October 2012

Is Texting While Driving Really the Root Cause of So Many North Carolina Car Accidents?

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Drivers who text while behind the wheel – or who engage in other distracted activities – can be at a significantly elevated risk for causing a North Carolina car crash. For instance, many studies suggest that drivers who text have reduced reaction times and may very well perform worse behind the wheel than DUI drivers or drivers who’ve been sleep-deprived.

In other words, texting = hugely dangerous no-no.

On the other hand, efforts to stall or reverse the texting while driving epidemic have been somewhat (although not entirely) fruitless in Charlotte and elsewhere throughout the United States.

Why is this?

If fledgling science convincingly suggests that texting is incredibly dangerous – perhaps more so than DUI driving – then why haven’t we collectively rallied around policies that would ban cell phone use and punish offenders harshly?

In other words, if texting really is as dangerous as DUI driving, then shouldn’t the punishments be commensurate? Right now, if you are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher in North Carolina, you can go to jail, have your license stripped for a year, and suffer all sorts of other powerful consequences – even if your DUI was uncomplicated by an injury accident or other charges.

So why shouldn’t we do the same thing to drivers who text while driving?

Why shouldn’t we throw them in jail for a year or longer for their activity; strip their licenses; compel them to attend weeks and weeks of safe driving training; and subject them to strict probation terms? The answer probably has less to do with a logical rejoinder to the comparison between texting while driving and DUI driving than it does with our cultural biases.

Despite the science and statistics, we’ve accepted the idea that texting is somehow less hazardous – less socially unacceptable. And that cultural imprimatur – that texting is not necessarily great but not nearly as a “bad” as DUI driving – may ultimately be driving not only the epidemic of texting behind the wheel and cell phone use behind the wheel, but also indirectly driving up accident injury rates in and around the state, health care costs, and so forth.

The moral is this: the fact that we find texting behind the wheel somewhat socially acceptable may be the real root problem. So if we want to improve auto safety in the state, we need to address that real root problem and somehow find ways to make texting as socially detestable as DUI driving. Once we do that, maybe we’ll start to see some real changes.

If you’re looking for practical, specific, step-by-step help after your North Carolina car crash, get in touch with the highly regarded and empathetic team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

Want to Avoid Auto Accidents in Charlotte? Get Off That Cell Phone!

October 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you were recently hurt – you know someone who was hurt – in an auto accident in Charlotte, you want to do everything possible to protect yourself and your loved ones on the roads in the future. What exactly does that entail? What must you “give up” to maximize your safety? What should you start doing that you haven’t been doing?

Those questions are seemingly simple, but they harbor a dastardly amount of complexity. After all, the science undergirding our safety recommendations is still in flux, and even the auto safety experts still vigorously debate the fundamentals. Beyond some obvious pieces of wisdom — such as “wear your safety belt” if you’re driving a car or “wear your helmet” if you’re a motorcycle rider — the top minds in automotive safety diverge more substantially than you may realize.

One thing you can do: Stop using your cell phone while driving.

Most people who’ve paid attention to research into North Carolina auto safety appreciate that cell phones and driving don’t mix. When you’re distracted by your cell phone, you’re more likely to get into a crash. Period. End of story. And apparently texting while driving may be far more dangerous than simply chatting on a cell phone. Likewise, placing calls and manipulating cell phones can spike your risk, in and of itself.

However, even drivers who know better than to text while behind the wheel or to hold the phone to their ear while driving still think nothing of plugging in a hands free headset and yapping away for hours during road trips.

Chatting on a cell phone, even using a hands free headset, can be dangerous — potentially as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, at least according to some initial studies.

Why is chatting on a cell phone so dangerous?

No one really knows. Some researchers believe that cell phone conversations essentially mentally transport drivers out of their vehicles – they distract in a bad way. Is this distraction more or less dangerous than the distraction caused by a conversation with a fellow passenger?

Perhaps. Hopefully, researchers will look into that and similar questions soon.

You also need to extrapolate your risks over time. Chatting on a hands free headset may be 20 times safer than texting while driving, but it still adds some danger. Maybe it increases your risk of an accident by 0.1% every trip. But if you’re chatting on your headset a lot – every time you go out on an errand or a road trip – and you persist with this behavior for years or decades – you’re going to increase your lifetime serious accident risk by a not-insubstantial factor.

All that said, if you’re dealing with the aftermath of a major crash, you may benefit hugely from a confidential free case evaluation with the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Get in touch with us today to understand your rights and potential points of leverage.

A Worry-Free Relationship with Your Charlotte Auto Accident Law Firm

October 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

One of the reasons why you haven’t yet retained a law firm in Charlotte to help with your auto accident case is that you are not sure how to interact with attorneys in a way that leave you feeling safe and confident.

