m_FRS101825-200x300Each year in the U.S., about 10,000 people die in drunk driving accidents, according to the NHTSA. In an effort to put a dent in this startling number of completely preventable deaths, Congress is making a push with an anti-drunk driving provision for new cars in its infrastructure bill. The proposed legislation, if passed, will require automakers to include technology that detects and stops drunk drivers in motor vehicles by as early as 2026. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts for over two decades, Attorney David Tapalian has seen the devastation families suffer when a loved one is injured or killed by a drunk driver.

How Can Vehicle Technology Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents?

With an infinite number of safety options available in today’s newest vehicles, from sensors and cameras that detect pedestrians to approaching cars in a motorist’s blind spot, it seems logical that some type of anti-drunk driving technology would be an addition to the large menu of options. Yet, the critical question remains of exactly how to prevent drunk driving crashes with the latest in technology. The proposed bill isn’t exact, but calls for something that will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired”. Studies will need to be conducted involving various alcohol detection systems before recommendations are provided to auto manufacturers.  Infrared cameras are one example, and are currently being utilized by car manufacturers like GM and Nissan. The camera looks for signs of a lack of driver alertness, such as drowsiness or impairment, and if identified, warns the driver and if need be, takes further action. Another idea tested by Volvo involves alcohol sensors that detect a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the air inside the vehicle. Ultimately, the Department of Transportation will have to make the final call as to what is the best solution to put a damper on intoxicated drivers.

Night-Illumination-2-300x225You’ve finally purchased that new car. You negotiated a fair price and got the color you wanted. As you drive it off the lot, another car comes speeding along and slams into you from behind. Have you heard this story before? As injury lawyers serving MA and RI, we’ve heard it more than a few times. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid serious injury, your next concern is likely worrying about the money you just lost in a matter of seconds.

How Much Value Does a Car Lose After an Accident?

Currently, if your vehicle is damaged in an auto accident in Massachusetts by another driver who is at-fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your vehicle repairs. That’s well and good to get you back on the road, but what happens when you decide to sell that car in the future? When it comes to resale, you’re likely going to get less money for that same car because it’s been involved in a crash.

9a90a86c2ae2d5864366b3108eeff17a-300x200Recently completed, a two-way protected bike lane on South Water Street is facing both wide support as well as opposition from local residents, businesses, and city officials.  Part of Providence’s Great Street Initiative, which proposed adding 60 miles of bike lanes, the new bike lane debuted this fall with an aim of making the city streets safer and more environmentally friendly. The majority of bike accidents take place in urban areas, and as a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Attorney David Tapalian understands the danger bicyclists and pedestrians face when sharing the road with cars, trucks, and SUV’s. A bike is no match for a heavy motor vehicle and a collision between the two will all too often result in severe injury, or death, for the bicyclist.

Part of Providence Great Streets Initiative

Dubbed by supporters as an “urban trail”, the two-way lane on South Water Street can be used by bicycles and other non-car modes of transportation, such as scooters. Ideally, it will allow a safer mode of transportation for, and reduce the risk of injury to, bicyclists and other pedestrians. In addition to improved safety, supporters tout health and climate benefits as well as the project’s ability to attract people to the city and improve the quality of life for residents. Having a safer option for those seeking alternative modes of transportation to work or school, as well as those seeking to use the lane for recreation or exercise will allow users to explore more environmentally friendly options.

DSC03955-C-300x225Any number of words can be considered highly subjective; for instance, “a little” or “a lot”.  Telling a child that they may have “a little” or “a lot” of ice cream may cause an argument at home, but will likely be forgotten minutes later. However, using inexact language like this in a serious medical situation can have dire consequences. As a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer experienced with medical malpractice claims, Attorney David Tapalian knows that even the smallest of details can be the difference between life and death in a critical medical situation. Doctors and surgeons perform complicated and intricate feats in the operating room on a daily basis. Yet, a seemingly minor miscommunication can result in a patient suffering severe, life-altering injuries, rather than successfully recovering from a simple, routine procedure.

Miscommunication is a significant cause of preventable “adverse events” in surgical cases and a research study at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center looked at the dangers of using inexact language in the operating room. Certain words can be ambiguous and potentially lead to devastating consequences for surgery patients. Authors of the study looked through 319 minutes of medical transcripts for surgeries occurring at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and overall, the publication claims that within those surgeries there were almost 4,000 instances of imprecise language. The surgical teams used ambiguous language over 12 times per minute. In particular, with six of the different surgeries, the researchers found that medical professionals used inexact language over 130 times.

