Driving in Rhode Island is not without its risks: distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and those who are careless and in a hurry to get to their destination can all cause a car accident that injures themselves and other people on the road.
Luckily, there are actions that Rhode Island drivers can take to help reduce the likelihood they and their passengers will be injured in a crash. Adopting the following six habits which safe drivers in Rhode Island routinely follow will help protect you and your loved ones and increase roadway safety in Rhode Island.
Safe Driver Habit 1: They Don’t Text and Drive
According to Distraction.gov, texting and driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Rhode Island and throughout the United States. It is an increasing safety issue for drivers, especially younger drivers who are accustomed to having their cell phones on all the time and remaining in contact with friends and family members. Dialing a number, reading a text, and replying to a social media post are all activities that take your eyes of the road and increase the likelihood of a collision. Reading the average text message takes your eyes off of the road for five seconds: If you are traveling at 55 miles per hour, you would travel the length of a football field in that time span.
Safe drivers do not put themselves or others at risk and do not use their cell phones while behind the wheel. If a call is necessity, a safe driver will pull off to the side of the road in a safe location before making a call or responding to a text.
Consider turning your cellular phone off while you drive or setting your phone to alert those that are calling or texting you while you are on the road that you are unavailable and will respond to their communication when you are able to do so.
Safe Driver Habit 2: They Avoid Dangerous Roads and Intersections
Safe drivers pay attention to accident statistics that indicate intersections where crash occur frequently and plan routes to avoid these areas when possible. A greater number of accidents occur at intersections where traffic from multiple directions is merging at one central point. The most dangerous intersections in Rhode Island are those that are poorly lit, have little or no traffic control signs or signals, do not afford drivers from every direction a sufficient ability to view all other traffic, and/or where the roadway is in need of significant repair.
Reports are available (such as this one from GoLocalProv.com) to help drivers identify dangerous roadways, and a safe driver will look for alternate routes to his or her destination that avoid these areas.
Safe Driver Habit 3: They are Familiar with Their Car’s Safety Features
Do you know all of the safety features on your vehicle? More importantly, do you know how to use all of your car’s safety features? Even older cars come with significant safety features: seat belts and antilock brakes are standard safety features on nearly every car on the roadway. But there is a difference between an older braking system and an antilock braking system. Antilock brakes pulse the brakes to prevent a car from skidding out of control.
If you are not familiar with antilock brakes, you may even increase the likelihood of an accident as a result of not using this safety feature property.
Tip: If you are sliding or need to stop suddenly in a car equipped with antilock brakes, you do not need to pump the brake pedal as you would do in a car equipped with a non-antilock brake system.
Safe Driver Habit 4: They Understand Their Car Insurance Policy and Limits
Nobody plans on getting into an accident, but not knowing how your car insurance policy works can lead to long delays and frustrations in trying to obtain the benefits you are due under your policy. Safe drivers take the time to read their policies and will ask questions of their insurance agents if they do not understand a provision or term.
Safe drivers carefully review their coverage limits and ensure that their policy provides the coverage they need and in the amounts they need. Safe drivers know the number to call when they have been involved in an accident in order to report an accident to their insurance company.
Safe Driver Habit 5: They are Prepared for Winter Driving
Winter driving can be especially treacherous in Rhode Island because of the amount of snow and ice that Southern New England receives. Safe drivers take additional driving precautions during the winter months to help ensure their safety and the safety of their passengers. Before roadways get too slick, a safe driver will:
- Have his or her vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic for potential safety issues. Tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and fluid levels should be examined and fixed, if necessary;
- Create a winter safety kit and keep one in each vehicle in case of an emergency. Such a kit should include an emergency blanket, a flashlight, and flares to warn other motorists if your vehicle has broken down beside the road. Finally, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter and a shovel can help you get your car moving during adverse weather conditions;
- Know how to drive his or her car safely in slick conditions. More specifically, a safe driver will know to slow down and drive at a speed that is appropriate for the road and weather conditions. A safe driver will not venture out during a winter storm or slick road conditions unless he or she must do so and/or he or she feels confident in his or her ability to drive safely. Some drivers have practiced driving in the snow and/or ice by traveling to a large empty parking shortly after a major winter event and seeing how their cars handle under slippery conditions.If you do decide to do this, make sure you are not trespassing on private property and be very careful. Accidents can still happen even if you are just practicing your driving.
A safe driver cannot stop the snow from falling, but a safe driver can certainly take measures to reduce the likelihood of an accident while on the roads this winter.
Safe Driver Habit 6: They Keep a Car Accident Checklist in Their Vehicle
In the stress and chaos that follows a car accident, it is easy to forget what you should do. Unfortunately, forgetting to take certain actions (or doing something you should not do) after a car accident can negatively affect your ability to seek monetary damages for any injuries or expenses you experienced as a result of the crash.
Smart and safe drivers eliminate extra hassle and uncertainty by carrying a checklist in their vehicle. This checklist tells them everything they ought to do if they have been involved in a car crash so that the driver can rest assured that he or she has not forgotten to do something he or she should have. The list should contain tasks such as:
- Call for law enforcement assistance and medical attention;
- Move yourself and others, if possible and necessary, to a safe location;
- Obtain the name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance information of any other driver involved in the crash;
- Take pictures of the accident scene, the cars involved in the crash, and any visible injuries you may have;
- Do NOT say you are sorry or admit fault for the accident;
- Get the name, department, and badge number of the law enforcement officer who responds to your crash;
- Contact your Rhode Island car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Our law firm offers Rhode Island drivers a sample checklist that we created. Once your checklist has been created and reviewed, keep several copies in each of your vehicles and in your bag or purse. Tell other drivers in your household about the checklist, how to use the checklist, and where to find it in the car.
Contact a Rhode Island Car Crash Lawyer for Assistance
Even a safe driver can be involved in a crash caused by a negligent or reckless driver. If this happens to you, know that the attorneys of Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP are here to help you protect your legal rights and obtain compensation for your losses and injuries.
We have helped numerous car accident injury clients throughout Rhode Island, including the communities and cities of Providence, Warwick, Cranston, and Pikeville. Contact us as soon as possible after a car crash by calling one of our several Rhode Island offices or contacting us through our website for experienced, prompt, and compassionate legal assistance.