December 2010 Archives

December 31, 2010

Drunk Driving Accidents a New Year's Danger in North and South Carolina

The North Carolina Highway Patrol will be out in force in an effort to reduce the risk of drunk driving accidents in Raleigh and elsewhere in North Carolina over the New Year's weekend.

CBS9 reports the state's "Booze it and Lose it" campaign will be in full swing with officers working DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols statewide. In addition to drunk driving, law enforcement will also be looking for speeders and drivers who are too aggressive.
In South Carolina, the Post and Courier reports that checkpoints are slated to go up in Charleston, Dorchester and Colleton counties, among others.

There, the number of DUI arrests has skyrocketed, from 8,640 in 2006 to more than 15,000 so far in 2010.

Nationwide, drunk driving accidents account for about one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, a total of 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Somewhere in America a motorist is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes. North Carolina drunk driving accidents claimed 500 lives that year. Drunk driving accidents in South Carolina killed 463 and accounted for half of all traffic fatalities.

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December 28, 2010

More cars = More car accidents in North Carolina

Passenger vehicle registrations continually go up each year from state to state as most people rely on driving their own vehicle to get them where they need to go each day. In turn, with increased registrations comes the potential for North Carolina automobile accidents.

During the ten year span from 1999-2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 20% increase in passenger vehicle registrations across the board, with light trucks having the biggest increase of 38% (the bulk of the increase due to the increased popularity of SUV's during that time frame).
It should seem unlikely that fatality rates would decrease from 1999-2008 based on the number of registered vehicles but reports indicated there was a decline with the biggest decrease shown in passenger car occupant deaths going from 65% down to 58%.

In fact, the fatality rate for all passenger vehicles went from 16.06 in 1999 down to 10.57 in 2008 when taking into account the number of fatalities versus the number of registered passenger vehicles and miles traveled. The injury rate also had a dramatic decline for all passenger vehicles during this time frame going from 1,492 in 1999 down to 864 in 2008.

In 2008, the NHTSA reported that 58% of all fatalities occurring in passenger vehicles in the United States happened in passenger cars as opposed to the 42% that occurred in a light trucks (light trucks being defined as an SUV, pick-up truck, or van.)

North Carolina ranked near the top in fatalities occurring in passenger vehicles. There were a total of 1,033 passenger vehicles that resulted in a fatal crash killing at least one occupant. North Carolina was slightly higher than the national average with 61% of crash fatalities involving a passenger car. The state was slightly under the national average with 39% of fatalities occurring in light trucks in North Carolina.

Restraint use and the direction of impact, as well as the type of vehicle driven can all play a role in the number of fatalities that occur each year according to the NHTSA. The important thing to remember is that you can only control your own actions as a driver by choosing a vehicle you feel safe to drive, wearing your seat belt, and exhibiting the safest driving behavior as possible at all times when you are on the roadways.

Continue reading "More cars = More car accidents in North Carolina" »

December 25, 2010

Fewer car accidents in Charlotte like a gift at Christmas

Our Charlotte injury attorneys wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The 2009 census confirmed that Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina which would lead you to believe it's probably the most dangerous in terms of traffic fatalities and automobile crashes. On the contrary, Charlotte car accident attorneys are cautiously optimistic that the number of traffic accidents is in decline and that trend will continue.
According to the Charlotte Department of Transportation 2009 Traffic Safety Report fewer car crashes are occuring. Automobile crashes in Charlotte have decreased by 4,000 since 2007, which is good news.

It appears that the goal of Charlotte's DOT is to find and fix crash areas is working. Solutions can be as simple as changing the timing on a traffic light or adding an extra lane to the road way. The report showed that even though there were over 17,000 crashes in 2009, 65% were property damage only; 40 resulted in a fatality.

The 2009 report pointed out some interesting facts and demographics with regard to traffic accidents in Charlotte:

-March & October were the two worst crash months.

-Thursday & Friday were the two worst days of the week for crashes.

-5 p.m. is the worst crash time and 1 a.m. is the worst time for fatal crashes.

