August 2011 Archives

Motorists More Likely to Die in Car Accidents in North Carolina Rural Areas than in Big Cities

August 30, 2011, by

AAA Carolinas reports that you're most likely to die in a car accident in North Carolina on one of our rural roads than on an urban road, according to WSAV. The top five counties with the most occurrences of deadly accidents only accounted for about three percent of the entire state's vehicle miles traveled.
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Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that motorists may be more at risk for a fatal car accident on a rural road because these roads typically have lower shoulders, have narrower lanes and have faded (if any) road markings. These roads also have more curves in them and have less police patrols than highways. Speed is also often a factor.

"Motorists can do their part by slowing down, paying close attention, never drinking and driving, and always wearing their seat belts, which is their best defense if they're in a crash," said Transportation Secretary Robert J. St. Onge, Jr.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 37,250 fatal accidents that took the lives of more than 41,000 people in 2007. Accidents that occurred in rural areas made up 56 percent of these fatal accidents while urban areas only accounted for 44 percent of fatal accidents. The number of accidents in rural areas is surprising considering that only 23 percent of the U.S. population lives in these areas.

North Carolina witnessed nearly 1,500 fatalities on rural roadways in 2007. These accidents accounted for 73 percent of all traffic accident deaths for the year. Our state's urban areas witnessed 442 traffic fatalities, accounting for only 26 percent of the year's traffic accident deaths.

Here are some of the reasons why fatal rural accidents are so common:

-Unrestrained motorists

-Rollover accidents

-Drunk driving

-Speeding

Roughly 52 percent of fatal traffic accidents that happened in our rural areas happened during the daytime hours, while only 47 percent of fatal accidents happened at night. On the flip side, only 43 percent of fatal crashes that happened in urban areas happened during the evening. About 56 percent happened during the daytime.

Another important factor contributing to the high number of fatal accidents in rural areas is the amount of time is takes for emergency responders to arrive on scene. It typically takes emergency personnel longer to get to an accident in a rural area than in an urban area. Response times average 19 minutes in rural areas to 7 minutes in urban areas.

It is important for emergency responders to quickly respond to accident calls. Rural areas provide a number of environmental challenges that contribute to high fatality rates. The longer it takes for emergency personnel to arrive at the scene of an accident, the more like it is that the victim of the accident cannot be saved and will die in route to the hospital.

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Officials Focusing on Safe Drivers to Help Prevent Child Injury in North Carolina this School Year

August 24, 2011, by

Most local students are heading to school for the 2011-2012 school year, which means we'll be seeing crowded early-morning bus stops and school-zone crossing guards for the first time since Spring, according to GWD Today. Recently, the highway patrol offered safety tips to help remind motorists to be cautious around students to help prevent child injury in North Carolina.
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Our Asheville personal injury attorneys join local authorities in stepping up and speaking out to remind motorists about the returning presence of children near our roadways. Students are not only at risk for being involved in an accident while they're riding the bus, but while they're waiting for it to show up as well.

According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, the most dangerous part of a student's ride to school is when they're either getting on or off the bus. This area is the "Danger Zone." For this reason, all students are urged to stay at least 10 feet away from the bus unless they are getting on or off. In this 10-foot area, children are likely to be overlooked by the bus driver.

Authorities offer these safety tips to bus-riding students:

-Make sure you're at your bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is supposed to arrive.

-When the bus pulls up, make sure you're standing at least 10 feet away from the road's curb.

-Do not step onto the roadway until the bus is completely stopped and the driver has opened the doors.

-When crossing the street to board your bus, make sure you wait for the bus driver to signal that it's okay to do so. Then make sure to walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus. Make sure you can see the bus driver the entire time.

-Use the handrails when getting on and off the bus. Make sure that none of your clothing will get caught while climbing up the stairs.

-Never ever walk behind a bus.

-Never pick someone up that you've dropped near the outside of the bus before telling the driver.

Here are safety tips for motorists:

-Make sure you look all around your vehicle when you're backing out of your driveway or when you're leaving your garage.

-Always keep an eye out for children that are walking or bicycling along the side of the road to their bus stop.

-Drive slowly and stay alert when driving through school zones or residential neighborhoods.

-Always be ready to stop. Children can oftentimes forget about safe pedestrian etiquette and can dart out into the roadway before checking for oncoming traffic.

According to the National Safety Council, there are approximately 25 million students around the country that ride the school bus each day. In 2005 alone, there were more than 130 people killed in school bus-related traffic accidents. Another 11,000 people were injured in these types of incidents.

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Debates Continue - Are Red-Light Cameras Reducing Risks for Intersection Car Accidents in North Carolina?

August 11, 2011, by

"At every intersection where we've installed the cameras, we've seen significant decreases in T-bone crashes, the very serious type of crashes you can have when a driver runs a red light", said Mike Kennon, Raleigh's traffic engineer.

