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April 2018 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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Ignition Interlock Devices May Be Key to Preventing Impaired Driving

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and AAA is highlighting ignition interlock devices in an effort to reduce repeat drunk driving offenders.

Requiring all drunk driving offenders to install alcohol ignition interlock devices (IID) can reduce the number of impaired drivers in fatal crashes by 16 percent, according to a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Additionally, if every state adopted IID laws, more than 500 more lives could be saved each year. Today, 31 states and the District of Columbia mandate or highly incentivize ignition interlock devices for all offenders – 28 of those states and DC have all-offender IID laws.

“AAA applauds IIHS for highlighting the important role ignition interlock laws play in reducing the number of crashes, injuries and deaths that occur on our nation’s roadways,” said AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety President Tiffany Wright.

Currently, North Carolina enforces IID penalties in certain DUI cases. First time offenders with a BAC of 0.15 or more mandates an ignition interlock restriction for one year. Additionally, second time offenders automatically receive a 3 year ignition interlock restriction while third time offenders require a 7 year interlock restriction (if the license is restored to the offender).

In South Carolina, courts are required to order the installation and monitoring of an interlock device for any driver whose BAC level is .08% or higher when it is a second time offense. The length of time required depends upon the court, but usually a second time DUI results in a two year requirement, the third garners three years and the fourth results in an ignition interlock permanently.

In 2016, there were 375 fatal crashes as a direct result of alcohol in North Carolina, according to the NCDOT and 296 in South Carolina, according to the SCPDS.

Neither of the Carolinas are included in the 28 states with an all-offender IID law, that would immediately require an ignition interlock system for any driver convicted of a DUI.

For the full report, including IIHS’s research on marijuana impaired driving, click here.

For more seasonal traffic safety information, sign up below to receive our monthly traffic safety newsletter. Each month includes five timely articles dedicated to keeping Carolinians safe and informed on the roads.


AAA Releases Emotional PSA For Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Each day, 10 people are killed in distracted driving crashes – contributing to the 37,000 people killed in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In North Carolina there were 32 fatalities due to distracted driving in 2017, according to the NCDOT and in South Carolina there were 60, according to the SCDPS. AAA Carolinas believes these numbers are actually a lot higher as many drivers do not readily admit to distracted driving, such as texting, at the time of the crash.


To remind motorists to stay safe on the road during National Distracted Driving Awareness month in April and all year long, AAA Carolinas created a PSA about a member of our Carolina community who lost her son to distracted driving.


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Contrary to what some drivers may think, hands-free, handheld and in-vehicle technologies are not distraction-free, even if a driver’s eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. The latest AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that:

  • Drivers who text when behind the wheel more than double their odds of being involved in a crash;
  • Drivers who talk on a cell phone (either hands-free or handheld) when behind the wheel may elevate their odds of being involved in a crash;
  • Drivers who use in-vehicle technologies, like voice-based and touch screen features, can be distracted for more than 40 seconds when completing tasks like programming navigation or sending a text message.
  • Removing eyes from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk for a crash, according to previous research.


Driving is a complex task that requires a driver’s full attention. AAA cautions drivers to put down their phones and don’t use hands-free, handheld or in-vehicle technologies while driving. AAA offers these tips to stay safe while on the road:

  • Put down your phone and other electronic gadgets.
  • Never use text-messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle.
  • Designate a passenger to answer in-coming calls, send or respond to text messages and to assist with navigation when the vehicle is in motion. Only use these technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving related purposes.


For more seasonal traffic safety information, sign up below to receive our monthly traffic safety newsletter. Each month includes five timely articles dedicated to keeping Carolinians safe and informed on the roads.


How to Go Green This Earth Day

As Earth Day approaches (April 22) we are reminded of the importance of being environmentally conscious every day. Fortunately for motorists, taking steps to go greener on the roads will also save them money in the process.


AAA offers the following tips for lessening our environmental impact when behind the wheel:

  • Imagine Eggs Under the Pedals. Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently. This will increase your vehicle’s gas mileage, which means less trips to the pump. It will also go easier on your tires, which means replacing them less often.
  • Slow Down. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Choose a “Greener” Car. When shopping for a new car, consider the wide variety of ‘green’ options now available. It could be a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, an electric vehicle or simply a new model with a high-tech internal combustion engine that gets great gas mileage.
  • Plan Ahead. If you have multiple errands to run, combine all of your trips into one. Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a single longer trip. If possible, park somewhere in between locations to avoid a second trip. Carpool with others when possible. If a destination is in walking distance, opt for the exercise instead.


