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Aggressive Driving Car Accident

If you drive in Rhode Island, you may be surprised to find that what many consider standard in navigating through traffic is actually considered aggressive driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving causes two-thirds (2/3) of fatal motor vehicle accidents and accounts for one-third (1/3) of all vehicle accidents. In Rhode Island, aggressive driving is illegal. At Tapalian Law, our Rhode Island car accident lawyers can help you if you have been a victim of an aggressive driving accident.  Our skilled personal injury team will seek compensation for your damages and help you back on the road to recovery after an aggressive driver has hurt you.

What is Aggressive Driving?

The term “aggressive driving” encompasses a host of dangerous driving behaviors including weaving through traffic, following another vehicle too closely- commonly referred to as “tailgating”, speeding, running stop lights and stop signs, and sometimes escalates to yelling or gesturing at another driver. The NHTSA defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner to endanger, or is likely to endanger, a person or property”. Occasionally, aggressive driving results in confrontation, and in extreme cases, physical assault on another motorist. These extreme cases are referred to as “road rage”, the angry and violent outbursts that can occur between motorists. The NHTSA makes the distinction that aggressive driving is considered a traffic violation, while road rage, aside from yelling and gesturing, may be considered a criminal offense.

RI Aggressive Driving Law

The state of Rhode Island defines aggressive driving as engaging in activities that violate two or more of the following sections of Rhode Island law listed below. Each section carries its own fine ranging from $85 to $100. Those found guilty of aggressive driving can be fined anywhere from $260 to $500, may be required to attend a driver’s education program, and could lose driver’s license privileges for thirty days. If the aggressive driving results in bodily injury or death, the resulting penalties are much harsher.

  1. Obedience to traffic control devices: Motorists must obey the instruction of any official traffic control device applicable. For instance, when a traffic light turns yellow, you are expected to slow down and be ready to stop if possible. If a driver speeds through a red light, a serious accident can easily happen. Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian has seen aggressive drivers cause a number of tragic head-on collisions that were entirely avoidable had the driver slowed down at the traffic light. 
  2. Overtaking on the right: Rhode Island law prohibits passing on the right except in certain circumstances. If the road has three lanes, the right lane is reserved for slow-moving traffic, and people entering or leaving the highway. The middle lane is for normal travel and the left lane should be reserved for people passing vehicles in the center lane. A motorist should pass the vehicle in the center lane using the left lane, and then move back into the center lane to resume normal travel. Vehicles should not remain in the left lane when not passing another vehicle. This type of aggressive driving can result in the sideswiping of another vehicle and cause serious personal injury and property damage.
  3. Driving within a traffic lane: Vehicle operators are required to drive on the right side of the road at all times except for the circumstances mentioned above, and must stay completely in the lane unless signaling and properly changing lanes. Weaving quickly between lanes is also prohibited. Weaving between lanes while speeding is not only a recipe for disaster, but a way to get in a lot of trouble with the law. 
  4. Following too closely: Drivers are required to leave a reasonable space between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. This distance between vehicles may vary according to the speed, traffic and other driving conditions. The Rhode Island Driving Manual recommends following the “three second rule”. Certainly, that distance should be increased if there are any road hazards such as inclement weather or construction. Failure to follow a vehicle at a safe distance could result in a rear end collision. Aggressive Driving Car Accident Lawyer David Tapalian has helped countless Rhode Island victims that were rear-ended by an aggressive driver speeding behind them.
  5. Yielding right of way: Rhode Island law prohibits entering an intersection unless there is sufficient space for your car on the road beyond the intersection, even if the light is green. When approaching an intersection, the driver shall yield to vehicles already in the intersection or, if at a 4-way stop, to the car on the right. When entering a roadway, you must yield to all traffic already on the street and to all pedestrians. Rotaries and roundabouts are becoming increasingly popular in Rhode Island. When entering a rotary, yield to traffic already traveling in the circle to avoid a serious accident.
  6. Entering the roadway: On a road with traffic traveling in both directions, a motorist shall not pull out halfway and block one lane of traffic while waiting for the opposing traffic to clear. You must wait for both directions to be clear before making a left turn. By pulling out before traffic clears, a driver is at a higher risk of causing a T-bone accident. Our Rhode Island accident lawyers have seen many victims who had their cars hit from the side at busy intersections by an aggressive driver that turned before traffic was clear.    
  7. Use of turn signals: Motor vehicle operators must use a turn signal when making a turn, starting from 100 feet before the turn and through the turn itself. “Sudden lane changes on a freeway by you or another driver can be dangerous. You should use the proper signal for every lane change.” Failure to use your turn signal is against the law, and you can be found at fault in the event of an accident. 
  8. Use of emergency break-down lane for travel: This is prohibited in all circumstances.
  9. Relating to school buses, special stops, stop signs and yield signs: 
    • Motorists are required to stop for a school bus with flashing red lights, regardless of whether you are traveling in the same lane of travel or in the opposite direction. You may not resume your trip until the flashing lights are turned off or the bus begins to move. It is illegal to follow a school bus with less than fifty feet between your vehicle and the bus. This law ensures the safety of children boarding and exiting a school bus. 
    • Drivers are required to stop at railroad crossings, for crossing guards and for any special signs that have been placed. On a yield sign, you may only proceed if the intersection is clear. If there is another car in the intersection, or approaching, or a pedestrian, you must stop to allow them to pass.
    • When an emergency vehicle approaches, you are required to pull over to the side of the road. If you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, you must slow down for safety. You may even change lanes away from the vehicle to give them plenty of space. This includes all emergency responders such as tow trucks; it is not limited to police and fire vehicles.
    • Right turns may take place if the light is red, (unless that intersection is clearly marked as exempt from this rule) only if you first come to a complete stop. and if the intersection is clear of approaching traffic. Failing to come to a complete stop, or trying to beat approaching traffic by turning in front of them, is not allowed.

