November 2010

The Fight Against Distracted Driving: GHSA Seeks Total Ban On Cell Phone Use

November 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Governors Highway Safety Association wants a total ban on cell phone use while driving. The decision to endorse a full ban comes after examining findings published earlier this week by the American Journal of Public Health that is based on data from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, including:

• Between 2005 and 2008, the number of distracted driving fatalities went up 28%.
• Text messaging caused over 16,000 car crash deaths between 2001 and 2007.

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2009 Distracted Driving Traffic Safety Facts, including:

• 5,474 distracted driving traffic fatalities in 2009—that’s 16% of all US traffic deaths.
• Use of a cell phone was a factor in 995 of the deaths.
• 448,000 distracted driving injuries.
• Cell phone distraction was a factor in 24,000 of the injuries.

At the US Department of Transportation’s 2nd annual Distracted Driving Summit this week, the government also announced new regulations that ban commercial truckers and bus drivers from texting, prohibits hazmat truck drivers from texting or talking on a cell phone, and places cell phone restrictions on train operators. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is calling distracted driving an epidemic.

The distracted driving summit brought together law enforcement officers, government officials, safety advocates, victims, surviving family members, and others. One of those who addressed the attendees was Amos Johnson, whose daughter Ashley Johnson was killed in a North Carolina car accident last May. Police say that the 16-year-old appears to have been pulling up a text message on her cell phone right before her vehicle crashed head on into a Ford truck, injuring its driver. According to the NHTSA, teenagers belong to the group most likely to drive while distracted.

Police: Asheville Teen Driver Distracted By Text Before Deadly Accident, WSPA, May 11, 2010

Summit seeks ways to reduce distracted driving, WCSH, September 21, 2010

Safety Group Mulls Total Ban On Cell Phone Use While Driving,, September 26, 2010

Distracted Driving 2009, Traffic Safety Facts, NHTSA, September 2010 (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Governors Highway Safety Association

American Journal of Public Health

Distracted Driving Summit,

Decrease in Helmet Use Causing More Young Motorcyclists to Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries

November 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

With more young motorcyclists riding their bikes without helmets, there has been an increase in the number of serious head injuries and long-term disabilities from motorcycle crashes. These injuries are creating huge medical expenses. These findings and others are based on two new companion studies that were recently published in Pediatrics. One study examines young motorcycle riders and their head injuries and the resulting medical expenses, while the other studies the effect that mandatory helmet laws, which differ depending upon the state, have on motorcyclists. In North Carolina, all riders are required to use a helmet.

Study author Harold Weiss, who is the Dunedin School of Medicine’s injury prevention research unit director, says that in 2006, 25% of all traumatic brain injuries that occurred during motorcycle crashes involving riders under age 21 resulted in long-term disabilities. Patients with serious head injuries have an at least 10 times greater chance of dying in the hospital. Weiss also notes that other studies have shown that when there are youth-only mandatory helmet laws rather than universal helmet laws, young people are more likely to ditch their helmets. Other findings from the study:

• Motorcycle crashes were the reason for 3% of all injuries that resulted in hospital stays for 12- to 20-year-olds in 2006.

• 1/3 of the 5,662 minors who were motorcycle accident victims sustained TBIs.

• Almost 50% of those killed or injured belonged to the 18- to 20-year-old age group. 90% of them were boys.

• In 2006, motorcycle accident-related hospital bills were at almost $249 million. Head injuries cost $58 million. Insurance did not cover 1/3rd of the these expenses.

• Helmet use decreases head injuries by 69% and deaths caused by head injuries by 42%.

Even with the state’s mandatory helmet law, North Carolina motorcycle accident injuries do happen and not everyone obeys the law. As our Charlotte, North Carolina injury lawyers mentioned in an earlier blog post, while overall motor vehicle deaths have gone down this year, there has been a 20% rise in North Carolina motorcycle deaths in 2010. Per the Highway Patrol Fatal Slip Report, As of early September, there had been 78 motorcycle deaths. By the same time last year, there had been 65 motorcycle fatalities. In total, there were 82 North Carolina motorcycle deaths for 2009.

Young Motorcycle Riders Suffering More Brain Injuries, Bloomberg Businessweek, November 19, 2010

State to combat rising motorcycle deaths, Hickory Daily Record, November 7, 2010

The Number of North Carolina Motorcycle Deaths is On the Rise, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, September 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Current US motorcycle and bicycle helmet laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, December 2010


Unrelated Charlotte, North Carolina Car Crashes into Buildings Cause Injuries

November 30, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A store patron was injured yesterday when an SUV drove into a Family Dollar store at the Idlewild Crossing shopping center in east Charlotte. Police are trying to determine why it happened.