A common example cited in the study was rounding a numerical measurement that should have been stated precisely, i.e., instructions called for a cut “around” 4 centimeters, for a proposed cut of precisely 3.5 centimeters. One sentence that particularly stood out to researchers was “take this over there.” In this statement, two of the words are largely ambiguous and can be taken to mean multiple different things. The word “this” doesn’t make clear what object “this” refers to, and “there” does not explicitly state the location of “there”.  Leaving the interpretation open by using inexact, or highly subjective, language can result in a misinterpretation and potential error. If a patient suffers an injury due to a surgical error, they should seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island who is experienced with medical malpractice claims.

m_sailboat_toward_verrazano_narrows_bridge-2-300x234It’s not uncommon to see drivers speeding down the highway throughout the state; an unfortunate fact that Attorney David Tapalian sees the repercussions of first-hand as a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island for over two decades.  Precariously, the speeding trend also applies to bridges, specifically the Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano Bridges, as shown in a study by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Administration late this summer. Perhaps partially triggered by safety concerns and complaints of loud traffic noise by locals, the study conducted an investigation to determine how many vehicles operated according to the posted speed limits on the bridges and the results were startling. On the Pell Bridge, 70% of people were found to be driving at least 11 miles per hour over the speed limit and 66% of vehicles were doing the same on the Verrazzano Bridge. For context, the speed limit for the Pell Bridge is 40mph, but the average speed people drove was 53mph. The Verrazzano Bridge speed limit is 45mph, but vehicles were travelling 59mph, on average.

Car Accidents on Bridges 

Bridges can already be a hazardous place for drivers before speeding is added into the mix. When a motorist drives across any bridge, they are placing their trust in the engineers, architects, and construction workers who designed and built the structure. Errors can result in structural failures, even a whole infrastructure collapse. If bridges aren’t regularly inspected for safety hazards, they can incur damage that, if left unrepaired, could result in a treacherous situation. For example, if two cars collide in an accident near the edge of a bridge with a missing or damaged guardrail, it’s possible for one or both vehicles to fall off the side into the water or highway below. Visibility can also be difficult on bridges without adequate lighting, making it difficult for motorists to visualize their surroundings. In addition, car accidents on bridges frequently occur at the entrance or exit ramps, especially if there is inadequate signage or a tricky merge with other vehicles.

DSCN5905-300x225With the beautiful Fall weather and rise in temperature over the summer months, motorcycle riders and bicyclists have taken to the streets to enjoy the open air. More than a year into a pandemic, people are increasingly more comfortable being out and itching to do so. Unfortunately, Rhode Island has also seen an increase in the amount of motorcycle accidents in the state over the past few months. As of August, Rhode Island experienced 10 fatal motorcycle crashes.  In fact, these types of collisions are about one-third of the total vehicle accident deaths in the state. In comparison, past years have seen approximately 13 motorcycle fatalities in total.  As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, RI, for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has seen the complete devastation suffered by families after a losing a loved one in a tragic, and too often preventable, motorcycle accident and wants all drivers to increase their awareness of this serious safety concern. With months still left to go in 2021, it’s important for both motorcyclists and other drivers on the road to take note.

Importance of Wearing a Helmet

Plenty of data shows that wearing a helmet can significantly increase your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident, as well as minimize the severity of the injuries suffered. This is one simple step, yet a very critical one, that motorcyclists can take to protect themselves from potentially life-threatening injury. Motorcyclists are less protected than those travelling in cars and therefore, are more prone to serious and life-altering injuries if involved in a collision. Sadly, the majority of motorcyclists who were killed in crashes this year in Rhode Island were not wearing helmets, according to Peter Alviti, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

59cc92e4b17684dfa99766246bc519ca-2-300x179Despite a reduction in the number of miles traveled, 2020 was the deadliest year on U.S. highways since 2007. Fewer cars were on the road during the pandemic, and those that were typically drove less miles. Nevertheless, data shows that the number of deaths on U.S. highways in 2020 grew approximately 7.2% to 38,680, more than any other year in over a decade, according to the NHTSA. One leading factor for the increase is attributed to speeding.

Throughout the pandemic, cars and trucks on the highways had less traffic to contend with and, in turn, increased their driving speeds. In some states, the number of tickets issued for speeding offenses was about double that from before the pandemic. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand the dire consequences of speeding crashes that are easily preventable and all too often result in serious, life-threatening injuries, or tragic death.

