This may more aptly be named “boat safety” as the state is the smallest of all 50 states at only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long but with a tidal shoreline of 384 miles long. You are more often going to see water to the side of your vehicle, unless traveling on one of two of the states only Interstate highways. Ensuring your car safety in Rhode Island, one of the densest and smallest of states may mean dealing with congestion, busy highways and mostly urban settings as well as many meandering coastal routes. .
Mostly Flat Coastal Plain
Rhode Island has no real mountains and its highest point is Jerimoth Hill at only 812 feet above sea level. Even this high point is in the extreme north west of the state, on the border to Connecticut. The rest of the state is mostly flat with Narrangansett Bay and estuary taking up just over 10% of the total land area of the state. This estuary is the largest in New England and includes the largest natural harbor in the area with over 30 islands also located in the bay.
Yet most of the state’s largest cities including its Capital of Providence are located on the bay. As the main means of transport before autos it is easy to see why this area became one of the first major settlements in the new world. However in a world of auto traffic, this same natural feature may be a detriment to those wishing to get around Rhode Island. The largest island in the bay, Aquidneck is home to Newport but is only accessible by state highways from the south and through Massachusetts in the northeast.
The climate of the state is humid subtropical in the south and humid continental in the north-western portion of the state. This allows for a wide range of temperatures, but the state mostly enjoys warm rainy summers and chilly winters, but extremes are rarer because of the moderating effect of the ocean.
When driving in Rhode Island however, if you are driving through more rural areas, small as they may be, you will still need to be prepared for poor road conditions. With over 30% of rural roads being in “poor” condition the state has the 2nd worst road conditions in the country, only behind Michigan. Being prepared for a breakdown on these type of roads would be advised.
Pure Tort System
When you do get into a collision or accident, being safe means fully understanding the type of insurance and legal system that you are currently in. The tort pure comparative fault system of Rhode Island assures that even for property damage there is a chance that there will be litigation. In this type of system, it is an at fault system, but anyone can recoup expenses even when they are at fault. As long as they are assigned or believed to be less than 100% at fault, they can recover a portion of their expenses from an accident. Generally, someone 99% at fault will not litigate to recover the 1% expenses available to them in this type of system, but it is better to be prepared.
Calculating your award is determined by the percentage you are found at fault and reducing your claim amount by the same percentage. If you are found 30% at fault, you will receive 30% less of your claim award. In this system, someone that feels they will be around 40-70% at fault may litigate the claim just in order to reduce their own expenses in this at fault system. Never admit fault at the scene of an accident and be prepared to contact a car accident attorney for your benefit.
Two Tiered DUI/DWI System
Rhode Island’s system of DUI/DWI is a two-fold two-tiered system. First there is a tier for anyone underage; those younger than 21 years old. This underage tier is dealt with under the DUI system. If their BAC however is more than 0.08%, they will be upgraded to the second tier of the states DWI charges along with adults.
The other side of the system is for adults. It deals with first offenses and those that do not include serious injury or deaths. In these offenses, although penalties are on par with other states, they are much less severe than the second tier of DWIs. The second tier is meant to deal with repeat offenders, those that are first offenders but cause serious harm or death and those that tested above a 0.08% for underage drivers and above 0.10% for adults.
In each system, penalties are comprehensive and include drug and alcohol programs, monetary fines, license suspensions, jail time, community service and ignition interlock devices. It is best to stay safe while driving in Rhode Island by not drinking when you have to drive.
No Points System
Rhode Island does not have a demerit system and therefore any severe traffic violations can result in immediate license suspension depending on your violation. Also all violations are reported to insurers for premium adjustments. Since there are no point systems, it is possible that repeat minor offenders get more leniency than those that are involved in serious offenses.
Did You Know That…
1. Rhode Island was the first of the 13 colonies to declare Independence from Britain?
2. They were also the last of the 13 colonies to ratify the new US Constitution after the War of Independence.
3. You MUST take driver’s education in Rhode Island just to get your Learners Permit.
4. It is the smallest of all 50 states.
5. At 17 years old you could have a full license without restrictions or 18 years old without having to do GDL.
6. 1/3rd of the state is water.
7. You could receive a claim award ever if you were found to be 99% at fault.
8. The state’s capitol building is home to the world’s 4th largest self-supporting dome.
9. Avoid the harsh and multifaceted DUI/DWI system in Rhode Island by not drinking and driving.
10. Although insurance in mandatory in Rhode Island, it is in the top 10 states for drivers without insurance, make sure to accept the Uninsured coverage with your policy.