PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has seen a significant spike in deadly crashes this year, according to the R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT).
There have been 63 traffic fatalities so far this year, which is in stark contrast to the 39 reported around the same time last year.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” RIDOT wrote in a social media post. “Drive as if your life depends on it.”
AAA Northeast’s Mark Schieldrop said the uptick is a cause for concern.
“It seems like there is a constant drumbeat of horrific crashes [in Rhode Island],” Schieldrop said. “It’s very troubling … but it’s honestly not that surprising.”
Schieldrop said there has been an uptick in “bad driving behaviors” across the board, such as speeding, aggressive driving, impaired driving and distracted driving.
“These are all [behaviors] that are potentially going to cost them their lives,” Schieldrop explained. “It seems that folks aren’t getting the message, or maybe they don’t care.”
“You have to wonder why people are choosing to put themselves and others at risk,” he continued.
Though these bad driving behaviors typically overlap, Schieldrop emphasized that people are driving “way too fast.”
Investigators believe “extreme speed” was a factor in the crash that killed a young man and woman in Burrillville over the weekend.
Schieldrop believes driving is “one of the most risky things we do” every single day.
“I don’t think that we take that seriously enough,” he said. “We lose sight of the fact we are traveling at a high rate of speed in a big hunk of metal and that can cause tremendous damage if something goes wrong.”
Though the increase in traffic fatalities is concerning, Schieldrop hopes it will serve as a wake-up call and push drivers to rethink their own behavior behind the wheel.
“To get these numbers down, it starts at home with our own driving behavior,” Schieldrop said. “When you get in the car, take a deep breath and say, ‘I’m not going to lose my cool behind the wheel today.’ When there is a car on the road that is causing you frustration … imagine it’s your mother, your father or your grandmother.”
“Every other car on the road has someone in it who’s a child or a parent, and you don’t want to be responsible for hurting them, just like you don’t want your loved ones to be hurt by someone else on the road,” he added. “If you look at it that way, it might make it easier for you to ease up on that gas pedal and be a bit more courteous on the road.”