On the one hand, you know that you can’t handle your case by yourself. On the other hand, you’re suspicious, dubious, and overwhelmed by what retaining an attorney might entail for you. How can you ensure that your relationship is stress-free?

Work through the following questions at your own pace on a word document or in your private journal:

1.    Why do you think you need the lawyer?
2.    What might a lawyer or law firm do that could make you uncomfortable? In other words, if you were to hand-off the entire case to someone or some team, what rules would they need to abide by to ensure your complete comfort? Dig deep here, and list as many guidelines as you think apply.
3.    What would an ideal relationship with a law firm look like, from your end? Would you like to be true during the case? Would you like to be true for you after the case?
4.    What proof or guarantees would you like an attorney or law firm to present to you before you commit to retaining services?

These questions are not comprehensive, but they should at least get you thinking in a productive way about the selection challenge you face.

When you understand why you want to achieve a certain goal, what rules you want to apply to the “game” of attaining that goal, and gain clarity on the ideal vision for your case, you’ll likely find it much simpler to find good help, not only with your case but also with other diverse projects in your life.

Another Way to Limit Your Likelihood of Getting into a Charlotte Auto Accident (And Make More Friends, Too!)

October 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

There’s something that you can do right now – and for the rest of your life – that should not only substantially limit your lifetime risk of a serious Charlotte auto accident but also win you new friends and make your life more joyful.

Clean your car.

That’s it? Clean your car? That’s it.

That may sound like a condescending advice, but there’s a lot of logic behind it. Let’s unpack this concept: it should hopefully be useful for you, whether you’ve just been involved in a auto accident in North Carolina (and you want to reduce your risk of ever being in one again) or you are just curious about “out of the box” safety ideas.

The clutter that accumulates in our automobiles – old McDonald’s bags, flyers people left on your dashboard, coffee cups, newspapers from work and school, etc – can create safety hazards for a number of reasons.

1. The trash can physically interfere with your driving during crucial moments.

For instance, a tennis ball left in the backseat could potentially roll under the gas or the brake and impede your ability to work the pedals during an emergency moment. Alternatively, a big gust of wind could blow paper in front of your face while you’re making a tricky turn on the freeway.

2. Second of all, if you keep a “gross” environment in your car, it may actually impact the way you think about yourself.

The trash heap could lead to subconscious thoughts to the effect of “my life is a mess, I can’t control anything, etc.” When you have thoughts like that running through your head, you might be less assertive and successful when it comes to making critical decisions behind the wheel.

3. When you allow clutter to fill up your personal space – be it an office, car, or closet — you may find it far more difficult to concentrate on bigger, important “thinking projects.”

Productivity guru David Allen calls these unprocessed bits of information “open loops.” They can wrap up our attention and prevent us from being productive in important areas of our lives. As a result of this productivity deficit, you may feel more agitated, stressed, sleepless, unhealthy, etc – and this physical manifestation of your disorderliness can ultimately impact your driving skills by reducing your reaction times, etc.

Obviously, driving with a messy car is less dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while texting a friend or posting tweets. But over the long-term – years, decades – a dirty car can probably spike your risk of a crash in a non-negligible way. The trick is not just to clean your car once but to clean it and keep it clean. That’s a topic for another day, but if you’re looking for a “back door” way to improve automotive safety, that might just might be one.

For help dealing with the legal ramifications of your Charlotte auto accident, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team immediately for a free case consultation.

When Is Your Next Auto Accident in North Carolina Scheduled?

October 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a victim of a recent auto accident in North Carolina – a horrific collision with a tractor-trailer on I-95, perhaps, or a fender-bender at a stop light in Downtown Charlotte, maybe – you’re determined to obtain compensation and justice and also to prevent similar disasters in the future.

This is an admirable goal. And if you do need help managing the aftermath of an injury crash, the compassionate, extremely experienced Charlotte auto accident team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can provide a free consultation.

However, good intentions may not be enough.

After all, odds are that you fully intended to avoid car accidents prior to your crash, and yet you were not able to do so. You may have been totally innocent in the crash – or only marginally responsible – but you can still learn lessons from what happened to protect yourself, your family, and others on the road over the longer-term.

The first step is to identify, objectively, what went wrong.

As someone who was involved in the accident, your ability to be objective is limited. Investigators with DeMayo Law can help you objectively assess the crash scene – help which could prove vital to your case. But recognize this broader lesson: You need to understand what happened and why in order to maximize the lessons learned.

For instance, maybe the crash happened on a Friday or Saturday night, near a club or a bar.

If so, you might recognize that driving on those roads during those hours can put you at elevated risk, and you may make a rule for yourself in the future to avoid those roads during those hours.

