December 2009

Distracted Driving May Be Culprit in North Carolina Train Accident that Claimed Lives of Young Mother and Her 5-Year-Old

December 31, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Witnesses say distracted driving may have contributed to causing the deadly Orange County, North Carolina train accident on December 22 that killed 26-year-old Erin Lindsey-Calkins and her five-year-old son Nicholas. Aven, her 4-month-old daughter, was pulled out of the wreckage.

According to witnesses, Lindsay-Calkins, an Efland resident, was using her cell phone as she drove toward the rail crossing. This could be the reason why though the crossing gate arm was down and the warning bells and lights went off she drove under the arm. Her vehicle then came to a stop on the train tracks and that is when an Amtrak Carolinian struck her vehicle. Nicholas was thrown from the car.

Distracted Driving
Driving while talking on a cell phone can be very dangerous. This distracted driving activity has been compared to drunk driving. One study reports that talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle increases a motorist’s crash risk by up to eight times.

Although people are aware of the dangers of talking on the cell phone or text messaging, many motorists continue to practice distracted driving because they don’t really comprehend that they can hurt themselves or others as a result. According to a UNC Highway Safety Research Center survey, almost 60% of adult drivers in the state have admitted to using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

While there is now a statewide ban on texting or e-mailing while driving in North Carolina, only minor drivers and school bus operators are banned from using a cell phone while driving. Unlike some other states, there is no ban on handheld cell phones.

This week, the federal government launched The Web site is dedicated to fighting distracted driving through education, information, and awareness.

A driver can be held liable for causing a North Carolina car accident if he or she was engaged in distracted driving at the time of the collision. Some other examples of distracted driving include fidding with a stereo or GPS device, reading, putting on making-up, or applying nail polish. These seemingly harmless activities have resulted in injuries and deaths.

Train victim was on her cell phone,, December 31, 2009

Woman, child killed in train collision, ABC Local, December 22, 2009

Cellphones and Driving, Insurance Information Institute, December 2009

Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, GHSA

To Prevent North Carolina and South Carolina Motor Vehicle Crashes in Winter Weather, Our Charlotte Car Crash Lawyers Want to Remind Motorists to Drive Carefully

December 21, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Following Friday’s winter storm, it is important that South Carolina and North Carolina motorists be extra careful when driving in such dangerous road conditions. Black ice can be found on city and county roads, as well as overpasses and bridges, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation and State Highway Patrol doesn’t expected the treacherous conditions to disappear.

Motorists cannot do anything to improve the road conditions or the weather, but they are still responsible for driving safely to and from their destinations. With such hazardous road conditions to contend with, drivers cannot afford to drive drunk, text while driving, talk on a handheld cellular device, speed, or engage in any other form of distracted driving or careless motor vehicle operation. One reckless or careless act can lead to a North Carolina car crash that can cause serious injury, perhaps even destroying someone’s life.

In the event that you or someone you love is seriously injured in a North Carolina car accident or a South Carolina motor vehicle collision, do not hesitate to contact our Charlotte, North Carolina auto crash lawyers to schedule your free consultation.

Driving Safely in Snow and Ice:

• Winterize your auto.
• When necessary, use tire chains or winter tires.
• Drive slower than you usually would and adjust your speed to the road conditions.
• Pay attention.
• When slowing down to stop or turn, do so three times earlier than your normal routine.
• Keep a safe distance with the vehicle in front of you.
• Make sure your windows are clean and clear.
• Be on the lookout for extra wet or icy patches on the road.

Snowstorm cleanup in the Carolinas, Count on News2, December 21, 2009

Icy roads, closed schools in western N.C., Charlotte Observer, December 20, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Preparing for Winter Driving – How to Drive in Snow and Ice, SafeMotorist

Winter Driving Tips, AAA Exchange

Hope Mills, North Carolina Car Accident Claims Fourth Fatality

December 16, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A fourth person has died from injuries sustained during a tragic Hope Mills car accident last week. Brooke Paquin, whose boyfriend, Tristan Hanna, also was killed in the motor vehicle crash passed away on Saturday.

Brooke and Tristan were heading to Wrightsville Beach when, according to witnesses, Hanna’s vehicle accelerated to 65 mph, which was over 20 mph above the speed limit, before driving into oncoming traffic and striking the vehicle carrying Hien Truong, his wife Huyen, and baby daughter Hannah, who was about to celebrate her first birthday.

Hien, Hannah, and Tristan all died that night. Huyen was transported to a hospital where she was admitted in critical condition. Tristan’s father says his son, who has epilepsy, may have been having a seizure when the deadly North Carolina car accident happened.

At least 11 other people died in North Carolina car crashes last week. Among the fatalities:

• A three-vehicle Wake Forest auto wreck on Highway 1 claimed the life of Robert Ernesto Harris.

• Two people, Bryan William Meyer and Justin Christopher Thomas Dufur, were killed in a single-vehicle Raleigh auto accident. According to police, Dufur was driving 15 mph above the 45 mph speed limit.

• Melinda Grossman was fatally struck while trying to pick up a cat that had been struck by another auto. The Carrboro traffic crash victim was 60.

• 16-year-old passenger Gavin Boyd Westover died from injuries he sustained in a Knightdale auto crash.

• Two young siblings, 6-year-old Hassan Bingham and 9-year-old Calvin Brandon, died in a Durham train crash when a train hit their mom’s SUV.

