Auto accidents with injuries and fatalities happen all-too frequently throughout North Carolina. Attempts to reduce them take on a multi-pronged approach including education, enforcement and changes to the law. One recent implementation was Vision Zero. Unfortunately, after five years of the program being in effect, the number of road deaths in the state are worse than ever. With that, questions are being asked as to why it is not going as planned and what can be done to improve safety. When there is a crash and people are injured, determining the cause, assessing the damage and weighing all options is critical.
According to Vision Zero statistics, there were 1,549 fatal accidents in the state in 2020. As its name implies, the goal behind Vision Zero is to reduce that number to zero. Since it started in 2016, the number of road fatalities has increased. In 2016, there were 1,464 road deaths. That increased to 1,687 people who lost their lives in those 1,549 crashes. In those five years, the one year in which there was a decrease was 2017. In the calculations, anyone who lost their lives in an auto accident – drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians – was counted.
The Governor’s Highway Safety Program executive director acknowledged there are problems that need solutions. One issue that is believed to have contributed to the 2020 spike is the ongoing national crisis. Because there are fewer people on the road, many drivers took it as an opportunity to behave recklessly, speed and drive distracted, among other transgressions. Around one-quarter of fatal accidents in 2020 were speed-related. Strategies being considered include changes to road design to prevent drivers from speeding.
Whether there were moderate injuries, catastrophic injuries or fatalities in auto accidents, there will be many questions as to the available steps in its aftermath. If a person was hospitalized, needed surgery, required rehabilitative care and was unable to work, the financial and personal implications can be extensive. With a fatality, these are exponentially worse for the family left behind. Knowing how to gather evidence, account for all that was lost and pursue a legal claim can be complex. From the beginning, it is useful to consult with those who are experienced in these situations to find a wise path and move forward.