May 16, 2013
Last Friday, a Charlotte, North Carolina, development company was ordered by a Mecklenburg County jury to pay the families of the three victims of a fatal North Carolina Car Accident $6 million in damages.
The case stemmed from a crash that occurred on April 4, 2009, along N.C. 49, just south of Steele Creek. Two motorists were involved in an illegal street race on the highway when one of their vehicles struck another car that was pulling out from Riverpointe Drive. A story from WCNC News explained the impact of the collision killed a 13-year-old passenger in the vehicle that was racing, along with the driver of the other vehicle involved and her 2-year-old daughter.
The families of the victims later filed suit against the development company that maintained traffic signals along roads in the area. They argued that the company was negligent in having not installed a traffic signal at the intersection.
During the ensuing trial, the company claimed it had conducted traffic studies at the site in question that had determined there was no need for a signal. The jury hearing the case disagreed and awarded a total of $3 million to each family for the deaths of their children.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst recognize how traumatic the loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can be. The firm is hopeful the decision helps brings a sense of closure to the tragedy for the families of the victims.
The Honda Fit wasn’t quite fit for sale. This week, Honda announced that it is recalling about 44,000 of its 2012 and 2013 model year Fit Sport cars. The reason has to do with the car’s electronic stability control system, and the fix may be as simple as reprogramming the software.
According to an article in The New York Times:
Electronic stability control systems use sensors and a computer to determine if the vehicle is moving in a direction at odds with what the driver is doing with the steering wheel. The system then applies the brake on single wheels to try and correct the movement.
This type of scenario commonly happens when there is something on the road that affects the tires’ ability to grip, such as when you drive on black ice, or if there is oil or other chemical spillage on the road. But stability control can also kick into gear if you have a tire blow out, or other rare events.
The government has required electronic stability control on most consumer vehicles–all except the true “heavy-duty” trucks. These systems are estimated to reduce the number of single-vehicle accidents by about 34%, and the number of single-vehicle S.U.V. crashes by nearly 60%.
What happened with the Honda Fit Sport is that the car’s stability control system was programmed using one kind of tire–the Bridgestone Turanza. But then some Fit Sports came with Dunlop SP tires, which handle differently. For people who own a Honda Fit with Dunlop tires, a simple software update will recalibrate the stability control system and fix the problem.
One lesson for all of us: If you have a car with an electronic stability control system–and if your car is model year 2011 or later, chances are you do–then make sure you check the specs before purchasing new tires.
April 25, 2013
Distracted driving is a major problem on North Carolina’s roadways today. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that around 276 residents were injured and two others were killed last year as a result of a North Carolina Car Crash that was caused by the behavior.
Such a high number of accidents leave many residents questioning why distracted driving has become so prevalent. Experts say it is a combination of easy access to technology and learned behaviors. A recent study concluded that teens with parents who drive distracted are four times more likely to be involved in a distracted driving accident themselves.
In an effort to educate the public about these dangers and to help them unlearn this risky behavior, the youth of Johnston County came together to put on the first annual N.C. Teen Drivers Summit.
The event was held this past Saturday and featured several guest speakers who touched on topics like the importance of buckling up and tips to stay focused on the road when driving. An article from The Apex Herald stated each student who was in attendance was also entered into a drawing for $500 scholarships as well.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys with HensonFuerst acknowledge the dangers of distracted driving. The firm asks that each motorist do their part to keep the state’s highways safe by putting phones down and keeping noise to a minimum while driving.
Here are some sobering numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
According to an article in The New York Times:
“The problem is unfortunately not improving over time,” said Ileana Arias, the principal deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If anything, it seems to be getting worse.”
Dr. Arias said it was unclear why there appears to be so little progress. One possibility is that people are becoming more reliant on and attached to their cellphones and hand-held devices, making them less likely to shut them off or ignore them when they get behind the wheel. The numbers may also reflect a need to create stricter policies that are implemented more widely and vigilantly enforced, like drunken-driving laws, Dr. Arias said.
The study also looked at cell phone use and texting in 6 other countries. In Great Britain, cell phone use while driving is against the law, and the laws are strict. There, only 21% of people report talking on a phone while driving. In fact, cell phone use was below 50% in all but one other country, Portugal, which reported 60% of drivers using a phone while driving.
It takes a single split-second of inattention to cause a wreck and change a life. For more information, visit www.DistractedDriving.gov.
To read the full article in The New York Times, click here: The Distracted American Driver
To read the CDC report, click here: Mobile Device Use While Driving
January 17, 2013
A trend of declining motor vehicle fatalities ended with 2012 in North Carolina. The Charlotte News & Observer explained that last year saw a total of 1,224 North Carolina car accident fatalities, which was a 1.3 percent increase over the previous year’s total.
