August 2011

Hurricane Irene Causes a Fatal North Carolina Car Accident that Takes the Life of a Child

August 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Saturday, after Hurricane Irene blew through Goldsborough and took out several traffic lights, a teen died in a horrific North Carolina car crash. According to Police Captain Chad Calloway, “The wreck likely would not have happened if the traffic signals were working.” The young girl died around 4 PM. Her death was the second that North Carolina officials pinned directly on Hurricane Irene. On early Saturday, a tree limb fell on a man in Nash County and killed him. A Washington Post article several days later said that all together six North Carolinians died during Hurricane Irene’s assault. Among those killed:

• Katherine Cruz, the 15-year-old who died in the traffic light accident;
• Sixty-year-old Ricky Webb, the man killed by the tree limb;
• Fifty-year-old Tim Avery, who was killed when a tree fell on to his home;
• Jose Corona, who died in a separate traffic accident;
• Sabrina Jones, who died when a tree fell on her car;
• Melton Robinson, Jr., who was found in the Cape Fear River.

Tragic North Carolina car accidents occur even during normal, sunny weather. Victims and their family members are often left shell-shocked and flatfooted by the sudden and terrible news.

Unfortunately, the longer a victim (or family member of a victim) waits to take action, the more difficult it might be to achieve a good outcome in the legal system, including just compensation. Evidence from a crash – especially a crash that occurs during stormy weather – can be washed away or cleared off the road by maintenance crews. To that end, you should consider speaking with an attorney at an experienced North Carolina car accident law firm to go over what you should (and should not) do to protect your rights, ensure justice, and return your family to a sense of normalcy and stability.

More Web Resources:

Katherine Cruz accident

Irene and North Carolina

Three Generations Killed in an Unbearably Sad North Carolina Car Accident

August 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A North Carolina car crash took the lives of three family members, including 71-year-old grandmother, Rosa Marte; Angela Marte, her 46-year-old daughter; and Rosanny Marte, Rosa’s 22-year-old granddaughter.

The three women were killed east of Raleigh on Interstate 95 after the family SUV lost control and overturned. Investigators found that the SUV had blown a tire. According to one report, state troopers said that a witness had seen the SUV swerving in and out of traffic prior to the tire blowout. North Carolina Highway Patrol Officer Lee Cox reported how the accident happened in vivid detail: “She ran off the left side of the road, traveled back across the Interstate, ran off the right side in the emergency strip. And the vehicle, she overcorrected at that point and the vehicle began to overturn.”

The women who died had not been wearing seatbelts. Cox suggested that their chances for survival would have been greater had they been wearing seatbelts. There were five other family members in the car who all survived and were expected to recover from their injuries. Investigators did not think that alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, and, as we noted above, the initial report suggested that the culprit was the blown out tire.

Any accident that takes three members of a loving family while they were returning from vacationing in Disney World is a tragedy beyond human measure. How can the family ever be fully “compensated” for that kind of loss? But, hopefully, other drivers and North Carolinian policymakers can learn from tragedies like this to improve road safety and driver’s education, and to prevent similar future tragedies from unfolding.

In other words, let’s memorialize these women’s lives by focusing on positive actions that we can take in the real world to make people’s life safer, better, and happier. According to reports, Rosanny Marte was active in the Jehovah’s Witness Church, and, likely, she spent a lot of time devoted to the pursuit of spiritual truths and betterment of the people and the planet. So all of us in the blogging community – and in the media, both mainstream and not mainstream – can play a role in helping to engage in productive conversation about the root causes of North Carolina car accidents – and what can be done to prevent them and/or make reduce their impact.

For help understanding your rights and responsibilities as a recent car crash victim, connect with a North Carolina car accident law firm to discuss your options.

More Web Resources:

Marte family tragedy

A final word on the Fred Flintstone school of driving safely (and possible antidote to North Carolina car accidents?)

August 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

This post closes our four-part series on how a “caveman driving” approach to road safety might substantially reduce or even eliminate many dangerous, typical North Carolina car accidents.

