Rhode Island Has Some of the Toughest Distracted Driving Laws ~ Here’s What You Need to Know

Updated: Nov 17

At Sheeley Law, our first priority is your safety. We summarized Rhode Island’s distracted driving laws, consequences for breaking the law and ways you can keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.

Avoid Distracted Driving

We all know that using a mobile device while driving in extremely dangerous. Common sense tells us to put our phones down when operating four tons of dangerous metal at varying rates of speed. Yet, many people crave the instant gratification of “being connected” at all times and succumb to the sense of urgency that each text, call or email brings, leading them ignore the perils of distracted driving.


The Alarming Statistics:


Taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, can lead to a crash and it's a growing problem. The National Safety Council reports that on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes, resulting in approximately 1.6 million crashes each year.[1]


To understand how serious the issue is in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island DMV estimates that 25% of all car accidents in our state can be attributed to distracted driving.[2]


Rhode Island’s Distracted Driving Law:


All states have adopted laws to stop the growing number of accidents caused by distracted driving and Rhode Island is deemed to have the nation’s toughest laws, followed by Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and Illinois.


It is important for all Rhode Islanders to understand driving laws. The following is a summary of what is prohibited while you are behind the wheel:

  • Holding a mobile device in your hand, including talking, reading, writing, posting and sending text messages or emails.

  • Using your hands while driving to find directions, play music or access any of your apps.

  • What most people don't realize is distracted driving also includes eating, drinking, grooming yourself, anything that takes at least one hand off the wheel.

  • Drivers under 18 and school bus operators are prohibited from using any mobile device while driving, even if they are in hands-free mode.

There are a few exceptions to the laws, which you can read about in more depth.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ON RHODE ISLAND'S DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS.


Penalties for Distracted Driving in Rhode Island


If a police officer observes you holding a phone while you are driving, you could be pulled over and fined up to $100 for your first offense with increased penalties for subsequent offenses, which you can read about by clicking here.


In addition to fines and court costs, your car insurance company will be made aware of the violation and it is likely your rates will go up an average of $393 a year. So, next time you reach for your phone while you are behind the wheel, ask yourself whether that call or text or post is really worth it.


Tips to Stay Safe


1) Get everything in order before you start driving. Return your calls and emails, load directions into the car’s navigation screen and grab that bite to eat prior to hitting the road.


2) Keep your cell phone out of reach or put it on “do not disturb” to avoid temptation.


3) Talk to your teens – Drivers aged 16-18 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash when compared to adults, according to AAA, who also reported that while over 90 percent of teen drivers acknowledged that texting and driving is dangerous, 35% admitted said they do it anyway.[3] Always remind your teens to pay attention each time they get behind the wheel.


4) Avoid the other leading causes of distracted driving: eating, drinking and smoking. Keep two hands on the wheel at all times and stay alert.


5) Remind yourself how seriously dangerous distracted driving is every time you get behind the wheel. If you are a passenger in a car, let the driver know you are adamantly against distracted driving.


If you are ever injured by the carelessness of another driver, you need an experienced and dedicated Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney like Ann Sheeley by your side. Ann will guide you every step of the way with care and compassion, and fight hard to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, medical bills, losses, and pain and suffering. Contact us 24/7 for a free consultation at 401-619-5555 or email asheeley@sheeleylaw.com.


[1] https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/get-involved/distracted-driving-awareness-month

[2] http://www.dmv.ri.gov/documents/manuals/Driver_Manual_FINAL.pdf

[3] https://exchange.aaa.com/teen-driver-distraction/#.X48HQ3hKjEY


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