What the engineer failed to note was that the number of rear-end car accidents in Asheville and elsewhere have experienced an increase because motorists are slamming on their brakes so they're not caught by red-light cameras.
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Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that these cameras have been the topic of a heated debate for quite some time now. Those who support the cameras say that they're doing exactly what they're intended to do and are reducing the number of serious intersection accidents. Opposing parties claim that these cameras are causing more rear-end accident and they're only here to generate revenue for the city.

Sen. Don East, a Republican from Pilot Mountain and retired Winston-Salem traffic officer, opposes these cameras and says that they're not fair because drivers can't really challenge the $50 tickets that come in the mail.

"You ought to be able to say, 'Officer, are you right sure that light was red?" says East.

These cameras snap pictures of cars that enter the intersection once the light has turned red. The owner of the vehicle will receive a ticket and the photographic evidence in the mail. This violation is a civil infraction and has no effect on driving records or insurance rates.

Those who oppose the cameras say that they cause increased risks for rear-end collisions because drivers slam on the brakes to avoid a ticket. A North Carolina A&T State University study concludes that these cameras are indeed causing an increased number of intersection car accidents.

"My main concern, frankly, is just the safety of travelers," said Sen. Neal Hunt, a Raleigh Republican.

Raleigh and Cary officials report that the cameras have made drivers more careful to avoid running red lights at intersections.

Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat, recently said during a Senate debate that Raleigh police have recorded nearly 50 accidents during the four years before cameras were installed at Dawson and South streets. Since the cameras were installed, they've only recorded 16 accidents. At the intersection of Dawson and Morgan streets, the data from the same period fell from 42 accidents before the cameras to one crash afterward.

Fourteen cities were part of a recent study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, concluded that cameras have reduced the rate of fatal red light running crashes by nearly 25 percent. The study also concludes that more than 60 percent of those who were surveyed in Raleigh support the eye in the sky.

Regardless of personal experience, data shows that the number of fatal accidents has experienced a decrease at these intersections that have red-light cameras. Cameras or not, all motorists are asked to abide by all traffic signals and to be courteous towards other drivers on our roadways.

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Two Teens Killed by a Wrong-Way Driver in North Carolina Car Accident

August 5, 2011, by

A teen car accident in North Carolina killed two 17-year-old girls recently. The accident happened on U.S. 64 in Nash County, just east of Spring Hope, according to ABC 11.

A vehicle, carrying three teenagers, was struck by an oncoming vehicle that was heading westbound in the eastbound lanes of Highway 64. The backseat teenage passenger and driver were killed in the accident.
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Although this accident does not appear to be the fault of the teen driver, oftentimes teen do cause accidents because of their inexperience behind the wheel. Parents not only help their teens learn to drive safely and effectively, but they also play a large role in selecting a vehicle for their teen to drive.

Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that choosing a vehicle for your newly licensed teen driver can be a long and confusing process. With the help of a few little tricks, you and your teen can search for the perfect vehicle that will be cost friendly, stylish and safe.

First, you've got to figure out how much you are able to spend. This will oftentimes help to determine whether you're going to buy a new or a used vehicle.

Buying a brand new car will offer you more assurance against a breakdown, but a certified pre-owned vehicle can do just about the same. With a certified pre-owned car you will still get the advantages of a new-car like warranty.

"A first time driver doesn't need a new car, but of course they want one," says Lori Mackey, president of Prosperity4Kids. "The depreciation, probability of fender benders and the price tag [means new] is not the most logical way to go."

New cars will come with all the latest safety bells and whistles. Late-model used cars will still come equipped with airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control though, according to Forbes. A used car is also less like to come equipped with the kind of power and performance that could overwhelm a newly licensed driver.

"I see these young, inexperienced drivers in Mustangs, BMWs, and large SUVs. These automobiles are big, powerful and difficult to control for even experienced drivers. In the hands of a new driver, they can be deadly weapons," says LeeAnn Shattuck, co-owner and chief car chick with Women's Automotive Solutions.

So you've got a grasp on whether you want to go new or used, now it's time to think about what type of vehicle you might want. This is when you should consider how often and how far the car will be driven, how far is will typically be driven and how often it will be used.

It's a good idea for you to start by checking out safety and crash-test information from organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. You are highly urged to look at quality and reliability ratings from a measuring service such as J.D. Power and Associates.

"Choose a car with a responsive chassis -- one with good handling, quick steering and great brakes -- that takes advantage of a teen driver's naturally quick reaction skills," says Bob Gritzinger, executive editor of AutoWeek.com.

Your teen is typically the most protected in a mid-sized sedan with a four cylinder engine, airbags and a good crash test rating. The smaller the vehicle, the less likely it is to protect your teen in the event of an accident.

You should check out websites like Kelley Blue Book to find out how much these vehicles typically cost. Go out, look around and test drive. You shouldn't buy the first car you see. Shop around and enjoy the experience with your teen.

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