Distracted driving is never safe, especially when that distraction is texting on a mobile phone. Rhode Island Senator Susan Sosnowski has stated that studies show distracted driving has the potential to be even more dangerous than drunken driving, and as such, she is sponsoring a Rhode Island bill that would ban hand-held cell phone use while driving (with exceptions for public personnel and emergency scenarios) (i). Most people are probably aware of the dangers of texting and driving from commercials, accident reports in the local newspaper, or knowing someone personally who has been involved in this type of accident. All over the Rhode Island roadways, motorists can be seen texting behind the wheel of their vehicle. These motorists are a danger to everyone on the road, beyond just themselves.
Texting while driving was made illegal in Rhode Island back in 2009, yet motorists continue to devote attention to their phones (ii). Since the law was passed, local and RI state police officers have written many tickets for this offense; and for repeat offenders, the consequences may be more severe in the form of increased fines and even license suspensions. The pending bill sponsored by Senator Sosnowski would fine violators $100, a penalty that could be waived for first-time violators if they provided a receipt evidencing purchase of hands-free telephone equipment.
The Providence Journal recently published statistics from the National Traffic Safety Administration revealing that “at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving” (iii). The results from this behavior are staggering – 3,300 fatalities in 2011 alone, and 387,000 injuries in accidents involving a distracted driver (iv). Senator Sosnowski has stressed to constituents and Rhode Island residents at large that there is only one way to drive safely; that is, using a hands-free phone device, so both hands are on the wheel.
Both the RI Department of Transportation and the RI State Police are working to combat the occurrence of this dangerous activity. Young drivers especially should be educated about the risks of texting while driving considering that texting it the top driving distraction reported by teen motorists. Numbers reveal that auto accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths, and texting while driving specifically causes eleven teen deaths each day. In light of these statistics, teenage drivers should be reminded that their phone conversation can always wait.
Distracted driving goes beyond texting however, and can include activities even as seemingly benign as using a GPS, iPod, or changing the radio station in your car. Providence auto accident attorneys see some of the most gruesome accident injuries pass through their offices, and as professionals, it is their job to pick up the pieces for these injured motorists (and even pedestrians or bicyclists). Above all else, drivers should be focusing their undivided attention on the task at hand behind the wheel, which is getting to their destination as safely as possible.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident in Providence where a distracted or negligent driver was at fault, you should contact the motor vehicle accident lawyers at our firm’s Providence office. The attorneys and legal staff for our firm have experience handling these types of cases. If you call our office, we will take care of gathering documentation, monitoring your medical treatment, and eventually negotiating with the insurance company so your only concern will be improving your health and getting better. Our firm charges no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award, so feel free to call us at 1-800-992-6878, or fill out an online contact form for a free legal consultation.d’Oliveira & Associates
Providence, RI 02909
Phone: (401) 831-8600
- (i) Bill Rappleye: RI bill would ban cellphone use while driving. February 6, 2014.
- (ii-iv) Peter F. Kilmartin: When it comes to texting and driving, it can wait. September 28, 2013.