You might also look to your general driving history and proclivities. When are you most alert behind the wheel? When are you least alert? Prior to your crash, did you ever “almost” get into an auto accident? What happened in that case? How safe is your car? How often do you get your car checked? When was the last time you analyzed your driving skills?

These are a lot of questions – and you obviously don’t need to answer them all, especially now, when you’re struggling with so many other more vital issues. But understand that the more actively you assess your driving prowess, the more insights you will get into how you drive best.

In our next blog post, we will talk about how to extract the lessons that you get from this self-analysis to improve your on-the-road performance – and to keep yourself on track for improvement over the long-term, so you minimize your risk of getting into future crashes.

Installing New and Safer Driving Behaviors to Minimize Your Likelihood of Getting into Another Auto Accident in Charlotte

October 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a recent Charlotte auto accident victim, you want to do everything in your power to drive safer from now on… and avoid even coming in contact with dangerous drivers or dangerous situations.

In a previous blog post, we discussed how important it is for drivers to introspect about their driving habits, beliefs, and behaviors by asking and answering several vital questions. While it’s important to learn from the accident itself, you can also learn much just by observing your day-to-day driving behavior – or by asking others who drive with you frequently for their feedback.

But let’s say that you’ve finished that work, and you come up with five big takeaways:

1.    “When I’m fatigued, my driving skills and reaction time are substantially eroded.”
2.    “My car is generally a mess, and I don’t get the vehicle tuned up nearly as much as I should, and I want to change that.”
3.    “I don’t feel safe driving at night on the highway.”
4.    “I enjoy driving with the windows down.”
5.    “I much prefer short trips to long highway excursions.”

Now, you need to translate those beliefs into positive action.

In some cases, you might want to consciously change certain aspects of your daily routine.

For instance, say your boss sends you on long-drive assignments, during which you have to drive over 200 miles. Based on your new self-knowledge, you may ask to get out of that assignment or at least reduce its regularity.

In other cases, you may want to almost hypnotize yourself to engage in better behaviors.

Try using daily and nightly affirmations to reprogram your brain, almost like you would program a computer: “I’ll do my best to avoid driving while fatigued. I’ll do my best to avoid driving while fatigued. etc” Reading a suggestion like that every day and every night for weeks or months would almost certainly change your driving habits.

Lastly, you can create what are known as “if / then sequences” to help you.

First, imagine a situation that might trigger bad behavior — for instance, your boss asking you to drive 400 miles for an. Then imagine how you would most like respond. So the “if / then” to memorize might be “IF my boss asks me to go on a long 400-mile trip, THEN I’ll politely decline and suggest an alternative way to solve project.”

These are some tools to get you started, but undoubtedly you can find your own. Whatever you do, start the process. Become more active and thoughtful in the driving process.

For help dealing with the specific legal issues surrounding your Charlotte auto accident case, get in touch with the team here at The Law Offices of Michael DeMayo for a free, confidential consultation.

Does “Eating Behind the Wheel” Lead to Auto Accidents in North Carolina or Elsewhere? What Other “Stuff” Might Distract Us?

October 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In your quest to be a safer driver and to avoid another auto accident in North Carolina, you have been researching safety tips and struggling to come to grips with some of the data that you found.

Nearly universal recommendations – based on compelling evidence and also common sense – suggest that drivers avoid engaging in activities that would slow reaction times and cause weaker behind the wheel performance. Some of the main culprits of distracted driving include:

•    Using alcohol, drugs, or many prescription medications;
•    Driving while extremely fatigued or ill;
•    Driving while chatting on a cell phone or texting on a personal digital device;
•    Fiddling with the radio a lot;
•    Rubbernecking;
•    et cetera

Assuming that you avoid all of these “big no-nos,” what else might you do that that could cause you trouble – and what can you do that might give you some kind of an edge – make you a hyper-concentrated driver?

Here are some ideas to help you avoid distraction even more:

•    Don’t eat or drink while driving;
•    Refrain from listening to distracting radio stations or getting involved in deep or emotional conversations with passengers in the car;
•    Take extremely frequent breaks;
•    Avoid spiking your blood sugar before or during drives with the drinks like colas or sugary energy drinks;
•    Take regular breaks, especially if you’re on a long trip;
•    Spend some time actively concentrating on just driving — just paying attention to your car and other cars on the road, instead of to your internal monologue;
•    Meditate 15 to 30 minutes before every big drive;
•    Enroll in a driver’s education class, so that you can refresh yourself regarding the rules of the road;
•    Make sure that your car is regularly serviced;
•    Ask a friend or family member – someone who drives with you regularly – to rate your driving skills and even rate your concentration on a minute-by-minute basis. Yes, this might sound like overkill. But imagine if you had data. How might it influence your driving in a positive way?

