Articles Posted in Distracted Driving Accident

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.

photo_4556_20071230-300x200It’s a terrible tragedy no parent should ever have to experience. A 6-year-old Somerset, MA boy was involved in a fatal crash while on a leisurely bike ride with his family. The family was bicycling on the East Bay bike path on July 24th, when the fatal crash occurred at the intersection of the East Bay bike path and Poppasquash Road in Bristol, RI.  A 21-year-old Connecticut driver collided with the young boy on his bicycle and some area residents are claiming poor visibility at the site may be to blame. As Rhode Island bike accident injury lawyers, at Tapalian Law we have seen catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities result when a bicycle collides with a vehicle. The weight of a car or truck colliding with a bicycle almost always has horrific results involving severe injuries including brain trauma, serious bodily injury, and often fatalities. Over 800 lives were lost in 2015 alone in the U.S., in crashes involving a bicycle and motor vehicle, according to the NHTSA.

Town of Bristol Had Been Warned

A concerned citizen had warned the Bristol Town Administrators assistant four years ago via email about the poor visibility at the East Bay bike path and Poppasquash Road intersection where the tragic bike accident took place. The email spoke of several near crashes witnessed at the sight. With this email, Bristol was put on notice of a potentially dangerous problem. The question remains however whether even though the Town was alerted to the potential problem, did it properly address the safety issue and if so, did it continually maintain surveillance of the area to ensure its safety continued. The Town said at that time they worked to address the issue at the location by sending the Department of Transportation (DOT) to perform landscaping to improve visibility. Some nearby residents feel further safety measures need to be taken such as installing flashing lights and reducing the speed limit to make the intersection safer.

photo_83961_20170203-300x200Summer is here and school is out. So are the teenage drivers. From Memorial Day until back to school, thus begins the 100 deadliest days for summer driving involving teen drivers, according to AAA.com. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. Teenage drivers new to the road can be a risk every day of the year, but even more so once school is out. They are on the road more and are all too often the cause of car accidents. As auto accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law, we know that car crashes are more frequent in general during the summer months than other times of year. Every summer day, an average of 10 people die in car crashes involving teen drivers. Nearly 2/3 of those injured in these crashes are victims other than the teen themselves. These are startling statistics and as injury lawyers, Tapalian Law urges those with teen drivers to share these facts and discuss with them the importance of using extreme caution when on the road.

Cell Phones & Passengers Main Cause of Teenage Car Accidents

Teenagers are easily distracted by the cell phones that are such an integral part of their everyday lives. Most teens spend a good deal of time each day texting or on social media. It is hard for them to imagine not having access to their phones. But it’s a well-known fact to us as Rhode Island personal injury attorneys that cell phones and driving do not mix together well. They create a recipe for distracted driving that can result in severe crashes and vehicle related fatalities. Findings by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that texting creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving while not distracted. Driver distractions, including cell phone use and texting, caused close to 60% of teen driving crashes according to dashboard camera surveys performed by Lytx DriveCam. These crashes resulted in moderate to severe accidents. About 15% of the teenagers were distracted by talking to passengers in the same vehicle, 12% were using a cell phone, and 11% were distracted by something else in the car, whether it be a radio, GPS system, eating, or drinking. The presence of other teenagers in the vehicle along with a teenage driver increases the risk of a crash resulting in personal injury. The risk increases exponentially along with the number of passengers in the car.

Texting-Driving-Female-1-300x225Each year, thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents. All too often, these accidents are caused by cell phone use. As of today, June 1, 2018, a new Rhode Island law goes into effect banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If you are already in the habit of not using a cell phone at all while driving, or using a hands-free device, you are ahead of the game. However, for the 600,000 or so others that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations projected used a cell phone while driving in 2017, this is a new habit that will need to be learned quickly. At the RI personal injury law firm of Tapalian Law, we know that distracted driving often leads to severe injuries, including death.

What Does the New “Hands-Free Law” Mean for Rhode Islanders?

As Rhode Islander drivers, we know this law has been in the works for a while. Now that June 1st has arrived, what exactly does this new law mean for those driving in Rhode Island? Drivers may still use cell phones while operating a vehicle, but they must be used in a hands-free capacity. Hands-free equipment may be a headset, earbud attachment, or a hands-free system installed within the vehicle. The following rules apply to RI drivers while the vehicle is in motion:

photo_41811_20151002-300x208For most, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in Rhode Island and beyond. Commonly, a weekend filled with cookouts, celebrations and often, alcohol. Alcohol and impaired driving plays a huge role in why Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest weekends for auto accident fatalities. For the second year in a row, the National Safety Council (NSC) is predicting over 400 roadway related deaths this holiday weekend. With the excitement of warmer weather and an extra day off work for some, there are more people driving on the road. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that driving and alcohol are a deadly combination and see the severe injuries related to auto accidents every day.

