January 2012

North Carolina Car Accidents: More Than One Thing (Often) Goes Wrong

January 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When you read news reports – or even investigative reports – about auto accidents in North Carolina, the facts and explanations appear to tie events together with a neat bow.

But are the stories we tell ourselves about our accidents destructive?

Human beings are storytellers by nature. When a major event happens – any kind of catastrophe, including injury car accidents in North Carolina – our brains immediately try to make sense of what happened and put the situation into a specific, concrete context.

This can be a huge problem, as we are going to discuss.

For instance, consider the case of a 67-year-old woman who loses control of her Acura 3.2 TLS on Interstate 95 southbound and sideswipes a delivery truck, precipitating a multi-car collision that shuts down the highway for an hour and a half.

What caused her accident?

Your first thought might be to analyze the carelessness or negligence of the driver of the Acura – or, perhaps, to consider what might have gone wrong with her car. That makes sense, and your hunch may even be correct. For instance, maybe the woman was on an exotic diabetes medication that made her groggy and confused; and the medication side effects made her unable to gauge her turning distance safely.

Often, however, our simplistic “just so” stories are missing pieces.

For instance, one might ask: WHY did the multi-car collision “domino effect” happen? Perhaps that domino effect had little to do with the accident itself and more to do with the design and engineering of the road. Thus, if you or someone who got caught up in that multi-car “pig pile,” not only might you blame the woman — or even the doctor who prescribed her diabetes medication — but you also might pin at least part of the blame on the municipal agency responsible for engineering the highway along that section.

The point is that there is often a lot more to accidents than meets the eye.

Moreover, our “gut instincts” about what happened — who is to blame, who should be held responsible, etc. — can be off the mark, possibly far off the mark. To exhume the “objective truth” of what happened, you need to launch a thorough investigation, ideally with the help of an experienced North Carolina auto accident law firm.

Finding out the truth about the accident may be difficult, but it’s possible to resolve your situation, obtain justice, and get compensation.

More Web Resources:

Accidents are more complex than they appear

Bad road design

Preventing North Carolina Car Accidents through Analysis and Data

January 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Tragic North Carolina car accidents often attract the attention of police, investigators, and sometimes the news media and general public.

But “near-miss” accidents attract the attention of practically no one at all – save for the drivers whose hearts skipped a few beats as they contemplated what could have just happened.

Chances are, you’ve been involved in a few “near-miss” situations yourself. There is a lot that you can learn from these situations – information that could be useful for helping you and other drivers avoid injury accidents and improve driving skills.

Accidents Are Aberrations

Odds are that drivers experience far more “near misses” than they do actual accidents. Since we don’t pay attention to these near misses, they are less salient, and we may tend to discount their relevance. In fact, it’s not uncommon for drivers who’ve just “nearly missed” getting into serious collisions to forget about what happened by the time they arrive home or at their destination.

But these near misses may hold powerful clues about your driving behavior, attitudes, and weaknesses. By attending to them – identifying what happened, who was involved, how you went wrong (or right), etc. – you can shore up your most glaring weaknesses and inculcate new, better, and safer behaviors.

How to Do It

The key is to collect data.

Every time you’re involved in a “near-miss” accident — after you stop driving and are in a safe place — write down exactly what happened in as much detail as possible. Identify more information than you think is necessary – dates, who was involved, how you felt before and afterwards, what you think caused it, etc.

Likewise, journal any time after anything extraordinary happens on the road. As a general point, the more information you have about your driving – and the more specific that information is – the more good data you can mune to understand your driving habits.

Why do this? Isn’t it time consuming and annoying?

Perhaps. But car accidents are one of the biggest non-disease killers of North Carolinians. So it’s worth your time to pay attention to and prevent auto disasters.

For help understanding actionable, specific tactics and strategies you can use to hold someone accountable for what happened to you, connect with a North Carolina auto accident law firm right now.

More Web Resources:

“Near-miss” accidents

Using journaling to understand and change your behaviors

Reducing the Likelihood of North Carolina Auto Accidents – How to Drive Less, Part Two

January 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In part one of our series about how to limit your risk of North Carolina car accidents by limiting the amount you drive, we discussed why it’s so important to limit your driving. Simply recording your driving habits, thoughts, and behaviors can have wonderful effects on your overall safety habits and fuel economy.

Of course, tracking your habits and changing them is a great strategy. But it’s only one option. Here are several other really interesting and (somewhat counterintuitive) ways to limit your driving and indirectly reduce your likelihood of getting into a North Carolina auto accident:

•    Purchase more expensive gasoline, even if your car doesn’t need it.