Aggressive Driving in Rhode Island

In recent years, Rhode Island has implemented many new traffic control devices to better monitor driving behavior. For example, last year a traffic camera collected footage in a fatal incident involving aggressive driving which resulted in the death of the driver’s passenger and the driver facing felony charges. Aggressive driving contributes to a majority of fatal crashes and younger drivers and male drivers are significantly more likely to engage in this type of behavior, reports the NHTSA. Surprisingly, half of all people who feel victimized by an aggressive driver admit to retaliating with aggressive behavior of their own and two-percent admit to actually trying to run an aggressive driver off the road. Concerned for the safety of Rhode Island drivers and beyond, Tapalian Law’s car accident lawyers strongly advise victims to report these reckless drivers instead of engaging in similarly dangerous behaviors. Your life, and those of other innocent motorists, is put on the line when someone drives aggressively.

How to Report an Aggressive Driver

The Rhode Island State Police recommends motorists report an aggressive driver by calling 9-1-1. An aggressive driver is “an emergency and is placing other motorists on the road in danger. Give the dispatcher your location, direction of travel, a description of the vehicle, and the license plate number. The information will be passed on to troopers and local police on patrol, who will do their very best to locate that vehicle. A sworn law enforcement officer must see the vehicle being operating in an erratic manner in order to check on the well-being of the operator and/or issue a citation.” You may be reluctant to report someone for aggressive driving, but you are improving the safety of everyone on the road in the process.

Contact Tapalian Law if You are Hurt in an Auto Accident

If you have been hurt in a crash involving an aggressive driver, contact an aggressive driving car accident attorney in Rhode Island. At Tapalian Law, our skilled injury experts can help you recover compensation for your injuries after you are hurt in a motor vehicle collision.  With a main office at 350 S Main Street in Providence, and offices located in Warwick, RI, and Seekonk, MA, we are easily accessible to anyone in the Rhode Island area.  Call Tapalian Law for a free consultation at 401-552-5000 or contact us online today. 

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He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
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