June 2009

Failure to Check Blind Spots Can Result in Tragic North Carolina Car Crashes and Pedestrian Deaths

June 30, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A blind spot is the area that the driver can’t see from his or her seat. While some motor vehicles, such as large trucks, pickup trucks, minivans, buses, and SUV’s have larger blind spots than others, all motor vehicles have blind spots. Cars that have higher rears, large headrests, and small windows also have blind spots that make it difficult for drivers to see certain areas around them.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18% of US traffic crashes involve drivers that were changing lanes but did not see that there was a motor vehicle next to them. This type of traffic accident is called a “sideswipe” collision, which frequently occurs because a motorist had a blind spot and did not check and/or failed to see the other vehicle.

Failure to ensure that there is no one in a vehicle’s blind spot can also lead to a motorist backing over a person. Kids and Cars says about two children a week are killed in back-over accidents, with at least 49 others injured. Between 2001 and 2006, 474 kids died in backover incidents.

It is the responsibility of all motorists to make sure that there is no one in their blind spot when changing lanes, backing out of a driveway or parking space, or driving their vehicle in reverse. A driver that causes a North Carolina injury accident can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death.

Steps that North Carolina motorists can take to reduce or eliminate blind spots:
• Adjust your mirrors so that you will be able to see as much of the view to the side and back of your vehicle as possible.
• Make sure that you still look over your shoulders so that you don’t miss anything that your mirrors don’t allow you to see; check that it is safe to take your eyes off the front of the road when you do this.
• Make sure that your car is not in another vehicle’s blind spot. Slow down or pull ahead if you do find yourself in another motorist’s blind zone.
• If you are backing up, do so slowly and if you feel even the slightest bump, stop your vehicle. You may have hit a young child.

If you or someone you love was injured because a motorist didn’t see what was in their blind spot, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation.

Driver Training: Managing Blind Spots, National Safety Commission, June 25, 2009

Keeping Kids Safe – Backover, NHTSA

Related Web Resources:
Kids and Cars

Vehicle Blind Spots Pose Dangers, ABC News, May 30, 2007

Booze It and Lose It: North Carolina Police to Target Drunk Drivers

June 27, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Police in North Carolina will be spend June 29 through July 5 targeting drunk drivers. The Booze It and Lose It: Operation Firecracker campaign is an effort to decrease the number of driving accidents that occur around the 4th of July holiday.

Last year, there were 377 North Carolina drunk driving-related collisions for that week. 12 people died. As part of their efforts, police will increase patrols and set up checkpoints.

In Alexander and Iredell counties, there was a 20% increase in drunk driving accidents over a one-year period. Troopers increased their efforts to catch drunken drivers, and in just one week, 31 people were arrested for impaired driving.

Drunk Driving Facts
Although (according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving) there was a decrease in the number of North Carolina alcohol-related deaths—from 489 to 392—between 2007 and 2008, drunken driving accidents still happen in the state on a regular basis. Statesville Police Officer Adam Dillard tells the Mooresville Tribune, “impaired driving is not an accident,” and it is a crime that is not “victimless.”

Just this Monday, two members of the band Dr. Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys were hurt in a hit and run North Carolina car accident when a drunk driver that was speeding rear-ended the vehicle they were riding in. Their SUV ended up going down a three-story embankment into a creek while the other driver took off.

Fiddler Dewey Brown sustained minor injuries, but his pregnant wife Leslie and Dr. Ralph Stanley’s 16-year-old grandson Nathan, a mandolin player, sustained more serious injuries. Both of Nathan’s legs are broken and Leslie sustained shoulder injuries and broke her femur.

The driver accused of hit and run is 25-year-old Alejandro Perez Sosa. He was apprehended and charged with felony hit and run, reckless driving, speeding, and driving under the influence. At the time of his arrest, Perez’s blood alcohol content was 0.14. The legal BAC limit is .08%.

On June 18 in Durham, it was a North Carolina Highway Patrol Officer who was charged with drunk driving after he hit another car. Trooper John C. Fogg was off duty when police say he crashed a vehicle into another car on the Durham Freeway. His BAC was reportedly .17%.

