April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and our Asheville car accident lawyers believe it's an important time to underscore the danger that occurs every single time you take your eyes off the road.
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It is widely established and known that distractions are dangerous to drivers, passengers and other motorists on the road. Teen drivers are especially at risk of driving and texting because they are inexperienced and also face other distractions that do not impact adult drivers. According to an NPR report on a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, teen drivers often start off as careful drivers but start to "multi-task" within months of getting behind the wheel. "Multi-tasking" may include eating, texting, or talking on a cell phone.
Drivers in North and South Carolina should avoid distracted driving, but also be aware that teen drivers could pose a significant risk on the road. Our Asheville car accidents attorneys are experienced in helping car accident victims recover compensation after an injury or wrongful death. In addition to protecting the rights of victims and survivors, we are also committed to raising awareness about driver safety to prevent future accidents and injuries.
Distracted driving among young people has received an overwhelming amount of attention in recent years. In response, Congress promised federal grant money to states that enacted tough laws against distracted driving. Many states, including North Carolina, had hoped to receive federal grant money from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Despite the disappearance of the expected grant money, our Asheville car accident attorneys are committed to raising awareness about distracted driving to prevent collisions.
Many states were disqualified from the grant program because their distracted driving laws were not considered harsh enough. In the case of North Carolina the law, which has been enforced since December 1, 2009: drivers are not banned from texting when their vehicle is stopped.
While many accidents are unpreventable, there are also ways that you can keep your family safe. Practicing safe and defensive driving is one way to reduce the risks of accidents when driving in your neighborhood, in the city, or on a cross country trip. Our Ashville car accident attorneys are dedicated to reducing the risks and consequences associated with deadly traffic accidents.
Safety experts and organizations, including the American Medical Association, offer a number of tips to reduce the chances of dangerous or deadly accidents, including the following:
Don't Drink and Drive. While most people know not to drink and drive, even the most responsible people can make a mistake. Remember that even a small amount of alcohol can reduce your motor skills and impair judgment. You should also be wary of prescription medications and how they affect your ability.
Keep Your Car Maintained. Staying safe and keeping others safe means responsibly keeping your car maintained. You should have regular tune-ups, keep your windshields and mirrors clean, and always have plenty of gas in your car. When purchasing a new car, look for advanced safety features, including power steering and an automatic transmission. Make sure you have plenty of gas in your car when taking a trip.
Laws, regulations and action taken by law enforcement agencies can prevent accidents and injury. On the nation's roads and highways, traffic lights, weight restrictions, speeding limitations and other laws protect motorists to prevent collisions. Now, the Greensboro Police Department, along with other law enforcement agencies, is taking a new, aggressive approach to prevent accidents.
The initiative, known as the "zero tolerance" law enforcement project will begin this month to crack down on traffic violations on a busy stretch (Wendover Avenue) in Greensboro. The move could signal a wider impact for citizens throughout North Carolina. Our Greensboro car accident attorneys are dedicated to preventing accidents and raising awareness about driver safety.
Reckless and negligent driving increases the likelihood of an accident. In addition to obvious offenses like running a red light, blowing through a stop sign, or speeding, drivers may also be in violation of the law when driving while texting or while using a cell phone. Driving under the influence is also a serious risk to motorists and passengers, also threatening pedestrians and bikers. Violations of local and state law could result in an accident and leave drivers open to civil and criminal penalties.
Under a new initiative, officers from the Greensboro Police Department and local authorities from the Guilford Country Driving While Impaired Task Force and the NC State Highway Patrol will be issuing citations to violators. In addition to traffic citations, drivers may also face additional punishments, including fines, loss of license, and in the most severe cases, jail time.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Greensboro Police Department and University Police Departments plan to issue traffic citations with a "zero tolerance" approach. This means that drivers will be cited if driving even one mile per hour over the speed limit. Law enforcement agencies and officers who have initiated the project believe that it will create an overall awareness to prevent violations and ultimately, prevent accidents and injuries.
