Articles Posted in Distracted Driving Accident

man texting & walkingThe great majority of us use a cell phone on a daily basis and most of us walk someplace too, whether to pick up a child at the bus stop, a lunch break to pick up a sandwich, or walking the dog. Often, this walking time is used to check email, peruse social media, or send a quick text. A good way to multi-task while getting some exercise? Perhaps. But lately it’s become riskier as a recent study shows that using your phone as you walk is more dangerous, and likely to cause an accident, than listening to music or even talking on the phone. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian sees this as a safety concern that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Given our ever-present cell phones and the need to always feel connected, it’s an issue that effects everyone, adults and parents alike, and needs to be addressed.

Be Alert as a Pedestrian

Over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2018. This is the highest number in more than 20 years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). While this recent study may be small and need more in-depth research, the issue of distracted walking and distracted driving is big. While innovations in safety technology have increased the survivability of victims in automobile crashes, pedestrians still remain susceptible to critical, or fatal, injuries when hit by a vehicle.

cell phoneIt’s official. Massachusetts marks the final New England state to join the ban on hands-free driving by making hand-held cell phone use illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Effective February 23, 2020, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Massachusetts. As a personal injury lawyer in Seekonk, MA, Attorney David Tapalian is pleased the state has finally joined the coalition against distracted driving. Texting while driving was already illegal in the Bay State, having been banned in 2010. Yet, distracted driving car crashes in MA rose an alarming 170 percent from 2014-2016. Across the U.S., over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2017 alone. There’s no question whether using a cell phone while driving is safe.

Massachusetts Hands-Free Law

As of February 23rd, under An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving, use of electronic devices by motor vehicle operators and bicyclists, including cell phones and tablets, will be prohibited unless being used in hands-free mode.  “Hands-free mode”, defined by Mass General Law, is the “operation of a mobile electronic device by which a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device; provided, however, that a mobile electronic device may require a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature”.

Scene of car accidentThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data in late December that shows a decline in motor vehicle accident deaths for the first nine months of 2019. From January to September 2019, an estimated 26,730 fatalities occurred in U.S. auto accidents, compared to 27,335 fatalities during the same January to September period of 2018. A 2.2% deduction in motor vehicle fatalities is reflected, despite vehicle miles traveled during this period having increased by 1%. As an experienced car accident lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian hopes to see the downward trend continue into 2020; all-inclusive motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics for 2019, including the last three months, will be released sometime in 2020.

How are the Statistics Compiled?

The NHTSA compiles motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics using police crash reports, among other sources. One source, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), is a census of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. (the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). For a crash to be involved in FARS, it must involve a motor vehicle accident traveling on a traffic way and the resulting death of at least one person (vehicle occupant or nonoccupant) within 30 days of the crash.

pedestrians in streetMotor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians have been on a sharp rise over the past decade throughout the country. In fact, pedestrian fatalities have increased 35% since 2008, compared to a 6% decrease in all other motor vehicle crashes in the same period. A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018.  Based on preliminary 2018 data, this is the highest number of pedestrian deaths due to car accidents since 1990. Why are pedestrians in Rhode Island and the U.S. at such a high risk for getting killed by a car?  Automobiles are safer than ever with the latest technology and innovative safety features including sensors that tell a driver when a person or another vehicle is too close. Rear backup cameras in particular are mandatory for vehicles manufactured after May 2018. As RI personal injury lawyers, we certainly recognize the importance of these safety features however we know no amount of technology can make up for one of the most dangerous types of drivers, a driver distracted at the wheel.

Causes of the Rise in Pedestrian Accidents

One of the main sources of pedestrian injuries and accidents in Rhode Island, and the entire country, is distracted driving.  Distracted driving, commonly taking the form of texting and overall smartphone use while operating a vehicle, might also include the distractions of other passengers in the car, loud music, eating or drinking. A rise in population growth, specifically in cities, is another reason for the uptick in pedestrian injuries and accidents. Cities like Providence RI are a hotbed for pedestrian activity. With multiple colleges and universities throughout the city, on any given day thousands of people are walking the streets. What makes pedestrians more likely to be hurt in a car accident in Providence, is that many of the thousands of college students are new to the city and therefore not familiar with the city’s roads and infrastructure. As personal injury lawyers in Providence RI, at Tapalian Law we have seen a number of clients hurt in car accidents caused by out of state drivers. Inexperienced pedestrians and inexperienced drivers are a dangerous mix.  Other factors attributed to the rise in pedestrian fatalities include weather conditions, fuel costs, and the upsurge of SUV’s on the roads.

cumberland-car-accident-pic-300x225Tapalian Law is pleased to announce a $135,000 settlement by Rhode Island car accident lawyer David Tapalian and his legal team. Our client, a passenger in a vehicle traveling south on Mendon Road in Cumberland, was seriously injured in a horrific side impact accident in early 2017. The crash took place when another vehicle struck the front passenger side of the car she was riding in, resulting in a serious collision that totaled both vehicles. This particular stretch of Mendon Road is especially dangerous due to the high volume of vehicle traffic coupled with the numerous intersections that feed into the road and we’ve seen a number of collisions take place in this area of Cumberland.

