Articles Posted in DUI 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. By far, the greatest risk of crash occurs when a driver is operating on less than 4 hours of sleep. Poor sleep affects brain function and impairs judgement. Fatigued drivers are not just “nodding off at the wheel”, but their decision-making process is also highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality. Vehicle operators with less than 4 hours of sleep are more likely to be involved in a single car crash. Fatalities are 3 times more likely with a single vehicle crash than a multi-vehicle 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.

DSC05698-B-300x225Most everyone has seen the mug shot of Tiger Woods after his recent arrest for DUI in Jupiter, Florida. Upon hearing of his arrest for driving under the influence, or DUI, many automatically assumed he was under the influence of alcohol and driving drunk. After all, it was reported his speech was slurred, he failed basic roadside sobriety tests, and he was falling asleep at the wheel. All classic signs of alcohol impaired driving, and all too recognizable by the auto accident lawyers at Tapalian Law, as signs of a dangerous and impaired driver. While a crime often used to charge drunk drivers, DUI, or driving while impaired (DWI) includes not just driving under the influence of alcohol, but can also be impairment from other drugs, both recreational and prescription drugs, or a combination of any of these substances. The impairment by the substance, or combination of substances, brings the driver to a level rendering them incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely. In the case of Tiger Woods, it appears he was not using alcohol, but was influenced by several medications, reportedly including Vicodin (an opioid pain reliever), Torix (an anti-inflammatory), and another sleeping medication. Due to a recent back surgery Woods had undergone, these types of medications would not be uncommon after a major surgery.

DUI Involving Prescription Drugs a Growing Problem in America

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of drivers involved in fatal auto crashes testing positive for drugs has doubled in the past 10 years. Illicit drugs are included in these figures but the lesser known drugs involved in these crashes are prescription medications, over the counter drugs, and supplements. Often times accidental overdoses occur as many patients do not comprehend the impact that mixing prescription drugs with other drugs, even as seemingly simple as allergy medication, or alcohol, can have on them. In fact, it is reported that nearly half of men and two-thirds of woman over the age of 65, are taking five or more medications at once. Sometimes a patient may forget that they took a medication already, and take it again, resulting in an overdose with impairing effects. It’s not always possible to predict the outcome that a combination of drugs, both prescription and non-prescription, will have on a person. The situation is even more difficult to predict when a patient is taking multiple drugs, prescribed by multiple doctors.

Three young woman from West Warwick are the victims of a fatal car accident in Pawtucket. The deadly crash occurred on Walcott Street last Thursday. The driver of the vehicle, 21-year-old Jahighway accidentmes Belanger of Pawtucket, is believed to have been speeding prior to losing control of his vehicle. The car crashed into a utility pole killing two of the young woman instantly, the third later died at Rhode Island Hospital. The driver and another front-seat passenger incurred minor injuries. At this time, it is unknown if the victim’s families have hired a lawyer to file a wrongful death case against the driver.

Pawtucket Police Describe Crash Scene as “Devastating”

When the vehicle hit the utility pole, the impact tore the back seat from the front seat. None of the young ladies in the back seat were wearing a seatbelt and all were ejected from the vehicle. The front seat passenger, who is an accident witness, was wearing a seatbelt and survived the wreck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that of the over 35,000 people killed in car crashes in 2015, 48% were not wearing a seatbelt.

file000608296909-259x300The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events of the year. Millions will tune in to root for their favorite team (or their favorite commercials)! This Super Bowl Sunday is a great time to get together with fellow fans, friends, and family to enjoy some friendly jabs as well as good food and drink. Whether you’re hosting the party this year or heading to the local sports bar- have fun, but remember- keep it in check! Here are some quick reminders.

Hosting a Party- Your Responsibility

Not only are you responsible for providing food, drinks, and plenty of it, but perhaps the most important responsibility you have is keeping your guests safe. If you are serving beer, wine, or liquor, please consider:

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People make all kinds of New Year’s resolutions from losing weight to improving their finances. Even though almost half of Americans admit they make New Year’s resolutions, only about eight percent of those individuals will keep their resolutions and reach their goals.

One resolution that every driver should make and keep is to become a safe driver in 2017. There are far too many motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States. Thousands of people are killed and injured each month throughout the country. If every driver would resolve to break bad driving habits, we could reduce the number of tragic car accidents. Below are several New Year’s resolutions that can help you become a safer driver in 2017.

  • I Resolve to Wear My Seat Belt – Wearing a seat belt reduces your risk of severe injury in a car accident. Always buckle up and ensure children ride in car seats or booster seats appropriate for their age, height, and weight.
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