In addition to speeding violations, officers will be targeting offenders who are caught driving while texting, failing to wear a seat belt, distracted driving and drunk driving. All of these traffic violations pose a significant risk to other motorists and passengers on the road. Victims of an accident should review police records to determine the cause of the accident and whether the driver was at fault. Any traffic citation or violation could be evidence of negligence and used in a civil matter.
Agencies involved in the initiative have acknowledged the dangerous nature of these traffic offenses. By increasing awareness of driver negligence, law enforcement centers and officers hope to prevent serious and deadly automobile accidents. According to the Greensboro PD, 11 traffic accidents have killed 14 people this year alone in Greensboro. There were 811 motor vehicle accidents in the past two years and 47% of those accidents resulted in injury or fatality.
If you are ever pulled over for a traffic violation, you should pull over to the side of the road immediately. Wait for an officer to approach your vehicle and remain mindful of hazards on the road. When pulling back into traffic, be careful of oncoming vehicles.
In distracted driving accidents, technology is often blamed. But can technology also help to fix the problem?
According to Investor's Business Daily, automakers are working to produce more hands-free devices for drivers. The theory is that drivers will be able to keep more of their attention on the road while still making phone calls, sending text messages, navigating via GPS and interacting with various infotainment. But the truth of the matter is that these devices are still taking much needed attention off of our roadways and are increasing out risks for an accident.
Take the new GPS from Garmin's (the HUD). It's a GPS that displays where a driver needs to go right there on the windshield. Yes, a map on the windshield. While drivers are still looking in a good general direction to be able to see roadway dangers, they're not actively looking for these dangers and their attention is still being taken from the road.
Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released guidelines to try to address the dangers of these devices. But the problem here is that these guidelines don't cover the smartphone industry. If we're going to tackle distracted driving, we need to attack the entire problem. When auto manufacturers stop putting these devices in these vehicles, or when these devices are disabled when a vehicle is in drive, then a driver will simply turn to a smartphone or another device to get what they want. With these options available, our attention is continuing to veer of the road and into higher risks for accidents.
Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, says that distracted driving has become an "epidemic" on our nation's roadways. And he's also looking toward the smartphone industry for answers.
"They have to be part of the solution," said LaHood.
He says that cell phones, GPS devices and other infotainment services are oftentimes available in newer, more expensive luxury cars. And that's something everyone wants. This is why many drivers are seeking less expensive cell phone and portable-electronic versions of these services. But these options won't shut down when your vehicle is in drive.
He contends cell phone use by drivers is the new alcohol on the road. He says it's something that drivers continue to use and get behind the wheel of a vehicle -- knowing that it could have some serious consequences.
While you may be physically able to use a phone or send a text message while you're driving, we'd like to remind you of the dangers. Until all distracting activity is banned from vehicles in motion, we're asking you to be your own controls and to know when (and when not) to use these devices. It's a decision that could wind up saving your life.
As we have discussed in previous posts, distracted driving continues to pose a threat to drivers, passengers and other motorists on the road. While legislators have sought to curb distracted driving by banning the use of cell phones, other safety advocates have used public awareness campaigns to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Now technology is taking its turn to cut down on distracted driving and prevent accidents. A new app to stop distracted drivers may save lives.
According to reports, distracted driving led to 3,300 deaths in 2011. Additional research indicates that these injuries are on the rise and that the majority of distracted driving accidents are caused by the use of cell phones. Our Greesboro car accident attorneys are experienced with cases involving distracted driving and are dedicated to helping victims recover just compensation. We are also forward-thinking and embrace innovations that can prevent future drunk driving accidents.
A new mobile app has been designed to keep drivers eyes on the road and away from their phones. With current Smartphone technology, more users are able to check email, update their Facebook accounts, and surf the Internet while driving. An app that allows drivers to put their phones in "OFF Mode" reduces the temptation to check for new updates, texts, and emails while behind the wheel.