While you pledge to adjust driving habits in an effort to Go Green, AAA is doing its part as well. All used batteries returned to AAA are recycled.


Locally, AAA Carolinas collects used batteries throughout the year, including on Earth Week. AAA started this service to aid the environment and prevent potential improper installation of batteries by individuals. More than 10,000 used batteries in the Carolinas have been turned in for proper disposal during three previous Earth Weeks alone.


Battery recycle centers reuse or properly dispose of harmful components such as lead and sulfuric acid. Nationwide, more than 101 million lead-acid batteries are sold each year and many are illegally disposed of in dumps or near water sources. When left lying around the house or garage, these hazardous materials can leak into groundwater or explode in a fire.


Nationwide, AAA collects and now recycles more than 1 million batteries each year. AAA has been engaged in the program since 2001.

Be sure to use caution when handling used batteries. Some safety tips include:

  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when handling used batteries
  • Keep batteries upright and place them in a sturdy box or plastic container to transport them
  • Handle any cracked or leaking battery case with care by putting it in a leak-proof container
  • Never expose batteries to an open flame or smoke
  • Keep out of the reach of children


Charlotte City Council Considers Red Light Cameras

Charlotte City Council members met Monday, April 2, to discuss the topic of bringing back red light cameras. The city did away with the red light camera programs 12 years ago due to the cost, but some are advocating for their return in an effort to decrease intersection crashes and improve pedestrian safety. Car crashes in Charlotte are up 30% from last year.

Those in favor point to the success of the red light cameras in cities such as Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that red light cameras in conjunction with public awareness can modify driving behavior and have been shown to reduce red light violations and intersection crashes. Nationwide each year, drivers who run red lights are responsible for an estimated 260,000 crashes resulting in approximately 200,000 injuries and 800 deaths.


Motorists who run red lights are at risk for a T-bone crash, which are the most likely to result in serious injury or fatality. IIHS’s study showed that cities who turned off their red-light cameras found a large increase in fatal crashes, due to the severity of T-bone crashes.


AAA Carolinas ran a poll on social media that found 69% of Carolinians do not believe red light cameras are the solution to the increase in car crashes, while 31% said they are.


Many who oppose the red light cameras state cost as the biggest issue. Charlotte estimates bringing the program back would cost the city about $1 million a year. North Carolina mandates each city give 90% of the citation proceeds to the public school system of that county. Advocates against the camera implementation say that money could be spent on other traffic safety measures, such as sidewalk improvements.


Charlotte wants to take a more holistic approach to decreasing car crashes by utlizing programs including “Vision Zero” which aims at promoting traffic safety and includes addressing the needs for improvements at intersections and sidewalks.


The general consensus from the meeting is that the majority of city council members are against red-light cameras. The initiative was not officially struck down, but it is temporarily on the back-burner to other city issues.


Safety Spotlight: Carolina Road Driving School

This month, we are highlighting AAA Approved Driving School Carolina Road Driving. Owned by Mickey Tripp, this driving school has locations in Raleigh and Greenville N.C. and has been an AAA approved driving school for three years.


The instructors at Carolina Road Driving School have over fifty years of combined experience as driving instructors, classroom and instructors and Department of Motor Vehicle officers. They are all North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle licensed and certified.


Tripp has been the owner of Carolina Road for five years. He has been a driving instructor for 25 years.

“Highway safety is very important to me,” said Tripp. “Human life is very important to me. That’s why I do what I do.”


Carolina Road Driving School offers the following classes:

  • Complete Teen Course: A combination of classroom lessons and hands-on behind the wheel driving lessons. The state of North Carolina requires students who are under 18 to complete Driver Education before their can obtain their Learner’s Permit. This class will give teens the required instruction to apply for the Learner’s Permit. The class times are flexible to meet the needs of students. Classes are offered on Saturdays and in week-long form during Spring Break, Summer Break & Christmas break.
  • Adult Lessons: Carolina Road teaches adults of all ages and from all countries. Adults interested in the classes need to obtain their learner’s permit beforehand. This class will leave students with the skill level necessary to be safe and responsible drivers.
  • Driver Improvement Classes: Carolina Road offers defensive driving/driver improvement classes to adults who need a class for reasons such as traffic offenses or just a general interest in improved safety awareness.


To learn more about the classes offered at Carolina Road Driving School in Raleigh and Greenville, follow this link: https://carolinaroaddriving.com/.


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