Why Do Cars Keep Flipping Over Behind The Newport Courthouse?

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Cars sitting on their roofs is becoming a disturbing trend on Court House Street.

Seeing a car flipped over in Newport is generally a rare occurrence. The city’s 25 mph speed limit and generally “relaxed” driving style means unless you’re trying to set the Ocean Drive record lap time in a camper van rollovers are almost never seen…except on Court House Road, right behind the Court House.

This afternoon, the car in the photo above was seen sitting on its roof. One can look at that situation and wonder “How exactly did the driver pull it off? I couldn’t do that if I tried.”

The problem is, the same exact thing happened just a few months back, on October 27.

Be careful out there! The accident happened by Washington Square a little over an hour ago! #NewportRI 📷: @l_double

A photo posted by The Newport Blast (@thenewportblast) on

Without speaking to the drivers or seeing a police report, it’s hard to know exactly how much these accidents in common, but we do know there’s wet pavement/cobblestones, what look like SUVs and this gradual decline. Typically, these shouldn’t be enough to flip a vehicle over, unless this particular street/intersection happens to have some kind of civil engineering anomaly know as “God’s Spatula” at work.

That’s all we know thus far, but we can say that you probably want to take it easy along Court House Road, especially if you’re coming into it from Touro Street at speed.

UPDATE: The likely culprit has been found.

Blast reader Michael Farley has pointed out the likely cause of these accidents, and why they don’t happen during good weather or during normal working hours.

This bent steel pole serves as a perfect stunt ramp to flip over any cars that might cut the corner towards Washington Square a bit too tight. When court is in session, there are typically vehicles parked on the left hand of the road, so cars take the turn way past this pole. Once court closes up for the day and those vehicles leave, the steel pole is left relatively concealed…at least until today.

Now, we’ll be the first to admit that this pole is located on the sidewalk and is hardly sitting where regular traffic would hit it. It’s just likely a shock for drivers who cut a corner by less than a foot to find themselves upside down.

-Tristan Pinnock, Blast Traffic Correspondent

Tristan's just this guy, ya know?