The Charlotte, North Carolina car accident occurred late Wednesday afternoon. One store employee described the experience of having the Chevy Blazer crash through the windows as “crazy.” The collision doesn’t appear to have caused any structural damage. However, a store patron and the SUV driver were transported to Carolinas Medical Center.

Wednesday’s Charlotte, North Carolina auto accident comes one day after another car drove into a Fatboy Platter restaurant in northwest Charlotte. Four people who were in the vehicle, two of them with serious injuries, were taken to the hospital. During the collision, the car reportedly struck a cooker in the building, which caused a gas leak.

Although crazy to imagine, the scenario of a vehicle crashing into a building and causing injury to those on the premise and in the vehicle is not an uncommon one. Common reasons why this might happen:

• Loss of control of the vehicle
• Drunk driving
• Drugged driving
• Falling asleep at the wheel
• Vehicle malfunction
• Distracted driving

In addition to injuries incurred from a collision with a motor vehicle, there also may be injuries involving shattered building windows, a gas pipe that bursts, or a building wall collapsing.

An experienced Charlotte, North Carolina motor vehicle crash law firm can determined who is responsible for the collision, exactly what happened, and whether other parties contributed to causing the accident. Attorneys can also assess the extent of your injuries and damages. While some cases are easily settled between your legal representation and the other party’s insurer, some claims can be more complex and contentious. This is another reason why it is good to have your own legal team fighting for you.

Car Crashes Into Charlotte Restaurant, Fox Charlotte, February 12, 2011

Police: Mechanical issue caused car crash into building, WCNC, February 16, 2011

Customer hurt after SUV crashes into Family Dollar store, WBTV, February 16, 2011

Related Web Resources:
Charlotte Department of Transportation

Car Accidents: Proving Fault, Nolo

More North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog Posts:

Fatal Catawba, North Carolina County Car Accident Caused by Allegedly Drunk Driver, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, February 9, 2011

Tire Defects Can Cause Deadly North Carolina Traffic Crashes, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, January 31, 2011

Charlotte North Carolina Car Accident Law Firm Invites Local High School Students to Join the Fight Against Underage Drunk Driving and Possibly Win a College Scholarship, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer Blog, January 13, 2011


Hickory Car Crash on NC 127 Claims One Life

November 23, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A Hickory car accident that occurred on NC 127 close to the Alexander Bridge has claimed the life of one person. The North Carolina traffic crash, which happened at around 11:53 am, involved three vehicles. Another auto collision victim was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center.

The multi-vehicle collision caused the front of a Jeep Wrangler to crumple in, while the Chevy Avalanche was left with a crushed-in hood. The trailer that the pickup truck had been hauling ended up sloped on top of a Buick sedan, whose hood was also damaged.

In other recent North Carolina traffic crash news, one woman is dead and two others were hurt in a Robeson County car collision on Sunday. The car they were ran off the road near NC 41 at around 4:07 am close to Lumberton. Authorities say that 27-year-old Orlene Robinson was driving the 2001 Mitsubishi at a speed of about 85 mph. The vehicle, which went through a bean field, struck a tree. Killed in the collision was 24-year-old Rosa Tiffany McLeod, who was riding in the front passenger seat. Robinson and another passenger, 23-year-old Lorraine Moneeek Carter, were flown to hospitals.

Also this weekend, Two East Carolina University college students were killed in a car collision. A vigil was held Monday on behalf of Victoria Carter and Briana Gather, both 20. Injured in the accident were Taylor Nichole King, 19, and Kamil Shaunay Arrington, 20. Greenville authorities say that the car they were riding went off the road and struck a tree.

On Thursday, 13-year-old Hailey Smith was killed after the driver of the car that she was riding, 16-year-old Cooper Greer, lost control of the vehicle. Two others were hospitalized.

Students Remember Kernersville Student Killed In Wreck, Digtriad, November 23, 2010

Robeson County accident leaves 1 dead, 2 injured, FayObserver, November 23, 2010

Update: Vehicle Accident claims life of Beaufort Co. 13-year-old, WNCT, November 19, 2010

One person dies in three-car wreck, Hickory Daily Record, November 23, 2010

9-Year-Old Pedestrian Injured in Charlotte, North Carolina Truck Accident Sustains Critical Injuries

November 17, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a pickup truck on Tuesday morning was reportedly in critical condition after the Charlotte, North Carolina pedestrian accident. Police say that the University Park Creative Arts Elementary school student was hit by a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck as she tried to run from the shoulder of the road to the bus stop.