Though it may take more time to write a text or draft an email, accidents can be caused in the mere seconds it takes to check a phone for incoming calls, texts, or updates. The "OFF Mode" prevents incoming updates as well as outgoing messages. The creator of the app hopes to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents every year. The risk of distracted driving accidents is severe--there were 387,000 distracted driving-related accidents in 2011.
Most drivers are guilty of glancing at their phone once or twice while behind the wheel. Installing and using the OFF Mode application will block all calls, text messages and e-mails from appearing on the screen. The application, however, does not completely block incoming calls or messages--it simply prevents the icons and notifications from appearing on the screen.
In addition to blocking the sounds and notifications from appearing on the screen, the app will also send an automatic response to callers and texters that the receiver is unavailable or busy. The app is a convenient alternative to hiding the phone in the trunk or glove compartment to reduce the temptation of driving and calling, texting or emailing.
Despite texting bans in Florida and nationwide, distracted driving continues to pose a hazard. In the event of an accident, law enforcement officials can subpoena records to determine if a cell phone was used before or during the crash. This can create additional liability, especially if there were victims, including pedestrians, bicyclists, or other motorists involved in the accident. In the event of a collision, victims should consult with an independent advocate who can determine the cause of the accident and identify responsible parties.
The OFF Mode application is also beneficial to drivers who need to prove that they were not using a cell phone if involved in an accident.
During pregnancy, expecting mothers will often take extra precaution to ensure their personal health and the health of their fetus. Once that child is born, mothers will continue to take necessary steps to protect their newborn from harm. While mothers may take necessary steps in caring for their baby through birth, a new study suggests that mothers may be putting themselves and their infants at risk--from behind the wheel.
A new study that focuses on the relationship between new mother fatigue and drowsy driving indicates that new mothers pose a significant risk to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road. While additional studies will be conducted to qualify the effects of new mother sleeplessness, researchers have already found that many new mothers admit to distraction and fatigue while driving.
Our Charlotte car accidents attorneys are experienced in the investigation of cases involving negligence and fatigued drivers. It is widely accepted that fatigued driving can be dangerous for motorists and others sharing the road. Truck drivers are limited to a number of hours to prevent the dangers of fatigue. National public awareness campaigns have focused on the very severe dangers related to sleepy driving. Some research has indicated that drowsy or fatigued driving can be more dangerous than drinking and driving. In any case involving an accident, an investigation should be performed to determine whether that accident was caused by negligence or distraction.
New mothers are notoriously sleep-deprived. In addition to waking up in the middle of the night to feed newborns, they are rarely on a regular sleep schedule throughout the day. This can make it difficult to manage daily tasks as well as operate a vehicle. Researchers are looking to determine whether the disrupted sleep experienced by new mothers caring for an infant can impact driving abilities. In a preliminary study, they found that mothers who admitted to postpartum fatigue also confessed to making driving errors behind the wheel. This raises safety concerns by public officials and others promoting driver safety.
The new study sheds light on the relationship between new mothers and sleep-deprivation from birth through the first six months. According to research, distraction and lack of concentration affected mothers at many different stages, including the first six weeks, as well as 12, 18, or 24 weeks after birth.
If you are a new mother, remember that you may be distracted and lacking sleep. This can create a feeling of fatigue that could impact your reaction time and driving capabilities. In addition to slow reaction times related to fatigue, mothers also reported being distracted and an inability to concentrate while driving a vehicle. While every mother faces unique challenges after birth, it is important to remember that the lack of sleep and change in lifestyle could affect the ability to drive.
An additional study is following new mothers who have given birth in the past six months. The new participants will be asked about their sleep patterns, tendencies of fatigue and driving capabilities since the birth of their children.
