Articles Posted in Reckless Driver

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.

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.

468bddc63e662ecf3a104b26db86c196-300x206Head-on collisions, also known as front impact collisions, are among the most deadly types of car accidents in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), frontal collisions account for around 2% of accidents, but account for 10% of motor vehicle accident deaths. These statistics highlight the dangers associated with Rhode Island head-on collisions.

Frontal crashes occur when the front of one vehicle slams into the front of an incoming vehicle or stationary object. The leading causes of head-on collisions involve impaired drivers, unsafe passing, wrong-way driving, driver distraction, driver fatigue, and unsafe road conditions. Although head-on collisions may seem straightforward, there are often various factors at play that can affect liability and damages. For example, a wrong-way driver may claim that road signs were unclear or not visible. Similarly, a driver may claim that they had no choice but to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid an accident. However, these defenses may not dissolve liability or diminish the motorist’s negligence.

Those that do not suffer fatal injuries in a head-on crash often experience severe and permanent disabilities. Frontal crashes may result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, broken bones and fractures, organ damage, paralysis, and burns. Victims often experience secondary injuries from flying debris or additional accidents. In some cases, adrenaline and stress mask serious injuries. It is important that head-on collision victims seek medical attention, even if their injuries appear minor.

m_DSC_1977-2-300x253The use of recreational vehicles in Rhode Island, specifically ATV’s, has long been a contentious topic. This past January, an ATV incident came to light when a Cranston police officer tackled a motorcyclist who had pushed him. The police officer was then surrounded by a group of ATV riders and assaulted by an accompanying motorcyclist. The Cranston police chief has vowed to strengthen action taken on all-terrain vehicles and other similar unlicensed vehicles.

All-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATV’s, are classified as recreational vehicles and their use has been an issue of concern for years to local residents throughout Rhode Island and police alike, who field complaints concerning the loud noise created by the ATV’s and, more importantly, the unsafe and improper operation of the recreational vehicles. Injuries incurred in a collision with an ATV can be serious and especially dangerous to children.

ATV Laws in Rhode Island

highwayAs a result of the Covid pandemic, countless Rhode Islander’s continue to work virtually from home, a number of schools are conducting learning online, and many families are choosing to forgo vacation and travel plans and stay close to home for the holidays. These factors have resulted in much less traffic on the roads and highways throughout Rhode Island, particularly during the early weeks and months of the pandemic. Despite drivers in Rhode Islander driving fewer miles, surprisingly the state has seen a “concerning” uptick in traffic fatalities and serious car accidents this year. As a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has seen this surprising influx in motor vehicle collisions and injuries first-hand. The unanticipated rise in auto accidents is unusual considering the decrease in cars on the road.

Car Accident Fatalities So Far This Year

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation reported 45 motor vehicle or motorcycle accident fatalities as of Wednesday, October 29th. Only days after the announcement, three more people were killed in auto crashes on Route 95 on Sunday. In comparison, there were 49 motor vehicle fatalities total in RI last year. In addition, over 200 people have been injured in car accidents so far this year.

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

m_FRS330355-300x199Sales of boats and personal water craft like jet skis have experienced a boost this year in Rhode Island, a likely side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing in full effect and vacations put on hold, locals are looking for outdoor leisure activities to bring some pleasure and family-friendly activity to an otherwise disheartening summer. Like purchasing a bike lately, finding a boat to buy is tough with demand in high gear. With the boost in traffic on the water in the ocean, local ponds, and lakes, public officials are seeing a corresponding surge in boat accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts resulting in injuries and deaths. As a personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law, this time of year is typically busy with car accidents due to summer travel. This summer, however, is different and we are seeing higher than average numbers of people injured in accidents and boat collisions on the water.

Causes of Boat Accidents

Known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island is always a popular summer destination for boaters. In particular Newport, Narragansett, Jamestown, Block Island, and other coastal cities and towns, experience high water traffic in the summer as do areas of Massachusetts, like Cape Cod. Sales of boats, jet skis, and other personal water craft have surged this summer due to the pandemic – their use also made more attractive by a decline in fuel prices.  Water traffic collisions and mishaps are prevalent each summer, but more so this year. Negligent behavior accounts for a significant portion of boating related injuries and fatalities, similar to the cause of the majority of car accident cases seen as a personal injury attorney. This uptick in boat accidents and water rescues can be attributed primarily not only to the increase in water traffic, but the use of alcohol, drugs, and inexperience.

bicyclistSome things in life you just can’t plan ahead for, like the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of Rhode Islanders lost their lives, and our lives now, and moving forward, will be very different. Serious accidents, in comparison, have some similarities- they can be deadly, almost impossible to plan ahead for, and the after- effects are often life-changing. Take for instance, the recent surge in bike sales across the U.S., due to people itching to get outside and move again, while still social-distancing. Many who haven’t ridden a bike in years are again enjoying the pastime. Unfortunately, with the uptick in cycling, however, comes a corresponding increase in bike accidents. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian knows well the unexpected turmoil a critical bicycle accident can put upon a victim as well as their family. No one wants to think about death or serious injuries, but by taking a few steps prior to your next bike trip, you may be able to save yourself, and your family, some difficulties in the event you do experience a bicycle crash.

It’s Not Just You, It’s the Drivers…

Though not always the case, negligent motor vehicle operators are frequently the cause of a bicyclist getting hurt. Even the most prepared and careful cyclist can fall victim to a negligent driver. Drivers are distracted more than ever by cell phones. The ping of a text or a social media update is just too tempting for some to ignore, even while driving 60mph. In addition to technology, negligence can take the form of drunk driving, speeding, road rage, even plain inexperience. As a Rhode Island personal injury attorney, David sees an abundance of serious bicycle accidents in Providence and all over the state, caused by distracted drivers. These types of crashes are completely preventable. Why should an innocent cyclist die because of a text message?

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