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Age and distractions drive up traffic deaths

Recent car accident statistics provide distressing news for drivers in this state. The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported an 8.1 percent rise in traffic deaths from car accidents between 2015 and 2016.

The NCDOT found that there were over 1,600 fatal car accidents in the state in 2015, which was an increase from the 1,385 deaths reported one year earlier. The number of car accident injuries also grew by 12 percent for that period. This increase was attributed to distracted driving and older drivers. A spokesperson for The Insurance Federation of North Carolina said that these statistics were alarming. These figures are also consistent with national trends, according to the IFNC.

A growing population of older drivers has been responsible for a disproportionate number of crashes. A national transportation research group, TRIP, stated that 18 percent of crash fatalities in this state involved a motorist who was at least 65 years old.

Other NCDOT information also named distracted driving, particularly among teenagers, as being a leading cause of crashes in North Carolina. From 2010 to 2015, drivers in the 18-34 age group had 38 percent of all car accidents.

The IFNC recommended safety precautions for motorists, particularly senior motorists. Drivers should avoid dangerous driving conditions, such as bad weather when roadways are slippery and visibility is limited, and at nighttime and rush hour if a driver has impaired vision. It is also important to position the driver's seat in the proper position for using the steering wheel and brakes and for clear visibility of the side mirrors and the front of the car. Side mirrors should be adjusted to avoid blind spots.

Finally, a mature driver course can improve driver confidence. These courses also include instructions on defensive driving, updated state laws and right-of-way decisions.

Relatives of an accident victim should seek legal representation to help them pursue their rights to compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawyer can help obtain evidence and ensure that families can protect their interests in settlement negotiations and in court.

Source: Port City Daily, "Rise in traffic fatalities linked to aging population, distracted driving," Joe Catenacci, March 3, 2017

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