Car accidents a frequent cause of work injuries in North Carolina

ABC 11 reports that North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers are involved in an average of seven traffic accidents each week.

Traffic accidents are a leading cause of North Carolina work injuries and work accidents nationwide. They are the leading cause of death among police and firefighters and were second only to fall injuries in fatal private sector work accidents in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of the 5,214 employees killed in private sector work accidents, 1,044 died in traffic accidents.

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In 2008, nearly 940,000 injury cases were reported involving state and local government employees, primarily in the safety services sector, including law enforcement and firefighters. Of the 144 law enforcement officers who were killed on the job, 38 percent died in traffic accidents, compared to 33 percent who died as a result of violence, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Traffic accidents were also the leading cause of death for firefighters.

The ABC 11 report found the accident rate among North Carolina troopers last year was up 44 percent and involves an average of an accident once per day, every day, all year long. A spokesman for the patrol said 1,700 troopers drove 43 million miles last year.

The patrol rebuffed an inquiry from the media about whether distracted driving could play a roll in some patrol accidents. However, the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize earlier this year for its Distracted Driving series and reported that the advent of cell-phones, on-board computers and other advanced technologies contributes significantly to accidents involving law enforcement and emergency responders. The growing number of state and federal laws preventing cell phone use and text messaging by drivers typically exclude emergency workers.

While 70 percent of trooper accidents were deemed unavoidable, investigators determined the trooper could have prevented the accident almost one-third of the time.

If you are injured on the job or involved in a job-related car accident, contact the North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.

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