalities by pedestrians in 2008-2009:

  • Winston-Salem -- 11.5 percent
  • Charlotte/Gastonia/Concord -- 11.4 percent
  • Greensboro/High Point -- 10.3 percent
  • Asheville -- 9.6 percent

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 2 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2009 were bicyclists. Of the 630 bicyclist fatalities in 2009, North Carolina averaged over 1 death a month or 16 cyclist fatalities reported for the year.

Summer safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists:
-Stay away from high volume traffic roadways like interstates at rush hour.
-Never walk or bicycle across a street where motorists don't expect to see you.
-Remain visible by wearing bright clothing.
-Prevent walking or riding at night at all costs.
-Always inform someone where you are going and what time you think you will return.

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July 1, 2011

Stay Safe This Fourth of July By Avoiding Greensboro Car Accidents

With the Fourth of July holiday weekend nearly here, more drivers will be on the roads than normal and our firm hopes that you will be especially safe during this time.
According to AAA, nearly 39 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from their home over the long weekend, which is actually down from 40 million last year, USA Today reports.
The drop is attributed to gas prices, which have risen $1 on average from this time last year. Gas in North Carolina is about $3.57 per gallon, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

But despite a predicted drop in the number of people who will be traveling this holiday weekend, 39 million is a large number and Greensboro Car Accident Attorneys recognize that there will be traffic accidents this holiday weekend. We hope you will use extra caution while taking to the highways and local roads this Independence Day.

According to 2009 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 1,314 traffic fatalities in 2009 on North Carolina roads.

These are all tragedies, but they can be avoided. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol offers these tips for holiday travel:

  • Buckle up
  • Leave plenty of time for travel
  • Don't speed
  • Leave a safe distance between you and other vehicles
  • Take breaks if traveling a long distance
  • Don't drink and drive

And while using good judgment and driving defensively are good steps to staying safe, it is also inevitable, unfortunately, that people will make the decision to drink and drive. Despite tough criminal laws, many people ignore those penalties and the safety risks and get on the roads with too much alcohol in their systems.
In 2009, according to the non-profit group The Century Council, there were 363 alcohol-impaired fatalities on North Carolina roads. Of those, 35 drivers killed were under 21.

These Charlotte drunk driving accidents are especially traumatic because they are so avoidable. If you are with someone who is attempting to drive and has been drinking, offer to be a designated driver, call a friend or call for a taxi cab. It is worth the time or money to ensure you get home safely and that no one around you is injured or killed because of poor choices.

And with the summer upon us, kids are out of school and are begging to use the family car. Because of their inexperience behind the wheel, they are particularly susceptible to Greensboro teen car accidents.

Please talk with your teens about avoiding distracted driving in North Carolina by not messing with the radio dial, talking on their phones or texting on their phones and not talking extensively with their friends inside the vehicle. Getting to their destination safely is all that matters.

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