North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1992

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Chapter 6: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Of the 2,376 deaths that are ruled accidental in manner, 1,381, or 58 percent, involved motor vehicles.

Figure 18
1992 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Type and Involvement


Figure 18 shows that drivers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle comprised 27.7 percent of the deaths, followed by drivers not involved in a collision with another vehicle (24.3%) and passengers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle (14.1%). Of the 1,058 drivers and passengers killed in single-or multiple-vehicle crashes, 336, or 31.76 percent, were known to be using a seat belt or other restraint.

The percentages of alcohol use for each type of motor vehicle accident deaths are shown in Figure 19. Alcohol was a major factor among drivers in a single-vehicle accident, passengers in a single-vehicle accident, pedestrians, and motorcycle users.

Figure 19

DR-SV = Driver, Single Vehicle
DR-MV = Driver, Multiple Vehicle
PED = Pedestrian
PS-SV = Passenger, Single Vehicle
PS-MV = Passenger, Multiple Vehicle
MC = Motorcycle

 

Table 9 reveals that in 1991 and 1992, the percentage of drivers in single-and multiple-vehicle crashes who had been drinking declined. Pedestrian alcohol use has also declined.

Circumstance 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 TOTAL
Drivers in Single Vehicle Crashes
Sober 134 (37%) 118 (38% 122 (36%) 126 (42%) 132 (44%) 632 (39%)
Drinking 23 (7%) 18 (6%) 26 (8%) 15 (5%) 22 (7%) 104 (6%)
Influenced 202 (56%) 172 (56%) 192 (56%) 160 (53%) 145 (49%) 871 (54%)
Number Tested 359 (91%) 308 (88%) 340 (89%) 301 (88%) 299 (89%) 1607 (89%)
Deaths 394 352 381 343 336 1806
Drivers in Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Sober 330 (75%) 342 (80%) 291 (80%) 264 (81%) 276 (84%) 1503 (80%)
Drinking 26 (6%) 17 (4%) 15 (4%) 9 (3%) 14 (4%) 81 (4%)
Influenced 82 (19%) 69 (16%) 60 (16%) 53 (16%) 40 (12%) 304 (16%)
Number Tested 438 (90%) 428 (87%) 366 (85%) 326 (86%) 330 (86%) 1888 (87%)
Deaths 487 493 432 379 383 2174
Pedestrians
Sober 109 (56%) 90 (49%) 85 (48%) 79 (45%) 65 (38%) 428 (48%)
Drinking 5 (3%) 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 35 (4%)
Influenced 81 (41%) 87 (48%) 82 (46%) 90 (52%) 96 (56%) 436 (48%)
Number Tested 195 (86%) 182 (86%) 177 (89%) 174 (87%) 171 (92%) 899 (88%)
Deaths 227 212 199 199 185 1022

Sober = <20mg%; Drinking = 20-99mg%; Influenced = >99mg%


The percentages of intoxicated decedents (defined as having a blood alcohol level of 100mg percent or more) by circumstance and time of injury are shown in Figure 20. The time period 9 p.m. - 3 a.m. had the highest percentage of intoxicated decedents in all circumstances. It is striking that in that time period, two-thirds of fatally injured pedestrians and almost three-fourth of drivers of single vehicle fatalities had blood alcohol levels at or above DWI levels.

Figure 20
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Time and Circumstance
*Tested alcohol level >= 100mg%

 

Table 10: 1992 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 26.1 38.2 28.9
Female 11.9 12.0 12.0
Total 18.9 24.3 20.2

Table 10 shows motor vehicle accident death rates by race and sex. Nonwhite males had the highest death rate and the death rates for males was more than double that of females. Alcohol involvement was most common in motor vehicle accident deaths involving white and nonwhite males (Figure 21).

Figure 21
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Race-Sex Group and Alcohol Level
*Total tested for alcohol

Figure 22
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Age Group

Motor vehicle accident death rates by age and the age- specific percentage of motor vehicle accident deaths by alcohol level are shown in Figures 22 and 23 respectively. The age group 15-24 had the highest death rate, while the age group 25-34 had the highest percentage of victims intoxicated. Alcohol was common in all but the 65+ age group.

Figure 23
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Age Group and Alcohol Level
*Total tested for alcohol

Figure 24 shows that the highest number of deaths occurred between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight.

Figure 24
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Alcohol Level and Hour of Injury
*Total tested for alcohol

Non-drinking victims were killed during daylight hours; while drinkers died between late afternoon and early morning hours. Figure 25 shows that fatal accidents were most common on weekends.

Figure 25
1992 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

Last Modified: March 9, 2017