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Monday, May 25, 2020

September 2018 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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Panther Rookies Tackle BRAKES Defensive Driving Course

The Panther rookies recently stepped away from the gridiron and hit the asphalt at B.R.A.K.E.S defensive driving course. The Panthers rookies were given the chance to skip the long waitlist of B.R.A.K.E.S (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) to learn a new playbook – a lesson in defensive driving. They spent the day at zMax Dragway in Concord where their driving skills were put to the test.


B.R.A.K.E.S, a non-profit organization is a AAA Approved Driving School created by former champion drag racer Doug Herbert after he went through the unimaginable tragedy of losing both of his teenage sons in a car crash eight years ago. His grief led him to create a driving program that teaches young drivers the skills needed to react to many situations on the road, in hopes of saving which other families from experiencing a devastating loss like his.


“On January 26, 2008, I thought I was a big deal. Big house on the lake, fastest boat on the lake, Ferrari, Learjet,” Herbert said to the squad of Panthers rookies. “Then all of a sudden my kids got killed in a car crash, and that’s when you analyze what’s important to you.”


During the defensive driving course, the players were put through rigorous simulations including having to accelerate toward a crash and then coming to a complete stop, braking in a car with “ice” tires on the back that skid like one would if stopping on ice, making last minute decisions on which direction to go while driving at high speeds and the personal favorite – a distracted driving course complete with texting, loud music and at times, drunk goggles.

It was a light-hearted day filled with friendly competition and lots of laughs throughout the defensive driving course, but the message of safety on the roads was heard loud and clear by the rookies.


Highway Patrol Sergeant Mike Baker brought that message home in his closing remarks to the guys.


“Y’all are superstars, and I’m a Panthers fan. I pull for you every Sunday,” said Baker. “But at the end of the day, you’re human beings. If you get out here and act a fool, wrap your car around a tree or hit somebody head-on and get yourself killed, one of us has to go to your house and deliver that message.”

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The defensive driving course in the words of Dante Jackson, “It was hard.”

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B.R.A.K.E.S dedication to preventing injuries and saving lives by training and educating teenage drivers about the importance of safe and responsible driving means taking driver’s education beyond the conventional method. It is a free, hands-on, advanced driver training program taught by professional instructors who train the FBI, secret service, and state troopers for a living and/or perform stunts in movies.


Each weekend event includes four identical sessions to allow parents and teens to pick one that will fit into their busy schedules, and each session includes four hours of training, starting with a short, 45-minute classroom presentation followed by lots of driving time in a fleet of new cars provided by Kia.


For more information on BRAKES defensive driving course, including nationwide locations and dates for upcoming events, and to register for a school, please visit: www.putonthebrakes.org. (Please note: Registration requires a deposit of $99 to secure a seat, but it’s fully refundable upon arrival at the school.)


Do You Know the Golf Cart Laws in Your Area?

Golf carts are growing in popularity for their convenience and ease of use, as manufacturers are now able to construct them for road travel. In many communities, golf carts are the main mode of transportation. As the percentage of golf cart usage continues to increase, officials are trying to find ways to make room for them on the road among vehicles by establishing set golf cart laws.


In 2017, there were an estimated 18,300 golf cart injuries across the nation. In the last two years, golf cart crashes led to an estimated 35,000 trips to the ER. Though most are equipped with seat belts, their light-weight build and lower maximum speed make them vulnerable when driving in areas with motor vehicles.


If a golf cart cannot exceed 20 mph, it is deemed a personal transportation vehicle (PTV) and is subject to the specific state and local golf cart laws set in place at that time. If a golf cart has been manufactured or doctored to exceed 20 mph, it is treated as a motor vehicle or low speed vehicle (LSV) under Federal law and thus must be equipped with certain safety features. This chart breaks down the different requirements for PTVs in North Carolina, PTVs in South Carolina and LSVs everywhere under federal law.

North & South Carolina Golf Cart Laws


There may be local golf cart laws in place for PTV’s that vary from the above information. To be sure of the most accurate information, check with your local municipality.


Regardless of the type of golf cart and the safety features in place, these vehicles are drastically more dangerous in the event of a crash when it involves a regular-sized motor vehicle. For that reason, please always exercise caution and adhere to the rules of the road when behind the wheel of a golf cart.


Helmet-Less Electric Scooters; Are We Heading for a Disaster?

Electric scooters are starting to take over many US cities, in an effort to bring mobility to the modern world. Though they haven’t reached every market yet, there are currently escooters across Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro. If you’re in these markets, you’ve probably seen them zipping around town – and chances are the rider was not wearing a helmet.


“The electric scooter fad is exciting and seems to have taken cities in the Carolinas by storm,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Spokesperson. “It’s a great alternative to driving or walking as it saves traffic time and gas money, but what we wanted to find out is just how safe these scooters are.”


In a recent AAA Carolinas poll, 86% of respondents said they believe wearing a helmet on an escooter increases safety, though only 58% answered that they do so.