With school back in session and many returning to their pre-pandemic work and travel schedules, the speeding issue hasn’t slowed down but rather continues. Some drivers will continue their poor habits and speed for the thrill or simply because of a lack of visible police enforcement, while others do it because the other vehicles around them are speeding as well. Others feel like they are safe to drive faster since there are increased safety features in cars such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. While a danger on its own, speeding is often exacerbated by distracted drivers, leading to an even greater lag in reaction time and greater risk of collision.  Increasing that risk, some precarious motorists have taken to illegal street racing. One such event had drivers across the country competing to break a record for the fastest trip from coast to coast with some drivers travelling at speeds of over 150 mph on empty highways. Street racing in Rhode Island is an extremely dangerous concern to not only those involved in the racing, but other innocent drivers on the road, pedestrians, and bystanders.

1853552-2-300x273It may go without saying, but when a motor vehicle collides with a pedestrian, in the majority of cases, the pedestrian is going to be the loser in this battle. When the vehicle involved in the collision is an SUV, the stakes are even higher and the risk and severity of the injuries suffered by the unprotected victim are typically much worse. As a Rhode Island personal injury attorney, David Tapalian has seen serious and often life-threatening injuries occur when a person on foot is hit by a moving vehicle. Frequently, the extent of the injuries the person suffers, and their risk of death, corelates to the size of the SUV or truck.  A study last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) backed up this assumption when it looked at which vehicles were more dangerous in pedestrian car accidents and reported that sports utility vehicles were found to kill and injure pedestrians more frequently than other types of cars. 

IIHS Study Findings

Considering that SUVs make up almost 50% of motor vehicle sales in the U.S. each year and are projected to continually rise, and sedans make up less than a quarter of sales, the study findings are daunting.  The primary difference between getting hit by a smaller vehicle versus a sports utility vehicle occurs when a collision takes place at an intermediate speed. For example:

m_FRS330539-300x199From January to early May, 23 people have been killed so far this year in Rhode Island car accidents. For the past four years, the number of deaths in Rhode Island auto accidents has increased and there are a few different theories for the increase in traffic deaths throughout the state. One thought involves the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a great reduction in the number of drivers on the road.  However, having less vehicles to contend with, the motorists that were using the roads felt like they could driver faster, and more recklessly, than usual. Higher speeds result in an increased crash risk and higher likelihood of death. As other parts of daily life return to normal and more vehicles appear on the road, unfortunately, the dangerous habits that some of these drivers picked up didn’t disappear. In addition, the pandemic exponentially increased general anxiety in everyday life, which all too often correlates with an increase in drug and alcohol use. As a personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian saw an increase in RI car accidents resulting from drivers acting recklessly on the roads and driving under the influence.

Role of the Wolfpack

Formed in 2019 and nicknamed the “wolfpack”, the State Police Traffic Safety Unit makes sure that people are aware of their existence. On a quest to decrease the amount of fatal car accidents on Rhode Island roadways, the officers ensure that they are visibly present on the highways in an effort to deter reckless motorists. A recent interaction involved an officer pulling over a 19-year-old male for trying to prompt other cars to race him on the highway. The officer pulled the teen over and began the protocol to test for driving under the influence. Law enforcement stresses the importance of going through the process of conducting the entirety of the test when there is proper warrant to pull someone over. By going through the motions, people are deterred from engaging in reckless behavior in the future, including both the person in question and those who happen to see while passing. The Department of Transportation is also expected to increase funding for the Traffic Safety Unit which will be used to double the size of the “wolfpack” and keep RI drivers safer on the roads.

m_Tesla_1-203x300Tesla is well-known for their innovations in the electric vehicle industry, notably their Autopilot system technology. Autopilot is not designed to be used solely without human input; however, many users treat it that way which has resulted in a rash of deadly accidents, and legal action, against the enormously lucrative company. Tesla claims their systems are designed to reduce automobile crashes caused by human error and distractions, which account for a majority of the roughly 40,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year. However, the NHTSA has a dozen active investigations into crashes involving this assistive driving technology, and recently released a list of at least 10 fatalities from crashes involving Autopilot since 2016.

While Autopilot can help control certain aspects of driving the car, such as changing lanes, the driver must still maintain awareness of their surroundings despite stories of drivers that fall asleep at the wheel or read a book while relying on the vehicle technology to make decisions for them. These actions are dangerous as the system is not meant to be self-driving and can result in serious injuries, or death, to both the driver and innocent motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Attorney David Tapalian is an experienced personal injury lawyer who helps victims of car accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including those crashes caused by a negligent or distracted driver.  If you’ve been the victim of a dangerous auto accident, call 401-552-5000 to see how Tapalian Law can help you hold the negligent driver liable for your injuries.

Recent Tesla Accidents 

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