-Roads are dry 75% of the time but 70% of the crashes are during the day.

-Running off the road was the number one reason for fatal crashes (40%).

-Over half of the crashes were caused by either driver's inattention, failure to slow down or not giving the right of way.

Much of the work that Charlotte DOT does is to evaluate intersection safety. Through a complex High Accident Location (HAL) formula it identifies dangerous intersections. The worst intersection was found at East Martin Luther King Boulevard and South Davidson Street. This intersection has had 46 crashes in the last three years, even though there isn't much traffic when compared to other highly populated areas.

One concern is this intersection is very close to a school and can add to the dangers of children being dropped off or picked up during the week. Forewarning someone you know that may be affiliated with this school or drive in this area regularly just may prevent the next accident from happening.

Continue reading "Fewer car accidents in Charlotte like a gift at Christmas" »

December 23, 2010

Cary, North Carolina school bus accidents sends more than 30 students to hospital

A bus driver has been charged after a Cary, North Carolina bus accident involving three buses injured 38 students, Fox8 reported.

The Asheboro City School Bus rear-ended another Asheboro school bus, causing a chain-reaction collision that involved a third bus. More than 30 students were transported to area hospitals. The bus driver responsible for the accident was cited for failure to decrease speed as necessary to avoid colliding with another vehicle.

He will be fined $193 if convicted and has a court date scheduled for Feb. 10.

The crash happened as a total of 158 students from North Asheboro Middle School were going on a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. A fourth bus was not involved.

Many times, school bus accidents in North Carolina or school transportation accidents occur during field trips or other outings and not during regular scheduled morning or afternoon bus routes. Schools, busing companies and bus drivers still have an obligation to ensure the safe of students during such field trips. Earlier this year, a horrific school bus accident outside St. Louis killed several students and injured more than 50 after one of the buses slammed into a semi during a field trip to an amusement park. Two school buses were involved in that accident.

In the Cary accident, uninjured students, teachers and chaperones were taken to a Marriott until school officials could arrange for their transportation back to school.

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December 21, 2010

Drowsy driving a risk for holiday car accidents in North Carolina

Drowsy driving is one cause of North Carolina car accidents that could easily be eliminated this holiday season.

Why is drowsy driving dangerous? Think about the last time you had to do a task when you were really tired and you really didn't feel like doing it. As a result, you may have finished the task just to get it over with; not really caring how well it was done. It's possible you may have even forgotten how to do it or were annoyed at the task because of feeling fatigued. It would certainly complicate things if driving was the task at hand under these circumstances.
But the most critical factor is that a drowsy driver may fall asleep behind the wheel, without warning and at any time. Safety advocates estimate more than 5,000 motorists a year are killed as a result. Our Charlotte injury lawyers urge you to get plenty of rest and to stop driving as soon as your feel yourself getting sleepy.

Now an advocate for not driving drowsy, Nate Irving knows first-hand the dangers involved when you get in a vehicle and are too tired to drive. Nate is an N.C. State football linebacker who over the summer decided to take a 90 mile trip when he was tired. That decision almost cost him his life. He was 2/3 the way home when he fell asleep at the wheel. He was knocked unconscious and suffered shoulder, rib, leg and lung injuries. He later learned his SUV hit two trees.

If you are planning a long driving trip AAA recommends getting a good night's sleep. Don't drive overnight if you aren't use to driving at night. You should always have an awakened companion. Lastly, you should stop every few hours and stop if you get tired.

In 2009, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 730 crashes nationwide and 1875 fatalities caused by drowsy driving. However, authorities acknowledge that the issue is drastically under-reported.

If you feel, or you observe another driver exhibiting any of the following drowsy driver warning signs it is time to stop the vehicle and take a break:

-Yawning, eye rubbing, constant blinking.

-Bobbing your head, being restless, eyelids feel heavy.

-Lack of focus, passing your exit, running through traffic signals.

-Poor driving habits, leaving your lane, running over rumble strips, tailgating.