It is not uncommon to see a dog perched in the passenger seat, sitting on the lap of a driver, or jumping around the back of an SUV. While pet owners may find it convenient or even fun to drive around with their animals, they may not realize the dangers posed by pet distractions. According to a new study, driving with pets is increasingly a cause of driver distraction and car accidents, especially among senior drivers.
Recent studies suggest that the crash rate for drivers over the age of 70 is higher for those who drive with their pets. The study was focused on evaluating the potential threat of driver distraction for elderly drivers with animals in the vehicle. Our Charlotte accident attorneys are committed to driver safety and are dedicated to helping the victims and families who have suffered because of driver distraction.
The risk of accident for drivers who always had their pets in the car doubles that of those who never had a pet in the vehicle. With evidence that distracted driving accounts for 10 percent of all U.S. highway fatalities, drivers and their loved ones should be aware of the risk before getting behind the wheel with an animal in the car.
A recent study found that elderly drivers are particularly vulnerable to the distraction of pets in a vehicle. They may not have adequate reaction time or suffer from other sensory deficiencies that can increase the likelihood of distraction and an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released guidelines to minimize driver distraction, including avoiding the use of hand held devices and recommending that auto manufacturers avoid distracting dashboards. All of the guidelines focus on keeping driver attention on the road. As accident reconstructionists and experienced investigators know, even a few seconds of driver distraction can result in a deadly accident or catastrophic injury.
Pets pose dangers to drivers in a number of ways. They could demand too much attention, get in the way of the steering wheel, prevent changing gears or block a driver's view. Distracted driving accident rates increase with dangerous driver habits, including using cell phones, adjusting the radio, or driving with pets. Pets may not necessarily interfere with driving, but they may be distracting to their loving owners.
Statistics indicate that more than half of pet owners take their dogs or cats with them on occasion. With the high rate of accidents among distracted and elderly drivers, pets can create additional risk and burden. If you or someone you love was injured or suffered because of distracted driving you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys will investigate your case and take every necessary step to protect your interests. We are experienced with cases involving distracted and negligent driving and will pursue every opportunity to protect your rights.
If you or someone you love routinely drives with an animal, consider the risk of distracted driving. Taking a pet to the mall or on daily errands may not be worth the risk to the driver, passenger and other motorists on the road.
A Senate bill that could have tightened distracted driving laws in the state has taken a little longer than expected to make it through the legislature.
According to My Horry News, the bill (Senate Bill 186) was filed back in January by Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach. What this bill was supposed to do was to make it a felony charge for drivers who cause a fatal accident because of driver distractions.
"Right now the highest incident of accidents or collisions are 18- to 25-year-olds," Rankin said. "Throw in a cell phone and it's even worse."
Our Charlotte car accident lawyers understand that distracted driving continues to be a serious problem in the area. Nationwide, there are thousands who are killed every year because of the irresponsible and distracted driving habits of others. According to distraction.gov, there were 3,331 people killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010.
Because the legislature is in the first year of a two-year cycle, bills not passed this session may be taken up when the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2014. If it doesn't make it though in 2014, it's going to have to be reintroduced.
Why hasn't it gotten anywhere? Even as debate stalls on this important piece of legislation, prosecutors have decided to drop all charges in the case of a fatal traffic accident in which this behavior was deemed a factor. There's no lesson to be learned there, and there's no deterrent when there are no penalties.
A truck driver was slapped with charges back in November after an accident that happened in March. In this accident, his semi allegedly slammed into an SUV and killed a 4-year-old passenger. According to Highway Patrol officers, the truck was going too fast for current weather conditions and the driver was using a cell phone at the wheel.
As it stands now, truck drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone behind the wheel. That's federal law.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone behind the wheel in North Carolina. On the other hand, all drivers are banned from text messaging in the driver's seat.
Regardless, drivers should have their attention on the roadway at all times. There should never be a phone call or a text message that's worth risking someone's life. And this applies to any and all distractions. We're talking about eating, smoking, drinking, talking with other passengers and even applying makeup at the wheel. It's all dangerous and can be deadly. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road and your mind on driving.
