RI police chiefs urge drivers to be careful amid ‘significant rise’ in roadway deaths

West Bay

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — With more than two months left to go in 2020, Rhode Island has already seen nearly as many deadly crashes as all of last year.

Because of this, the R.I. Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) held a news conference on Thursday to get the message out about safe driving, especially since trick-or-treaters will be out on the roads on Saturday.

The RIPCA said several factors contributed to the spike in roadway fatalities, including impaired and distracted driving, reckless driving, and lack of seat belt usage.

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Most recently, a 62-year-old Johnston woman was hit and killed while walking along I-295 North in Smithfield. At the time, police said there were no charges pending against the driver.

The night before, a 19-year-old Warwick woman was killed and three other people were injured in a crash on Post Road. Police said speed and impairment appeared to be factors, and the 19-year-old driver is facing charges including DUI and driving to endanger.

Back in August, Rhode Island State Police were deployed to Block Island to increase patrols in response to an uptick in car and moped crashes. There were two deadly crashes in the course of a week, one involving a car and the other involving a moped and an SUV. Both crashes involved young drivers, police said.

Those were only a handful of the fatal crashes in the state this year.

As of Oct. 28, there have been 45 motor vehicle/motorcycle fatalities in 2020, which is only four less than the total number of fatal crashes in all of 2019, according to the RIPCA.

Officials say there have also been 16 pedestrian fatalities so far in 2020, which is twice as many as last year.

Speed is a major factor in those, according to AAA spokesperson Diana Gugliotta.

“If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle traveling 20 miles per hour, their chance of survival is 90%,” she said. “If struck by a vehicle going 40 miles per hour, their chance of dying is 90%.”

Gugliotta also said the risk for a child pedestrian fatality increases by 43% on Halloween night, and reminded parents of the importance of visibility. She suggested that children hold glowsticks or flashlights.

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