Think about it. If gas cost $9 a gallon, wouldn’t you be far more frugal in terms of your driving decisions. You would cut out trips that were not totally essential, and you would avail yourself of alternative transportation options, like public transportation, and bicycle riding.

•    Identify the “big drives” that you regularly make, and find ways to make those drives less taxing or less regular.

For instance, say your parents live in Georgia. Every two months or so, you take a car trip down to see your folks, so that they can see your kids and you can all spend time together. It’s easier to drive than to fly – more economical, more convenient, etc. You want to see your folks. And they want to see their grandkids. So what can you do? One option is to reduce the number of visits and increase the length of each visit. For instance, on your typical visit, maybe you spend three or four days and then return home. If so, consider cutting your trips in half and then making each trip last eight or nine days. This way, everyone gets the same amount of time together, but you reduce the long car trips by 50%. It’s obviously a theoretical example, but it illustrates that once you put your mind to the task, you can generate some great creative solutions to the “big drive” problem.

•    Don’t invest in good-looking cars.

If you’re really proud of your vehicle – it’s a beautiful, classic work of art – something that you want to show off – you will be more likely to take the vehicle out and about. If, on the other hand, you’re somewhat ashamed of your vehicle, you will intuitively and evenly subconsciously avoid going on road trips just out of embarrassment.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t avail yourself of the finer things of life or that you should drive a car that lacks the highest safety features. But it does suggest that tapping into your subconscious mind is an interesting way to discourage behaviors that you don’t want (e.g. driving a lot) and encourage behaviors that you want to cultivate (e.g. reducing how much you drive).

For help obtaining compensation or holding a careless or negligent driver to account, connect with a North Carolina car accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

How to Think About How to Save Time Doing Things

Tapping into Subconscious Drives That Change Your Behavior

Under the Hood of Your North Carolina Car Accident

January 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What do you think happened during your North Carolina car accident? And what’s the difference between your interpretation of what occurred versus what actually happened?

Assuming that there is a difference – that there were aspects of the accident you didn’t understand and don’t currently understand – how do you fill that gap to maximize your potential case’s value, ensure justice is done, and speed up the resolution of your matter?

Interesting questions, aren’t they!

The “Voltage” Problem

It’s important to remember that in almost all accident cases, there is a gap between the perception of the North Carolina car accident and the objective “reality” of that accident, assuming that you could measure and codify everything that happened or went wrong.

For instance, let’s take a very commonplace problem. You stop at a red light. A driver coasts in behind you and bangs your bumper, giving you a mild case of whiplash. The cause (to you) is cut and dry. The driver behind you just wasn’t paying attention. Maybe he or she was chatting on a cell phone or something. But the cause and effect is pretty clear.

And, indeed, it might be. But maybe the person who bumped you tried at the last minute to hit the brakes, but the brakes did not respond effectively. In that case, the accident would have a kind of “hidden cause” that contributed to the damage. Had the person’s brakes functioned at their optimum, then the accident might not have occurred.

That’s a very simple case, but you might be surprised by the diversity and prevalence of “hidden causes.”

In more complicated accidents, the “real objective truth” of the accident may be even harder to discern. For instance: say a trucker hit you on Interstate 95. Consider the unknowns. How well was that trucker trained? Did the trucking company institute appropriate policies for vetting their potential employees? Did the trucker have any history of drug or alcohol use? You have no way of knowing the answers simply from reading the facts of the accident in a police report.

The Danger of Making Too Many Assumptions

If you assume too much about your accident, you run the risk of pursuing the wrong leads, settling for far too little, and allowing potentially liable parties to escape judgment. This much is obvious. But you might be surprised at how often the plaintiff’s insistence (“I know who did it and why!”) impedes progresses in cases.

How to Get All the Facts

To make the most appropriate decisions, you may find it worth your while to talk to a competent and highly experienced North Carolina car accident law firm. A good firm will use powerful investigative techniques, talk to witnesses, and probe under the surface to make sure that you get as close to the “objective truth” about your crash as modern science and forensics will allow.

More Web Resources:

How our perceptions warp our ability to maneuver properly

Hidden causes of accidents

Can Positive Affirmations Help You Avoid North Carolina Auto Accidents?

January 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Are your current beliefs about driving putting you at risk for a North Carolina car accident?

If you recognize that your driving skills are rusty, below par, or inadequate for the challenges you face, it might behoove you to reflect on how you drive, why you drive, and how to drive better and safer.

As previously discussed, journaling offers many benefits. Drivers who want to understand their habits and opportunities for improvement can glean great insight simply by journaling before and after every road trip. (Yes, this can be annoying and time consuming. But the information you gain from the insights can save your life.)