Two brothers, ages 1 and 5, were killed recently in west Charlotte when a delivery truck driver allegedly struck them after making a wide turn at the intersection of W. Tyvola Road and Shady Lane.
Our Charlotte car accident attorneys understand that police believe distracted driving was to blame, and have charged the driver with a criminal misdemeanor. The boys had been walking with relatives to daycare that morning. The driver had been on his way to his first delivery in Rock Hill.
Witnesses say he was laughing as he made the turn, an indication, investigators say, that he was either involved in a conversation or distracted by a radio program or some other device.
Another recent North Carolina crash, this one in Asheville, was also said to have involved distraction. Investigators say a woman who was killed when her vehicle struck another on Interstate 40 was likely talking on her cell phone. Investigators said that officers found three cell phones in the vehicle - and two of those were open.
Clearly, these incidents just go to further illustrate what a huge problem distracted driving truly is in North Carolina, as well as throughout the country.
AAA reports that cell phone distractions while driving quadruple the risk of crashing, and it's believed to be a factor in some 8,000 crashes each day.
State law bars texting while driving, but a proposal that would have made talking on cell phones while driving illegal failed to pass the state legislature.
Cell phone and texting records are now routinely preserved in the event of a crash, to determine definitively whether distraction was a factor. That information can be used in future civil lawsuits.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued guidelines to auto manufacturers in the hopes of reducing distractions related to built-in electronic devices in vehicles. Those include devices used for communication, navigation and entertainment.
Secretary Ray LaHood said that while drivers do appreciate certain features in their vehicles, there must be a better balance with regard to safety.
As such, the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's voluntary guidelines involve criteria such as ensuring that those devices don't require more than two seconds of attention to operate.
Additionally, the NHTSA says that certain features should be disabled while the vehicle is in motion. For example, manual text entry for text messaging and internet browsing should cease while the driver is in motion. Same thing with video-based communications or entertainment and the display for certain kinds of social media content, web pages and text messaging.
These recommendations are in line with the findings revealed in NHTSA's recent study, The Impact of Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance and Safety Critical Event Risk.
While there are steps that auto manufacturers can do to limit driver distractions, it's ultimately up to the person behind the wheel.
Tragedies such as what happened recently in Charlotte and Asheville shouldn't be happening. We call them "accidents" in that no one intended for them to occur. However, that doesn't mean they aren't 100 percent preventable.
When it comes to talking on a cell phone while driving, it is easy to see how dangerous it is to hold the phone in your hand as you talk. After all, your hands would need to be off the wheel as you dial the phone and as you chat away with the phone pressed up against your ear. To try to combat this danger of a person holding a cell phone while driving, many states have passed laws banning the use of a cell phone behind the wheel except when using a hands-free kit.
Our Greenville accident attorneys know that using hands-free devices is safer than using cell phones without them. However, this doesn't mean it is safe to talk on your cell phone all day as you drive. In fact, a recent White Paper published by the National Safety Council (NSC) indicates that talking on a cell phone is still dangerous even when you are using a hands-free kit. This is because the conversation you are having on the phone requires you to multi-task and to devote some of your energy and thought-process to something other than the road.
The Dangers of Cell Phones With a Hands-Free Device
According to the White paper published on the website of the NSC:
- Drivers on a hands-free device tend to look but not really to see or process the information they are seeing. A driver on a cell phone may miss as much as 50 percent of the information in his driving environment while he is talking.
- Human brains have only a limited capacity for attention and are not effective at multi-tasking. When you are talking on your cell phone, your brain focuses on the conversation and you miss important driving cues.
- Drivers who are talking on a cell phone will have a measurably slower reaction time when faced with potential hazards. When your brain has to switch its focus from the phone to reacting to a hazard, seconds of precious time can be lost as your brain switches between tasks.
