Pedestrians in Rhode Island: Are We Safe?  

crosswalk-photo-300x225An unfortunate series of pedestrian accidents in Providence and elsewhere in Rhode Island this year have brought to light the question of whether or not pedestrians are safe crossing the street in the state. Circumstances surrounding each incident are different, yet each had a tragic outcome. A driver in Westerly who hit and killed a pedestrian was accused of drunk driving. On North Main Street in Providence, a female motor vehicle operator hit a pedestrian and fled the scene; the man died and the driver was tracked down using local video footage. Near the state house, a well-known local, Superior Court Judge Richard Licht, was seriously injured by a car while walking across Smith Street. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, RI for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has helped a number of people hurt in pedestrian accidents throughout RI and MA and knows the outcomes of these dangerous collisions are frequently tragic resulting in severe or life-threatening injuries.

RI Pedestrian Deaths

In 2020, Rhode Island experienced 17 pedestrian fatalities, according to the most recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Based on the number of total traffic fatalities that year, 67 traffic accident-related deaths, pedestrians accounted for 25.4% of the total traffic fatalities in Rhode Island. Clearly, the safety of those on foot is a concern.

Across the United States, the NHTSA provides the following data for the year 2020:

  • Not surprisingly, over ¾ of pedestrian fatalities occur in the dark, a majority taking place between the hours of 6pm-8:59pm.
  • Alcohol use (driver, pedestrian, or both) is a contributing factor in almost half of all pedestrian deaths.
  • More pedestrians are killed in urban areas (82%), than rural areas (18%).
  • Only 15% of pedestrian traffic fatalities take place at intersections.

Are Crosswalks a Safe Option?

Pedestrians are urged to always use a designated crosswalk when attempting to cross a street. Of course, there is no guarantee of safety but there is definitely a benefit. According to Rhode Island General Law 31.18.3, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way and allow a pedestrian within a crosswalk, or approaching closely, to safely cross.  Despite the law, not all drivers heed it and most of us have seen dangerous near-collisions between cars and people crossing the street. Reckless drivers may be distracted by a text or phone call, while others carelessly choose to ignore the requirement and plow right through a crosswalk without even attempting to look for people on foot. As a Providence personal injury attorney, David Tapalian handles all types of auto accidents and, no differently than other types of car crashes, driver distractions are a huge contributing factor in pedestrian injuries, especially cell phone use.

Although pedestrian accidents are frequently the fault of a reckless motor vehicle operator, this is not always the case. The same RI General Law also states “… no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.” Pedestrians need to take accountability and ensure they are taking safety measures as well. It’s essential that pedestrians pause and check, and re-check, for approaching vehicles prior to crossing. This is particularly critical if there are hindrances such as parked cars that may block the view of a driver. By no means should a pedestrian be looking down at their phone, or using headphones or earbuds, that limit their senses.  For instance, a motor vehicle operator may be temporarily blinded by the glare of the sun and not see they are approaching a crosswalk. If this is compounded by a person on foot recklessly crossing while looking down at their phone and not paying attention to their surroundings, it could result in a deadly, and completely avoidable, collision between the car and the pedestrian.

Contact a Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer After a Pedestrian Injury

If you are a pedestrian who was hit by a car and injured, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention regardless of how grave, or minor, your injuries seem at the time. If the driver who hurt you is found to be at fault, they may be held responsible for your damages including medical bills, lost wages from work, future medical needs, pain and suffering, and more. As soon as possible, contact an experienced injury attorney in Providence who can help you sort through the confusion and determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation. Attorney David Tapalian has helped hundreds of clients throughout RI and MA receive maximum compensation for their injuries. There is no fee to discuss your claim and our personal injury firm doesn’t get paid until you receive money for your losses. Call Tapalian Law today at 401-552-5000 to schedule your free consultation.

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