April 2012

What to Do If Your Son is at Risk of Getting into a North Carolina Motorcycle Crash

April 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Maybe your son has already been involved in a scary and perhaps serious North Carolina motorcycle crash.

Or maybe you are just concerned that his driving habits and attitudes and friends have put him on a collision course with disaster. What can you do to influence his behavior, and get him to change his ways to become more safety conscious?

This problem is minimally discussed, if ever discussed, on North Carolina car accident blogs and other educational websites. Instead, we get the same old pabulum — preaching safety advice to the choir. Do you really need to be told, again and again, why it’s so important to wear a helmet while driving or why to avoid biking under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or extreme fatigue? Probably not. You are the one who always reads safety articles, forwards emails to your son, etc!

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to solve this “preaching to the choir” problem. How do you reach out to people who seem to make an art out of ignoring your advice?

The answer is not necessarily intuitive. In fact, probably you worry that if you get overly alarmist about motorcycle safety, then you will alienate your son (or other relative) who is at risk of a North Carolina car or motorcycle crash. And you might well be right.

On the other hand, you can’t stand idly by and allow the dangerous driving behavior to continue. If you are still reeling from an actual motorcycle accident, you know in a very real and palpable way what can go wrong – or at least what has the potential to go wrong.

What you need is not necessarily better information – more alarmism, more statistics showing why you are right and he is wrong, etc. You need a new approach — a way to try to connect on a personal, empathetic level.

No one likes to be preached to or talked down to, even if they would begrudgingly acknowledge that certain messages are ultimately in their best interest to hear.

So instead of preaching, consider trying to connect with the rider by using empathy and listening. Find out what’s really going on with him. One very interesting and innovative set of tools is the so-called “nonviolent communication” paradigm, developed by renowned psychologist and negotiator, Marshall Rosenberg.

Rosenberg has created a very interesting and a useful set of communication strategies that help people connect empathetically with one and another and get their needs met. Rosenberg focuses on the feelings and needs of various parties in negotiations.

You can find out more by checking out the link below. And if you need help with a specific motorcycle accident case, connect with a North Carolina motorcycle accident law firm.

More web resources:

Marshall Rosenberg’s nonviolent communication

Why it’s so hard to communicate criticism

Another Simple and Obvious Way to Reduce North Carolina Car Accidents?

April 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

How much thought have you given to avoiding North Carolina car accidents?

If you or someone you love was recently involved in an auto accident, you are probably spending quite a bit of time ruminating over what happened and what went wrong.

Here’s a counterintuitive thought for you: whether there has been an accident in your life recently or not, you are probably not thinking about the future enough!

Here’s why. The reality is that you can’t change the past – you can only impact the present and the potential future.

As this blog has discussed on many occasions, North Carolina auto accident prevention should be on the top of everyone’s list – agencies, insurance companies, businesses, and individual drivers – especially drivers who have recently been hurt or suffered damage.

We all know the standard safety messages: wear your safety belt, don’t drive DUI, don’t yap on your cell phone while behind the wheel, etc. But even those of us who do pay attention to these basic safety guidelines struggle with identifying potentially “out of the box” ideas for accident reduction/prevention.

There are some good clues out there, however, if you bother to look. For instance, accidents don’t happen at random times. There are certain times when it’s far more dangerous to drive – and certain times when it’s relatively safer to get behind the wheel. Some of the most dangerous times to drive include:

•    Friday and Saturday nights
•    National holidays (such as the Super Bowl, 4th of July, Labor Day weekend, Memorial Day weekend, New Year’s Eve, Halloween, etc.)
•    Different roads and highways may have different “danger times” – if you drive on a particular road or highway frequently (i.e. every day), you might want to talk to local law enforcement officers about when that particular road is the most dangerous – and where along that road is the most dangerous.

In other words, there is a tremendous amount of information out there – about specific roads that can be dangerous or about times at which certain roads became dangerous. Pay attention to those statistics and then using them to guide your driving decisions.

Putting Theory into Practice

Say you do a little homework and learn that, on your road to work, you pass one curve where there have been seven accidents in the past five years. It’s a dangerous curve – due to sight line problems, road engineering, or whatever. Once you know this information, you can change your behavior accordingly. For instance, you might find a way to bypass that particular intersection. Or you might just make a note to yourself to pay extra attention whenever you come to that curve – give your driving your full attention and then some when you reach that point.