Warm Weather Holidays Deadlier for Auto Accidents

Car travel has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. The summer holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, correspond with a higher number of roadway vehicle accidents and roadway fatalities than the cold weather holidays. In Rhode Island and the New England area, we associate the winter time with more car accidents due to snow and ice. However, the summer holidays have a higher per day fatality rate than do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s when considering the entire country. Winter holidays may also be associated with more air and train travel while car travel is more likely in the summer months increasing the number of drivers on the roads and highways. As it is throughout the year, drunk driving is a huge contributing factor in Memorial Day weekend car crashes.

photo_9135_20090113-300x225Driving while distracted is of tremendous concern in Rhode Island and all over the U.S. In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month this April, Tapalian Law wants to help spread the message that we already know but need frequent reminding of- Just Drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 3,500 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2015. This number in actuality is likely higher as police reports often do not fully list a reason for a car crash. As Providence personal injury lawyers, we see the full extent of these tragic vehicle fatalities as well as the personal injury that can accompany victims involved in the accident. Car accidents caused by distracted driving can cause death or serious injury and they are completely preventable.

Hands-Free Does Not Mean Safe Driving

In June 2018, it will be against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Rhode Island. Hands-free devices will be allowed. But here’s the trouble. “The human brain cannot handle two thinking tasks at once”, states an article posted on the National Safety Council website. The human brain has to switch back and forth between the two thinking tasks and the job of talking and driving is a prime example. We all think we are expert multi-tasker’s and “it won’t happen to me”, but the truth is our brains simply are incapable of performing two thinking tasks at the same time. So, if we are talking while driving, whether using a hand-held phone or a hands-free device, we are focusing on what is being said during the phone conversation and not fully on the road. Inattentiveness to the road is an easy way to cause an accident with another car, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or even hitting something as simple as a mailbox. A distraction while driving may range from minor, such as swerving into another lane where there is no other vehicle, or major, like hitting a pedestrian in a crosswalk resulting in a fatal injury. As injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows too well that distracted driving kills.

distracted-driving-gif-from-nsc-300x158Distracted driving is an issue that greatly affects us all personally. It also affects our children, parents, and other loved ones. Distracted driving is a serious concern in Rhode Island and beyond. It is a major cause of the almost 40,000 motor vehicle deaths that occurred last year in the United States. Tapalian Law is a Providence personal injury law firm that sees the aftermath of car crashes every day. Distractions such as cell phones, texting, and GPS systems, are all too often the cause of a crash that can result in death or tragic personal injury. Perhaps most disturbing is that distracted driving deaths are completely preventable. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and to bring awareness to this serious matter, Rhode Island recently joined the first-ever coordinated advertising campaign against distracted driving.

“Just Drive New England”

In an effort to promote National Distracted Driving Awareness month this April, Rhode Island joined forces with nine other Northeastern states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the “Just Drive New England” initiative. This campaign will utilize enforcement and education to inform the public of the extreme dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving can take place in many forms. It may be using a cell phone to talk, text, or send an email, applying makeup, adjusting a music station, chatting with passengers, amongst other distractions while operating a motor vehicle. Driving distracted can be as deadly as drunk driving, speeding, or aggressive driving, according to the Rhode Island State Police. The goal of the “Just Drive New England” campaign is to inform and educate drivers of these dangers and change their driving habits. The National Safety Council shares further information on their website about distracted driving and the “Just Drive” initiative.

photo_7724_20081019-200x300Nearly 40,000 lives are lost each year due to traffic accidents in the United States. Rhode Island traffic fatalities alone were up 63% last year. Close to 94% of these fatal crashes are caused by distracted driving and human error. Proponents of self-driving cars claim that autonomous vehicles can greatly reduce the amount of traffic related deaths and accidents by removing these common causes. However, after a pedestrian was killed in March by an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Arizona, opponents are raising questions about the safety of these autonomous vehicles. As auto accident injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that all too many crashes and injuries are caused by distracted drivers and human error not just locally in Rhode Island but all over the United States.

How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?

Previously we posted a Tapalian Law personal injury blog delving into how self-driving vehicles operate and some concerns surrounding them. We explained an autonomous vehicle works by utilizing a combination of sensors, cameras, radars, and lasers to detect and adjust to road conditions as well as other vehicles on the road. With technology improving daily, updates are constantly being made to the accuracy of these systems. Seemingly, an autonomous vehicle removes the issue of human error and distractions while driving. Alas, issues and concerns still remain like how the autos will react in various weather conditions and recognizing a pedestrian versus a face on a billboard or advertisement.

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