NC Highway Patrol Officer Arrested For Drunk Driving, Raleigh Telegram, June 27, 2009

Patrols to target drunk drivers during holiday week, Mooresville Tribune, June 26, 2009

Members Of Ralph Stanley’s Band Rear-Ended By Drunk Driver In N.C., TriCities.com, June 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:
North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Dr. Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys

Decreasing the Number of North Carolina Car Accidents: State Bans Text Messaging While Driving

June 22, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Decreasing the Number of North Carolina Car Accidents: State Bans Text Messaging While Driving

Beginning December 1, North Carolina drivers will no longer be allowed to text message or e-mail while driving. The statewide ban was announced on Friday, after Governor Beverly Perdue signed the new law. The ban on text messaging will hopefully decrease the number of North Carolina car accidents caused by this modern, bad habit.

Not only is texting while driving rapidly becoming a common cause of US motor vehicle crashes, but even though the public is now aware of how deadly this form of distracted driving can be, many drivers still continue to text and drive at the same time.

80% of motorists are reportedly are in favor of laws banning texting while driving, yet two out of five drivers admit to sending, receiving, composing, or reading texts while behind the steering wheels of their vehicles. AAA Carolinas says that one out of five motorists does not pay 100% attention to the road. Combine driver inattention with a motorist that has one or both hands off the steering wheel while texting in rush hour traffic and the consequences can be catastrophic. Also, just recently, The RAC Foundation recently reported that texting while driving impairs the reaction times of drivers more than if they were to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Under North Carolina’s new law, a school bus driver that sends texts or e-mails while operating a bus will be charged with a misdemeanor and must pay a $100 fine. North Carolina drivers caught texting while in any other kind of vehicle will be fined $100.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, so far this year seven US states have made it illegal for motorists to text and drive at the same time. To date, 14 US states ban people from typing away on their cell phones or PDA’s while operating a motor vehicle.

Texting while driving is negligent driving. If someone you love was seriously injured or died in a North Carolina car crash because a driver was texting or talking on the cell phone, there may be grounds for personal injury or wrongful death recovery.

Texting at wheel illegal on Dec. 1, News and Observer, June 20, 2009

NC gov. warns texters: ‘Hope u r not driving now’, Gainesville.com, June 19, 2009

Text driving ‘worse than drink’, BBC, September 18, 2008

Related Web Resources:
RAC Foundation

Governors Highway Safety Association

North Carolina Car Accident Law Firm: Police Issue 13,654 Seat Belt Citations During “Click It or Ticket” Campaign

June 17, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The results are in from North Carolina’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign.According to the final statewide total, 13,654 seat belt citations and 1,478 child passenger safety citations were issued. Other citations included:

• 2,200 citations to motorists for driving while impaired.
• 6,309 criminal violations

The statewide campaign to promote seat belt use took place from May 18 – 31, 2009, with multiple checkpoints set up in the different counties.

Just last month, the US Department of Transportation issued findings from one of its recent studies estimating that 22,372 serious injuries and 1,652 deaths could be prevented each year if only 90% of the vehicle occupants in each state wore seat belts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, North Carolina had a 89.8% seat belt usage rate for last year, which is its highest rate to date.

Seat belt use is very important. For infants and toddlers, it is equally important to make sure that they are securely fastened in their child safety seats in the event of a motor vehicle crash.

Unfortunately, people can still get hurt in North Carolina car crashes even if they were wearing their safety belts. Motor vehicle crashes is one of the leading causes of catastrophic injuries and deaths, so it is important that you know your legal options for financial recovery if you were injured in a traffic collision that was caused by another party’s careless actions.

This liable party may be a truck driver, another car driver, a motorcyclist, a train operator, a pedestrian, the North Carolina city where the car crash occurred, or an auto manufacturer. For example, if your injuries during a North Carolina car crash were further exacerbated because the seat belt you were using was defective, you may have grounds for filing an auto products liability lawsuit against the negligent seat belt manufacturer or car maker.

Common seat belt defects that can prove deadly:

• Inertial unlatching
• Seat belt fails to lock
• Too much belt slack

15,000 Cited In Seat Belt Campaign, WXII12.com, June 5, 2009

New Study: Higher Seat Belt Use Could Save Many Lives, NHTSA, May 14, 2009

Related Web Resources:
The Increase in lives, injuries prevented, and cost savings if seat belt use rose to at least 90% in all states, NHTSA, May 2009 (PDF)

Our Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyers would like to talk to you about your motor vehicle accident case.