Alternatively, maybe you can make a conscious decision to avoid driving on Friday and Saturday nights, when the young drunk crowd is out on the roads. Subtle choices like these won’t necessarily save your life. But they could reduce your likelihood of getting involved in a crash, especially over the long-term.

If you need help getting compensation or justice with respect to a car crash, connect immediately with a North Carolina auto accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

The Most Dangerous Times to Drive

Are Some Roads More Dangerous Than Others?

Two Crucial Secrets for Avoiding North Carolina Truck Accidents

April 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina truck accidents can be devastating – far more so than typical auto or motorcycle accidents – due to the sheer size of the vehicles involved and the force differentials.

An 18-wheeler going up against a standard Sedan is in many ways the equivalent of a battle between David and Goliath… in which David inconveniently forgets his sling shot!

So what can you do to protect yourself and your family from dangerous encounters with big rigs and other scary vehicles? Here are two interesting concepts that can be food for thought – ideas that have not been necessarily explored at length on the internet.

1. Buy a bigger car or truck!

Car and truck accidents in North Carolina and beyond are dangerous because, during an accident, the force of the collision indirectly creates forces on your body, which causes injury. This is obvious enough. But the implication is very interesting. If you have two vehicles that are mismatched with respect to their masses, the larger massed vehicle will almost always “win” the fight. Not always but the odds are for it. So if you have a massive 18-wheel truck against a Honda Civic, the Civic is going to be the underdog. And the statistics bear this out. In a collision between trucks and lighter vehicles, the truck drivers often (not always, but often) come out more okay than do the auto drivers or auto passengers. By getting a larger vehicle with more mass, you, at least theoretically, might be at less of a physical disadvantage in an encounter with a truck.

2. Strategically reduce how much driving you do overall – particularly with respect to how much driving you do around trucks.

How much time do you spend really analyzing your driving behavior and patterns and proclivities? Do you keep a driving journal? Do you do this once a month, once a year? Have you ever done it? Most people have never ever thought to think about their driving!

But as the great management thinker, Peter Drucker, once said, what gets measured gets managed. If you don’t know when you might be at most risk for a collision — which highways that you take are the most dangerous, etc. — how can you know when you are most at risk? The answer is you can’t! Unless you track your driving habits.

So make a science out of it. You might think that it’s not worth your while. But consider that some statistics say that as many as 1 out of every 15 Americans will be involved in a serious car accident at some point in their lives. 40,000 people die every year on the U.S. roads. This is a very real and present issue. It’s worth your time to think about your driving habits.

Of course, there is always a degree of randomness and even unfairness when it comes to accidents. That’s why it’s important to protect your rights as quickly as possible after an event by calling a North Carolina truck accident law firm and getting good, actionable, advice from seasoned professionals.

More web resources:

Keeping a journal about your driving habits

What gets measured get managed

A Great Unspoken Truth about North Carolina Car Crashes

April 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What can we do to make North Carolina car crashes “go away,” so that our roads will be essentially 100% safe?

How can we make drivers treat each other humanely, even under difficult conditions, inclement weather, etc?

Before you get lost in pondering these questions, stop. The questions are fundamentally absurd. The idea that we could ever hope to achieve a 100% safety rate in any endeavor in our life is comically absurd. Life is inherently a risky affair. Indeed, stop and contemplate the odds that you were even lucky enough to be born – they were astronomically stacked against you. All along the path of life, we constantly face risks. Even just sitting and lying on your bed too long can lead to bedsores, which can lead to sepsis (infection) and death. What’s more, out attempts to cocoon ourselves against the specter of risk can backfire in unexpected ways. The over-use of antibiotics, for instance, can prevent you from building up an effective immune system and thus, ironically, render you more predisposed to catching colds.

Many researchers now believe that our fear of dietary saturated fat (the idea that eating fat leads to heart disease) led us down the path of consuming way too many unhealthy simple carbohydrates and sugars… thus accidentally making us sicker and fatter.

The problem when we talk about issues like auto safety or diets or sun exposure or any other factor in life where you can “overcompensate” in both directions (getting “too much” of something or getting “too little” of it) is that you can easily become ideological. If you say that, for instance, no car accident prevention scheme will be 100% effective, some people might take that conclusion too far. They’ll then say “okay, life is risky. So why bother trying to make cars safer in the first place, then?”