The driver of the truck, James Kuykendall, was driving without a license. Police say that the 38-year-old motorist stepped on the brakes and tried to stop in time, but that the front side of his truck still struck the girl, who was thrown into the air upon impact before landing on the road.

The child pedestrian was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Main with life-threatening injuries. Kuykendall was arrested for driving while his license was revoked.

Child Pedestrians
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of accidental child injuries and deaths. Young children are especially vulnerable to getting hurt in a Charlotte, North Carolina pedestrian accident when walking. Some kids may be too young to fully comprehend the dangers that can arise when crossing the street. Some may opt to cross outside a crosswalk or may run into the street to chase a ball without realizing that a car is fast approaching. It can also be hard for a young kid to grasp how far away (or close) a car really is from him/her or how fast the auto is actually moving.

That said, motorists must obey traffic signs, follow the speed limit, yield the right of way, and watch out for child pedestrians—especially in schools and residential areas. They must refrain from distracted driving, drunk driving, texting, or talking on the cell phone. They also must exercise caution when driving by or around stopped or parked cars just in case there may be a child pedestrian getting ready to step onto the road.

Pedestrian injuries are often catastrophic or fatal and can be very costly to treat.

Student Hit By Car At Bus Stop, FoxCharlotte, November 16, 2010

Girl, 9, still in critical condition after being hit by truck, WBTV, November 16, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Safe Kids USA

National Strategies for Advancing Child Pedestrian Safety, CDC

Don’t Drowsy Drive: Prevent South Carolina and North Carolina Car Accidents by Staying Awake Behind the Steering Wheel

November 11, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

November 2 – 8 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a campaign designed by the National Sleep Foundation to make people more aware of the dangers of driver fatigue and drowsy driving. According to the NSF, sleepiness was a factor in almost two million driver deaths last year.

Yet unlike drunk driving or texting while driving, many people still don’t realize how dangerous it is to drive while sleepy or exhausted. As a matter of fact, driving while fatigued can impair a driver’s reaction time, senses, and alertness the way they would be affected if a motorist was driving drunk or under the influence or drugs.

Sleepiness or fatigue can also make it hard for a driver to focus, keep their eyes open, and pay attention to the road and other vehicles. Drowsy driving can cause a driver to feel more aggressive, impatient, or restless and he or she may not even notice that the vehicle has drifted into the next lane or into oncoming traffic. An exhausted driver is also more likely to miss exits, not notice traffic signs, or tailgate.

People most at risk of drowsy driving are drivers who haven’t gotten enough sleep, suffer from sleep apnea, drive several hours without taking a break, work long jobs, drive through the night, or drink alcohol before driving.

While drowsiness by itself is not a crime, it can become grounds for criminal charges, traffic violations, and North Carolina injury case or a wrongful death claims if sleepiness, exhaustion, or falling asleep causes the driver to cause a Charlotte, North Carolina car crash, a Hickory pedestrian accident, a Monroe motorcycle accident, or a Raleigh truck crash.

Signs You May Be Drowsy Driving:

• Your head keeps dropping.
• It’s hard to keep your eyes open.
• Staying focused is a challenge.
• You are beginning to daydream.
• You catch yourself drifting into another lane.
• You missed your exit.
• You are yawning a lot.

New Study Shows Drowsiness a Major Cause of Vehicle Crashes. Virginia Sleep Expert Offers Advice to Avoid Driver Fatigue, Save Lives, PR Web, November 2, 2009

How to Avoid Drowsy Driving, AAA Foundation (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

National Sleep Foundation

Drowsy Driving Can Cause North Carolina Car Accidents

November 11, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Driving while exhausted or sleepy can be quite dangerous. According to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study, 41% of drivers surveyed have admitted to nodding off or falling asleep while operating a motor vehicle. Considering that, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16.5 % of deadly US crashes involved a drowsy driver, motorists need to take heed of the dangers and stop engaging in this bad driving behavior. In an attempt to raise awareness of these perils, November 8 to 14 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

According to the AAA study, which surveyed 2,000 US residents by phone:
• Young drivers under age 25 are the ones most likely to fall asleep when operating a motor vehicle.
• In traffic crashes involving a drowsy driver, the motorist was 61% more likely to be male than female.
• 70% of drivers thought they were awake enough to operate a vehicle and then found it challenging to stay awake.
• More than 50% of traffic crashes involving a drowsy driver resulted in a motorist’s vehicle going off the road or drifting into another lane.

