Articles Posted in Teen Drivers

cell phoneIt’s official. Massachusetts marks the final New England state to join the ban on hands-free driving by making hand-held cell phone use illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Effective February 23, 2020, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Massachusetts. As a personal injury lawyer in Seekonk, MA, Attorney David Tapalian is pleased the state has finally joined the coalition against distracted driving. Texting while driving was already illegal in the Bay State, having been banned in 2010. Yet, distracted driving car crashes in MA rose an alarming 170 percent from 2014-2016. Across the U.S., over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2017 alone. There’s no question whether using a cell phone while driving is safe.

Massachusetts Hands-Free Law

As of February 23rd, under An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving, use of electronic devices by motor vehicle operators and bicyclists, including cell phones and tablets, will be prohibited unless being used in hands-free mode.  “Hands-free mode”, defined by Mass General Law, is the “operation of a mobile electronic device by which a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device; provided, however, that a mobile electronic device may require a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature”.

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.

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 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.

Coshocton_Fair_2011_008-300x214As all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use continues to gain in popularity in the United States, so do the amount of injuries and deaths due to ATV-related incidents. ATV’s are heavy, and fast, pieces of machinery, up to 600 lbs and 75 MPH respectively. Although the vehicle is required to be registered, in the State of Rhode Island the only age requirements are that you must be at least 12 years old to operate an ATV and those ages 12-16 must be accompanied by an adult. Although these vehicles may be similar to driving an automobile or motorcycle for an adult for whom driving is second nature, it is not so for children. Personal injury attorney David Tapalian is familiar with the trauma that can be caused by a crash. His Providence based personal injury law firm handles personal injury cases all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Adults are severely injured in ATV crashes of course, but when a young rider is involved, the injuries are often even worse than an auto accident. Since 1982, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 5,000 deaths have been related to ATV injuries in the United States, with an estimated 25 percent of severe injuries and deaths occurring to those under age 16.

Most ATV Injuries Are Preventable

The most common causes of injuries for children riding ATV’s are vehicle rollover, ejection from the vehicle, and colliding with a stationary object, such as a tree. With proper training and precautions, like wearing a safety helmet, most of these pediatric injuries and deaths are preventable. It is crucial that both adults and children are trained properly to ride these vehicles. Sadly, they are often not. Because young riders are inexperienced, they are less likely to understand the seriousness of operating such a heavy vehicle and therefore have more risky driving behavior. The high rate of injury and death for youngsters operating ATV’s is also due to a lack of safety equipment.


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 – 


How serious is underage drinking during the holidays? According to information from the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 11,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 years will try alcohol for the first time on any given day during December. With approximately 400 young people under the age of 21 years dying each month from alcohol-related causes, underage drinking is an extremely serious problem during the holidays and throughout the entire year.

As an experienced Massachusetts DUI accident attorney, I see the devastation caused by drinking and driving for victims and their families. This holiday season, take steps to prevent drinking and driving by protecting your teen driver from underage drinking.

Talk to Your Teenager About Underage Drinking

According to Coventry Police, a Cranston, Rhode Island woman is facing multiple charges.  The woman has been charged with texting while operating a motor vehicle in Rhode Island. She traveled over the posted speed limit and went off the road trying  to catch a Pokemon. Providence Journal Article August 31st 2016

Safety Tips for Playing Pokeman

Luckily, she was not injured.  Playing Pokeman caused a car accident in Rhode Island. The police have issued basic safety tips for people who play this popular cell phone based game. The first tip? “Do not ‘Pokemon Go’ and drive”.  We all know already not to text and drive.  Many car accidents occur when drivers text behind the wheel.  I have almost been hit by one of these distracted drivers.  If you have been in a car accident with a distracted driver in Rhode Island or Massachusetts here are some steps to take.  Steps to Take If You Spot a Distracted Driver in Rhode Island If you have been injured in a car accident with a distracted driver in Rhode Island or Massachusetts you need an accident lawyer.   David Tapalian is an experienced car accident lawyer serving Rhode Island and Massachusetts.


A 17-year-old boy was recently killed on Block Island in a DUI accident when his 20-year-old uncle rolled a vehicle on Lakeside Drive. The driver had been drinking and his license had been suspended on a previous charge. He is now facing jail time, if convicted, and grieving the loss of a family member, which may be his fault.

Two lives and the lives of their family members were impacted by the influence of alcohol; one life forever changed in a way that will haunt him no matter what happens. If you are the parent of a teenager and you have not had a serious conversation about alcohol with your child, this tragic story should urge you to have a serious conversation with your teenager. While underage drinking may be a difficult topic, it is a topic that should not be avoided.

Get Your Teen Involved

AAA is reminding drivers that school is open so drive carefully. Each fall, thousands of children return to school. This results in increased traffic and additional responsibility for drivers. Drivers must take extra precautions when driving in school zones and other areas where children are present (i.e. playgrounds and neighborhoods). According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 444 children under the age of 19 years died in pedestrian accidents involving a vehicle in 2013. During 2012, roughly 19,100 children were injured in pedestrian accidents involving vehicles.

Even though there has been a decline in pedestrian deaths for children over the past decade, even one life lost is one child too many.

Drivers must accept the responsibility of keeping children safe because most children do not have the maturity level to understand the risks and dangers associated with traffic accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents about allowing their children to be unsupervised pedestrians, especially under the age of 10 years. A child lacks the maturity to understand the risks and dangers associated with crossing the street. Therefore, a child is incapable of making safe decisions as a pedestrian.

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