May 2010 Archives

May 21, 2010

Teen Texting Responsible For Increase in North Carolina Crashes

With the recent death of an Asheville teen caused by texting while driving, more attention is being focused on this extremely dangerous activity. Thus far, 25 states have passed laws banning texting while driving. In North Carolina, the ban went into effect on January 1, 2010, and the penalty if you get caught texting while driving is $100.00. So far, few North Carolina citizens have been caught breaking the new law, but, as anyone who is on the road knows, the illegal activity is rampant on our roads and highways.

Given the difficulty of enforcing the new law, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has taken a new strategy aimed at educating teen drivers when they are first learning to drive. The Highway Patrol is encouraging teen drivers to text while driving a golf cart around a parking lot full of orange cones. The results are eye opening for the teen drivers as they run over multiple cones while trying to navigate sharp turns and stop at stop signs. The golf cart experience is gaining popularity across the state and the nation. Each student in Lenoir and Duplin County will get behind the wheel of the golf cart before the end of the school year.

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May 18, 2010

I-40 Tractor-Trailer Accident: Truck Runs Over Car

Statesville Truck Wreck.JPGA serious crash closed Interstate 40 for over an hour Monday evening when a westbound Lincoln Town Car crossed the median and went under the rear wheels of an eastbound tractor-trailer. The collision happened just east of the Radio Road bridge that crosses I-40 near Mile Marker 150. Emergency workers and the North Carolina Highway Patrol shut down all 4 lanes of Interstate 40 while they attempted to rescue the occupants of the car.

Statesville Truck - SHP Qns.JPGTrooper Marty Liles of the State Highway Patrol (SHP) investigated the crash and reported that the car, driven by Rashad Whitner, 32 of Hickory, originally went off of the right side of the westbound lanes, re-entered and crossed the westbound lanes, entered the median and went under the median cables, and then entered the eastbound lanes at which time the car went under the rear of the tractor-trailer and was run over by the trailer's rear axles.

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May 15, 2010

Teen Texting While Driving Caused Deadly Asheville Accident

text messaging.jpgOn Friday, Asheville Police disclosed that they had accessed the information stored in Ashley Johnson's cellphone. Police investigators who examined the Arden teenager's cellphone stated that the information showed that Johnson, 16, was retrieving a text message just seconds before the BMW she was driving crossed the center line and struck an MB Haynes pickup truck head-on. Investigators also retrieved data stored in Johnson's vehicle's airbag module to determine her pre-impact speed. The airbag module showed that the she was traveling 52 mph. The posted speed limit for Long Shoals Road is 45 mph. The driver of the pickup truck suffered injuries, but he is expected to recover.

Emergency workers airlifted Johnson to Mission Hospital's Trauma Unit, and she remained in the Intensive Care Unit for several days before she eventually died from her injuries. This is a terrible tragedy that should never have happened.

The 10th grader was an exceptional and popular student. She attended Buncombe County Early College, where she was working toward earning her associate degree.

I have several prior posts about the deadly dangers associated with texting while driving. Unfortunately, many people feel that, if they are careful, they can safely text while they are driving. This is impossible. Several studies have shown that if you text while driving your attention level is worse than that of a drunk driver. In fact, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to have a deadly accident that a non-texting driver.

Several mobile applications (apps) are on the market to help us restrict our, and our teenage children who drive, impulse to text while driving. Applications that can deactivate a phone's ability to send or receive texts while in motion are quite effective.

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May 14, 2010

Digital Copiers Pose Security Risk

Copier Machine.jpgThis year marks the 50th anniversary of the good, old fashioned copier machine. Over the years, copiers have become increasing sophisticated, and many of today's copiers are more like computers than the copiers that originally hit the market.

As a result, all of the information that is copied is now permanently stored on the copier's hard drive, just like on your computer's hard drive.

From medical records to tax returns, it is all there on the copier, just waiting to be retrieved by anyone who has the desire to use other peoples' personal information for their own gain.

CBS News recently aired a story on this issue, and the implications range from identity theft to national security. It's worth watching.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

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May 13, 2010

Class Action Heats Up Against Toyota For Diminished Value

toyota building.jpgThe National Law Journal recently reported that plaintiffs' class action attorneys could seek more than $7 Billion in damages from Toyota Motor Company for the decreased value to Toyota consumers' vehicles as a result of the problems associated with sudden unintended acceleration.

Plaintiffs attorneys believe that the members of the Toyota class action will enjoy some distinct advantages over members of other class actions, in that numerous consumer rating agencies have indicated that the value of Toyota vehicles have dramatically declined from 2.6% to 3.77%. Those figures may not sound like much, but, when you consider that Toyota sold almost 9 million vehicles in 2008 and is the world's largest automaker, it quickly adds up.