In our previous post, we explained:

• Why road safety engineers face a fundamental constraint – that is, we use caveman brains to navigate super highways, and that’s a problem;
• How engineers might be able to use this construct to think differently (and better) about safety and policy;
• Heuristics (rules of thumb) for moving policy in a “caveman driver” direction.
In this last part, we are going to get super practical and discuss possible ways that you, personally, can reduce your risk of North Carolina car accidents by honing your personal caveman driving skills.

One caveman driving-inspired approach is to improve your reaction time. Human beings are adaptable, if nothing else, and the more we adapt our habits, reactions, and thought processes to relevant situations, the better/safer/healthier our lives can be. In other words, we can train ourselves to be better drivers, but it’s going to take some effort. And to that end, here are some suggestions:

• Take drivers’ education refresher courses once every few years (instead of minimum requirements) so that you can really drill into your brain “best practices” for driving.
• Pay attention to when you do and do not drive well. Especially if you drive long distances (e.g. if you are an interstate trucker), keep a log of how you felt at different times along your journey. Obviously, wait until you stop to write this stuff down! Review this driving journal and make notes of your habits, so you can see when you are most alert and active and when your skills behind the wheels start to flag.
• Improve your diet, health, and sleep patterns so that you can have more energy and alertness in all activities – including driving.
• Pay attention to other limitations that you face as a caveman trapped in a super highway world. Since the many millennia since we stopped living as hunter-gatherers, human beings have adopted some strange behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that fundamentally depart from the “caveman ideal.” Some theorists believe that the more we come in line with this caveman/Paleolithic ideal, the healthier, the safer, happier and better we will be.

On a more specific and practical note, if you or a loved one is facing a crisis caused by motor vehicle accident (e.g. a serious injury, chronic whiplash injury, property damage, etc.), a North Carolina car accident law firm can help you. A qualified attorney will help you figure out what you need to do to resolve the situation and get fair compensation.

More Web Resources:

Human reaction time

Improve reaction times

More on the Flintstone Mobile – Could "Stone Age Driving" in Modern Times Help Solve the Problem of North Carolina Car Accidents?

August 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Unless you lived your whole life under a rock, you no doubt are familiar with that vivid image of Fred Flintstone peddling his stone-aged car with his feet in the opening credits of the old school Flintstones cartoon. What can Fred’s approach to “driving” teach us about how to tackle the problem of North Carolina car accidents?

Here are three crucial lessons.

1. Slow is the new fast.

In a recent post on North Carolina car accidents and caveman driving, we touched on the idea that human beings did not evolve to travel at speeds that even the average Peugeot can travel – much less at the top speeds of sports cars like Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. On a fundamental level, we need to slow down the driving experience. Does this necessarily mean we need to reduce our velocities on the road? Not necessarily. Which brings us to the second point…

2. “Slowing down” has more to do with our perceptions of road events than the actual events themselves.

This is a tricky point to grasp. The absolute speed a vehicle goes is probably less relevant than the perceived speed of the vehicle, the perceived acceleration, the perceived torque, etc. We already drive cars, planes, boats, and other vehicles, far in excess of speeds that we “evolved” to “handle.” And our safety record is actually pretty amazing, given how unnatural it is to use these modes of transportation. So we’ve already created a kind of virtual slowing down of systems that allow us to slow down our perceptions of movement. We build our roads wide; we maintain large “space pockets” between vehicles, and we engineer sensitive equipment to help us compensate for our unnatural speed, acceleration, torque, etc.

3. The process of getting close to a Flintstone-like driving ideal must be continually refined.

Vigilance is key. We must pay attention to problems that drivers have, punish bad driving, hold wrongdoers accountable (a North Carolina car accident law firm can help), and refresh, refine, and renew our policies, engineering approaches, and even attitudes toward driving if we hope to make serious progress and make “driving” as safe as it used to be in Fred’s golden age.

More Web Resources:

Fred Flintstone driving

Flintstone credits

The Fred Flintstone problem part 2: What drivers with caveman brains can do to thwart North Carolina car accidents

August 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent post on the relevance of evolution to theory about North Carolina car accidents (what can and cannot be done to solve our country and state’s motor vehicle accident problem), we touched on the idea that the root cause of vehicle crashes may be completely insoluble.

Basically, our brains evolved in Paleolithic times to deal with Paleolithic conditions. One might speculate about how our Paleolithic ancestors lived. But chances are they did not spend a significant percentage of their day riding across concrete landscapes at speeds approaching and exceeding 70 miles per hour. Even the occasional Grok who managed to hitch a ride on the back of a cheetah probably did not last long enough to take such a joyride more than once or twice.

