Complaints filed against North Carolina drivers of state-owned vehicles have more than quadrupled since 2006, but little comes from reporting sketchy behavior of drivers to the state.
A review of a decade’s worth of complaints by the Charlotte Observer revealed that out of 5,242 complaints, just two state workers have had their driving privileges revoked. In one case the driver was observed engaging in a sex act while in a state van. In the other, the driver was nabbed for speeding. As our injury lawyers in Charlotte have noted in an earlier post to our North Carolina Car Accident Blog, speeding is the leading cause of serious or fatal North Carolina car accidents.
In all other complaints, drivers denied allegations. In these instances drivers are rarely disciplined.
Government officials attribute the jump in filed complaints to good Samaritan gadflies using a prominently-displayed bumper sticker hotline and online complaint form to report questionable behavior. They also cite the economy as a motivator making people “extra vigilant these days” and more likely to report seeing a state vehicle somewhere it might not belong (like in a mall parking lot).
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation concluded a driver distraction study tied to commercial vehicles. An in-depth analysis evaluating the role of simple, moderate and complex driver distractions as contributors to serious or fatal car accidents nationwide determined that 78 percent of commercial vehicle traffic crashes are linked to some form of driver distraction. As mentioned, distractions were ranked by their complexity.
Simple distractions include:
~ Adjusting/removing sunglasses or reading glasses.
~ Smoking or using chewing tobacco.
~ Interaction with other occupants.
~ Adjusting jewelry or clothing.
~ Personal grooming.
~ Sipping from a drink.
Moderate distractions include:
~ Using or reaching for an electronic device, such as a radio.
~ Looking back into the cabin, or reaching for something in the back seat.
~ Lighting, looking for or putting out a cigarette.
~ Looking outside the vehicle but not at the road (scenery, animals, other drivers).
~ Talking on a hands-free phone.
Complex distractions include:
~ Sending a text message.
~ Writing on a pad.
~ Reading a map.
~ Dialing a cell phone.
~ Reading paperwork.
~ Rummaging through a bag or sack.
Summary finding determined the best way to help commercial drivers address the issue of distracted driving is through onsite education and awareness initiatives. Talking with employers and employees about the potential crash risks associated with even the most mundane tasks can help save lives.
The U.S. DOT also recommends fleet safety managers develop and implement a ban on use of in-vehicle electronics while a driver is on the road. In house improvements include designing dispatching mechanisms and instrument panels that are more easily accessible and user-friendly.
Specifically, drivers should:
~ Restrict use of dispatching devices.
~ Neither text nor manually dial a cell phone.
~ Not read, write or look at map.
The Lee & Smith personal injury attorneys in Albemarle, Reidsville and North Wilkesboro know that being involved in a serious or fatal Carolina accident, or losing a loved one to a serious or fatal injury accident, can be among the most challenging times in your life. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident, call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.