That’s missing the point!

The point is that questions like “how can we make North Carolina cars and roads safer?” are fundamentally complex. They are not easily distilled down to a sound bite or a one word answer.

And until we develop the language — and a culture of thinking — that respects this kind of complexity, we are always going to be oversimplifying our problems and oversimplifying the solutions to those problems to the detriment of the intention of our quests.

More Web Resources:

Are we getting too much sunlight…or too little?

Are we eating too much fat…or too little?

Fear of Driving After a North Carolina Car Crash

April 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you sustained a major injury in a North Carolina car crash, or you just suffered some fender bender type damage and emotional shock after getting rear-ended by a truck at a traffic light, you’re trying to come up with an appropriate way to process what you’ve been through.

This is difficult because, even if your friends and family members are sympathetic and if you have resources on your side like a competent North Carolina car crash law firm, the experience of being a victim can be incredibly isolating and terrifying. When we don’t process the accident correctly, from an emotional point of view, we can find ourselves hemmed in by our own irrational fears for months or even years after the disaster.

For instance, you might find yourself remarkably and paralyzingly afraid of getting behind the wheel again. The trauma of the accident is just too fresh and potent. On an intellectual level, you’d like to conquer this fear and get back out there. After all, you have a job to do, bills to pay, people to see, and errands to run. But on an emotional level, you’re having a very difficult time conceptualizing your limitations and getting beyond them. Maybe you’ve even tried things like hypnotherapy, talking therapy, cognitive behavioral approaches, etc to some effect.

Step one to dealing with fears like this is to acknowledge the extent and scope of the problem – as well as the limits that this problem are putting on your life. Be compassionate with yourself. Sure, you may suffer through thoughts to the effect “I’m so stupid, why am I so scared of something as silly as the prospect of driving to a 7-11?”

Fears like this – which may seem silly or irrational to others or even to yourself — often stem from far deeper and more complicated root causes. Just knowing that your accident was somehow involved won’t necessarily make the problem go away, either. You need to put attention on the problem and potentially try out various therapies and modalities to restore some balance and equilibrium in your life.

You may also need time. We live in a world in which we expect results instantly – not only from ourselves but also from our therapists and doctors and lawyers. But the reality is that, in some situations, you may need to invest a lot of time and energy just to make a problem go away. In some cases, success may not even be fully possible! In other words, it is at least conceivable that you may be afraid of driving for the reminder of your days. To reconcile with all this, you need to start to think about various ways you can reengineer your life.

For instance, you could try to make your driving fears less debilitating. You could also think about alternative tactics to use in your life to compensate. For instance, maybe your spouse could take care of all highway driving from here on out. Or maybe you could do more business and shopping online to avoid traveling via car. Or maybe you could take the bus to work or car pool.

In other words, your strategy could be a two-front approach:

1) Work on the fear itself. Find its root cause, and see what you can do to get over it or make it less debilitating.

2) Develop workarounds in your life to make things easier and less complicated for you.

More Web Resources:

The Fear of Driving

Getting Over Phobias

North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Rocks Charlotte Motor Speedway During Vietnam Vet Festival

April 10, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

On Saturday March 31st, the Charlotte Motor Speedway was rocked by a fatal North Carolina motorcycle accident that took the lives of two motorcyclists and send a third biker to the hospital in critical condition.

According to reports, the Vietnam Veterans’ Homecoming Celebration had been a raucous event – over 62,000 people showed up to celebrate the service of American Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War. The festival featured an exhibition of the Vietnam Memorial itself, a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band, and thousands of motorcyclists riding around the track.

A report from the Yahoo! Sports Bureau painted a pretty scary picture of this motorcycle circus: “Several witnesses interviewed by area newspapers indicate there was plenty of unsafe driving going on…many of the estimated 2,000 riders were not wearing helmets. Some riders were attempting to scale the speedway’s high-banked turns, which aren’t meant for slower-speed driving. Finally, there were reports that traffic was going both ways on the speedway, which, of course, has no lane markers to guide riders.”

If this report is even close to correct, it’s easy to understand why a fatal North Carolina motorcycle accident took place there. It all comes down to the law of averages. If you get enough dangerous drivers together doing dangerous things for a long enough period of time, horrors are going to unfold.