These suggestions might seem overly obvious and/or overly complex. But the point is that the kind of “pre-thinking” that you do before getting behind the wheel can have a dramatic effect, especially when aggregated over the long-term, in terms of your ability to avoid injury accidents in North Carolina and beyond.

For help dealing with aftermath of a scary, traumatic car crash, connect to the team of The Law Offices of Michael DeMayo.

Charlotte Halloween Car Accident Safety Tips

October 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Halloween is quickly approaching, and while your kids (and possibly you) are thrilled about the prospect of dressing up in a Hugo Chavez or Mitt Romney costume and gobbling down more Milky Ways and Skittles than you probably should, you’re also concerned about car safety in Charlotte on the big day.

Tragically, Halloween is legitimately a scary time for drivers and pedestrians.

Traditionally, the number of car accident injuries and fatalities spikes on All Hallows’ Eve, so it behooves you to think through what you can do to improve your safety and protect those around you as well. Here are some tips:

1.    If you go to Halloween parties, choose a designated driver and do other important “preplanning”

Yes, Halloween is a spontaneous holiday. No one is saying that you need to plan out precisely how many apples you will bob for. On the other hand, if you plan to consume alcohol, be sure to arrange a designated driver or alternative means of transportation.

2.    Along those lines: avoid “walking while DUI” as well.

Believe it or not, mile per mile, walking while under the influence of alcohol seems to be MORE dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. So say the authors of the best selling book Superfreakonomics, and Halloween pedestrian accident statistics back that up. Drivers will likely be on higher than normal alert for pedestrians because of the holiday, but understand that just because you are walking does not mean that you are necessarily safe.

3.    If you’re diabetic or if you have severe metabolic syndrome, be careful about bingeing on too much sugar.

If you have trouble managing your blood sugar — whether you are insulin resistant, pre-diabetic, diabetic, or somewhere else along the ìblood sugar impairedî spectrum — your big candy binge can seriously adversely impact your driving. For instance, if you down a whole bag of those delicious pumpkin shape candy corns (you know how good those are) and then hop behind the wheel, you could wind up suffering a hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic episode while driving and cause an accident. You need not ìblackoutî from the sugar high/crash to put yourself and others in danger. Even a normal sugar-binge-induced blood-sugar rollercoaster can make you more fatigued than normal and mess with your ability to react quickly to scary (literally) road conditions during Halloween.

If you or someone you care about needs help dealing with a North Carolina car accident, look to the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo for trusted guidance and an effective battle plan. Get in touch with us today via our website or toll free number to set up your free consultation.

Protecting Your Kids from Getting into a Charlotte Car Accident on Halloween

October 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When you’re a parent of small kids, there is really no end to the worry. And if you’ve recently been injured in a North Carolina auto accident — or if a friend or relative has gotten hurt… or, God forbid, a child — you are probably that much more aware of the potential hazards that lurk even on the quiet suburban streets of Charlotte.

To that end, here are tips to make your spooky night safer and less stressful:

1. Be safe when designing/outfitting costumes.

Yes, it’s cute to see your little girl dressed as a witch in an all black costume and hat. But black and brown costumes are hard to see. To minimize the risk of a scary accident, affix reflective tape to the costume and/or change the color of the costume and/or choose a different costume entirely. You also want to make sure that your child can breathe; that he or she is not subject to any harsh chemicals; and that he or she can move freely without tripping or getting entangled.

2. Monitor the candy consumption.

Halloween may be a dentist’s worst nightmare, but many parents like to let their kids indulge in at least one night of carefree eating. Be careful, however. Some metabolically unhealthy kids can get very sick when they eat too much sugar – particularly liquid sugar. If your child is pre-diabetic or diabetic, you may need to monitor his or her sugar intake closely.

3. It’s okay to be a little bit of a helicopter parent on Halloween.

You might feel somewhat guilty for wanting to monitor your child’s fun wild romp through your neighborhood, particularly if you have an older child or teenager – and particularly if your child wants independence. But there is a way to balance your child’s need for independence with your need to protect him/her. Rather than dictate terms – which may not go over well, especially if you have an older child or teenager – creatively come up with a win-win plan, one that will leaving you feeling informed and secure and your child feeling independent and free. For instance, you may set parameters such as ìmake sure you and your friends stick to the side streets… Or you may ask your child to call you at a designated time. Or, if you are the parent of a teenager who drives, you can set up a ìfree passî rule, whereby your child can call you to get a ride home from wherever, and you are not allowed to ask any questions or punish the child. This way, your teen can feel empowered to resist the urge to get behind the wheel while under the influence or get in a car with a friend who is possibly DUI.

Get in touch with our team at DeMayo Law for immediate assistance with any questions or concerns you may have about your accident case.