The driver of the vehicle that hit our client was found to be 100% at fault for the collision. In determining liability, a passenger is very rarely ever found to have fault. Distracted, the motorist claimed he did not see the victim’s car as he pulled out of Bemus Avenue onto Mendon Road. This costly turn would have a lasting impact on our client’s life.  She reported immediate pain at the scene of the crash and was transported by ambulance to Landmark Medical Center for treatment where she reported excruciating pain throughout her body immediately following the accident. As a Cumberland car accident attorney, David Tapalian always tells clients to be proactive with seeking medical treatment. Even if you do not feel immediate pain following an accident, it is always safest to seek medical attention either via ambulance, visiting a local medical walk-in, or your family physician right away. The success of this victim’s settlement was partly due to her diligence in reporting her pain immediately.

Injured Victim Not a Candidate for Surgery

American-flag-300x226As July 4th approaches, many Rhode Islanders are preparing for fireworks, barbecues, or a day at the beach.  Independence Day is all about celebrating our freedom as a country. However, our freedom comes with many responsibilities, like driving safely. With large numbers of people celebrating the holiday, distracted and impaired drivers are taking to the roads at much higher volumes and thus, car accidents are more likely than at any other time during the summer. Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian wants everyone to have a fun and safe holiday, and reminds you to be aware of the dangers of driving this summer holiday weekend.

Independence Day Crashes Can Be Deadly

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 565 people will be killed and 64,500 will be seriously injured in car accidents on the Fourth of July. This is almost 5 times the number of fatalities, and 6 times the number of injuries that occur on an average day. The Independence Day holiday is technically considered a four day period, which starts late on Wednesday, July 3rd and ends on Sunday, July 7th. Thus, any of the days during this period are known to be especially dangerous for drivers. Below is more information to keep you informed as we head into the holiday weekend.

Texting-Driving-Female-3-300x225Texting while driving has been illegal in Rhode Island for many years now and less than a year ago the state banned the use of hand-held devices while driving. But as we all know; it still continues and we see first-hand the detrimental effects of car accidents caused by cell phone use and distracted driving every day as personal injury lawyers in Providence. In an effort to promote the severity of distracted driving, Rhode Island State Police stopped 813 vehicles during a highway safety campaign last week issuing 93 warnings or citations to drivers for using cell phones for texting or making phone calls while operating a vehicle. Tapalian Law feels strongly about promoting the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving since April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, but also throughout the year in an effort to keep Rhode Island motorists safe on the road. The number of people hurt or killed in distracted driving crashes each day in the U.S., at least nine fatalities and 100 injured, speak for themselves about the severity of this preventable problem in Rhode Island and across the country.

What is the Fine for Texting & Driving in Rhode Island?

The State Police emphasize the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting and using a hand-held cell phone while driving, and fines are assessed in hopes of deterring negligent drivers in Rhode Island and preventing car accidents. Drivers using a cell phone while operating a vehicle in Rhode Island can be fined up to $100 and those texting while driving can be fined up to $100 along with a possible 30-day license suspension. Use of earphones, headsets, headphones, or similar devices while driving or riding a bike may lead to a fine of up to $85. The fines may seem hefty to some, but are a small price to pay to prevent a car crash and avoid potential serious injury and death.

car-insurance-300x199When it comes to buying auto insurance, many risk factors contribute when setting rates. Common factors considered are age, gender, location, type of vehicle, and driving record, to name a few. Massachusetts car accident lawyers know auto accident statistics show male drivers get in more accidents than female drivers, and therefore females typically have lower premiums due to being less of a risk factor to the insurance company. But for Massachusetts drivers, this is not the case. Although an individual’s driving record and car accident history carry heavy weight in determining Massachusetts car insurance premiums, gender is no longer a risk factor for Massachusetts drivers buying auto insurance. This may mean higher insurance bills for female drivers, who no longer benefit from what typically equates to a lower rate based on their gender, and perhaps lower premiums for males. Whether or not drivers agree with this modification, the Seekonk, Massachusetts car accident attorneys at Tapalian Law know how extremely important, and valuable, good auto insurance is when you get hurt in a car accident.

