North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1993

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Chapter 6: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Of the 2,611 deaths that were ruled accidental in manner, 1,513, or 58 percent, involved motor vehicles. Figure 18 shows that drivers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle comprised 31.8 percent of the deaths, followed by drivers not involved in a collision with another vehicle (22.4%) and passengers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle (12.6%). Of the 1,151 drivers and passengers killed in single-or multiple-vehicle crashes, 365 or 31.7 percent, were known to be using a seat belt or other restraint.

Figure 18
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Type of Involvement

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 is unavailable.]

Table 9 reveals that in 1992 and 1993, the percentage of drivers in single-and multiple-vehicle crashes who had been drinking declined. Pedestrian alcohol use has also declined since 1992.

The percentages of intoxicated decedents (defined as having a blood alcohol level of 100mg/dl 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 except for multiple vehicle crashes, in which a larger number occurred between 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. Half of fatally injured pedestrians and over one third of drivers in single vehicle fatalities occurring between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. had blood alcohol levels at or above DWI levels.

Figure 20
1993 Medical Examiner Influenced Motor Vehicle Cases by Time and Circumstance
*Tested alcohol level >=100mg/dl

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).

Table 9: 1988-1992 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Driver and Pedestrian Fatalities By Year, Circumstance, and Alcohol Level

Circumstance 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 Total
Drivers in Single Vehicle Crashes
Sober 118 (38%) 122 (36%) 126 (42%) 132 (44%) 160 (51%) 632 (39%)
Drinking 18 (6%) 26 (8%) 15 (5%) 22 (7%) 20 (6%) 104 (6%)
Influenced 172 (56%) 192 (56%) 160 (53%) 145 (49%) 136 (43%) 871 (54%)
Number Tested 308 (88%) 340 (89%) 301 (88%) 299 (89%) 316 (94%) 1607 (89%)
Deaths 352 381 343 336 337 1806
Drivers in Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Sober 342 (80%) 291 (80%) 264 (81%) 276 (84%) 364 (85%) 1503 (80%)
Drinking 17 (4%) 15 (4%) 9 (3%) 14 (4%) 19 (4%) 81 (4%)
Influenced 69 (16%) 60 (16%) 53 (16%) 40 (12%) 48 (11%) 304 (16%)
Number Tested 428 (87%) 366 (85%) 326 (86%) 330 (86%) 431 (90%) 1888 (87%)
Deaths 493 432 379 383 479 2174
Pedestrians
Sober 90 (49%) 85 (48%) 79 (45%) 65 (38%) 91 (52%) 428 (48%)
Drinking 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 10 (6%) 35 (4%)
Influenced 87 (48%) 82 (46%) 90 (52%) 96 (56%) 74 (43%) 436 (48%)
Number Tested 182 (86%) 177 (89%) 174 (87%) 171 (92%) 174 (97%) 899 (88%)
Deaths 212 199 199 185 180 1022
Sober = < 20 mg/dl Drinking = 21-99 mg/dl Influenced > 100 mg/dl

 

Table 10: 1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 28.3 39.2 30.8
Female 12.9 14.2 13.2
Total 20.4 25.9 21.7


Figure 21
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Race-Sex Group and Alcohol Level
*Total tested for alcohol

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 involved in at least a third of cases in all but the 65+ age group.

Figure 22
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Age Group

 

Figure 23
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Age Group and Alcohol Level
*Total tested for alcohol

Figure 24 shows that the highest number of deaths overall occurred primarily between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. 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 24
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Alcohol Level and Hour of Injury
*Total tested for alcohol

Figure 25
1993 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

Last Modified: March 9, 2017