Continue reading "Drowsy driving a risk for holiday car accidents in North Carolina" »

December 19, 2010

Holiday travel, aggressive driving, increases risk of North Carolina car accidents

All too often you look in your rearview mirror while you are driving and you see a vehicle right on your back bumper. The next thing you know the impatient driver is pulling around passing you in the left lane and an oncoming vehicle is coming right at them.

Fear sets in because either the passing vehicle is going to clip your front bumper and cut you off or they are going to be in a head-on collision with another vehicle. As a result, all three drivers are forced to react to the situation and most times it isn't the aggressive driver who adopts proper driving etiquette. It's the defensive driver who often swerves or brakes abruptly for the convenience of the other driver to change lanes safely. Car accident attorneys in North Carolina often wonder what is the compelling force behind this kind of aggressive driving.
And yet it is often on display during the heavy holiday travel scene. Give yourself and others a break and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.

The Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that North Carolina is 1 of 14 states in the U.S. that has addressed aggressive driving.

Each state defines what they consider aggressive driving acts; usually at least two acts must take place. In North Carolina, you have to be speeding and driving carelessly (meaning with no regard for others safety) as well as be doing two of the following: tailgate, run a stop sign or red light, not yield the right of way or pass illegally.

There is a big difference between road rage and aggressive driving. When we are driving aggressively we are committing traffic offenses (speeding, running a stop sign, tailgating). Road rage is an assault, or a criminal act to another person or vehicle (crashing into a vehicle on purpose, using a jack handle to smash someone's window) as a result of aggressive driving behavior.

WCNC reported earlier this year a road rage incident amongst teenagers. An argument between 5 teenagers in an SUV and the teenage driver of another vehicle escalated into gun fire when the lone teenage driver approached the group in the SUV. Luckily no one was seriously injured.

Don't be a victim of road rage by taking this advice:

-Don't ever confront an aggressive driver.

-Don't make eye contact with a driver showing aggressive behavior.

-Never make a gesture back at them.

-Don't block the path if you see someone driving too closely.

-Call the police if you feel you are in danger.

Continue reading "Holiday travel, aggressive driving, increases risk of North Carolina car accidents" »

December 16, 2010

Be alert to North Carolina nursing home conditions during holiday visits

Many of us will visit nursing homes in North and South Carolina this holiday season. For others, visiting an elderly loved one at a holiday gathering will make it apparent that an assisting living facility or nursing home will soon be necessary.

Our North Carolina nursing home neglect attorneys urge you to remain vigilant when visiting nursing facilities through the holidays. It is up to each one of us to police a system dominated by for-profit homes and large chain corporations. Most facilities receive more visits at Christmas than at any other time of year. If you have concerns, we encourage you to speak to an elder abuse advocate, a law enforcement official or a nursing home abuse attorney.
The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services reports there are over 300 nursing homes in North Carolina. The average cost of nursing home care is $41,000 a year, just below the national average of $43,000. Unfortunately, patients cannot always count on quality care. And, tragically, older adults are sometimes unwilling or unable to take the steps necessary to correct a neglectful or abusive situation.

In fact, earlier this year the state acknowledged it was not doing enough to combat nursing home neglect and abuse and it adopted tough new standards, making it harder for a nursing home to earn a Four-Star rating through the state, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Here is a list of North Carolina nursing homes.

Here is the North Carolina nursing home patients' bill of rights.

Signs of nursing home neglect or abuse in North Carolina:

-Unsanitary conditions

-Unexplained bruising, broken bones or health complications

-Bed sores, infections or sepsis

-High staff turnover

-Reluctance to leave patients along for visits

-Delays in being permitted to see patients


-Patients in overmedicated states

-Unexplained changes in behavior

-Unexplained financial transactions

Continue reading "Be alert to North Carolina nursing home conditions during holiday visits" »

December 13, 2010

Shoppers beware elevator and escalator accidents in North Carolina

Few of us give any thought to using an elevator or escalator in a department store, mall or residential building. But the fact is, North Carolina elevator and escalator accidents are a common risk, particularly for children and older adults.

