Accidents and DUIs Are On The Rise As We Edge Towards Normal – Follow These Tips to Stay Safe
Updated: May 17
Warmer weather is finally here and after an especially long winter due to the pandemic, it’s no surprise that folks have spring and cabin fever. Combine that with more people getting vaccinated and the government easing restrictions on businesses, and a perfect storm is brewing that is leading to an alarming increase in car accidents and DUIs.
According to study released in March 2021 by the National Safety Council, approximately 4.8 million people were injured in an accident in 2020 and 42,060 people died from their injuries, despite less cars on the road. In Rhode Island, over 50 people died in car accidents last year and 16 pedestrians were struck and killed, compared to only eight the year before. Of all the dangerous behaviors, speed proves to be the top factor as many saw the empty roads as an excuse to drive fast and recklessly. In addition, the pandemic caused a sharp rise in alcohol, marijuana and opioids consumption, which always has a direct correlation to the drunk driving and accident statistics.
At Sheeley Law, your safety is our number one priority. As more cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians take to the roads this Spring, we want to stress the steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
1. Slow down.
Speed limit signs are in place for a reason and many factors go into to determining the safest speed to travel on a particular road, including traffic volume, sharp turns, uneven pavement, blind spots, etc. The faster you drive, the slower your reaction time will be and the longer it will take for you to stop your car and avoid a crash.
2. Beware of distracted drivers
Rhode Island’s “Hands-free Law” (§ 31-22-31) prohibits motorists from holding a phone in their hand and/or holding the phone up to their ear. While the law and its consequences have helped crack down on distracted driving, the reality is people still text/talk/email and drive. Distracted driving is a serious problem that causes thousands of accidents each year. Remember, your car is not the place for multi-tasking, so you should not be doing things like eating food, assisting kids in the backseat, picking up items that fell on the floor, brushing your hair, putting on makeup or shaving your face to look good for your meeting (yes, some people actually do this). Always be aware of others on the road, keep two hands on the wheel and drive defensively.
3. If you are tired, pull over.
Falling asleep at the wheel doesn’t get the same amount of attention as driving under the influence, but it can be just as dangerous. Too many people get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they haven’t had enough sleep, and this means that they are not as alert as they need to be. The problem is even worse at night, when the majority of these types of crashes occur. If you find yourself getting drowsy, don’t fight it. Find a safe place to pull over and get some rest.
4. Keep a careful eye out for pedestrians, motorcycles and bicyclists
Your 3,000+ pounds of metal can cause irreparable damage. Traffic accidents involving pedestrians, motorcycles and bicyclists are startlingly common and extremely dangerous, and sometimes deadly. While every single person utilizing our roadways has rules to abide, as a driver, the onus is on you. When you are behind the wheel, be extra vigilant at night as the majority of accidents happen between 6 pm and 9 pm, slow down in neighborhoods and by schools, and always stop to give pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks.
5. Never drink and drive
We can’t stress this one enough. With more bars and restaurants open and welcoming the business, people are making up for lost time by socializing and drinking with family and friends. A conviction for DUI in Rhode Island will dramatically affect your life. Get in an accident while impaired, and your life will never be the same. Let’s all encourage the “new normal” to NEVER drink and drive.
As we all try to resume some sense of normalcy, please be safe and vigilant. Always remember, Sheeley Law is here for you if you are ever injured in an accident or arrested for a DUI. Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience advocating for Rhode Islanders and is available 24/7 by calling 401-619-5555 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.