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Highlights and Lowlights of North Carolina’s Recent Traffic Safety Decisions

Published May 22, 2012

The auto services affiliate AAA Carolina releases yearly opinions on decisions and events involving traffic safety in North Carolina. In its “Red Light, Green Light” report, a green light indicates approval while a red light indicates a poor or questionable decision. Below are select decisions and events to which AAA Carolina gave a green light for 2010:

· Consideration by the town of Chapel Hill on banning cell phone use while driving. Distracted driving such as cell phone use is the cause of thousands of car accidents every year. The state already bans texting while driving.

· Support from the Raleigh City Council a plan to improve bicycling in the city by adding bike lanes for up to 25 streets. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of pedestrians are killed in the U.S. each year in accidents, many of whom are bicyclists.

· A crackdown by District Attorney Susan Doyle on court clerks and attorneys illegally dismissing hundreds of drunk driving cases in a “ticket fixing” scandal. Some of the drunk drivers let off the hook were repeat offenders.

· A radio campaign by El Pueblo, a Hispanic advocacy group, to educate Spanish speakers on traffic safety. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for Hispanics in North Carolina.

Unlicensed Drivers a Continuing Problem in North Carolina

North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles received a red light for failing to address what appears to be a significant issue — unlicensed drivers. At a checkpoint last July in Charlotte, over half of the 124 ticketed drivers and 10 DWI arrests did not have a proper license. Some licenses had been revoked; others never had a license at all. Not only do unlicensed drivers have an incomplete knowledge of traffic safety, had any of the drivers injured motorists and pedestrians it would be difficult for the victims to get fair compensation, as unlicensed drivers cannot have auto insurance.

Other decisions AAA Carolina viewed negatively included the North Carolina Highway Patrol perceived lax attitudes toward its own officers’ drunk driving, and the city of Raleigh for over-ticketing cars parked safely within marked lines.

Traffic laws in North Carolina are still changing, and many more changes are proposed for 2011. If you have been injured in a car accident, talk to a local attorney to inform yourself of your rights.