- Drivers on cell phones have more difficulty staying in their lanes. Lane keeping, as it is called, becomes harder when you are focused on the phone instead of on the road.
For all of these reasons, driving while on a cell phone, even if it is hands free, can be dangerous. As your brain is concentrating on something besides driving, your ability to drive in a safe way suffers and you have a significantly greater chance of becoming involved in an accident. In fact, the White Paper indicates that having a cell phone conversation as you drive can result in an accident risk that is four times greater than the risk non-distracted drivers face.
Because of the dangers, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all 50 states and D.C. impose a complete ban on using portable electronic devices when driving, including using cell phones with hands-free devices. States have not yet complied with this requirement and instituted complete bans for adults, although many do have extensive restrictions or even outright bans on teen cell phone use while behind the wheel.
On the website of the Better Business Bureau for Greensboro North Carolina, there is a page called Faces of Distracted Driving. This page contains videos and information about victims of distracted driving accidents who were seriously injured or who lost their lives as a result of crashes where a driver wasn't paying attention.
In some of the stories, the person who was killed was the driver who was distracted while in others the victim was an innocent third party who was hit by someone else focused on something other than road safety.
These stories are important and our Greensboro injury attorneys know that there are thousands more stories like them, involving tragic loss caused by distracted driving. Every driver should take a few minutes to think about the risks of driving while distracted. This month, the National Safety Council (NSC) is encouraging drivers to do just that.
April Is Distracted Driving Month
According to the National Safety Council, April of 2013 is being recognized as Distracted Driving Awareness Month . The goal is to take a close look at one of the most common sources of driver distraction- the cell phone- and to inform the public of how to protect themselves from cell phone accidents.
NSC offers a number of tips for drivers to avoid crashes including:
- Not using a cell phone while driving. The NSC even has a link to take a pledge promising to never use cell phones while driving, which everyone is encouraged to take. NSC indicates that while there may be many different types of distracting behavior, cell phones are the worst because the distraction goes on for such a long time and because so many drivers use phones as they drive.
- Telling others that you'll have to speak with them later if they call when you are driving
- Sharing information with others on the dangers of distracted driving.
For those who wish to learn more about the dangers of distracted driving, NSC has also included educational materials on its website as well. For example, they have information on the distracted brain, which illustrates how much of your cognitive function is taken up when you focus on something other than what you should be paying attention to (driving safely).
NSC also has a State of the Nation of Cell Phone Distracted Driving Report. This report shows how widespread the problem of distracted driving is. According to the report, for example, around 24 percent of accidents in 2010 involved the use of cell phones.
Unfortunately, even those who make the responsible choice to avoid distracted driving could still be involved in a crash related to cell phone use since so many people are talking on their phones as they drive. If this happens to you or to a loved one in your family, you may be able to take legal action against the distracted driver who caused you to become involved in a crash.
When you visit England or places in Europe, you may be a little bit scared of drivers driving on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to, or of aggressive drivers who seem to dart in-and-out of traffic. Although the UK and European roads may seem daunting, they are safer in one very important way when compared to the streets of the U.S.: there are a lot less people texting and driving.
Our Rock Hill accident attorneys know that texting and driving is incredibly dangerous, so much so that sending or receiving a text as you drive makes you 23 times more likely to get into a crash. Yet, despite the known dangers and despite extensive public education and bans in many states, many people continue to text and drive. A new study now confirmed that U.S. drivers are the worst when it comes to texting and driving, with far more drivers in the U.S. sending or receiving texts than those living in other countries.
Survey Shows Americans Most Likely to Text and Drive
According to a March 14, 2013 article on NBC news, a new government survey revealed that:
- Almost 69 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 admitted that they talked on their cell phone as they drove at least one time in the 30 days before taking the survey.