Experts say the slight increase could be attributed to improvements in economic factors across the state. Arthur Goodwin, senior research associate at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center in Chapel Hill, pointed out that North Carolina motor vehicle fatalities spiked in 2007 with 1,702 lives lost. The following year, the number dramatically declined to only 1,466 deaths occurring on the state’s roadways. With the economy beginning to see a light turn around, Goodwin explains that it should come as no surprise then that the number of fatal Raleigh Car Accidents has followed a paralleling trend.
The state is doing its part to keep these accidents from occurring though. Between implementing safety campaigns like the “Click It Or Ticket” program and cracking down on speed-related violations, the state has received a green rating from the Road Map to State Highway Safety laws report, ranking North Carolina among the top 14 states when it comes to highway safety.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers are hopeful the increasing number of motor vehicle accident fatalities North Carolina saw last year can be curbed in the coming New Year.
January 10, 2013
Studies have shown that the condition a road is in may be one of the most important factors in working to prevent motor vehicle accidents in the United States, considering research from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) showed defective highway design, poor conditions, or lack of maintenance contributed to more than 30 percent of all accidents throughout the country each year.
The problem of poor highway design has many citizens in Morrisville, North Carolina, concerned for safety after realizing a sharp curve on a highway that just opened could potentially lead to a serious or fatal Raleigh Car Accident.
According to an article from WRAL News, a new stretch of NC Highway 55, connecting western Wake County with the Research Triangle, abruptly ends with a sharp curve to the right with little signage warning drivers of the need to slow down before making the turn. One witness pointed out that a driver could end up veering into oncoming highway traffic if traveling too fast around the corner and stated she had to stop her vehicle in the curve the first time she took the new route.
Officials say that while the road meets state specifications, they are considering changes to improve safety.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers recognize the dangers a defective highway design can present to motorists and suggest discussing your legal rights with an attorney if you have been involved in an accident where poor road conditions were a factor.
August 16, 2012
The purpose of North Carolina’s “Move Over Law” was made clear earlier this week when an accident between a Raleigh Police Department squad car and an SUV left the officer and other driver both injured. The Raleigh News & Observer reports the accident occurred around 5:00 p.m. Monday at the corner of Chapanoke Road and South Wilmington Street.
Reports say that the officer was stopped at the intersection when she responded to another a call. She activated both her lights and sirens on the vehicle and began to move into the intersection while the light was red. That’s when the 56-year-old driver of an SUV failed to yield and collided into her cruiser. Both drivers were taken to a local hospital to receive treatment for non-life threatening injuries that resulted from the Raleigh car accident.
The “Move Over Law” in North Carolina states that drivers should move their vehicles over and slow down or stop when an emergency vehicle, such as a police cruiser or ambulance, is flashing its lights. Failure to do so is punishable by a $500 fine.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst say the best way to avoid a collision with an emergency vehicle is to eliminate distractions that take your eyes off the road. It’s also important to keep noise levels from stereos, children, and other forms of entertainment to a minimum when driving.
What do you fear most about driving in North Carolina? I have friends who refuse to drive anywhere in the Triangle from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm because of the extreme traffic on most of the major roadways… and I have been known to go out of my way to avoid driving on I-40 between Raleigh and Chapel Hill because of the dangerous merge patterns.
Recent news stories of highway crashes have highlighted some of the major problems HensonFuerst Attorneys has been investigating, our “Wreck Complicators”:
1. Defective highway construction. This can include improper lane design, construction defects, guardrail defects, and other physical problems related to roads. If you know of a section of road that is a frequent site of car wrecks, it is quite possible that the road design is defective. Insurance companies will try to blame it on driver error, but accidents continually happen on the same stretch of road, there’s more than driver error to blame. Think of it like a sidewalk where one of the concrete slabs has heaved up. Under ideal circumstances, people will see the uneven pavement and step over it–but many, many people will trip and become injured. Even excellent drivers can get in an accident if they have to merge unexpectedly…or if road conditions force them to stop abruptly…or if they don’t see traffic ahead due to a sharp bend in the road.
2. Tractor-trailers. While most tractor-trailer drivers are safe and responsible on the road, some are not…and the wrecks they cause are devastating. Truck drivers have guidelines that require them to rest after a certain number of hours on the road. Unfortunately, some trucking companies “encourage” their drivers to alter their logs and drive longer than is safe (or risk losing their jobs). Then, after driving for 24 hours straight, amped up on caffeine or even amphetamines, even good truck drivers can become lethal weapons on the road.
3. Fires and explosions. Cars are not supposed to catch fire or explode, no matter what the impact. That’s something that is only supposed to happen in movies. In real life, cars that catch fire or explode during a wreck may have a defective design. That’s something we actively investigate for our motor vehicle accident clients.
