Initial decline in car accidents
For a while it looked like Rhode Island was seeing fewer car accidents because of the Covid shutdown. As of May 9, 2020, WJAR was reporting that traffic accidents were down. “With fewer people on the road, Rhode Island records fewer accidents and tickets.”
Providence police had stopped only 167 cars in April 2020 compared with 654 in April 2019. They responded to 307 accidents in April 2020 as opposed to 923 in the same period last year. Providence Police reported that traffic stops were down 74% for the first quarter of 2020 and accidents were down 66% for the same period. 5 Reasons to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Surprisingly, although car accident deaths were down during the first quarter of 2020, pedestrian deaths were up. WJAR reported 8 pedestrian deaths which was four times the usual number. Lloyd Albert of AAA speculated that people were stepping off of sidewalks to keep social distance from others and making themselves vulnerable to traffic.
However, less traffic during the shutdown did result in fewer car accidents and fewer deaths even counting the strange increase in pedestrian fatalities. The roads were empty, for the most part, other than people going out for supplies or deliveries being made. Essential workers were still on the road, but the decrease was noticeable to anyone that did venture out. Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney
Unexpected increase after the shutdown
But that was during the shutdown. Believe it or not, car accident fatalities are up now even though traffic isn’t quite back to normal. We’ve had some horrible car and motorcycle accidents recently. Some speculate that the shutdown has caused drivers to take advantage of less congested roads by speeding. Others fear that the pressures of the pandemic are causing more drinking and driving. It does appear that DUI’s and single vehicle accidents are much higher than they were expected to be.
The first spike in fatal accidents was noticed in the late spring. In both May and June, of 2020, 10 people died in car accidents in Rhode Island. This corresponds with the post shutdown reopening period. Before May 2020, the single month high for accident fatalities in Rhode Island was 8 deaths in September of 2018. After we reopened we exceeded that previous record for two months in a row. Why Motorcycle Accidents Are Unique
From June to September fatalities went back to normal. However, they are now on the rise again. “Consistent with the national trend, Rhode Island is experiencing an uptick in fatalities.” “While the overall rate of crashes has reduced due to less cars on the road, cars are speeding and when a crash occurs the fatality risk has increased greatly,” according to the Providence Journal.
A Cluster of One Car Accident Deaths
In the early morning of Sunday, November, 1 2020, there were 3 single car accidents that resulted in deaths, all within less than an hour of each other. At about 1:30 am, there was a single car accident on I-95N near Branch Avenue when a vehicle left the lane of travel and the driver was ejected and struck a tree. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
One of the most tragic deaths was that of Jennifer Toscano, a 34-year-old nurse from Stoughton. At about 1:45 am she had stopped to help the victim of a single car rollover. She was then struck and killed by a drunk driver. The person she tried to assist also died. The police arrested Luis Baez, the suspect in the homicide, and charged him with, among other things, driving under the influence of liquor and/or drugs, resulting in death.
Then on I-95N near Richmond, at about 1:49 am, a Hyundai Sonata left the lane of travel, hit multiple poles and a tree and burst into flames. Several good Samaritans stopped and pulled the driver from the burning vehicle, but he was pronounced dead at Kent Hospital.
Heading Towards a New Record for Deaths
No matter what happens from now until the end of the year, Rhode Island will record one of the worst years on record for car accident fatalities. With Rhode Islanders facing a possible second shutdown due to an apparent rise in Covid infections, it remains to be seen whether that decreases car accidents and car accident fatalities or if the rising trend continues.
We hope that this increase in car accident fatalities is an aberration and not the beginning of a trend. This pandemic has been a challenge to Rhode Islanders, not the least of which has been a challenge to our collective mental health. But single vehicle accidents are almost always avoidable and if alcohol is involved when there is a fatality it’s not just an accident, it’s a crime. These accidents and fatalities are avoidable.
Drive safe Rhode Island. #drivesaferhodeisland