TRAFFIC FATALITIES ON THE RISE — ARE DRIVER ATTITUDES TO BLAME?
Traffic accidents are on the rise again in the United States for the first time in several years, a recent study shows. Some experts believe that shifting attitudes about drunk driving and other traffic safety issues may be a factor in the troubling reversal.
AAA study reveals changing attitudes
A study conducted recently by the American Automobile Association revealed significant changes in the ways motorists across the country think about dangerous driving behaviors. According to the survey, today’s drivers are not as concerned as they once were about the potential dangers of distracted driving, drunk driving or other high-risk driving activities.
In a 2009 survey of driver attitudes, 90 percent of those questioned said they believed that drunk driving was a danger to other motorists. In the recent AAA survey, however, only 69 percent of respondents said they believe drunk driving is a risk. Some say these changing attitudes could be a factor behind the recent spike in fatal car accidents nationwide.
The impact of drunk driving in North Carolina
In 2011, there were 366 traffic deaths caused by drunk driving in North Carolina – a rate of about 3.8 drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 residents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That rate is higher than the national average of 3.2 impaired driving deaths per 100,000 people.
NHTSA statistics show that nearly 30 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in North Carolina in 2011 involved at least one driver who was legally intoxicated, meaning that his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.08 or higher. About one-fifth of those crashes involved a driver whose BAC levels were at least 0.15, or nearly double the legal limit.
Protecting your interests after a crash
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you take steps to protect yourself as well as your legal and financial interests. After a crash, it is likely that you will receive offers from the insurance companies that are involved in your case, but it is important to exercise caution and make sure you understand your options before agreeing to settle your claims.
Frequently, insurance companies are more concerned with their bottom lines than they are with making sure that you receive the compensation you need for your injuries. Therefore, they may offer to settle your claim for far less than you deserve. If you agree to an offer too soon and without a thorough understanding of the consequences, it can prevent you from having access to all of the resources you need to support yourself and make an optimal recovery.
If you or a family member has been hurt in a North Carolina traffic accident, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney before making any decisions. This will help ensure that you understand your legal rights and options, and will allow you to move forward with confidence regardless of the path you choose.