The holiday shopping season brings more people to the mall than at any other time of the year. Wet floors, crowding and poor maintenance are just a few of the causes of elevator and escalator accidents. Our Charlotte injury lawyers wish each of you an enjoyable holiday season and urge you to pay extra attention to children and the elderly around elevators and escalators.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that more than 17,000 people a year are injured each year in accidents on escalators or elevators.

Safety tips include:

-Clothing can be caught in elevators or escalators. Secure loose items, including shoestrings, scarves and long coats.

-Avoid edges, where entrapment most frequently occurs.

-Know where the emergency shutoff is located.

-Always supervise a child on an elevator or escalator.

-Do not allow a child to play on an escalator or elevator.

-Do not sit on escalator steps or handrails.

-Never ride an escalator with a stroller, handcart or other device.

-Face forward and use handrails.

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December 10, 2010

North Carolina mall accidents a holiday danger

As we enter the final shopping days before Christmas, shoppers are at increased risk of mall accidents in North Carolina as retailers continue to advertise heavy discounts and customers flock to crowded stores in cold, wet and snowy weather.

As we reported recently on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, shoppers are at high risk of parking lot accidents through the holiday season. And our North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyers Blog even reported a warning that was issued by the government, reminding retailers of their responsibility for the safety of employees and guests.
Business owners must work to reduce the risk of premise liability accidents in North Carolina through the remainder of the holiday shopping season.

North Carolina premise liability cases include:

-Slip and fall accidents

-Elevator and escalator accidents

-Wet floors

-Uneven sidewalks or parking lots

-Faulty railings or stairs

-Merchandise falling from high shelves

-Evacuation injuries

-Negligent security

-Assault on business property.

Business and property owners must work to clear ice and snow from their properties and make sure stairwells, parking lots and other areas are well maintained. When someone is injured because of a negligent condition on business property, the victim should be compensated for the injuries that result.

Continue reading "North Carolina mall accidents a holiday danger" »

December 8, 2010

Winter weather a contributing factor in many North Carolina car accidents

Winter weather descended upon North Carolina just days after Gov. Purdue declared Nov. 28-Dec. 4 as "Winter Weather Preparedness Week" and urged North Carolina residents and business owners to be prepared to stay warm in the event of severe winter weather.

As if on cue, snow, slush and ice have carpeted North Carolina. Snow closures spanned elementary schools to Appalachian State University and quickly spread across the state. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile scenic route that winds its way through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, was closed earlier in the week due to snowy conditions.
The Charlotte Observer reports that highway patrol responded to more than 500 North Carolina car accidents this past weekend, many of them along the Parkway.

As our Asheville car accident lawyers are aware, Western Carolina - particularly around the Asheville area - has been hard hit with traffic fatalities this year. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Asheville Police Department Traffic Safety Unit has investigated a record-breaking 17 fatal car accidents so far this year.

Based on last year's weather pattern, North Carolina Crime Control and Public Safety Secretary Reuben Young anticipates that North Carolina will enjoy several snowfalls this year, and recalls that "our mountains and foothills were especially hard hit in December and January".

To help North Carolina motorists and residents stay warm and safe during the snowy season, Young offers a few tips to help families prepare:

~ Stock up on fresh batteries for flashlights and battery-powered weather radios. Test your 'back-up' heating equipment before the power goes out.

~ If you're relying on a fireplace, keep a fire extinguisher handy.

~ Proper ventilation is critical to preventing carbon monoxide exposure if you are using electric or fuel-powered alternative heating. Never use outdoor heating sources indoors.

~ Keep at least three-days worth of non-perishable food items (and plenty of water) on hand. If you are stuck at home with no power, dress in layers so you can easily add or remove clothes as necessary to stay warm.

~ Stay abreast of current driving conditions by internet, local news or radio. Don't drive if you know your tires can't handle road conditions.

~ Pack an emergency kit for you that includes - a change of clothes, a blanket, snacks and fluids. Make sure your cell phone is charged.

~ Pack an emergency kit for your vehicle that includes - jumper cables, tow rope, flares, a small shovel, a flashlight (don't forget fresh batteries), a first aid kit and a sack of cat litter or sand or salt (for traction if you get stuck).

