April 19, 2012
With prom season and graduation right around the corner, many teens will be tempted to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel to drive home. In an effort to make students think twice before drinking and driving, officials in Henderson, North Carolina, set up a mock crash scene at the campus of a local high school.
According to WRAL News, Vance County Fire and EMS Departments, as well as state troopers and local law enforcement, set the mock crash up Tuesday morning at Kerr-Vance Academy.
Students gathered as the story of what had happened to three of their peers was told. The driver had been drinking when his vehicle collided with another. One person was killed and two others were seriously injured.
The driver did field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest, while the body of the deceased student was carried away and a life flight helicopter took the other two students to a local hospital.
Students said the scene would make them think before drinking and driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car accidents are the number one killer of young people ages 15 to 24-years-old. Of those deaths, 60 percent were alcohol-related.
The North Carolina Auto Accident Attorneys with HensonFuerst Injury Lawyers ask that parents discuss the dangers of drunk driving with their teens. Having an open and honest conversation on the topic with them may save their lives.
March 15, 2012
While North Carolina’s graduated licensing program has been successful in reducing the number of motor vehicle accidents teenagers are involved in, it also has been successful in reducing the number of teens who get the driving education and experience they need.
Research from the Department of Transportation shows that in 2010, 28 percent of 16 year olds had driver licenses compared with 44 percent in 1980. The number of older drivers has also reduced from 1980 to 2010:
The number of accidents among drivers ages 18-25 has remained the same.
A new rule being adopted by North Carolina high schools requiring teens to pay up to a $45 fee to take a driver’s education course is further reducing the number of teens seeking licenses. WRAL News reports that some schools have seen more than a 20 percent reduction in driver’s education class size, forcing some schools to cut the number of classes offered as well.
Lawmakers have recognized the problem and are looking at alternative funding sources, such as a $5 surcharge on license plates for motor vehicles in the state.
January 26, 2012
Several young people in Raleigh, North Carolina, are learning the hard way that you don’t have to be the person behind the wheel in a fatal accident to be responsible for a wrongful death. According to WRAL News, three teens and a young adult have been charged with crimes in connection to a fatal single vehicle accident that happened earlier this month.
The accident happened on the morning of January 7th on Rainwater Road in Wake County. The driver, a 16-year-old boy, and several of his friends illegally acquired alcohol for an underage drinking party. After attending the party and drinking for several hours, the driver and the 17-year-old female victim got into his Jeep to head home. Reports from the accident show that the vehicle was traveling at 75 MPH in a 30 MPH zone when the boy lost control of the vehicle and slammed into a tree. The female victim in the passenger seat died at the scene.
In the weeks following the crash, not only has the driver of the Jeep been charged in connection with the girl’s death, but also, so have the 21-year-old man who bought the alcohol for the teens, the host of the party, and the minors who contributed money to have the alcohol purchased.
Car wrecks are the leading cause of death among North Carolina teens, and crashes are surprisingly common. In NC, teenage drivers are involved in car wrecks approximately every 24 minutes.
According to research, the most common mistakes that cause teen wrecks are speeding, inattention and distraction, and failure to yield. And while drunk driving is still rare among teens, it accounts for some of the most tragic and memorable motor vehicle fatalities.
One recent example—Wake County’s first in 2012—is the death of 17-year-old Millbrook High School student Elizabeth Molloy. According to an article on WRAL.com, the driver was 16-year-old fellow student Garrett Prince, who lost control of his 1999 Jeep SUV while driving 75 mph in a 30 mph zone, and ended up hitting a tree. Prince could face charges of felony death by motor vehicle, provisional DWI, careless and reckless driving, having an open container of spirituous liquor, speeding, and possession of marijuana. Jared Sink, man in the neighborhood where the wreck took place witnessed the crash and pulled Molloy from the burning wreck, said what probably everyone is thinking: ”[It's] just absolutely tragic. To all the young people out there, there’s no taxi that’s more expensive than someone’s life.”
Parent/Teen Driving Agreement
Teens know that underage drinking is illegal, but that doesn’t stop some of them from drinking. They also know—in theory—that they shouldn’t get into a car with someone who has been drinking, but many of them disregard that advice. Why? Sometimes because the teen doesn’t have the confidence to stand up to peer pressure…or because they are afraid to call their parents for an alternate ride home…or because they don’t realize that a taxi is a viable option.
Those are some of the reasons why a Parent/Teen Driving Agreement can be an important tool. The University of North Carolina (UNC) Highway Safety Research Center and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol have created sample Parent/Teen Driving Agreements. It’s a formal agreement between parents and teens. It includes specific things that both parents and teens agree to do. Parents have found that driving agreements work well to keep teens safe when they first begin to drive on their own by making expectations clear.