So we face a dilemma, as people who want to end the problem of North Carolina car accidents. How can we engineer cars, roads, driver behavior, etc., to minimize risks, given that we have this fundamental constraint?

Obviously, this blog cannot hope to solve the problem in one fell swoop. But if you need help with a specific car accident question (for instance, if a drunk and driver hit you, or if a truck drove you off the road into a ditch and now you are injured and sick), a North Carolina car accident law firm can help you to deal with your specific legal, logistical, and other concerns.

Beyond that, maybe we can start a dialogue about more constructive ways to think about road safety. Because once we accept this fundamental “caveman constraint” on road safety engineering, we can contextualize engineering features that have already worked or might work. For instance, let’s think about reaction time. Paleolithic people in no way and shape or form had to confront super-fast decision making – like swerving at the last minute to avoid a truck travelling 80 miles per hour.

But we did evolve sensitive mechanisms to help us during normal flight and fight responses. For instance, when our Grok ancestors engaged in battle with saber-toothed tigers, they needed to respond rapidly to stressful conditions during the hunt, so we have evolved sensitive mechanisms that can help us react at the last second. The question is: How do we tap into those natural, spring-like mechanisms to react to a predator and apply them to engineer safer cars, better roads, smarter drivers, better signage, etc.?

We’ll leave the specifics to engineers. But just thinking in terms of this paradigm – the caveman driver paradigm – should allow us some new and cool insights that could lead to better engineering solutions.

More Web Resources:

Who is Grok?

What Did Grok Eat?

Will We Ever Truly Eliminate North Carolina Car Accidents?

August 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The perennial quest to nibble away at the rates of North Carolina car accidents obsesses bloggers, pundits, and policymakers in equal measure. Theories abound about how to improve the situation. Some policymakers suggest doing things like lowering the speed limit. Others argue that we need better safety features. Still others argue that we need more to move to an electric car system, or even to more fanciful solutions like setting up a magnetic road system that strips drivers from their autonomy (and capacity to make mistakes) and automates all of our driving through a massive, hyperintelligent computer grid. All very interesting. All plausible, even if those solutions might take 100 or 1,000 years to implement.

But, in the midst of all this exciting planning and speculation, we tend to think more in terms of how North Carolina car accidents (and crashes across the nation) can be contained instead of what’s causing these accidents.

The Sticky Evolution Problem

Human beings for 99.9% of their evolutionary history lived as hunter-gatherers. We lack the ability to travel more than around 20 miles per hour, so we did not evolve the cognitive apparati to manage the risks of going over 20 miles per hour. So when you put these caveman-type people into vehicles capable of traveling 120 miles per hour or greater, you fry their circuits. And this is, ultimately, what the problem is about. As Tom Vanderbilt astutely pointed out in his landmark opus, Traffic, part of the main root cause of traffic accidents is the fact that drivers fail to see other drivers as humans. In other words, something about driving at fast speeds strips us of our ability to see one another as human beings and that may be at the heart of many of our problems. And if Vanderbilt’s thesis is correct, the problem ultimately is an evolutionary problem.

So it’s really an evolutionary question. It’s a prickly one because we can’t completely rewire the human brain just for the purposes of improving road safety. That obviously makes no sense. But if this conundrum is going to persist, no matter how many safety features we add to the cars, there might never be a full solution – 100 years, 1,000 years, 10,000 years in the future. It may not matter how many fancy, speculative engineering fixes we develop and deploy.

And this is something we’ll have to get used to. This doesn’t mean that we can’t improve safety. It doesn’t mean that we can’t significantly reduce injuries and accidents, improve the quality and comfort of rides, reduce stress on environment, and so forth. But it does mean that we are going to run into this fundamental limit because of the capacity of our brains.

On a less speculative note, and a more pragmatic one, if you or someone you care about has been recently involved in a motor vehicle collision, a North Carolina car accident law firm can help.

More Web Resources:

Roads guided by magnets?

