North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1994

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Chapter 6: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Of the 2,675 deaths that were ruled accidental in manner, 1,527, or 57 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 (21.4%) and passengers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle (15.6%). Of the 1,186 drivers and passengers killed in single-or multiple-vehicle crashes, 496, or 41.8 percent, were known to be using a seat belt or other restraint.

Figure 18
1994 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 crash, pedestrian and vehicle accidents, passengers in a single-vehicle crash, and motorcycle crashes.

Figure 19
1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Alcohol Level and Type of Involvement

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

Table 9 reveals that in 1993 and 1994, the percentage of drivers in single-and multiple-vehicle crashes who had been drinking declined. Pedestrian alcohol use has also declined.

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 in all circumstances. It is striking that in that time period, almost one half of fatally injured pedestrians and over one third of drivers of single vehicle fatalities had blood alcohol levels at or above DWI levels.

Figure 20
1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Time and Circumstance
*Tested alcohol level >=100mg/dl

Table 9: 1990-1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Driver and Pedestrian Fatalities By Year, Circumstance, and Alcohol Level

Circumstance 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 Total
Drivers in Single Vehicle Crashes
Sober 122 (36%) 126 (42%) 132 (44%) 160 (51%) 153 (52%)

693 (45%)

Drinking 26 (8%) 15 (5%) 22 (7%) 20 (6%)

28 (9%)

111 ( 7%)

Influenced 192 (56%) 160 (53%) 145 (49%) 136 (43%)

114 (39%)

747 (48%)

Number Tested 340 (89%) 301 (88%) 299 (89%) 316 (94%)

295 (91%)

1,551 (90%)

Deaths 381 343 336 337

325

1,722

Drivers in Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Sober 291 (80%) 264 (81%) 276 (84%) 364 (85%)

357 (81%)

1,652 (87%)

Drinking 15 (4%) 9 (3%) 14 (4%) 19 (4%)

14 ( 3%)

71 ( 4%)

Influenced 60 (16%) 53 (16%) 40 (12%) 48 (11%)

70 (16%)

271 (14%)

Number Tested 366 (85%) 326 (86%) 330 (86%) 431 (90%)

441 (91%)

1,894 (88%)

Deaths 432 379 383 479

485

2,158

Pedestrians
Sober 85 (48%) 79 (45%) 65 (38%) 91 (52%)

91 (52%)

411 (47%)

Drinking 10 (6%) 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 10 (6%)

10 ( 6%)

45 ( 5%)

Influenced 82 (46%) 90 (52%) 96 (56%) 74 (43%)

75 (42%)

417 (48%)

Number Tested 177 (89%) 174 (87%) 171 (92%) 174 (97%)

176 (91%)

872 (91%)

Deaths 199 199 185 180 194 957
Sober = < 20 mg/dl Drinking = 21-99 mg/dl Influenced = > 100 mg/dl

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

Table 10: 1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 25.9 35.9 28.2
Female 15.0 16.1 15.3
Total 20.3 25.3 21.6

 

Figure 21
1994 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 common in all but the 65+ age group.

Figure 22
1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Age Group

Figure 23
1994 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 occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Non-drinking victims were killed primarily during daylight hours; while drinkers died between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. Figure 25 shows that fatal accidents were most common on weekends.

Figure 24
1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Alcohol Level and Hour of Injury
*Total tested for alcohol

Figure 25
1994 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

 

 

Last Modified: March 9, 2017