Thinking about taking a road trip? You’re not alone. With summer in full swing, the team here at Kirshenbaum Law Associates wants you to hit the road in safety this season. We’ve rounded up the top five summer roadway accidents to be aware of and a few helpful tips on how to avoid them. Consider this your pre-trip pit stop, on your way to an accident-free vacation.
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the top leading causes of injuries and fatalities, regardless of the time of year. In the summer months though, travel, construction, and traffic increase, driving up the rate of accidents.
The risk of teenage driving accidents also increases substantially. “The 100 deadliest days” a term coined by AAA, refers to the dramatic increase in crashes among teens from Memorial Day through Labor Day. According to AAA, the rate of accidents increases by 15% during the summer months! Typically, this is a combination of inexperienced drivers, speeding, distracted driving and, often, driving under the influence.
Stay safe: Minimize your risks by adhering to speed limits and observaing Rhode Island’s newly enacted state law, prohibiting drivers from using hand-held communication devices. Any driver using a mobile phone or communication device must use a hands-free system. For all the details on the new law, visit the RI DOT website.
Talk with your teen about the need for responsible driving. If you have concerns about your teen’s ability to drive without using their phone, consider downloading one of these apps.
Drunk and impaired driving
Summertime is filled with events and special occasions. From weddings to BBQs, many of these festivities go hand-in-hand with alcohol. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more teens try alcohol and drugs in July than in any other month.
Impaired driving happens not only on the road but also on the water. According to the United States Coast Guard, alcohol and drugs are a factor in half of all boating accidents, with 16% of boat fatalities occurring due to alcohol.
Stay safe: The number one way to mitigate your risk of an impaired driving incident is to drive sober or ensure you designate a sober driver. Ride services such as Uber and Lyft are available around the clock, to ensure you get home safely. When you’re enjoying time on the water, make sure your captain is responsible and abstaining from any mind-altering substances.
It’s not difficult to see why pedestrian accidents increase in the summer months. People are outside, exploring towns, riding bikes and enjoying leisure activities. Pedestrian accidents often result in fatalities or life-threatening injuries, as a person walking or riding a bicycle lacks adequate protection against the weight and power of a car.
Safety tip: Drivers and pedestrians need to be aware of each other and their surroundings. Distracted driving, a significant cause of crashes, is preventable. Pedestrians should use crosswalks and forget about checking their mobile device until reaching the destination.
Bikers, whether riding on the highway or cruising around the beautiful coastline of Block Island, are out in record numbers in the hot summer months. What brings many bikers great joy – riding on those warm summer days and nights – can often be a hazardous venture. Motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in an accident, and five times more likely to be injured in a crash, than motor vehicle operators.
Stay safe: While a helmet isn’t always a legal requirement, it’s still a smart idea. In many cases, if you’re driving a bike without a helmet and sustain an injury, you could be found negligent for not wearing one. According to the NHTSA, (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016, and if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 802 of those people would still be alive.
Last, though certainly not least, are truck accidents. Trucks have inherent risks, due to their size. Many big rig accidents are a result of driver fatigue. Truck drivers often work around the clock to deliver goods across state lines, forgoing sleep during their trek. Other factors impacting truck accidents are mechanical issues and collisions with passenger cars.
Truck accidents increase in the summer months, for a variety of reasons. Typically, construction work ramps up in the warmer weather. Trucks are more apt to be traveling to job sites in towns and cities. Road construction also leads to increased hazards for these big rigs. Moreover, the hot weather can cause tire pressure to expand, increasing the likelihood of blowouts.
Summer safety tip: Prevention is the best way to mitigate your risk of crashing or colliding with a truck. As stated in nearly all the previous suggestions, it’s imperative to minimize distracted driving. Heed Rhode Island’s state law, banning the use of any handheld mobile phones or devices in the car, and use a hands-free set if you need to answer a call. Never put yourself in a truck’s blind spot. If you can’t see the driver’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you.
We hope these tips help you achieve a relaxing, rejuvenating summer. If an accident does occur on the road, or in the water, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Document all the details surrounding the crash including location, weather, names and contact information of people involved and take photos if possible.
Remember, Rhode Island’s statute of limitations for personal injury is three years. If liability is a concern, contact Kirshenbaum Law Associates immediately.
"$1,000,000 settlement of an automobile accident in which our client was hit by a drunk driver."