Tragedy Strikes: Fatal North Carolina Car Accident Takes Life of 21-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy

August 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The sleepy community of Snow Hill, NC was shocked by a tragic and shocking North Carolina car accident, which took the life of 21-year-old David Jennings Dawson, a newly minted sheriff’s deputy who had only been serving the department for two months before the disaster. According to, “Dawson’s vehicle veered off the road before crossing back over the highway and hitting a fence, tree, and utility box…investigators are working to gather more details about the accident.”

According to WNCT, Dawson had just graduated from Lenoir Community College and he had committed his life to service. His mother said that “he would do anything for anyone and that he was a good Christian boy.” A neighbor who lived across from the scene of the accident – Evelyn Turnage – told WNCT that she heard a loud explosion and ran outside: “I took off running out the door to see what happened, due to the noise I heard, and I saw over here that a car was on fire so I ran over to see what had happened. He was lying in the ground and I knew something…he was either majorly injured or dead.”

In tragic situations like this — whether they happen to a police officer, a civilian driver, or someone driving in extraordinary circumstances — reconstructing precisely what went wrong may be more difficult than victims of family members realize. For instance, just looking at the superficial analysis of the evidence in the Eyewitness News9 report, one could devise many theories about what happened to the patrol car. Perhaps Deputy Dawson was driving too fast. Perhaps his car had a mechanical problem. Perhaps he had swerved to avoid an animal or another car that had been speeding by. It’s really impossible to tell without a deep and thorough investigation of evidence from the crash scene. And this is why North Carolina car accident victims (and family members) in general should try to collect as much information as possible from the scene (“over collect”) and consult resources like a North Carolina auto accident law firm.

Better evidence, information, and resources won’t guarantee that you will win a judgment in a lawsuit (or collect settlement from an insurance company), but it can give you the leverage to explore various alternatives. And even more than that, it can help you regain some semblance of control over your life that the accident suddenly took away. For family members, it’s the “not knowing” that’s the worst — not knowing what went wrong, what comes next, and what can you do. One way of approaching the situation is to first spend some time getting acclimated to the new reality and then get in touch with resources (like a great NC accident law firm) that can help you move forward.

More Web Resources:

Snow Hill, NC

David Jennings Dawson tragedy

An End to All Serious North Carolina Car Accidents? A Thought Experiment

August 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Public policy experts, passionate volunteers at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and practically every citizen of North Carolina would no doubt appreciate some magical policy that reduces North Carolina’s car accident rate to 0 or near 0. We all think that such a magical policy is a fiction. And in a practical sense, that may be right. But that doesn’t mean that such a solution doesn’t exist. It’s just that we don’t want to accept it.

That all sounds a little abstract. Consider this argument:

One study suggests that the higher the posted speed limit on a given road, the more, and much worse, accidents will occur. This isn’t always true. But it is a general heuristic that we can use to think about North Carolina car accidents more constructively. In other words, if we could lower speed limits instead of raising them, we should be able to lower accident rates substantially. So, for every road where the speed limit is 60 miles per hour, say we slash that to 55 miles per hour. We should expect accident rates to decrease across the board.

But what if we took this hypothetical to its extreme? What if, instead of slashing from 60 to 55, we slashed from 60 to 10 or 5 miles per hour?

Now, no one wants to drive 10 miles per hour everywhere they go. That would be highly impractical. But it would solve our – or at least nearly solve – the persistent problem of traffic accidents, which take the lives of 40,000 people in the U.S. every year and lead to untold millions of accidents and injuries.

No one would accept this bargain because the price would come too high at the cost of convenience. So, this hypothetical leads us to confront and accept the idea that convenience matters to us, just as safety does. And that we’re collectively negotiating and renegotiating the fine line between “what is convenient for me and North Carolina” and “what is safe for me and the rest of North Carolina.”

For insights into how to deal the aftermath of a car, motorcycle, truck crash, look to a client focused North Carolina auto accident law firm to spell out your strategic options.

More Web Resources:

Lowering speed limits saves lives

how low should we go?

Turn Down the Music! (and Avoid North Carolina Car Accidents)

August 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

You think you do everything right to avoid getting into a North Carolina car accident. You wear your seat belt. You never drink and drive. You avoid driving while fatigued. You limit the use of your cell phone – or eliminate it entirely. You don’t even drive with a hands-free headset, since you are aware of studies by institutions like the Virginia Tech that have linked even driving while talking on a cell phone headset to an increased risk for accidents.

