parking lot accidents
There was a sad story in Westford over the weekend, when a woman was hit and killed in a Market Basket parking lot. Police are still investigating, but according to media reports, the 64-year-old woman was putting groceries into the back of her Toyota Highlander SUV, which was hit by another vehicle. The impact caused her SUV to roll back on top of her.

This is not an isolated accident. Parking lot accidents and backovers are frequently reported in every community in Massachusetts, from Boston and Cambridge to Worcester and Framingham. But the latest accident raises the questions: have parking lots become as dangerous as the roads? And what can be done to improve safety? We should all be able to shop safely.

AAA reports 14 percent of all car accidents take place in parking lots. These can range from minor incidents, such as fender benders or someone opening a car door and hitting another vehicle. Other times, someone is seriously injured or killed, from backovers or speeding drivers.

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Parking lot serving the MBTA Commuter Rail Station in Waltham. The parking lot is on Carter Street, which the city may upgrade in coming years.

Some of the region’s most dangerous roads and intersections are about to be redesigned in Waltham.

The City of Waltham released its 180-page transportation master plan last January. Some of the steps will drastically change the roads – for example, removing a traffic lane on Lexington Street, acquiring land to expand a road and a “super crosswalk.” The goal is to reduce Waltham car accidents and make it easier to travel the city. This is a 10-year master plan, but some changes have already been made.

Over the summer, the city removed a lane of traffic on Lexington Street, from Curve Street to Lake Street. The city’s goal was to reduce car accidents caused by speeding. The speed limit is 30 mph, but drivers often travel 40 to 45 mph.

The street was repainted with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane. Over the first few days, there was a lot of confusion. Some drivers continued to travel on the old lane –  head-on into traffic in the new lane – putting vehicles at risk for a collision, according to a news report.

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Traffic jam in Massachusetts

Fatal car crashes in the U.S. rose more than 5 percent in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The roads were far more dangerous in 2016, with 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. Passenger and motorcyclist deaths reached an 8-year high. More cyclists and pedestrians were killed than in any year since the early 1990s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the 2016 figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

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We welcomed a new community partner to our Project KidSafe campaign this year. SHIFT Community Bicycle Collective is well known in Somerville for its streetside bike education and repair workshops. The organization is a resource for the city’s cyclists, including the youngest riders.

Breakstone, White & Gluck made a donation of bicycle helmets to SHIFT and the organization gave them away a few at a time over the year, as volunteers came across children who needed one. Here are some photos of children who received helmets at Family Bike Day on Sept. 16, outside the Somerville Public Library East Branch. Looks like we have a few more cyclists out there ready to ride safely! That’s the goal, so we are happy to see it. Our thanks to SHIFT for doing such a good job this year.

Over 2,000 Bicycle Helmets for Kids in Somerville – So Far!

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For the fifth year, the Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee had one of the busiest tables at Westwood Town Day, which was held on Saturday, Sept. 23 this year. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated 150 bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign and sent Attorney David W. White out to help fit helmets for the kids. Attorney White is a Westwood resident, former committee member and cyclist so he had a blast. Thank you to all the committee members for donating their time.

Children age 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle in Massachusetts. Breakstone, White & Gluck recommends cyclists of all ages wear helmets every time you ride to protect yourself from a head injury. If you are a parent, your children are more likely to wear a helmet if you do, so it is even more important. Learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign.

20141118_crosswalkPedestrian safety was the focus of several NBC Boston reports last night. One segment was called “Boston’s Crosswalk Crisis” and another was called “Cro$$walk Crisis: Private Funding for Public Ways.” They are worth viewing for anyone who lives or works in Boston. A few figures from the reports:

  • Pedestrian deaths rose 15 percent in Boston in 2016.
  • Nine pedestrians have died this year, up 30 percent from this time last year.

Truck on Boston highwayLarge trucks are a stress for many Massachusetts drivers, especially on busy routes like the Mass Pike. The most challenging situations are when a truck comes up behind you or when one tries to pass you.

There were nearly 415,000 truck crashes in the U.S. in 2015, injuring more than 116,000 people and killing more than 4,060, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As phones, cars, drones and apps all make our world smarter and faster, the trucking industry must get smarter too. Let’s be clear: We are not advocating for self-driving trucks, but tools that increase video monitoring, expand the driver’s visibility and provide error warnings are all going to help improve safety.

Cyclists riding through Inman Square now have a safer ride home. The City of Cambridge has recently installed separated bicycle lanes on Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street. The lanes are clearly marked, with flex posts creating a barrier between cyclists and drivers.

These lanes should have many benefits. We hope one is to reduce dooring crashes, such as the one that killed Amanda Phillips in Inman Square in 2016. The 27-year-old Somerville resident was riding a bike and collided into a Jeep door which was left open. The impact pushed her into the travel lane, where she was hit and killed by a landscaping truck. The accident happened near Hampshire and Cambridge streets.

Dooring has been against the law in Massachusetts since 2009. M.G.L. c.90 § 14 states, “no person shall open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.”

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Friends, family and colleagues helped us celebrate 25 years of serving our clients in June.

Photos from the event were published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on August 31, 2017. Subscription required for access.

Cambridge police officer fitting bike helmets

Thank you to the Cambridge Police Department for fitting bike helmets for the kids at Rindge Tower Apartments. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

Just-A-Start, a community development corporation serving Cambridge, treated families at the Rindge Tower Apartments to a Community BBQ with all the best fixings of summer last week. From hot dogs, hamburgers and snow cones to bouncy houses, music and conga lines, the gathering drew more than 150 people from the 273-unit apartment building near Alewife Station.

The Cambridge Police Department participated, distributing safety materials and free bicycle helmets from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign. Officers distributed and fitted over 80 helmets for children.