Once you’ve developed some insights into your driving, and you want to change your behavior, how might you be able to go about doing that?

One possible route is through the use of repeated affirmations. For instance, you might collect 5 or 10 “new beliefs” you want to have about driving and then write those down on a piece of paper. Then, every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to sleep, read those affirmations to yourself, and your subconscious will begin to internalize those thoughts.

Here are a few types of thoughts that you might include in an affirmation list:

1. I never use my cell phone (even a hands-free headset) when I drive. If I need to make a call, I pull over first.

2. When I drive, I focus on driving. I avoid letting my mind wander to other things.

3. I take care of my vehicle and ensure that all the components are safe and well maintained.

4. I educate myself about car accident prevention.

5. I avoid driving if I feel fatigued, or drunk, or medicated, or otherwise incapacitated.

The more you tailor your affirmations to your personal peccadilloes – driving mistakes that you often make and want to avoid – the more useful you may find this exercise to be.

If you need help with a specific legal question concerning a crash or injury, talk to a North Carolina auto accident law firm about how to obtain powerful results.

More Web Resources:

The Strategic Use of Affirmations

Keeping a Driving Journal

Avoid North Carolina Auto Accidents by Driving Less: Part One

January 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

No one wants to get into a North Carolina auto accident.

But the more time you spend on North Carolina roads and freeways, the greater the likelihood that you will be involved in some injury crash. It’s just simple math. Obviously, hundreds of others factors are relevant, too. The safety features of the car you drive, your own skill and experience level, the time of day (or night) you drive, your familiarity with roads, whether you drive under the influence of alcohol and medications or not, etc., etc., can all be profoundly important.

But there is no getting around the math: If you drive less, you’ll reduce your overall accident risk.

Driving less can be wonderful in other ways, too. If you spend less time behind the wheel, you can spend more time doing things you actually love to do: hang out with your family, engage in your favorite hobbies, earn money at your job, or just lounge around and read a great mystery novel.

Incremental changes in how much (or how little) we drive add up over time.

For instance, if you find a way to shave just five minutes off of your daily commute by identifying a shortcut or by leaving at a time that’s more conducive to avoiding traffic, that adds up to 25 minutes a week, 100 minutes a month, and 1,200 minutes a year. That’s nearly a full day of your life you can “get back” by simply by shaving a five minutes off of your commute. Now imagine if you could shave three or four times that amount of driving from your life – that’s three or four days you “get back” every year. Over 50 years, that’s nearly 200 days you “get back” just by being slightly more economical about your driving habits.

So this process is more than just about reducing your risk of North Carolina car accidents!

Now that you understand the utility of this kind of thinking, you’re probably wondering: How CAN I start to shave down my driving times? An easy (and foolish) solution is to simply drive faster. This might save you time, but it also increases your risk of accidents. So don’t speed.

A better method is to simply track your driving habits in exquisite detail for a while.

This might seem like a pain. And it can be. But once you see how, precisely, you’re spending your driving time, you’ll understand what you can “cut” to make your life easier. For instance, maybe you’ll notice that you drive to a convenience store on Monday to get some groceries for the week and then you also drive to the grocery store on Friday to get the “bulk” of your goods and groceries. In a sense, you are “wasting” your trip. If you could figure out how to combine those two shopping trips into one, you could save many miles a week. By making it a habit to pay attention to your driving behaviors, attitudes, and habits (both good and bad), you’re bound to discover ways to optimize your driving.

More Web Resources:

How Much Is Your Time Really Worth?

Learning to Pay Attention to Your Own Life

North Carolina Auto Accident Prevention: Should You Take Drivers Ed Again?

January 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

No one wants to be involved in a North Carolina car accident. But how far you willing to go to reduce your odds of disaster?

In today’s blog, we’re going to talk about an interesting, albeit speculative, idea for auto accident prevention.

It’s common sense to review driving fundamentals. So you think it would be common sense to review driving fundamentals regularly and periodically. But this kind of common sense is uncommonly practiced. Most Carolinians on the road today took drivers ed prior to getting their licenses. But very few people take drivers ed multiple times, unless they’re compelled to do so for legal reasons. (For instance, if you’re hit with a DUI charge, you might have to take drivers ed to regain your license.)

But there is a difference between what the law allows and what’s optimal for you to do, if you want to maximize your safety on the roads.

Think about other areas of your life. If you really want to memorize a set of practices, habits, and behaviors, you’ll spend serious time reflecting and reviewing on the key elements and principles. Surgeons, for instance, don’t “cram” and pull all-nighters to memorize specific surgical procedures and then never review those procedures again. They’re constantly analyzing surgical techniques, refining them, getting feedback from other professionals, etc. This makes sense since surgery is a matter of life and death.

