Every state is responsible for enacting its own traffic safety laws, and the variations from state to state can be significant. The laws on the books tend to reflect each state’s views on where to strike the balance between citizen responsibility and personal liberty.
The differences between state laws are highlighted each year in a report published by the non-profit, non-partisan group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. The report identifies 16 key laws/provisions that have been shown to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities, and then ranks every state by how many of those laws/provisions are on the books. The topics covered include occupant protection (seat belt and helmet laws), child passenger safety, teen driver licensing, impaired driving and distracted driving.
States were ranked and reviewed in each category and then assigned an overall rating of green, yellow, or red. North Carolina was among 33 states receiving a yellow rating. This meant we had enacted between 6 and 10 of the recommended traffic safety laws.
On the whole, North Carolina fared well. We lost points for some enforcement gaps in our seat belt laws, our laws regarding child safety seats and our sentencing guidelines for drunk driving convictions. In most other categories, we scored highly.
While this is good news overall, some car accident statistics from the report reveal that enacting laws can only do so much to improve public safety. For instance, over a 10-year period, North Carolina experienced 13,402 traffic accident fatalities, with 1,412 road deaths in 2017 alone. Each year, car accidents result in $7.909 billion in economic costs statewide.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a negligent driver, your ability to pursue compensation isn’t limited by whether a specific driving behavior was legal or illegal. The simple truth is that each driver owes a duty of care to all other drivers on the road. That means we need to drive in a manner that minimizes the risk of injury to others. When a driver violates that duty of care and drives in a manner known to be dangerous and negligent, he or she can be held liable in civil court.
To better understand your rights and options after a crash, contact our firm to discuss your case.