Week of wrecks leaves 15 people dead, WRAL, December 14, 2009

Father: Seizure may have led to fatal Hope Mills wreck, WRAL, December 14, 2009

Fourth person dies of injuries from Hope Mills crash, FayObserver, December 13, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Car Accidents, Justia

North Carolina State Highway Patrol

National Safety Commission

Driver Accused of Causing Fatal Raleigh Car Accident Has a History of Speeding

December 15, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the, the driver charged with involuntary manslaughter, careless and reckless driving, and misdemeanor death by vehicle for allegedly causing the head-on Raleigh car accident that claimed the life of motorist Teresa Bagley Weintraub has a history of speeding. State records show that 24-year-old Aleksey Glazunov has been ticketed seven times for speeding since April 2005.

The North Carolina auto collision report estimates that Glazunov was driving about 20 mph above the speed limit on the night of December 2 when, while trying to pass a number of motor vehicles, he lost control of his car and drove off the road. In an attempt to get back on, he appears to have overcorrected his vehicle and driven into oncoming traffic.

While Glazunov was able to avoid striking several cars, he lost control of his auto again, drove off the road again, and drove back onto the road again, where he collided head on with Weintraub’s vehicle. The 57-year-old North Carolina car accident victim was taken to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Driving even a few miles above the legal speed limit can increase the chances that a driver will lose control of his or her auto. For every 10 mph faster than 50 mph that a motorist travels, the driver doubles his or her fatality risk in the event of a car crash. The faster a driver is going, the longer it will take to stop the vehicle when abruptly stepping on the brakes, the greater the force of impact, and the more serious the injuries that can be sustained.

Speeding causes undue stress, places people’s lives at risk, and can prevent someone from ever arriving at their destination. Why gamble the rest of your life on getting someplace just a few minutes earlier?

Charges added in fatal accident, NewsObserver, December 11, 2009

Man charged in fatal head-on crash, ABC Local, December 4, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Get up to speed on driving too fast

Q&As: Speed and speed limits, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

“Tree of Life” Remembers 1,453 North Carolina Car Accident Victims that Died in 2008 as State Troopers Get Ready for "Booze It & Lose It” Campaign

December 8, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

On December 4, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program presented the “Tree of Life,” which is dedicated to the people that were killed in North Carolina car accidents in 2008. The tree stands on the State Capitol lawn in Raleigh and is decorated with 1,453 lights. 440 of the lights are red to note the people that were killed by drunk drivers.

Friday also marked the beginning of North Carolina’s “Booze It & Lose It” campaign, which runs until January 3, 2010 and targets drunk drivers. Throughout the US this holiday season, federal and local safety and enforcement officials will be participating in similar initiatives to prevent drunk driving accidents.

On Monday, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reminded drivers that there is nothing wrong with having fun as long as you don’t drive when you are drunk. While the national drunken driving rate dropped 7% between 2007 and 2008, too many people are still getting killed in drunk driving accidents.

Drunk driving accidents are preventable.

Nationwide, the drunk driving campaign “Over the Limit. Under Arrest” began yesterday and runs through the holiday season. Some $7 million in national radio and TV ads will air from December 16, 2009 – January 7, 2010 to remind people not to drive while impaired.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were:

• Out of the 1,231 North Carolina motor vehicle deaths in 2008, 423 of the North Carolina car accident victims died in collisions involving alcohol-impaired motorists.
• 1,676 North Carolina traffic deaths in 2007.
• 497 2007 North Carolina car accidents deaths involving drunk drivers.
• 403 South Carolina drunk driving fatalities in 2008.
• 920 2008 South Carolina car accident deaths.
• 403 South Carolina drunk driving fatalities in 2008.
• 464 South Carolina drunk driving fatalities in 2007.
• 1,077 2007 South Carolina car accident deaths.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces Intensive Holiday Drunk & Impaired Driving Crackdown & Advertising Blitz, NHTSA, December 7, 2009

Drunken driving fatalities down 7% in USA, USA Today, December 7, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Fatalities and Fatality Rates in Alcohol- Impaired-Driving Crashes by State, 2007-2008, NHTSA (PDF)

Governor’s Highway Safety Program

Minivan Tire Blowout Kills Six People and Injures 9 in Rollover Accident

December 2, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A deadly tire blowout on Saturday caused the driver to lose control of a minivan which rolled over a number of times, ejecting 13 kids from the motor vehicle. All 13 minors were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the car crash. Two adults who were wearing safety belts were in the car with them.

Killed in the rollover accident were 38-year-old Mona Hines and 14-year-old Ashley Hines, 14-year-old Edward Barnes, 12-year-od Lachante Floyd, 12-year-old Ariel Hines, and 2-year-old Ricky Hines Jr. The 8 other kids were also hurt in the car crash, six of them with serious injuries. 28-year-old Stacy Hines was also injured. All of the car accident victims are related.

Tire Blowouts
Tire blowouts can lead to catastrophic car accidents. They can cause a tire to lose control of the vehicle, which can cause a driver to go off the road or roll over.

While it is important that a motorist make sure that tires are properly maintained, there are certain tire defects that a car maker or tire manufacturer can be held liable for if personal injuries or wrongful death result.

Examples of Tire Defects:

Tread separation: Tire plies that separate can potentially cause a blowout. Poor bonding of tire parts, poor quality control measures, or use of poor quality solvents during the manufacture process can cause this dangerous defect.

Multi-piece rim explosions: Can be avoided by using single piece wheels instead.

Sidewall zipper failures: Faulty design or manufacture can lead to sidewall zipper failures that can cause a blowout.

High-speed spin-off-failure: When one back wheel isn’t moving while the other one spins out of control. Caused by design defect.

The National Highway Traffic Administration says that about 8,000 car crashes a year resulting in deaths or serious injury are caused by tire failure.

La. crash claims 5th child victim,, December 1, 2009

Sixth crash victim dies, 2theadvocate, December 1, 2009

13 children ejected in Louisiana I-10 minivan rollover, JusticeNewsFlash, December 1, 2009

Related Web Resources:
The Center for Auto Safety

Child Passenger Safety