The NHTSA says that drivers that fall asleep while driving are responsible for approximately 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 auto accidents in this country each year. Considering that it takes just a few seconds for a catastrophic traffic crash to occur, these figures are tragic but not surprising.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyers know how devastating it can be to suffer life-altering injuries or lose someone you love because another motorist was careless, driving drunk, fell asleep at the wheel, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless, or made a driving mistake. We realize that most negligent motorists usually never intend to hurt anyone. That said, good intentions don’t matter when others are made to suffer tragic consequences. You may have grounds for a North Carolina injury case.

A drowsy driver is like a drunken driver in that reflexes can slow, focusing can become challenging, vision may blur, and judgment can become impaired. When a sleeping driver is manning a vehicle, he/she will likely not act to avoid becoming involved in an impending crash, which can make the impact of collision even worse.

Study shows drowsy drivers behind the wheel, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2010

Study examines toll of drowsy driving, Washington Post, November 8, 2010

The AAA Foundation’s Drowsy Driving Report (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Five drowsy driving myths you need to know, ABC Action News

National Sleep Foundation

Fatal Concord, North Carolina Car Accident Was Caused by Speeding Drunken Driver, Says Highway Patrol

November 7, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the authorities, the driver who allegedly caused the Cabarrus County car accident on Saturday that claimed the lives of two people was driving drunk and speeding. Oscar Lopez Quiterio is charged with reckless driving, driving while impaired, and driving without a license. He also may be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

The single-car Concord traffic crash occurred at approximately 6:45 pm. The NC Highway Patrol says that Quiterio was driving at about 20 miles over the legal speed limit when the 1997 Honda sedan went off Zion Church Road. His vehicle struck a tree, overturned, and struck another tree. The impact of the collision caused the auto to split in half.

Lopez was the only one in the vehicle using a seat belt at the time. Meantime, the two Kannapolis residents who were riding with him, 33-year-old Otilio Chegues and 28-year-old Jorge Gonzales, have died from their injuries.

When done separately, driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding are two of the most common causes of traffic crashes. Speeding while simultaneously driving drunk can dramatically increase the chances of a North Carolina car crash occurring.

Motorists who are under the influence have a hard enough staying alert, paying attention, and responding quickly to an emergency situation without having to contend with the perils that come with speeding, which can make it hard for even a sober driver to quickly stop his/her vehicle. Also, the force of impact during a collision when speeding is involved tends to be a lot more devastating—especially for those in the vehicle that is struck.

Even if your loved one was injured in a single-car crash, there may still be parties who should be held liable for your Cabarrus, County North Carolina personal injuries or your loved one’s death.

Drinking and speeding blamed in wreck that kills 2 passengers near Concord, Charlotte Observer, November 7, 2010

2 Killed In Concord Crash, WSOCTV, November 7, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Analysis of Speeding-Related Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes, NHTSA (PDF)

North Carolina Drunk Driving Statistics, Alcohol Alert

Charlotte, North Carolina Motorcycle Crash Kills 51-Year-Old Motorcyclist

November 4, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

17-year-old Butler High School student Deion Walker has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to yield the right of way, and driving without a license in the Charlotte, North Carolina motorcycle accident death that claimed the life of Nathan Hartis. According to police, Walker was turning left onto Camp Stewart Road in his vehicle on Saturday when he hit Hartis, who was thrown several feet off his bike. The 51-year-old motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the Charlotte traffic crash site.

North Carolina Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle crashes often result in serious injuries for riders, whose protective clothing and helmet may not be enough to prevent spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, traumatic brain injuries, massive internal injuries, and death from occurring. Most motorcycle accident victims will suffer serious injuries during a crash. Motorcycle riders have a significantly higher risk of dying during a traffic crash than do vehicle occupants.

Common causes of motorcycle collisions:
• Driver error
• Failure to see motorcyclist
• Motorcyclist negligence
• Speeding
• Distracted driving
• Drugged driving
• Defective auto part
• Cars turning left
• Lane splitting
• A motorcycles crashing into a fixed object
• Road defects or hazards

It is a good idea to explore your legal options as soon as possible after a North Carolina motorcycle crash. At this point, evidence is still fresh and witnesses and those involved are more likely to remember the specifics of what happened.

While the number of US motorcycle deaths have gone down for the first time after 11-years of the fatality toll rising—there were 4,462 motorcycle accident deaths in 2009 compared to 5,312 in 2008, more can still be done to reduce the number of motorcyclist fatalities and injuries.

Fatal Motorcycle Wreck Shuts Down East Charlotte Road, WSOCTV, October 30, 2010

Butler football player off team after being charged in deadly motorcycle crash, WBTV, November 2, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Highlights of 2009 Motor Vehicle Crashes, NHTSA (PDF)

Motorcycle Accidents, Nolo