Unfortunately, many riders who engage in unsafe practices — like riding without a helmet or driving too fast or attempting tricks on their bikes — will look at articles like this and come to a conclusion like “that will never happen to me.” And chances are, on any given day, they will be right. Statistics are very, very difficult for us to understand on a visceral, emotional level.

If doing something like riding your motorcycle without a helmet increases your chances of a fatal collision by 15% over five years (not accurate figures), you might be alarmed. But say you broke that stat down to a day-to-day number. You’d likely only be very fractionally more likely to get hurt on any given day as a result of your “reckless driving.” Only when we see behavior in aggregate – over long periods of time or, in this case, seeing thousands of drivers all behaving irrationally in tandem – can you truly appreciate the potential dangers of behaving carelessly.

This analysis, by the way, is not intended in any way to diminish this tragedy or to make any comments about the accident itself. Rather, we want to highlight the disconnect. That is, when would-be reckless drivers see reports like this, they ignore the potential ramifications, and we don’t want you to ignore the ramifications because they could be important.

For help with a specific case, connect with an experienced North Carolina car and motorcycle crash law firm.

More Web Resources:

Charlotte Motor Speedway Motorcycle Tragedy

Vietnam Veteran Festival

North Carolina Car Crash on I-77 Kills 16-Year-Old High School Student

April 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

On Saturday March 31st, a tragic North Carolina car crash on Interstate 77 took the life of 16-year-old Thomas Luciano, a student at South Mecklenburg High School. According to local reports from WCNC, Luciano was thrown out of an SUV during the crash – he had not been wearing a safety belt. The other passengers and the driver survived, although another passenger, Roland Calhoun, had to undergo surgery for an injury he sustained in the crash. Luciano’s friends painted a big rock outside their high school with messages remembering and celebrating him.

Tragedies like this car crash occur far too often in North Carolina and elsewhere. What can we learn from situations like this? Since the police investigation of the accident has not yet concluded, we can’t really say much about the cause of the crash. If it’s true that Luciano was not been wearing his safety belt, most accident investigators would probably say that omission was significant. But accidents are peculiar and eccentric events. Yes, the statistics definitely show that people who wear safety belts are more likely to survive car crashes and avoid injuries.

But when we jump too quickly to conclusions, we can shortchange ourselves and any friends or family members hurt in a crash. For instance, maybe you, too, recently got hurt in a North Carolina car crash in which you had not be wearing a seatbelt or in which “you drove too fast.” Or something. In other words, you believe that you were at fault in some fashion. You could just accept this diagnosis and try to move on with your life. But a detailed analysis may show that some other factor was also involved – perhaps, crucially so. For instance, maybe your car’s brakes malfunctioned. Maybe the road itself had a design flaw that caused your car to spin out on a curve.

The takeaway is that you may find it extremely useful to get an objective, clearheaded, experienced perspective on what happened. A North Carolina car crash law firm, for instance, can help you protect your rights and preserve potential opportunities to collect compensation from a reckless driver, careless mechanic, or other party.

More Web Resources:

“Classmates Mourn Teen Killed in Crash” WCNC.com Charlotte.

South Mecklenburg High School

North Carolina Car Accident Whiplash: Could Hidden Anger Be to Blame?

April 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You suffered whiplash or other musculoskeletal injuries after a North Carolina car crash. You obviously want to fix your medical problems ASAP, get compensated for your costs, and hold the careless or negligent driver to strict account for your bills and suffering. That’s a very rational and acceptable point of view.

But as you explore the diagnosis with your physician and work with a competent North Carolina car crash law firm to get the results you want, you may find it useful to read the counterintuitive (and certainly controversial) philosophy of New York based physician Dr. John Sarno. In Sarno’s bestselling books, such as “Healing Back Pain,” he proposes a very strange sounding thesis: namely, that many of our chronic muscular aches and pains can be traced back to our psychology. Sarno takes a Freudian view of the world. He postulates that, when we experience strong unpleasant emotions, like anger, fear, and frustration, we lack the psychological and verbal tools to express and expurgate these emotions. So instead, we embody them. We turn them into physical sensations in our body – we get knots in our back, we feel tight, breathing gets constricted, etc.