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) also fined Toyota the maximum amount ($16.4 Million) for its failure to timely disclose its knowledge of the sticky pedal problem. The basis for the fine was that manufacturers are required to notify the government whenever they have reason to believe that a product they manufacture may not be safe. Toyota did nothing until the issue was picked up by the national media. NHTSA has confirmed that Toyota knew that there were safety issues with its gas pedals for several months before they publicly disclosed the problems.

Toyota could have easily taken issue with the amount of the fine and demanded explanations about the method NHTSA used to arrive at the record penalty. $16.4 million is a mere drop in the large bucket of cash Toyota has amassed in recent years. Toyota paid the full fine last month without so much as a whimper. The auto manufacturer was careful not to admit any legal liability with regard to the sticky pedal problem. The following statement by Toyota indicates that the plaintiffs are probably going to be in for a fight as they seek to recover for their harms and losses.

"We have acknowledged that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company," Toyota said, "but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem".

At this point, Toyota would probably just like to "move forward."

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May 10, 2010

Asheville No Phone Zone Pledge

Motorcycle inside car.jpgThis shocking image illustrates the potential dangers of trying to use a cell phone while driving. The young driver of the Volkswagen failed to see the motorcycle when he pulled out into the highway. Records showed that the Volkswagen driver was texting at the time of the collision. Not surprisingly, the driver of the car, his passenger, and the motorcyclist were all killed instantly.

As I have discussed in a prior posting, driving while texting is illegal in North Carolina, but the new law has not stopped many drivers from continuing to text as they drive down the road. Recently, Oprah Winfrey decided to use her fame for yet another great cause - stopping people, and particularly teens, from using their cell phones while driving. Oprah calls it the "No Phone Zone Pledge." Basically, it is a way for people to promise to themselves and their loved ones that they will stop texting while driving. Oprah has asked that everyone take the pledge.

Our nation's Congress has also been evaluating ways to prompt each state to enact legislation to ban texting while driving. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, asserts that, if it were up to him, he would ban texting while driving immediately.


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May 8, 2010

Lack Of Enforcement Leads To High North Carolina Truck Accident Ranking


weigh station.jpgA lack of manpower in the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement Section means that many tractor trailer trucks are running illegally on North Carolina roads and highways.

North Carolina currently ranks sixth (6th) in the nation for truck accidents. This staggering statistic is certainly related to the fact that so many trucks and their drivers are operating outside of the law. In 2009, more than 50 percent (50%) of the tractor trailers inspected in North Carolina had serious safety and/or equipment violations. Of those found to be in violation, more than twelve percent (12%) were in such bad shape that they were shut down and "put out of service." Being "put out of service" means that, as a result of serious safety violations, a tractor trailer or its driver are deemed an imminent danger to the general public.

Of the almost 10 million tractor trailer trucks coming through North Carolina weigh stations each year, only a mere one percent (1%) are inspected. If more than fifty percent (50%) of those inspected are in violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, then one can conservatively surmise that at least every other truck you see on the road is operating in violation of the law.

Most states operate their inspection and weigh stations for commercial motor vehicles on a 24/7 basis. But not North Carolina. In North Carolina, weigh stations operate approximately 15 hours a day, five (5) days a week. At many weigh station locations, there is no State Trooper present to chase down truck drivers who refuse to stop at the weigh station. In the truck industry, North Carolina is considered "trucker friendly" due to our low number of inspections.The North Carolina State Highway Patrol says the problem is manpower. If that is the case, the North Carolina General Assembly needs to dedicate some funding toward increased enforcement. It should crack down on the truck industry by requiring that more trucks be inspected, by putting dangerous truck drivers and their unsafe rigs out of service, and by levying heavy fines to the truck companies that allow these drivers to be on the road.

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May 6, 2010

ABC News Features North Carolina Truck Accident Case To Illustrate Truck Industry Abuses

Doug Harrell.jpgOn October 13, 2005, a young man road his bicycle on the side of a rural North Carolina highway from his cousin's house back to his own home. At the same time, a truck driver had been driving his tractor trailer for 23 hours in a row and was heading back to the truck terminal. As the trucker came up from behind the bicyclist at 73 mph, he didn't see the bicycle or rider until the last second. The collision killed the young man on the bicycle, and then the truck company cover-up began. Because of the cover-up, no criminal charges were filed, but a relative decided to go under-cover and work for the truck company. The hidden evidence he discovered became the foundation of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Channel 11 ABC Eyewitness News (WTVD) decided to run a feature story about this case because of the disturbing evidence Truck Accident Attorney Brian Davis discovered during the litigation of this case. Click on the below window to view the ABC News Video and see how greed and big business drove one North Carolina truck company to ignore the law and the safety of the general public.


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