Providence Legal Issues Blog

Cellphones linked to accidents, but too little data gathered

Some Rhode Island residents may have been among the approximately 100 people per day on average who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. Traffic fatalities are up after years of decline, and experts say it cannot be fully explained by people driving more or an increase in driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many experts believe that the distraction of smartphones is to blame, but the way that accidents causes are tracked and recorded provides too little data.

In the past few years, ownership of smartphones has increased just as the way people use them has changed. Rather than using the phones merely to talk, people may use them to text or use apps like Facebook or Instagram, often while behind the wheel. The death rate has increased among cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, and significantly, a driver distracted by a smart phone is less likely to notice these than a large vehicle.

Is there ever a reason to leave the scene of an accident?

Getting into a car accident can often seem like a nightmare — it happens so fast, and you will likely be in shock immediately following the crash. Regardless of who was at fault or how the accident occurred, all drivers involved must remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. You might be wondering what happens if you leave before this point.

The answer depends on a number of factors. The Daily Courier cites a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found that a driver left the scene in approximately 11 percent of accidents. There are several things to take into consideration when this seems to be the only option.

Different DUI tests you may have to take

If Rhode Island police suspect you of drunk driving, they will pull you over and look for a reason to arrest you and give you DUI charges. When no apparent proof or symptoms of intoxication are available, law enforcement can determine impairment through tests.

Knowing what these tests include and what your rights are can help you prepare for a DUI stop or fight the test results and DUI charges. For further guidance on what to do, speak to a lawyer.

Why plea bargains aren't true justice

As there are a large volume of criminal cases in Rhode Island and across the country, plea bargains are seen as a way of easing a judicial burden. However, a plea bargain may mean that someone who could be innocent is now a convicted criminal. While a plea may mean a shorter sentence or lower legal fees, it may not be the best way to resolve the matter.

One way to get outcomes that better reflect the rights of citizens is to increase the number of judges and courtrooms available to hear cases. It may also be worthwhile to reconsider what is considered a crime and what an appropriate sentence may be. In some cases, sentences are the result of a mandatory minimums or sought by those who want to appear to be tough on crime.

Divorcing at a later age

Older Rhode Island couples who decide to end their marriage may find that it can be financially difficult. This is often due to the fact that older Americans have a limited amount of time to recover financially. Because marital assets become far more important for those near retirement age, the cost of the divorce can actually go up as former couples try to get the most out of property division.

After the age of 50, most individuals have maxed out their earning potential and their employment opportunities become more limited. Further, the assets they own at this point are likely to be fixed. This means that a gray divorce could turn into a fight for a former couple's future standard of living as there simply will not be much time to rebuild. Further, some may be interested in keeping the marital home, which can be expensive for one person to maintain.

Car accidents and locations

Driving while tired and on a long trip is sometimes the cause of accidents that Rhode Island motorists are involved in. However, many accidents occur only a short distance from home, usually less than 25 miles away. Most people tend to travel close to home. People often rely on the memories of the neighborhood sometimes to help them get from a destination to their home. This type of thinking can sometimes cause drivers to be less attentive to the road and the hazards around them.

There are a few things that drivers can do to help minimize the risk. It's important to stay alert and aware of the surroundings and to wear a seat belt. These simple activities will make better and safer drivers. Although drivers might know every detail of every road to get home, there are issues that could arise at any time. Animals might enter the roadway, there could be construction, or something could happen to the car while driving, resulting in an accident.

Working at bars could increase likelihood of divorce

Bartenders in Rhode Island and blackjack dealers in Atlantic City have an uncomfortable statistic in common. According to an extensive research study presented by, workers who earn their paychecks in the nightlife and casino industries tend to experience some of the highest divorce rates among American couples. Professionals employed as software engineers and data scientists are among those who are the least likely to get divorced, and it is important to understand what these statistics reveal on a societal basis.

The 2015 divorce rate among bartenders was close to 55 percent, and a similar situation can be observed among those who work on the gaming floors of casinos. On the other side of the statistical range, actuaries who work for insurance companies and investment banking firms experienced divorce rates near 15 percent, followed by physicians and religious leaders. Absent this data, it would be tempting to say that certain elements of the nightlife and gaming industries may contribute to divorce, such as the long nights away from home, the temptation to engage in affairs and the easy availability of alcoholic beverages. The reality of the study is that couples who enjoy job stability and higher incomes are more likely to stay together.

Data show reduced accident rates with daytime headlight usage

Permanent running lights are not mandated by the federal government, so drivers in Rhode Island and other states may find that this particular safety feature is not factory-installed on the majority of vehicles that are available for purchase. However, some studies regarding the use of headlights during the day are showing that the technology has helped reduced accident rates by as much as 10 percent. This finding has caught the attention of some lawmakers, who are arguing in favor of new legislation. If eventually passed, the new laws would require motorists to turn on their headlights whenever they are behind the wheel.

In the United States, most drivers only use their headlights during dark or stormy conditions. These drivers may not be aware that headlight usage during clear, daylight hours could also make their vehicles more visible to other traffic, which might possibly reduce their chances of becoming involved in a catastrophic traffic accident.

When it is safe to leave the scene of an accident?

Under Rhode Island law, any driver involved in an accident or who had reason to believe he or she was involved in an accident must stop. For example, leaving the scene when someone is hurt can lead to penalties such as driver's license suspension, fines and imprisonment. If stopping at the scene itself would be unsafe, drivers are allowed to stop as close as possible, and they should take every care to minimize the disruption of traffic.

So, you have stopped at the scene, consulted with the other driver involved in the accident, and there appear to be no injuries or damage. The both of you agree it is okay to leave. Is it?

Shared parenting may be best for all

While shared parenting arrangements are becoming more common in Rhode Island, a majority of child custody cases are still resolved with an award of primary physical custody to the mothers. Shared parenting may be a much better alternative for both the children and the parents, however.

Shared parenting is a type of child custody arrangement in which the parents share equal or nearly equal amounts of time with their children. Children have been shown to do better when they are able to develop strong relationships with both parents instead of with only one. Fathers benefit from shared parenting by being able to build deep, rewarding relationships with their children. Mothers may also benefit by being able to advance in their careers and earn more income.


Nicholas J. Hemond Attorney at Law
1 Turks Head Place, 12th Floor
Providence, RI 02903

Phone: 401-648-6509
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