Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper

Fisher-Price recalled its Rock ‘n Play sleeper in April.

Last April, Fisher-Price made its jarring announcement: 10 babies had died in its sleepers after rolling from their backs to their stomachs. Fisher-Price urged parents to take children out of the sleepers once they reach 3 months old or begin turning themselves over.

This advisory didn’t stand. Soon thereafter, Consumer Reports published the results of its own investigation, which identified 32 infant deaths. Within the week, Fisher-Price and Mattel, its parent company, had recalled 4.7 million unsafe sleepers.

Now six months later, The Washington Post reports that 59 babies have died in Rock ‘n Play sleepers. At least two other companies, Kids II and Dorel Juvenile Group USA, have recalled their infant sleeper products. At the time of the recall, 5 infants had died on the Kids II sleepers.

Last week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed a new safety standard for infant sleep products. This would limit the seat back angle for sleep to 10 degrees or less.  

Why Was the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play So Dangerous?

Fisher-Price introduced the Rock ‘n Play in 2009, inventing the category of inclined sleepers, which allowed babies to sleep at a 30 degree angle. From the start, this design completely disregarded the American Academy of Pediatrics’ safe-sleep guidelines, which recommend babies sleep on their backs in an empty crib or bassinet to avoid accidental suffocation. 

One problem was Fisher-Price didn’t do thorough safety testing or consulting with medical experts. But you can’t overlook the fact that Fisher-Price has been a giant in children’s products and how that influenced the discussion. As one pediatrician told The Washington Post, “This is not something I’d recommend using. But parents see that it’s from Fisher-Price and think, ‘They wouldn’t be able to sell anything that isn’t safe.’ ”

New Research Findings

The CPSC asked an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery who specializes in infant biomechanics to lead a study on inclined sleep products. The professor is based at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She and her team found evidence that babies age 2-6 months on average who were placed in inclined sleep products were at a higher risk of suffocation, when compared to a flat crib mattress.

  • Her team concluded that none of the inclined sleep products tested were safe for infant use.
  • The university team suggested the angle of the incline be no more than 10 degrees. The lying surface should be flat and rigid, not soft or plush-like.
  • The team reported that babies who were placed on their stomach in their sleepers or who rolled over had to exert as much as 200 percent more core strength than those on a flat crib mattress. 
  • Finally, the university team reviewed police reports and interviews from 91 cases of infant suffocation. In many cases, the caretaker reported they had never seen the infant roll over before.

This was a recurring point in the team’s findings. Many of the children were rolling over for the first time when they were found.

Here is additional information for further reading:

UAMAS Research into Baby Biomecanics Shows Issues with Infant Inclined Sleepers, University of Arkansas

After Infant Deaths, Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is Recalled, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog

More Infant Sleep Products Linked to Deaths, Consumer Reports

Consumer Product Safety Commission: No More Inclined Sleepers, Chicago Sun Times

Free Consultation – Boston Product Liability Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in plaintiff representation in product liability cases. We represent clients throughout Massachusetts, from Boston to Cambridge to Plymouth, Brockton and Cape Cod to the North Shore.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our firm at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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20191015-teendriving National Teen Driver Safety Week will begin Sunday. While your teen may learn about this topic at school, parents can also become involved and learn alongside teens. Parents influence their children in many ways. If you can influence the discussion on safe driving, you could save a life.

It’s a well-known and tragic fact: motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In 2017 alone, 2,526 teens were killed in crashes, according to the to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This is the 12th year that National Teen Driver Safety Week has been observed. Two Pennsylvania lawmakers, Congressman Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), introduced the legislation establishing the annual event in October 2007.

National Teen Driver Safety Week highlights many topics, including graduated licensing laws, distracted driving, speeding and obeying fundamental traffic laws. It also provides resources on helping teens through their first few weeks as a licensed driver, along with handling stressful and emotional driving situations, including car accidents. Visit teendriversource.org to learn more.

State Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Laws

We are going to write about graduating licensing laws because these are the foundation for teaching teens to drive safely. All 50 states have a law in place, but these vary in restrictions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Florida was the first state to adopt a graduated licensing law for teens in 1996. Massachusetts lawmakers approved a Junior Operator Law in 2007, which increased driving training requirements and penalties.

The law places restrictions on teens with licenses between the ages of 16 ½ and 18. First, as you may know if you are a parent, teens have to obtain a learner’s permit. Next comes 30 hours of classroom training on Massachusetts motor vehicle laws and safe driving techniques. Beyond the classroom, there is another 18 hours of instruction, including 12 hours behind-the-wheel and 6 hours of observation.

Here are some of the restrictions under the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law:

Passenger Restriction. Teens are not allowed to drive with other passengers under age 18 until they have been licensed for 6 months. There is an exception for siblings.

Night Driving Restriction. Another restriction is teens cannot drive between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Cell Phone Use Restriction. Teen drivers cannot use cell phones or mobile electronic devices. Texting while driving is also prohibited, for all other drivers in Massachusetts.

Teens can expect to receive a significant license suspension if they violate these restrictions. For instance, there is a 60-day license suspension if your teen is caught driving between 12:30 and 5 a.m. There is a 90-day suspension for a first offense of speeding. For the second offense, there is a full-year suspension.

Massachusetts’ Junior Operator Law violations

Visit teendriversource.org for more on National Teen Driver Safety Week.

