It’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.