Charlotte Woman Found Guilty of Causing Fatal North Carolina Hit and Run Accident

June 13, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A Charlotte woman has been sentenced to spend at least 27 years in prison for causing a deadly North Carolina hit and run crash. A Gaston County jury found Charla Davis guilty of second-degree murder, reckless driving, DWI driving with a revoked license, two counts of felony hit and run causing death, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

The fatal Charlotte, North Carolina DWI car crash occurred last year. Ronnie Eudy, a truck driver, had stopped his truck to assist another driver that was having a seizure or stroke on Wilkinson Boulevard Bridge. Davis is accused of hitting Eudy, killing him, as well as causing injury to the man he was helping and to two other people before she fled the crash scene.

Davis is also accused of consuming two mixed drinks and four beers at Tony’s Bar prior to the deadly drunk driving accident. According to the prosecution, her BAC level was .18—which is more than double the legal limit. Because a BAC test was not administered at the crash site, however, Davis’s lawyer said there is no evidence that she was drunk.

The deadly auto collision was not Davis’s first DWI offense. Previous to this incident, she had four other DWI convictions. Last November, she was given the opportunity to plead guilty to second-degree murder accompanied by 14 to 18 years in prison, but she turned down the plea offer. Her conviction comes with a lengthier sentence.

Hit and Run Accidents
By law, drivers involved in a motor vehicle crash are supposed to stop at a crash site. Leaving a crash scene—especially when someone is hurt—can be an issue of life and death if the injured party is in need of medical attention. An experienced North Carolina car accident law firm can help you deal with your case involving a hit and run driver or any other negligent party.

Charla Davis found guilty on all charges, WBTV, June 11, 2009

Man on phone with 911 when struck and killed, MSNBC, June 9, 2009

Related Web Resources:
North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles

North Carolina General Statutes

Charlotte, North Carolina Car Accident Law Firm Awards 10 College Scholarships to Students for Underage Drinking and Driving Essays

June 9, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Every year, our North Carolina injury law firm awards $25,000 in college scholarships to graduating high school seniors scholarships under the Michael A. DeMayo Scholarship Program. This year, 10 students received $2,500 each for their winning essays about ways to prevent underage drinking and driving.

Attorney Michael DeMayo presented the winning students with their scholarship checks at a May 28 dinner at Mama Ricotta’s in Charlotte. This year’s winners included Michelle Austin from Hopewell High School in Mecklenburg, Elizabeth Henry from Provide Day School in Mecklenburg, Annalise Farris from North Lincoln High School in Lincoln, India Prather from Monroe High School in Union, Lauren Houston from South Caldwell High School in Caldwell, Kaley Rivera from South Point High School in Gaston, Kaitlin Price from Gray Stone Day School in Stanly, Jennifer Telschow from E. E. Waddell High School in Mecklenburg, Erin Sturgess from Hickory Christian Academy in Catawba, and Jaclyn Wright from Marvin Ridge High School in Union.

Underage Drinking Facts (NHTSA):
• Thousands of teenagers are injured or killed in US traffic accidents because of underage drinking.
• In 2006, 1,377 of the 7,543 15- to 20-year old US drivers and motorcyclists that were involved in deadly auto crashes had a BAC of .08%.
• It is illegal for people under age 21 to drink alcohol.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 16- to 19-years-olds belong to one of the more high risk groups that are likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash. Combine youth, inexperience, and/or a tendency to become easily distracted with the side effects that come from drinking alcohol and you could end up with a deadly combination if a drunk teenager gets behind the steering wheel of a car.

Our North Carolina personal injury law firm applauds our winners’ ideas about how to prevent teen driving accidents from happening. Our Charlotte car accident attorneys witness on a regular basis the tragic repercussions that can result from drunk driving. We know that nothing can assuage the loss felt by our clients that have lost children in tragic motor vehicle crashes. Our scholarship program gives us a way to help teenagers make better decisions, hopefully decreasing the number of North Carolina teen drunk driving accidents.

Related Web Resources:
Teen Drivers – Youth Access To Alcohol

Teen Drivers, CDC