Here are two scary examples that, together, seem to incorporate all three of our Wreck Complicators.
Last week, seven people were injured–including two who had to be freed from a crushed car–in a four-vehicle crash on I-85 near Charlotte, NC. According to an article on CharlotteObserver.com, the wreck was started by a car that cut too close in front of a large truck. The truck driver slammed on the brakes, causing a chain-reaction wreck that included an SUV, a small Ford, a tractor-triler, and a pick-up truck.
That accident was bad enough, but what makes it part of our Wreck Complicators is that it happened at nearly the same spot as a fiery fatal wreck five days earlier. In that accident, also on I-85, a woman was killed when her SUV was hit from behind by a tractor-trailer–the driver apparently didn’t notice that traffic had slowed. The SUV burst into flames.
These stories cover it all: A highway with multiple accidents pointing to a possibility of defective construction…tractor-trailer driver not stopping in time, pointing to the possibility that the driver was not safe…and an SUV that burst into flames after being hit from behind. These Wreck Complicators should all be investigated and considered by attorneys representing the injured victims, or the family of the woman who perished.
What HensonFuerst Is Doing
At HensonFuerst, we pay close attention to Wreck Complicators. In fact, we are actively investigating dangerous highways in North Carolina, with the hope that defects can be corrected before more people are injured.
Among the most dangerous roads in North Carolina: I-77 in Surrey County, I-85, I-75, I-95, and I-40. In the coming three years, we predict that another stretch of road will join the ranks of the infamous: I-40 and I-440 south of Raleigh. An 11.5-mile stretch of road will be repaired, requiring closing lanes, adding auxiliary lanes, and otherwise making a mess of travel on this road. (To read more about the construction, see the article on WRAL.com: Construction to clog interstate)
In addition, HensonFuerst is diligent in reviewing all the facts of each accident to see if the Wreck Complicators are part of the story. If so, we factor them into the way we seek justice and compensation for our clients.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle wreck and you would like to explore your legal options, please feel free to contact HensonFuerst anytime, day or night, at 1-800-4-LAWMED. Or visit our webpage for more information and an online consultation request (www.lawmed.com/AutoAccident/). Life Doesn’t Wait…call HensonFuerst today.
In North Carolina, it is illegal for anyone to text while driving, and for people under age 18 to use a cell phone while driving. Some experts believe that talking on a cell phone while driving should be illegal for everyone, including people who use hands-free devices.
That’s because talking alone–the act of participating in a conversation–is a major distraction. Studies have shown that people who talk while driving have a 4-times greater risk of getting in an accident–that’s about the same additional risk as drinking while driving.
Some people have suggested that video gamers might be better able to deal with the distractions of driving. After all, they are masters of multi-tasking: Many games require a player to talk on a headset, manipulate game controls, and pay attention to what’s happening on the screen. So maybe gamers would also be able to handle the similar tasks of talking on a phone, manipulating car controls, and paying attention to the road.
Nice idea, but it’s not true. Science has proved it.
According to an article in the News & Observer, researchers at Duke tested the hypothesis and published the results in the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics.
“For years I’ve been getting (angry) at drivers on their cellphones nearly running into me,” says lead researcher Stephen Mitroff, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. “I wanted some data so I could justify my anger.”
His anger, he learned, is justified. Everyone’s performance on every task suffered while multitasking.
“We’ve all been talking on the phone since we were 10, and driving for almost as long,” says Mitroff. “They seem second nature. We see the data and think, yeah, but I’m okay. But then everyone can think of that horrible person they’ve been behind.”
June 20, 2012
Speed-related motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen fatalities in the United States today, especially in North Carolina. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in 2009, more than 3,000 teens lost their lives in car accidents. The number of North Carolina Auto Accidents involving young people made the state rank number two in the nation for fatal teen driving accidents. North Carolina accounted for 54 teen deaths in 2011, which was an eight percent rise over the total in 2010.
Studies have shown that teen drivers with their peers in the car have a more than 44 percent higher chance of being involved in an accident than those who drive alone.
An accident Thursday involving both speed and young passengers in Johnston County left one young girl dead and another seriously injured. According to WRAL News, the accident happened on Princeton Kinley Road around 8:00 p.m. when the 16-year-old driver of the vehicle was speeding and lost control of the car. It went into a ditch, killing the driver. Her passenger was airlifted to a local hospital, where she remains in serious condition.
The North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers with HensonFuerst say that graduated licensing programs have helped reduce the number of teen accidents; however, parents talking openly with their young drivers about the dangers of speeding and distractions will significantly decrease your teen’s chances of being involved in a Raleigh Car Accident.