Well, so is driving.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration regularly publishes statistics on North Carolina car accidents (and car accidents throughout the nation). Believe it or not, over 40,000 people die every year on US highways and surface streets. So it is a matter of life and death. And given that the stakes are so high, it just makes sense to “immunize” yourself as much as possible from the dangers. That might mean adopting unconventional ways of thinking. In other words, it is not common practice for drivers to take refresher drivers ed courses voluntarily. But it’s kind of thinking as irrelevant. Of course, common sense dictates that adjust the driver to reflect on their habits, proclivities, and beliefs about driving safety – and who get with driving assistance – will be better suited to meet the haphazard and experiences you’re bound to encounter on Carolina roads.

For help with a specific accident or injury question, connect with a powerful and effective North Carolina car accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Drivers Education

Test Your Driving Knowledge

Good News on the North Carolina Car Accident Front: Justin Bieber’s Grandparents are Going to be Okay

January 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most North Carolina car accident news that we cover on this blog is, frankly, pretty depressing: reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving on suspended or even stolen licenses, etc. So let’s start the New Year off on a more positive note and talk about a story of triumph over tragedy involving the grandparents of teen pop star Justin Bieber.

According to tabloid reports, the grandparents of the 17-year-old singer – Diane and Bruce Mallette – flipped into a ditch on November 28 and totaled their car. Bruce Mallette apparently suffered broken ribs, but both of Bieber’s grandparents survived what could have been a very ugly wreck. Incidentally, the singer had given his grandparents the 2011 Buick Encore that they flipped.

On a more sober note, however, the story reminds us that no amount of money or fame can protect us against North Carolina car, truck, and motorcycle accidents. The fact is that the roads can be a dangerous place, no matter who you are… or who your parents or grandchildren are. This doesn’t mean that you should feel terrified every time you get behind the wheel.

But do be mindful when you get behind the wheel. Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most people do on a regular basis.

Vow to make 2012 a year of mindful driving. Consider not turning on the radio every time you’re in the car. Instead of chatting on your phone or even chatting with your fellow passengers, consider taking some trips in silence and focusing all of your energy on staying alert and present to road conditions. You can’t reduce the risk of accidents to zero, but you can make a significant, positive difference simply by taking precautions like keeping your car well maintained, avoiding driving during dangerous hours, and staying alert about your state of mind and level of fatigue.

If you or someone you love was hurt over the New Year’s accident, connect with a powerful and compassionate North Carolina car, truck, motorcycle accident law firm today.

More Web Resources:

Justin Bieber’s Grandparents Hurt in a Car Accident

The 2011 Buick Encore

Reckless Driver Causes North Carolina Car Accident on Market Street in New Hanover County

January 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

WECT is reporting on a scary but fortunately non-fatal North Carolina multi-car crash that disrupted traffic and shook the region last Friday afternoon.

A North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper told WECT that “a woman driving a Suzuki crossed the central line on Market Street and caused a head-on collision. Three witnesses told officials the woman was driving recklessly, weaving in and out of lanes.” An Airlink helicopter was called in to transport the injured to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. The Suzuki’s driver sustained serious injuries. Two other people from a different car were taken by ambulance to the hospital. Unsurprisingly, Market Street’s traffic was gridlocked following the crash.

The Root Cause of Crashes Like This?

The calendar can dramatically impact the number of North Carolina car accidents. On certain holidays, such as Memorial Day, Super Bowl Sunday, 4th of July, and Veterans Day, accident rates spike because more revelers are on the road. The more people drink and party, the more accidents occur. It’s a pretty simple equation. So should we chalk up this reckless driving accident up to New Year’s Day jitters? After all, there is often a tremendous accident spike on New Year’s Eve. Everyone’s out drinking champagne and carousing and singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Put those drivers on the road – even in limited numbers – and you’re going to see accident spikes.

But it’s important to evaluate any accident within its very specific context. What we cannot assume from a news story, for instance, is that the reckless driver in the Suzuki had been partying or drinking. We can’t even presume that she was, in fact, driving recklessly. Perhaps her steering column malfunctioned, causing her to swerve in and out of lanes. In other words, this event is much like an iceberg that’s mostly underwater. We can only see the top part – the news story only allows you to see a little bit of the truth.

To fully understand what happened in an accident, you need the investigative power and prowess of a North Carolina car accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

More Car Crashes Happen on New Year’s Eve

New Hanover Car Crash Involving Reckless Suzuki Driver