The agreements are valuable once your child is old enough to be out with friends, even if he or she is not actually driving. An agreement should outline parental expectations for safety, such as never riding in a car with an impaired driver, always wearing a seatbelt, obeying the speed limit, and avoiding distractions, including texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, or applying make up. That’s the teen side of the agreement. The parent side of the agreement should given the child options for how to get out of a potentially hazardous situation, and outline how parents will support their child’s efforts to stay safe.
For example, agreeing that if a child ever feels unsafe, he or she can call home at any hour and request a ride home…without risk of punishment. (As much as parents might want to lash out at a child who has been drinking or at an unauthorized party, the goal is to get the child home safely. A strongly negative reaction from a parent might cause the child to avoid calling in the future, and possibly getting into a dangerous or fatal situation. That’s not to say that discipline can’t be taken for any rule-breaking, but the ride home should be calm and concerned—any discussions or repercussions should wait for the next day.)
We’ve done some of the research for you and attached links to three separate Parent/Teen Driving Agreements. Look at all of them, take what you like from each, and create your own custom agreement. We like the first one, from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center because it allows teens and parents to write their own agreement items in their own words—that means teens aren’t just skimming over the task without thinking. And any additional minute of thinking about driving safety is another opportunity to keep our children safe.
Sample Agreement 1: University of North Carolina (UNC) Highway Safety Research Center
Sample Agreement 2: North Carolina State Highway Patrol
Sample Agreement 3: North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles
Project Ignition, funded in part by the National Youth Leadership Council, helps students, teachers, and communities address teen driver safety. Students themselves design and lead awareness campaigns–every year, 25 grants are awarded to high schools across the country. The teams often find their inspiration from personal tragedy, but their powerful messages reach across county and state lines. Some examples of the kind of service-learning encouraged by Project Ignition are holding a mock crash on campus, and learning and applying the physics of crashes from a science class, including the potential effects of velocity and crashes on the human body.
This year, we’d like to congratulate the two North Carolina high schools that won grants:
At HensonFuerst, we’ve seen the devastating effects of car wrecks and DWI injuries far too often. It’s never pretty, but there is something particularly tragic when the injured individual is a young person who has barely had a chance to live. Our hearts go out the the family of Elizabeth Molloy, and all families touched by the catastrophe of a DWI wreck. We wish you peace.
State and local law enforcement officers will be working to keep motorists safe this celebratory season with the Holiday “Booze It & Lose It” campaign. Checkpoints and stepped-up patrols will be conducted across North Carolina, now through Monday, Jan. 2. This is part of the ongoing effort by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) to remove impaired drivers from the roads.
“Please plan ahead and designate a sober driver this season so everyone can make it home safe over the holidays,” State Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said.
In 2010, there were 1,017 alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina during the holiday campaign, which ran from Dec. 3 through Jan. 2, resulting in 31 fatalities and 728 injuries. That’s one death each day of the campaign…a steep price for a little too much holiday cheer.
In addition, officers charged more than 3,800 North Carolina motorists with driving while impaired during the 2010 Holiday “Booze It & Lose It” campaign.
Wishing all of you a safe and happy (and let me repeat: SAFE) holiday season!
On December 1, 35 new laws took effect in North Carolina. Of course, the NC State Highway Patrol is still trying to enforce laws already on the books, especially the “No Texting While Driving” law. According to an article on WRAL.com:
Sgt. Jeff Gordon said distracted driving is still a huge issue across the state. ”I see a lot of people driving with their elbows on the steering wheel, texting with one hand,” Gordon said.
Texting while driving—or any kind of DWD (Driving While Distracted)—has been shown to be as hazardous as driving drunk. But it doesn’t stop texters. And have you ever seen anyone try to make a three-point turn while holding a cell phone in one hand? I have…in fact, I had to wait in the middle of a road while a young man tried this circus-like maneuver in front of me. I would have applauded, but when he finally got his car pointed in the proper direction, he ended up in the wrong lane.
Another law that has been in effect for the past year and is virtually ignored is the law that prohibits large frames around license plates. (To see our video detailing the rules of this law, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UII9dVI5_tc)
In short, anything blocking the license plate information—not just the large numbers and letters in the center—is illegal.
One of the news laws of 2011 is “Laura’s Law,” which helps take repeat drunk driving offenders off the road. The law was named for Laura Fortenberry, a 17-year-old young woman who was killed by a drunk driver who had multiple previous driving-while-impaired offenses. With this law, convicted drunk drivers with certain aggravating factors will face larger fines and more time behind bars.
The “Run and You’re Done” law attempts to prevent high-speed chases by allowing the sheriff to seize the chased car if the suspect is charged with a felony. If the suspect is convicted of the felony, the car will be sold and proceeds will go to local school districts.
