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Federal, state, and local governments have been tracking automobile accident data for many years now. In North Carolina, the data from 1960 through 2014 show positive and negative trends. On the positive side, there has been a steady decline since the early 1970’s in the rate of people killed in automobile accidents. This is due to a number of factors, including engineering and safety improvements in the manufacture of automobiles and advances in the medical field.

Beginning in the mid-1990’s, the rate of injuries has also declined steadily, likely also due to safety improvements in automobiles and an increase in seat belt usage from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2000’s.

On the negative side, there are still on average more than 600 accidents every day in North Carolina, with more than 30% of those resulting in injuries and 0.5% in deaths. Those statistics increase when there are tractor-trailers, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, bicycles, or pedestrians involved. When the weather gets nicer, the number of motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles on the road increases (e.g. most motorcycle accidents occur between May and October).

Speed is a big factor in many automobile accidents, accounting for approximately one-third of all accidents, injuries, and fatalities. For teens, speeding is a factor in one-third of accidents, but still accounted for 65% of fatalities.

While you may not be able to avoid being involved in an automobile accident, here are some steps you can take to minimize your risks:

  1. Wear your seatbelt and ensure your children and other passengers are properly restrained.
  2. Avoid distractions while driving (cell phones, eating/drinking, adjusting the radio or GPS, talking with passengers, etc.).
  3. Obey the speed limit.
  4. Watch for motorcycles and bicycles in your blind spots.
  5. Use caution around tractor-trailers and understand your vehicle may be in their blind spots!
  6. Keep an eye on weather conditions and drive appropriately.
  7. Keep your vehicle in good mechanical order.
  8. Do not drive after consuming alcohol. Use a designated driver or call for a taxi. For some drivers, even one drink is enough impair judgment or reaction times.

Stay safe out there and remember, if you are seriously injured as the result of another person’s negligence, you may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney to learn your rights.