Articles Posted in DUI Accident

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_o_2n6vqaKqA-300x200Normally a relaxed summer getaway for visitors, Rhode Island’s Block Island has suffered a number of tragic traffic fatalities as well as a number of serious injuries over the last month. In early August, a male teenager from Connecticut suffered fatal injuries in a car accident when the female driver, suspected of being intoxicated, lost control of her vehicle on West Side Road. Later that same week, a 22-year old Cranston man riding a moped was killed in a head-on collision with an SUV.  Most recently, a passenger was injured in a roll-over crash and the 20-year old driver under suspicion for driving under the influence. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian is used to seeing a spike in car accidents during the summer months, however, this season is out of the ordinary for Block Island.

This summer has been marked by tragedy and serious concern from Block Island residents and long-time vacationers. Typically, a summer retreat for longer stays, the island is experiencing visits from a higher than usual number of people visiting for the day, possibly due to the coronavirus pandemic. With vacations put on hold for most, the desire to “get away” is still there. Some are satisfying that desire with local day trips, many of whom are unfamiliar with the island and unfortunately, under the influence of alcohol while operating vehicles.

Moped Accidents

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.

coventry-car-accident-PIC-300x169Attorney David Tapalian, a Coventry car accident lawyer, recently obtained a $50,000 full policy limit settlement award for a young woman injured in a horrific auto accident in Coventry. The teenager was struck at a high speed by a drunk driver and was very fortunate to survive the crash. The impaired driver, and at fault party, only had $50,000 in policy limits and only after much fighting with Allstate Insurance and finally filing a civil action, was Tapalian Law able to obtain the full policy limits for this terrible impact.

Drunk Driver Cause of Coventry Car Accident

The significant head-on collision occurred on Main Street in Coventry, Rhode Island, when the defendant crossed over the yellow line into the opposite lane of travel. The crash was clearly caused by the highly intoxicated defendant.  The responding Coventry police officer provided a very thorough description in his police narrative and took his time to be extremely detailed in describing the defendant’s impairments.  Found inside the defendant’s vehicle were numerous empty beer bottles, flasks with fluid, rum bottle with fluid, a cognac bottle with fluid and a full-size police style expandable baton. This individual was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol at the scene of the accident.

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.

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_9135_20090113-300x225Since the legalization of marijuana movement began in the U.S., health and safety experts have been trying to measure the potential impact it would have on traffic accidents. Without ample past reliable data to go off, much of the results so far have been inconsistent. However, according to a new set of studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, an increase of up to 6 percent in the number of highway crashes has been found in four states where the recreational use of marijuana is legalized. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law feels any uptick in car crashes is reason to sit up and take notice. Our car accident lawyers see clients everyday who suffer from serious injuries incurred in an auto accident. While the latest reports cannot yet prove a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana among vehicle operators, there is a rising trend in these states and any upsurge in car crashes is cause for attention. At this time it is a challenge to accurately test drivers to determine if they are under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Without this hard proof, much more research needs to be done to explore marijuana use and its relationship to vehicle crashes. After this Tuesday’s election, 10 states and Washington D.C. have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Rhode Island has not legalized marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana is legalized in 33 states, including Rhode Island.

Results of IIHS Study Linking Legalized Marijuana to Car Crashes

The IIHS studies used police reports and insurance claims to determine auto crashes rose between 5.2% and 6% in states with legalized recreational marijuana, in comparison to neighboring states where marijuana use is illegal. Highway crash data from surrounding states was also compared in an attempt to control for factors like weather and economy. One disturbing find from the study is that while most drivers under the influence of alcohol are driving alone or with other adults, approximately 14% of those confirmed to be using pot had a child in the car. As Providence car accident injury lawyers, this find is very troubling. The IIHS feels this reflects a variance between marijuana and alcohol use and it appears that marijuana use isn’t reserved for evenings and other occasions when adults are more likely to consume alcohol. Experts are uncertain whether this reflects an increase in the use of recreational pot or medical marijuana for pain treatment.  The IIHS is clear however, that there is a “correlation”, a connection, between the rise in crashes once pot became legal, however it is not the same as “causation”, meaning other variables could be involved. One of the difficulties with this study, as with similar reports, is the accuracy in measuring how marijuana use impacts car crashes because law enforcement has a difficult challenge due to the way marijuana works in the body.

photo_71959_20160725-1-300x250There’s more bad news for the chronically sleep deprived. Not only are they perpetually tired but also more at risk for causing a car accident. According to a AAA study, drivers functioning on less than 4 hours of sleep have crash risks similar to those of an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .12. (Rhode Island law defines a BAC of .08 or higher as driving while intoxicated (DWI)). So, an exhausted truck driver who skimped on sleep in order to reach their destination on-time may be just as much of a danger as a drunk driver on the road! The Providence, RI car accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law know it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of an auto accident and this is especially true for car crashes caused by a sleep-deprived driver. We do know that truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired due to long, and often monotonous, hours on the road. Recall the much publicized 2014 crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger in his vehicle. The truck driver who hit Morgan’s vehicle had been awake an estimated 28 hours before the collision took place and driver fatigue was cited as one cause of the deadly crash.

AAA Sleep Deprivation Study: Poor Sleep Alters Brain Function

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a review of data from 6,800 car accidents for the period of 2005-2007 to study the effects of sleep deprivation on driving. Only the data from drivers determined to be culpable (whose errors, actions, or lack of actions, led to the crash), were used.  Accidents involving external factors, like brake failure or poor infrastructure, were not factored into the report. The goal of the review was to “quantify” the correlation between hours of sleep and crash risk. The study found that

less than 7 hours of sleep increases a driver’s risk of a crash

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_894_20060124-300x200The holidays are a wonderful time in New England and a great time to catch up with friends and family at the myriad of parties and events hosted this time of year. When alcohol is involved though, sometimes the party can get dangerous. Between Christmas and New Year’s, AAA reports two to three times more deaths from alcohol-related crashes than any other time of the year. Fatalities like these are particularly unsettling considering drinking and driving is completely preventable.  Throughout the year, approximately one-third of all auto accident deaths involve alcohol-impaired drivers. This amounts to an average of one alcohol-related driving death every 45 minutes. As Providence car accident injury lawyers, Tapalian Law sees victims hurt every day in car crashes, however these statistics are still startling and serve as a reminder to us all to enjoy the holidays, but do so safely.  Don’t add yourself to these sobering statistics.

Cutting Down on Rhode Island Drunk Drivers

Rhode Island is serious about cracking down on drunk driving. In 2016, the Rhode Island State Police launched a new sober driving campaign dubbed “Beyond the Crash”. The campaign’s message is similar to the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign created years back and many Rhode Islanders recognize the popular slogan. During designated periods, typically during the holidays when drunk driving accident fatalities increase, the RIDOT works with state and local police to create patrols with the specific goal of cracking down on drinking and driving. Most alcohol-related car crashes occur during the evening hours and on weekends.

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