No one would deny that strong emotions can lead to physical reactions, at least in the short term. Everyone knows, for instance, that stress is unhealthy – particularly chronic stress. But Sarno takes this concept to the nth degree, in that he suggests that problems like North Carolina auto accident induced whiplash and carpal tunnel syndrome and a whole array of other conditions are actually perpetuated and perhaps even caused by these repressed emotions. Sarno’s idea is that, when the mind experiences unpleasant emotions, the brain essentially shuts off oxygen supply to certain muscles and soft tissue, creating very real physical problems called TMS (a.k.a. myofascial trigger points or just “muscle knots”). But essentially the emotional trauma causes the physical manifestation (muscle knots), which in turn cause the numbness, tingling, tightness, etc.

Sarno’s thesis is extremely hard for many people to believe – and let it be said that he is certainly way out of the mainstream. On the other hand, at least according to his internal records, his success rate for treating problems like back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome has been extremely high – higher than the average by far. And what’s spectacular about that is that, according to Sarno, the cure is the diagnosis. Once people “truly accept” that their pain is psychological instead of physical, their symptoms tend to resolve. Again, this all probably sounds preposterous if you’re first hearing about it. But you might want to educate yourself.

One of the interesting pieces of evidence that suggests that Sarno might be on to something comes out of Norway. Several years ago, scientists found that Norwegians experienced an epidemic of whiplash injuries… right after whiplash became an insurable and compensable injury. Some scientists thought that maybe the diagnosis of whiplash actually created more cases. So what they did was they went to Lithuania to look at victims of car accidents – comparable accidents to the ones the Norwegians suffered. They found that the Lithuanians basically had no whiplash symptoms at all as compared with controls.

This whiplash study set off a frenzy in the academic world of whiplash injury analysis, but the results are certainly intriguing and they seem to lend some support to Sarno’s thesis. If you are interested, you could check out the links below to learn more.

More Web Resources:

The Gist of John Sarno’s TMS Theory

The Norwegian Lithuanian Whiplash Study

North Carolina Car Accidents: How Much Safer Can Cars Get?

April 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When we talk about North Carolina car accident prevention, we usually stick to the basics and to reality – we talk about technologies like airbags, ABS, seatbelts, etc. We analyze the effectiveness of these technologies and speculate about how we could deploy them more frequently and in better and cooler ways. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this kind of thinking. But if you really want to make progress with North Carolina car accident prevention, you may need to go beyond the conventional ideas and really think about the nature of auto safety itself.

After all, auto safety is not just about technology! Nor is it just about driver behavior. Nor is it just about road engineering. Nor is it just about traffic control. Auto safety really is a broad discipline that can be affected — and can affect — many, many arenas of life. So when you look at improving auto safety just through the lens of “let’s build better technology to make people safer” you may be taking an overly narrow view of the subject.

There are undoubtedly many leverage points we could push on that would lead to better road safety. Improvements in driver behavior. Improvements in driver education and training. Improvements in road engineering. Improvements in automobile engineering. Improvements in the way that auto safety experts talk to one another and share solutions. Improvements in the science of auto safety and on and on.

But a more holistic appreciation of these factors is needed.

It’s needed not “real folks” — not just for the eggheads who come up with policies and write articles about this subject for public consumption. Driving can be a hugely perilous activity – as this blog and others have cited many times over, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has estimated that 40,000 Americans die every year in car crashes… and millions are injured. This is a clear and present issue for all of us. We could probably benefit from knowing more about auto safety. Sure, it’s great to know that certain cars with ABS or with such and such kind of airbag are safer than other cars with different safety features. And yes: it’s good to be reminded of the fact that we need to keep our cars well maintained to avoid breakdowns like tire failures and faulty brakes. And it’s good to know that we shouldn’t be driving while overly fatigued or driving under the influence of alcohol or so forth.

But what ELSE might we be able to do to improve our safety consciousness – to protect ourselves and our loved ones out there? And perhaps, more interestingly, what “stuff” can we STOP doing that has really no affect on our safety – or a negative affect – and that costs us time and money and energy, only to give us a false sense of security?

This blog post obviously cannot answer all these questions. But it’s important to raise them and begin a more flourishing discussion about them, since so much is at stake for so many people.

That being said, if you’ve already been in an auto accident, you may benefit from talking with a North Carolina car accident law firm today.