Both companies advise riders to wear a helmet at all times while on electric scooters and both also have an 18 year age requirement to ride. The escooters are limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour, which doesn’t seem speedy but can do damage if involved in a crash.


On whether or not these companies should provide helmets for electric scooter riders, survey respondents were torn. 69% believe that yes, they should provide a helmet for every ride, while the rest believe it is their responsibility to bring one along. Bird currently offers free helmets to all riders – it is an option to select on the app. The company will send a helmet to you, you just have to pay shipping.


“We’re happy to see that most respondents understand the importance of wearing a helmet, on bikes and scooters,” added Wright. “If you plan to scoot around town, pack your helmet.”


Electric Scooter Safety Tips

For escooter riders, AAA Carolinas recommends:

• Wear a helmet at all times.

• Wear reflective gear or tape to your clothes to make you more visible to motorists – especially at dawn, dusk and night.

• Wear closed toed, flat footwear and ensure that you are comfortable.

• Never ride impaired or distracted.

• Don’t ride faster than your skill level or conditions allow.

• Slow down at intersections and be aware of others on the road.

Hands-Free in NC – Is Texting While Driving Over?

The current North Carolina texting while driving law is “practically unenforceable” according to state law enforcement and some legislators are moving to change that in the 2019 session.


Advocates for a tighter ban on electronic devices behind the wheel, including AAA Carolinas, are urging North Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill mirroring Georgia’s recent “Hands Free” bill. This bill essentially bans all motorists from driving with a phone in their hand or with a phone touching any part of them. The bill obviously prohibits drivers from texting while driving, reading or writing emails, watching videos while on the road and checking social media. It allows for motorists to compose texts and talk on the phone via hands-free Bluetooth technology.


What Can Prevent Texting While Driving?

Law enforcement has recognized that small monetary punishments aren’t enough to prevent texting while driving type violations, so a new layer has been added to the bill that includes an increase of license points for each offense.


As the 2019 legislative session approaches, groups across North Carolina are actively pushing their elected officials to stand behind this bill, which will be introduced by Senator Jeff Tarte.


The Hands-Free North Carolina coalition is holding four town-hall meetings across the state to rally behind this bill and generate support from local communities. The meeting was held in Lake Norman, NC on September 12 and AAA Carolinas spoke in favor of the proposed legislation by citing distracted driving statistics and studies done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety on behalf of the countless victims who have lost their lives to this epidemic.


State senators and representatives also attended the town hall. Senator Tarte talked about the bill he plans to propose at the beginning of the 2019 session and Senator Carson (GA) talked about the process he went through in getting a hands-free bill passed in his state of Georgia, which was overwhelmingly approved by the committee from members of all political backgrounds.


One of the biggest factors – aside from saving lives – that was emphasized in the need for stricter laws is the skyrocketing cost of auto insurance. Because law enforcement is not able to officially cite texting while driving or other types of distracted driving in a wreck, (unless the driver specifically tells them they were distracted), there is no one at fault for insurance purposes and the damage is covered by the general fund. With this happening so often, rates are going up across the board to cover the costs.


To follow along with the progress of the Hands Free bill in North Carolina and to hear what was said in the first town hall meeting, see the coalition’s Facebook page. The second town hall meeting is scheduled for October 3 at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, NC and is open to the general public.

How to Tell if Your Vehicle has Flood Damage

AAA Carolinas is providing tips for spotting vehicle flooding in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Carolinians who have returned to their property after evacuating for the storm and those in the market for a new, need to beware of flooded vehicles.


“While there are still plenty of flooded areas, thankfully the water has receded in many regions across the Carolinas,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Spokesperson. “However, dry land can be deceiving to those who have returned to their homes and believe their cars were not affected by the heavy rainfall.


The following tips can be used to detect potential flood damage to vehicles:

  • Smell inside the vehicle to detect any damp or musty odors.
  • Pull back the carpet at different areas and look for mud, dirt or signs of water stains.
  • Inspect the dashboard underside for signs of mud and dirt.
  • Look under the vehicle for corrosion.
  • Open all doors, hood and trunk to inspect for corrosion, mud and dirt or discoloration on the door frames, hinges and under the weather stripping.
  • See if moisture is stuck in the lights (a visible water line may still show on the lens or reflector and moisture beads and fog can build up in light fixtures from flooding)
  • Check all warning lights, window motors and all electrical components to ensure they are working properly. While a non-working part alone does not mean the vehicle was flooded, it combined with other difficulties is a cause for concern.
  • Have a trusted mechanic examine your vehicle or bring it to any of AAA’s approved auto repair shops


For those in the market for a used vehicle that are worried about purchasing a previously flood damaged vehicle, always request a vehicle history report. While such reports don’t always catch everything, more often than not they will indicate when a vehicle has been in a flood or been issued a salvage title, indicating a major problem in its past. For more information on purchasing a vehicle through AAA, visit aaa.com/autobuying.


The best protection against buying a flood-damaged vehicle is a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a qualified shop such as an AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair. As a part of their inspection, the shop will look for common indicators of flood damage.

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