/car/distracted_driving_statistics.html”>Distracted Driving Stats
But you might be doing one thing terribly wrong that increases your chances of getting into a disastrous North Carolina auto accident: Playing your music too loudly. Is it a real problem, or is it just a speculation? At this point, it’s speculation. It’s difficult to parse cause from association in studies about North Carolina car accidents. For instance, say you did find an association between people who listen to loud music and people who got into serious injury auto accidents. Would that prove your case? Not necessarily. It could be that people who listen to loud music also tend to be young, aggressive drivers who are more likely to consume alcohol, drive during the weekend nights (most dangerous times for accidents), and scourge traffic rules.

Nevertheless, one can build at least a circumstantial case that driving while listening to loud music is a problem. Here are some arguments:

• When your music is too loud, you can’t hear horns, noise from the street, signals from other drivers, construction sounds, etc. This diminished sensory input diminishes your capacity to react effectively to spontaneous and dangerous road events (e.g. car suddenly pulling into your lane).
• Driving while listening to loud music might impede or even destroy your ability to concentrate on the road. We don’t need to discuss yet again why distracted driving is dangerous – and how fatalities distracted driving is responsible for every year. But it’s not a stretch to suggest that blasting extremely loud music might diminish or even severely impede your concentration skills.
• Certain loud music can make you more emotionally reactive and aggressive. Let’s take two scenarios. In the first, you are approaching a stop light that’s about to turn yellow and listening to light classical music. Do you slow down and stop, or gun your engines and zip through the intersection? Probably, you stop, because you are calm. In the second scenario, say you approach the same intersection – everything else is same – but you are listening to the Pixie’s “Debaser” at top volume. Do you gently slow down and stop or try and gun through the intersection? Odds are you will be more motivated to drive the intersection than you would be if you were listening to classical music.

Getting away from the abstract, if you have a specific legal question about how to obtain a compensation for a North Carolina car accident, connect with an experienced North Carolina car accident law firm today.

More Web Resources:

Music and Driving


Sugar: The Indirect Cause of Many North Carolina Auto Accidents?

August 2, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Policy analysts who study North Carolina car accidents often focus on proximal causes of these disasters (the near ones, which we can see) instead of the distal ones (the far away, more indirect ones). And this could lead to surprising problems. If the root of the problem is proximal, we can solve it. For instance, if you scald your hand with an iron, you can safely assume that the red hot iron caused your burn. If you simply remove the iron, you will stop burning yourself. Then your solution (targeting the proximal cause) should get you results.

But if the root cause of a problem is distal – far away from what you think is the problem and only indirectly connected to it – your policy solutions may deliver lackluster results or even backfire. For instance, take the case of so-called carpal tunnel syndrome. Many patients who suffer this repetitive stress disorder focus on the proximal sources of pain – the hands and wrists – and go through great lengths to treat them using cortisone injections, heating pads for hands, and braces for the hands and wrist. But new science suggests that distal factors – such as myofascial anox and other musculoskeletal dysfunctions in the chest and back – might also be factors. If you don’t address those distal factors, you are not going to solve the problem.

Likewise, there might be a similar kind of proximal/distal confusion in addressing the problem of drowsy driving. According to the NHTSA’s official website, 1996 data indicate that “In recent years there have been about 56,000 crashes annually in which driver drowsiness/fatigue was cited by police. Annual averages of roughly 40,000 non-fatal injuries and 1,550 fatalities resulted from these crashes.”

Obviously, there is an enormous number of reasons why someone might drive drowsy. But compelling new research suggests that North Carolinians’ (and Americans’ in general) over-consumptions of sugar depletes the body’s energy levels. In other words, eating too much sugar can make you tired. And data suggest that Americans and North Carolinians are consuming far more sugar today than we did several decades ago. So this might be one of many distal factors causing needless North Carolina injury crashes. Of course, if you have been a recent victim (or a friend or a family of a victim), you want more straightforward help and analysis. Connect with a trusted, helpful, highly credentialed North Carolina car accident law firm to get the insight you need to make progress.

More Web Resources:

Sugar: the Bitter Truth

Drowsy Driving Stats