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New Rhode Island House bill could help prevent a car accident

Karns & Kerrison

There seems to be so many Rhode Island drivers who are doing something other than driving their car -- such as changing a radio station, eating or even texting on their phone. Being distracted means that the driver is not paying attention to what is going on either directly in front or around him or her, which could cause a car accident. Some people think there ought to be a law prohibiting certain distractions while driving.

One Senator, Susan Sosnowski, a Democrat from South Kingstown, has heard many complaints regarding distracted drivers who are using their cell phones and either hitting or nearly hitting other cars or pedestrians. She is the sponsor for a proposed bill before the House, which, if passed, would make it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while operating a vehicle. If caught in the act, a driver could be cited and fined $100 per offense.

First-time offenders only would have the opportunity to prove to the court that they recently purchased a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth. The only exception to this new law would be, as it is in many states currently, for emergency personnel in the performance of their duties. This law is mostly intended and directed toward younger drivers who feel the need to text while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The idea is to instill in drivers the necessity of keeping both hands on the wheel to avoid becoming involved in a car accident.

Unfortunately, even if the bill becomes a law, there is no guarantee that drivers will obey and follow it. Some Rhode Island drivers may choose to ignore it, but they may learn its value the hard way. Someone could be killed in a car accident that could have been avoided if the driver had not been on the phone. If such an unfortunate accident does take place, any victim -- or their family in the case of death -- may take civil action against the distracted driver in a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Source:, RI bill would ban cellphone use while driving, Bill Rappleye, Feb. 6, 2014


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