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Distracted Driving in Rhode Island

Driving on roads across Rhode Island is challenging. There are commuters who drive across Providence, around the state, and from other parts of New England that all rely on our highways and roads to drive safely.

With so many factors involved, it may be difficult to concentrate while behind the wheel. It can also be tempting to distract yourself during traffic jams.

Calling a family member or texting a friend while driving is extremely dangerous, especially if you’re in one of Rhode Island’s most dangerous intersections.

But distracted driving encompasses more than cell phone calls and texting behind the wheel. Here is what you need to know about distracted driving and how it can affect you.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in other activities while behind the wheel. This creates an interruption in driving, which can have dangerous results for both drivers and pedestrians.

Distracted driving is not limited to just looking away from the road or texting a family member or friend. In fact, there are three types of distracted driving that you should be aware of. It can be either:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel; and
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving.

Laws Against Distracted Driving

Rhode Island’s distracted driving laws are strictly enforced. Laws enforcing a ban on distracted driving have existed for almost a decade within the state.

The first law, passed in 2009, banned texting while driving, and it also created penalties for drivers who violate the law. The penalties for texting while driving is:

  • The first offense results in an $85 fine
  • The second offense results in a $100 fine
  • The third offense results in a $125 fine

A second law limiting distracted driving was passed in June of 2018. Since then, it is illegal for drivers to hold a cell phone or similar device. In addition, using headphones that require both ears to operate is also forbidden.

Types of distracted driving

There can be multiple distractions around you when you’re driving. Concentrating on those distractions instead of driving safely is what creates distracted driving. Some of the most common distractions that you can encounter while driving are:

  • Reaching for your phone
  • Changing the music
  • Using an app
  • Checking your GPS or map
  • Taking a photo
  • Checking email or posting to social media
  • Eating and drinking
  • Putting on makeup/grooming

There are ways to avoid distracted driving to commute safely to wherever it is that you are driving. The most helpful tips to decrease your chances of distracted driving are to:

  • Designate a passenger to send text messages to your family and friends.
  • Make phone calls and send texts before driving.
  • Place your phone in a different part of the vehicle (such as your glove compartment).
  • Pull over to the side of the road to send text messages, especially in an emergency.
  • Silence notifications that may distract you.

How distracted driving affects you

Distracted driving can affect you in many ways. If you are suspected of distracted driving, then you can be fined multiple times. You can face further penalties if you drive while using a cellular device.

There are additional things to consider if you would like to pursue a case against someone who you suspect caused a crash as a result of distracted driving.  After an auto accident, you should always do the following:

  • File a police report
  • Talk to witnesses
  • Take photos or videos

In the case of distracted driving, additional evidence is collected and compiled. It is never advised to admit one’s guilt after a crash, but this evidence can be used in court to prove your innocence. Cell phone records can also be used to your advantage if the records can indicate when an accident occurred.

If you are in the Providence area and the victim of what you believe was a distracted driver, it is important to contact attorneys who can help you. Gemma Law Associates has decades of experience handling car accident cases and we can represent you if you are a victim of distracted driving.

Contact us online or call us at (401)-467-2300 today for a free consultation.

  • Mark Gemma

    Mark Gemma is a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, and is a Principal of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. With 25 years of legal experience, Mark is nationally recognized for his legal ethics, receiving an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell in 2009. Some of his legal specialties include auto accidents, wrongful death, and slip and fall cases. You can reach him at mark@gemmalaw.com.

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