“Booze It & Lose It” is a safety campaign run by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP). It becomes active during high-alcohol holiday seasons. Halloween fits that description.
Starting Friday, October 28 through Monday, October 31, North Carolina will have checkpoints and stepped-up patrols in an effort to remove impaired drivers from the roads. How much of a force will be rallied? Well, in 2010, the 3-day Halloween Booze It & Lose It campaign, the 2388 checkpoints and patrols racked up more than 19,000 traffic and criminal violations. This included 774 DWIs, 405 drug violations, and 5547 speeding/reckless driving tickets.
The on-going goal of Booze It & Lose It is to make sure that drunk drivers (those who “booze it”) lose their driving privileges. In North Carolina, the first conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) requires mandatory revocation of your driver’s license for one year, and you will also pay a fine and spend up to 2 years in jail. If you get a second conviction within three years of the first, you lose your license for four years and you will also face jail time. With a third conviction (when at least one of the prior convictions was within the last 5 years), your drivers license is permanently revoked.
To read more about the facts of DWI in North Carolina and the Booze It & Lose It campaign, click here: Save a life…Drive sober.
This Halloween weekend, party responsibly…and please don’t drink and drive. If you get stopped for DWI, it won’t matter how good your costume is, there will be no treats waiting for you in jail.
Here at HensonFuerst, we are big fans of scientific research. Scientists are some of the unsung heroes of society. So it is with all due respect that we find ourselves having to say: Was this research really necessary?
Decades of research have shown that drivers who drink alcohol have an increased risk of being involved in a car wreck. By now, it seems intuitive to say that any alcoholic or drug-induced impairment affects judgment and driving ability. Which is why we’re not sure why this research research was necessary. It seems like more money being spent to state the obvious
According to an article in ScienceDaily, researchers at Columbia University examined the link between marijuana use by drivers and risk of a car wreck. Results showed that drivers who test positive for marijuana or report driving within three hours of marijuana use are more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in motor vehicle crashes. They also found that the more marijuana smoked, and the more frequently it is smoked, the higher the risk.
This is important because the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that over 10 million people age 12 or older are estimated to have driven under the influence of illicit drugs in the prior year.
The analysis indicates that 28% of fatally injured drivers and more than 11% of the general driver population tested positive for non-alcohol drugs, with marijuana being the most commonly detected substance.
We believe that it is important to crack down on all forms of impaired driving, regardless of whether the impairment is due to marijuana, prescription drugs, alcohol, texting, or even talking on a cell phone. Impairment is impairment. It seems that a better use of research funds would be to find more ways to get people to understand that message, and to prevent impaired driving in the first place.
To read the full article on ScienceDaily, click here: Marijuana Use May Double the Risk of Accidents for Drivers
To learn more about what you can do in the event of a car wreck injury, visit our website at http://www.lawmed.com/. If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
September 29, 2011
An intoxicated driver who was responsible for causing an accident that killed a man in Forsyth County last winter was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to a felony charge for death by motor vehicle and a misdemeanor charge for driving while impaired. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the drunken driver was given 20 to 33 months in state prison.
The accident happened on December 2, 2010 just after 9:00 p.m. on Baux Mountain Road. The 26-year-old Kernersville man was driving his Jeep along the road when he came to the red light at the intersection with NC 66. Rather than wait, he decided to cut through a gas station parking lot to avoid the light. He whipped the Jeep right onto 66 and cut an immediate left through the intersection back onto Baux Mountain Road. That’s when the accident happened. The 55-year-old victim was approaching on his motorcycle and did not have time to stop before colliding with the Jeep that had just cut him off. The driver of the Jeep had a blood alcohol level of .12, four points over the legal limit.
The ironic part of the story is that the victim had dedicated his life to helping others overcome drinking problems, as he had in his younger days. He was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and was helping an Iraq war veteran recover at the time of the crash.
Ahh… you know summer is almost over when the Labor Day festivities begin. And today, the “festivity” in question is the annual Booze It & Lose It campaign by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP).
From today, Friday, August 19 through Monday, September 5, the state will see checkpoints and stepped-up patrols in an effort to remove impaired drivers from the roads. How much of a force will be rallied? Well, in 2010, the Labor Day Booze It & Lose It campaign conducted more than 11,000 patrols and checkpoints.
“As summer comes to an end, law enforcement officers across the state will be removing impaired drivers from our roads,” North Carolina’s Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said. “Celebrating responsibly is simple; plan ahead and always designate a sober driver.”
According to the GHSP, in 2010, there were 500 alcohol-related crashes in North Carolina during the Labor Day campaign, resulting in 20 fatalities and 395 injuries. In addition, officers charged more than 3,200 North Carolina motorists with driving while impaired.
Enjoy summer, but please don’t drink and drive… you risk the loss of your license, at the very least.