- Just 21 percent of drivers in Britain said that they had talked on their cell phone as they drove in the prior 30 days. Britain also had the lowest rate of people who text and drive than any other country surveyed.
- 40 percent of adults in France said they used their cell phones one or more times while driving in the prior 30 days. While this is more than Britain, it is considerably less than the 69 percent of Americans who chatted while driving.
- 31 percent of drivers in the U.S. admitted to texting and driving.
- Only 15 percent of drivers in Spain said that they had texted as they drove.
Researchers indicated surprise at some of the information obtained in the international texting and driving survey. One of the major puzzles presented by the data was the fact that there are universal laws throughout Europe on texting and driving that are very similar to each other, but that there are still major variations as far as how people behave towards the use of wireless devices as they drive.
In the United States, differences in behavior from state-to-state would be more expected than variations across Europe, since each state in the US can set its own texting and driving laws for within its borders. Around 33 states in the U.S. have imposed some restrictions on cell phone use and/or texting, at least for teen drivers, as compared with widespread bans throughout Europe.
Still, while numbers differed in Europe from place-to-place, there were always fewer Europeans admitting to texting or talking on cells while driving than there were Americans. As such, perhaps America should consider modeling Europe, and adopting the recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board, to impose a blanket ban on cell phone use and/or texting. Such a ban might reduce the number of distracted drivers and potentially save lives.
Authorities are blaming a rash of serious car accidents in North Carolina on careless and aggressive drivers who blatantly disregarded their own safety, as well as that of others.
Our North Carolina car accident lawyers are dismayed that we continue to see entirely preventable injuries and deaths caused because someone was simply in a hurry or not exercising proper precaution. Almost as upsetting as the tragic aftermath of these crashes is that they didn't have to happen.
In the first case, two women, ages 62 and 74, were killed on U.S. 41 after they were struck head-on by a tractor trailer log truck in Pender County around 3 p.m. A third person in the vehicle was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries, while the truck driver was treated for minor injuries. The crash, which left the small car in a heap of mangled metal, tied up traffic for hours in both directions along the interstate. Driver distraction is believed to have been a factor.
In the second case, five people were hurt - one of those seriously - when two vehicles collided along N.C. 150 in Salisbury. Investigators said early indications were that the roads were slick with recent rain, and the vehicles were both traveling far too fast around a bend. Residents in the area say wrecks along that stretch are a common occurrence, with vehicles routinely ramming into fences, trees and mailboxes there.
In a third incident, two vehicles crashed on Highway 17 in Hamptstead earlier this month when one vehicle ran a red light and smashed into a vehicle that was making a turn at that intersection. Both drivers thankfully only suffered minor injuries, but the vehicles were both heavily damaged. The driver who ran the light was ticketed.
If we were somehow able to eliminate these kinds of very preventable behaviors behind the wheel, we would be able to significantly reduce the number of annual casualties on our roadways.
Let's take speeding, for example. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that it is a factor in a third of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, and its the third leading contributing factor to fatalities. Other fatal crash factors such as impaired driving and not buckling up have been significantly reduced. Not speeding. It claims some 13,000 lives each year, with economic costs totaling some $40 billion yearly. In fact, the NHTSA purports that every minute a driver "gains" by speeding actually costs society an estimated $76,000.
It's not only driving over the speed limit, but often driving too fast for the conditions of the road. So if it's rainy or snowy or foggy - slow down!
Speeding is also considered a form of aggressive driving, which could also be manifested through: tailgating, frequent lane changes and running red lights. Some of this, too, could be attributed to distractions.
In order to curb these tragic end results, the NHTSA recommends the following when behind the wheel:
- Concentrate and don't allow yourself to get distracted by texting, talking, eating, drinking or putting on makeup.
- Relax. Try putting on some low-key music or taking a few deep breaths.
- Map out alternate routes in case the one you are on is congested. Give yourself plenty of time so you won't feel pressured to speed.
- Just be late. It's better than never making it there at all.