Focus Moves to Driving Behavior to Determine Car Insurance Rates

Lawmakers and regulators have long been pushing to put more focus on driving behaviors and safe driving records when setting car insurance rates, rather than criteria like gender, that seem less related to risk. Aside from teenage drivers, a category where statistics show year after year male teenagers consistently get in more car accidents than their female counterparts, on a national level gender does not play that big of a role in the price difference for car insurance after the teen and young adult years. Car accident attorneys in Massachusetts continue to see a large number of auto accidents resulting in personal injury caused by distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. Lately, insurance companies have become stricter about penalizing reckless driving habits.  Negligent driving habits like distracted driving, including use of a hand-held cell phone to talk or text while operating a motor vehicle, are increasing car insurance premiums at a higher rate. For example, a ticket for distracted driving bumped up insurance premiums by nearly 20 percent in 2018, compared to a barely 2 percent increase in premium three years earlier.  Factors that increase car insurance premiums even greater than distracted driving are speeding tickets and being arrested for driving under the influence, DUI or DWI. Putting gender aside, car insurance rates have increased across the country says Alyssa Connolly, Director of Market Research for Zebra, an online search engine allowing consumers to price-compare car insurance policies, stating “it’s the highest its ever been nationally. Rates are up this year for 83 percent of Americans.” The average car insurance premium in the U.S. is at $1,470, up 23 percent from 2011. A recent post on the Tapalian Law Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog, showed that right over the Massachusetts border, Rhode Island drivers pay the fourth highest car insurance premiums in the U.S.

photo_27694_20130907-300x200Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for Rhode Island teenagers aged 15-17 and the leading cause of fatality and injury for adolescents nationwide. Over the year’s vehicle safety has improved tremendously, but teenage drivers have not. In fact, the first year with a license is the most dangerous period in a driver’s life, according to AAA. The Providence personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law focus on helping the victims of auto accident injuries and often the accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injury involve teenage drivers. We know from experience, and statistics show, that new teen drivers have a high likelihood of experiencing a crash or “close call” as newly licensed motor vehicle operators. Newly licensed teen drivers are also four times more likely to engage in risky road behaviors like sudden acceleration, abrupt braking, and hard turns.  Couple the impulsiveness and inexperience of adolescence with a near-constant need for technology, and a recipe for disaster is created for teen drivers in Providence, Rhode Island and beyond.

Lack of Judgement Common Culprit in Teen Crashes

Crash investigations commonly show the cause of teenage car crashes is not a lack of skill, but a lack of judgement. Responsible driving requires good judgement, a solid attention span, the ability to juggle and prioritize multiple functions, and shrewd decision-making skills. Biologically speaking, these are not yet a concrete part of the skillsets of most still-maturing teenagers. However, with gained experience teenage drivers can learn to be safer. As a RI accident injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian witnesses the huge impact distracted driving has on car accidents. Rhode Island law prohibits hand-held cell phone use while driving. The cell phone law is even more specific pertaining to new drivers under the age of 18.  In the Ocean State, vehicle operators under age 18 are banned from using any kind of wireless communication device while driving, including all handheld and hands-free cell phones and text messaging devices. Despite the illegality, motor vehicle lawyers know from first-hand knowledge, adults and teenagers alike still text and chat on a cell phone while driving, as mentioned in our Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog. According to a survey by AAA, almost 70% of teenage drivers admit to talking on a cell phone and over half admit to reading a text message while operating a vehicle in the past 30 days.  Almost all adolescent drivers admit to keeping their cell phone turned on while driving a car.

Texting-Driving-Female-2-300x225It sounds dramatic, but yes, two seconds can be the difference between life and death. Taking your eyes off the road for only 2 seconds has been shown to double the odds of a car crash. In 2016, an estimated 3,450 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes linked to distracted driving. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that car accidents caused by distracted driving can result in serious injuries or fatalities, yet are completely preventable. We see it every day on the streets and highways of Rhode Island- drivers performing another task like texting, adjusting the music, putting on makeup- behind the wheel. We multi-task on a daily basis at home, work, and school, but the truth is our brain cannot perform multiple tasks as well as it can when focused on one at a time. The result can be inattentional blindness, a lack of attention not associated with any vision defects. For example, a truck driver busy composing a text may miss a stop sign even though the sign is in plain view. The outcome may be a crash with another vehicle or a pedestrian. When 2 seconds can cause a death or serious personal injury, multi-tasking shouldn’t even be an option.

Negligent Driving in Rhode Island

Using a hand-held cell phone while operating a moving vehicle is illegal in Rhode Island. Hands-free devices are allowed per the June 2018 law, and while helpful do not necessarily equate to safe driving. Our brains are simply incapable of expertly performing two thinking tasks at the same time- like operating a vehicle and talking to a friend on the phone, even using a hands-free device. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that inattention to the road can easily result in a collision with a vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or a stationary object like a parked car. Laws, common sense and distracted driving campaigns are important, but not always heeded. Drivers still struggle to avoid the temptation to text, check emails, and use social media when on the road. We must continue to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and also find solutions to lessen it with the aid of auto manufacturers and help from technology features.

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