Continue reading "Winter weather a contributing factor in many North Carolina car accidents" »

December 5, 2010

One-in-five victims of North Carolina car accident fatalities test positive for drugs

As our Winston- Salem car accident attorneys frequently discuss in posts to our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers blog, state law enforcement and legislators have taken an aggressive approach to combat the incidence of North Carolina drunk driving car accidents.

What a recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study revealed, however, is that while plenty of attention is paid to drunk driving initiatives, the role of drug intoxication garners very little attention. And given that post-mortem examination of fatally injured drivers nationwide revealed that in 2009 one-in-five of all deceased drivers tested positive for drug involvement, the NHTSA has decided to take note, and action.
"Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Today's report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk."

Strickland added that drug testing procedures are evolving. No state-by-state cohesiveness exists regarding the scope of testing, the type of testing, how tests are evaluated, and what merits a positive or negative result. Nor does the presence of drugs in a person's system mean the driver was impaired or that the drugs play a causative role in the fatal car crash.

The government reports that six-in-ten of the 21,798 drivers who were fatally injured in car accidents last year were screened for drugs, including illegal narcotics, legally prescribed and over-the-counter drugs. Of those, 18 percent tested positive.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation of 349,329 drivers involved in crashes in 2008, 9,422 were impaired due to alcohol, medication or drugs. Of those, 272 were involved in fatal North Carolina car accidents and another 4,998 were injured.

Of particular concern is the number of fatal car accidents where drug played a role. Since 2005, the incidence of drug-involved crashes in the U.S. has increased by nearly 33 percent, from 13 percent to 18 percent. Conversely, the number of overall fatal car accidents has fallen.

"Drugged driving is a much bigger public health threat than most Americans realize and unfortunately, it may be getting worse," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. Kerlikowske is urging a multi-platform, multi-agency, state-to-state approach that "...increased public awareness, employs more targeted enforcement, and develops better tools to detect the presence of drugs among drivers."

Continue reading "One-in-five victims of North Carolina car accident fatalities test positive for drugs" »

December 2, 2010

North Carolina premises liability accidents a shopping hazard

As our Raleigh car accident attorneys noted in an earlier posting to our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers blog, shopping mall parking lots are a common location for a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, one out of every 10 pedestrians involved in a North Carolina car accident is killed. In 2008, 169 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents statewide.
Few times of the year are more dangerous for pedestrians than the holiday season when drivers and shoppers are often more focused on hot-ticket sales, party planning or their houseful of visitors than the road. Of course, the time change that comes with Daylight Savings plays some role in wintertime pedestrian-involved accidents, but nearly 15 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur when the victim steps from behind a parked car and another 28.4 percent of deaths happen in pedestrian crosswalks.

Regardless of the holi-daze of fellow drivers and shoppers, business and shop owners and mall management each have an obligation to maintain a safe environment that extends beyond store walls. This includes parking lot security and road maintenance.

The National Retail Foundation reminds everyone a good plan will do much to make holiday shopping more a pleasure than a pain. Some simple tips they suggest include:

~ Just like Santa - make a list! Before you hit the stores, know who you are buying gifts for and how much you've budgeted to spend on each person. Stay with the list!

~ Do your homework. Before shopping, go online and compare prices and read up on consumer reviews. Know each store's return/exchange policy. Keep all your receipts in one place.

~ If you are sending gifts in the mail and want them to arrive before the holiday is over, head to the post office now.

~ Shop safely. If you're going shopping at night, bring a buddy. Try to park in a well-lit area that is well populated. Remember where you park! If you are concerned with getting to your car after dark, ask a security officer to escort you to your vehicle.

~ Wear comfortable shoes, preferably with skid-resistant soles. Watch where you put your wallet and how you carry your purse. Stash credit cards, debit cards, ID and cash in a secure place. If you must leave packages or valuables in your car, put them in the trunk or other out-of-sight spot to help dissuade thieves.

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