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Holiday Travel Alert: Be Cautious on NC Rural Roads

As we gear up for Thanksgiving and the year-end holiday travel season, our Durham car accident lawyers want to take a time-out to urge you and your loved ones to make safety a top priority.

Car on a road in a misty forest with its headlights on.Although we often hear about the awful wrecks that occur on our highways, a study by AAA Carolinas indicates that more traffic deaths in North Carolina occur on rural roads. Although rural roads accounted for just 0.6 percent of the vehicle miles traveled in 2009, they accounted for an outsized portion of the state’s traffic fatalities.

And a recent report by NPR indicated that of the nation’s approximately 37,250 annual traffic fatalities, nearly 60 percent occur on rural roads. In some states, more than 90 percent of car accident related deaths occur on rural roads. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers on rural roads die at a rate of 2.5 times higher per mile they travel than those on urban highways. In other words, those who travel in urban areas drive twice as many miles but suffer about half the number of fatal accidents.

Why is this?

For one thing, rural roads tend to be narrower. They may have lower shoulders, more curves, faded or non-existent road markers and street lights and far fewer police officers patrolling. This means people may be more likely to speed or take these routes if they are intoxicated – putting you and your family at risk.

The most dangerous rural road in the country has been identified as a stretch of lone highway in Utah. In the last 10 years, there have reportedly been more than 520 fatal accidents on that road. Of those, NPR reported:

  • 117 were at night;
  • 280 were during the day;
  • 260 were in clear weather conditions;
  • 84 were in poor weather conditions;
  • 9 involved crashes with animals;
  • 32 cases involved a DUI;
  • 46 involved driver fatigue;
  • 145 involved speeding;
  • 288 involved driving off the road.

 

These same sort of scenarios play out all over the country, including in North Carolina, and particularly over the holidays, when more vehicles tend to share the roads.

In North Carolina, about 1,355 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2009. While North Carolina is ranked the 18th most dangerous state for driving, South Carolina is in the top three.

With Thanksgiving coming up, the National Safety Council is projecting an estimated 451 traffic fatalities in the U.S. over that long weekend, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 25. Further, the council estimates there will be somewhere in the range of 48,300 traffic-related injuries during that same time frame.

The council bases this estimate on mathematic calculations from previous years’ fatalities. Since 2005, the actual traffic deaths during Thanksgiving weekend have ranged from between 605 and 401.

The average number of traffic deaths during the handful of most recent Thanksgiving holidays was about 10 percent higher than on a regular November or December day.

But even one is too many.

Although rural highway fatalities overall are down about 20 percent across the country over the last 10 years, the disparity between urban and rural highways remains.

So wherever your travel takes you this year, please use extreme caution.

If you’ve been injured, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free and confidential consultation. Call 1-866-900-7078.

What Is the Difference Between My DMV Record and Points on My Insurance Policy?

confused man looks at insurance policy on a laptopMany people are confused about how the information on their driving record may differ from what is found on their insurance policy. The points you accrue on your North Carolina driving record may not be the same as the points your insurance company assigns to your policy to determine your rates.

As North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Michael Jordan explains, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicle (NC DMV) assigns points to your driver’s license when you are found at fault in an accident or are found guilty of a traffic violation, such as speeding or running a red light. If you accumulate a certain number of points, you can have your license suspended or revoked.

Some common violations and their points include:

• Failure to stop for a stop sign or siren: 3 points
• Speeding more than 55 miles per hour: 3 points
• Reckless driving: 4 points
• Hit and run (property damage): 4 points
• Passing a stopped school bus loading or unloading children: 5 points
• Aggressive driving: 5 points

If you get 12 or more points within a 3-year period, your license may be suspended for up to 60 days.

The Department of Insurance determines the points that are used to calculate your insurance rates, and these points are completely separate from the points the NC DMV uses. The points your insurance company uses are based on accidents, liability claims against you, and any other incidents in which you were found at fault and your insurance company had to pay a claim.

Under this system, it is possible to have a ticket dismissed and to not receive any points on your driving record but to still have points counted against your insurance policy.

Of course, the best way to keep your insurance rates down is to practice safe driving and to maintain a clean driving record.

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation for your injuries. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case to find out if one of our North Carolina personal injury attorneys may be able to help you.

Top 5 Auto Insurance Myths

The rules governing your auto insurance policy can be complicated, and most consumers don’t take the time to thoroughly review their policies and ask questions to clarify their coverage. As a result, many drivers make certain assumptions about their insurance coverage. These assumptions are perpetuated as auto insurance myths.

Here are the top 5 auto insurance myths we hear when talking to clients:

I Have Comprehensive Coverage, so My Car is Covered for All Types of Damages

thief shattering the glass of a driver's side car windowDespite what its name suggests, comprehensive coverage only covers certain types of damages to your vehicle, including things like fire, hail storms, theft and vandalism. You must purchase additional insurance to cover other types of damages, such as collision coverage for damages caused in an accident or uninsured motorist coverage for damages caused in an accident with an uninsured driver.

Many drivers refer to “full coverage,” as well as comprehensive coverage, in claiming to be covered against all damages. However, there is no one type of insurance coverage that protects against all damages. It is very important to have a copy of your insurance declaration page when talking with a personal injury attorney about your coverage after you’ve been in an accident.

If Someone Else is Driving My Car and an Accident Happens, I’m Not Liable

Unfortunately, you could be responsible for any damages caused by your vehicle, even if you are not driving at the time. The car insurance you carry for your vehicle could be considered the primary insurance, which would be used to cover damages in the event of an accident. However, if the damages exceed your coverage limits, the insurance policy held by the person driving may then be used to cover the remaining costs.

I am Automatically Covered for a Rental Vehicle Under My Personal Insurance Policy

While your personal auto insurance policy may cover some damages when you are driving another vehicle, you should not count on it providing coverage for a rental vehicle. There is a lot of fine print regarding what is covered when you are behind the wheel of another vehicle and under what circumstances. It’s always best to purchase a policy that covers your rental car specifically when you pick it up.

Insurance Claims Will be Paid Fully and Promptly

If this were always the case, we wouldn’t be in business. Unfortunately, we have seen that insurance companies will try to dispute coverage and deny claims. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer after you’ve been in an accident. A qualified personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal rights and try to ensure that you get the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.

My Insurance Company is Loyal to Me

Again, this is something that we’ve seen is not always true, unfortunately. Even your own insurance company can wrongfully deny your claim for coverage. It is important to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you fight for your rights and try to get the compensation that you may deserve for your injuries.

Make sure that you aren’t counting on unfounded insurance myths if you are in an accident. Protect yourself by reviewing your insurance policy thoroughly and asking questions about anything that is unclear. Consult with a personal injury lawyer to learn about your rights under the law if you have been injured in an accident. The North Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you if you have been injured in an accident. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.