Deadly Highway Crashes in Rhode Island: A Third Involve Alcohol

Personal Injury Lawyers

The number of traffic deaths decreased slightly in Rhode Island in 2012, as did the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to a new federal report. The decrease is good news, but there were still far too many avoidable crashes that caused serious injuries and deaths.

In Rhode Island, there were 64 traffic fatalities in 2012, compared to 66 in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report said. Of the traffic deaths, 24 accident victims died in crashes involving a driver under the influence of alcohol. While the number is down slightly from the previous year, that is still 24 victims of preventable accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. That is more than a third of the total traffic fatalities in Rhode Island.

Nationwide, the number of traffic deaths increased in 2012 in the U.S., reversing a trend that had seen decreases in traffic fatalities each year for the past six years.

According to the report, 33,561 people died in the U.S. as a result of traffic accidents in 2012, compared to 32,479 the year before. There were about 145,000 more injuries reported in 2012, which represents a 6.5 percent jump from the previous year – the first statistically significant increase since 1995.

There were 10,322 traffic fatalities in the U.S. that involved a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, an increase of 4.6% from the previous year.

Other data of note:

  • Males represented about 70 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in 2012, about the same percentage it has maintained for decades.
  • There were ten times more motorcycle fatalities in states that do not have universal helmet laws.
  • About one-third (31 percent) of all fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • Traffic fatalities in urban centers increased by 4.9 percent and in rural areas by 2.3 percent in 2012.

There’s no way to conclude at this point why the numbers seem to be heading in the wrong direction, but one potential variable is that 72 percent of the increase in fatalities took place in the first three months of 2012. This time frame happens to coincide with the warmest first quarter ever recorded in the U.S.

January to March saw a significant spike in the number of motorcycle crashes and pedestrian fatalities. It is reasonable to deduce that warmer weather could have played a role in the elevated number of roadway crashes.

Across the country, there were 4,957 fatalities involving motorcycle crashes, representing 15 percent of all traffic deaths last year. There were also approximately 12,000 injuries related to motorcycle wrecks.

The other good news coming from the report is that the nation’s youngest drivers (aged 16-20) saw a decrease in fatalities, as they have for the past seven years running.  Fatalities from crashes involving alcohol decreased by 15% in this age group, as well.

The holiday travel season is upon us, and these numbers from the NHTSA remind us all to take extra precautions on the road. Slow down, plan for wintry driving conditions, don’t drink and drive, and stay focused on your primary task at hand: getting from point A to point B safely.

In the event of an auto accident involving injuries or significant property damage, it is imperative for victims to seek experienced, competent, legal representation.   Please talk to your Providence car accident attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush.  Call us at 855-801-6258 or fill out a contact form to set up a free legal consultation.   We have four offices located in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick, and Woonsocket to easily serve you.


  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (