North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1995

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Chapter 6: Motor Vehicle Accidents

Of the 2,682 deaths that are ruled accidental in manner, 1,557, or 58 percent, involved motor vehicles. Figure 18 shows that drivers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle comprised 30.1 percent of the deaths, followed by drivers not involved in a collision with another vehicle (21.9%) and passengers involved in a collision with another motor vehicle (13.9%). Of the 1,171 drivers and passengers killed in single-or multiple-vehicle crashes, 462, or 39.5 percent, were known to be using a seat belt or other restraint.

Figure 18
1995 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
1995 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 between 1991 and 1995, the percentage of drivers who were under the influence declined. Pedestrian alcohol use also declined considerably.

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, over two-thirds of fatally injured pedestrians and drivers of single vehicle fatalities had blood alcohol levels at or above DWI levels.

Figure 20
1995 Medical Examiner Intoxicated Decedents Motor Vehicle Cases by Time and Circumstance
*Tested alcohol level >=100mg/dl

Table 9: 1991-1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Driver and Pedestrian Fatalities By Year, Circumstance, and Alcohol Level

Circumstance 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 TOTAL
Drivers in Single Vehicle Crashes
Sober 126 (42%) 132 (44%) 160 (51%) 153 (52%) 161 (51%) 732 (48%)
Drinking 15 (5%) 22 (7%) 20 (6%) 28 (9%) 30 (10%) 115 (8%)
Influenced 160 (53%) 145 (49%) 136 (43%) 114 (39%) 121 (39%) 676 (44%)
Number Tested 301 (88%) 299 (89%) 316 (94%) 295 (91%) 312 (91%) 1,523 (91%)
Deaths 343 336 337 325 341 1,682
Drivers in Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Sober 264 (81%) 276 (84%) 364 (85%) 357 (81%) 361 (88%) 1,622 (84%)
Drinking 9 (3%) 14 (4%) 19 (4%) 14 (3%) 15 (4%) 71 (4%)
Influenced 53 (16%) 40 (12%) 48 (11%) 70 (16%) 35 (9%) 246 (13%)
Number Tested 326 (86%) 330 (86%) 431 (90%) 441 (91%) 411 (88%) 1,939 (88%)
Deaths 379 383 479 485 468 2,194
Pedestrians
Sober 79 (45%) 65 (38%) 91 (52%) 91 (52%) 96 (54%) 422 (48%)
Drinking 5 (3%) 10 (6%) 10 (6%) 10 (6%) 11 (6%) 46 (5%)
Influenced 90 (52%) 96 (56%) 74 (43%) 75 (42%) 70 (40%) 405 (46%)
Number Tested 174 (87%) 171 (92%) 174 (97%) 176 (91%) 177 (90%) 873 (91%)
Deaths 199 185 180 194 197 955
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 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 10: 1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 27.4 38.4 30.0
Female 13.6 14.3 13.8
Total 20.4 25.6 21.6

Figure 21
1995 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
1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Death Rates by Age Group

 

Figure 23
1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Age Group and Alcohol Level
*Total tested for alcohol, excluding 76 cases in the age group 0-14

Figure 24 shows that the highest number of deaths occurred between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight. Non-drinking victims were killed during daylight hours; while drinkers died more frequently between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. Figure 25 shows that fatal accidents were most common on weekends.

Figure 24
1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Alcohol Level and Hour of Injury
*Total tested for alcohol, excluding 155 cases for which time is unknown

Figure 25
1995 Medical Examiner Motor Vehicle Accident Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

 

 

 

Last Modified: March 9, 2017