Fewer Teen Drivers
In recent years, Massachusetts has actually reported a reduction in teen deaths and non-fatal injuries in drivers age 16 and 17. This is a positive development, except when you look closer. There has actually been an increase in hospital rates for crash injuries in drivers between 18 and 20 years old. The state and a Boston Globe analysis attribute this to the fact that many teens are now waiting to get their license until age 18. By doing so, teens can skip driver’s education, which became more expensive and time-consuming when the Junior Operator Law took effect.

If your teen delayed getting their license, make sure they take time to learn the fundamentals and get the practice they need. Driver’s education is a critical component to developing a safe driver.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Experienced Boston Car Accident Lawyers
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured in motor vehicle crashes in Massachusetts. With over 100 years combined experience, our car accident lawyers have the expertise to guide our clients to the best financial results in case involving motor vehicle accidents and truck crashes.

For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has settled a wrongful death case involving a crash at a shopping plaza which failed to protect pedestrians. He has settled the case for the victim’s family for $2.15 million.

The settlement is a reminder that retail property owners have a responsibility to take adequate steps to protect customers and other pedestrians in Massachusetts.

Our client was a 73-year-old man who was killed in 2015. That November, he had been leaving a store with a friend and was hit and killed by an 87-year-old driver. The driver had suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated through the parking lot and onto the sidewalk. Our client died immediately from his injuries, while his friend and another pedestrian were also injured.

Attorney Breakstone conducted a thorough investigation into the crash, which was captured on multiple surveillance cameras. Evidence suggested the elderly driver hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

As his investigation developed, Attorney Breakstone determined the owner of the shopping plaza had failed to provide adequate protections for pedestrians in the spot where our client was killed. This was significant because the owner had taken care to set up protections in other areas. Over the years, more than 30 bollards had been placed at the rear and side of the shopping building. Bollards had also been installed in front of another retail store, but not where the accident occurred.

Had the case gone to trial, Attorney Breakstone was prepared to call an engineering expert to testify that this was a breach of industry standards for providing safe walkways.

Read more about this case on our website.

About Attorney Marc L. Breakstone
Attorney Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts and New England.  He has been recognized as a Top 100 New England Super Lawyer, a Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyer and a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice. Read his bio.

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When properly used, child passenger safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal accidents by 71 percent for infants and by 54 for toddlers, according to the NHTSA.

Buying a car seat takes careful research. But most parents agree: the real hardship comes after you try to buckle your child up safely. While car seats are essential, they are anything but easy to use. And if you use them incorrectly, your child is left without proper protection.

All 50 states have laws requiring car seats for children. In Massachusetts, parents must secure their children in a federally-approved seat until they reach age 8 or over 57 inches tall. This is critical because car accidents are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For every 32 seconds in 2017, a child under 13 was involved in a passenger vehicle crash.

We are writing about car seats because the NHTSA and other organizations recently observed Child Passenger Safety Week nationwide from Sept. 15 to Sept. 21. If you missed it, we are sharing a few resources and tips. If you are a parent, don’t lose hope. There are a lot of resources out there. The best place to start is with your local police department. Many police departments offer free car seat inspections year-round by appointment.

Selecting a Safe Car Seat

The NHTSA offers a free online resource to help parents select the right car seat. Parents should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on age, weight and height recommendations for selecting car seats. NHTSA Find & Compare Car Seats

Types of Car Seats

Rear-facing seats. The NHTSA encourages children to use rear-facing seats up until age 3 or they reach the top of the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Always check your product manual for this information.

For the first 8 or 9 months, children should ride in rear-facing infant seats. The NHTSA then advises a move to a convertible or all-in-one seat, and that parents keep children rear-facing as long as they can.

As we said, it’s important to read your product manual and the manufacturer’s instructions. In past years, the recommendation was to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. But new research has led to a new recommendation. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced children can remain in rear-facing seats until they reach 40 pounds or more. While every child is different, this often comes after a child’s second birthday.

Forward-facing seats. Next, children will move into a harness and tether seat. This type of seat limits their forward movement if the car crashes. There are three types of forward-facing seats: convertible, combination and all-in-one.

Booster seats. These give children a boost so they can sit taller and safely use seat belts.

Without booster seats, seat belts can seriously injure children, causing abdominal bruising and injuries. Compared to seat belt use alone, booster seats are shown to reduce the risk for injury by 45 percent in children ages 4 to 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As with the other car seats, there are several types of booster seats: booster seats with high backs, backless booster seats, combination seats and all-in-on-seats.

In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law, adding the booster seat requirement until children reach age 8 or 57 inches tall. At that point, children can move to regular seat belts in the back seat.

Making this transition earlier can leave your child without proper protection and vulnerable to injury. Unfortunately, parents are making this mistake. About 26 percent of children were moved to seat belts too early, according to the NHTSA.

Car Seat Registration and Expiration

Make sure to register your car seat with the manufacturer so the company can contact you if there is a recall. Car seats are frequently recalled and these can be widespread recalls, including mislabeling or defective parts. In 2014, Graco recalled 3.7 million car seats due to defective buckles, disrupting families across the country.

Remember, car seats have expiration dates. Look for the sticker at the bottom. The expiration date should be about six years from the manufacture date.

Never use a car seat beyond the expiration date. While the seat may appear to be in good condition, the plastic and other parts wear from daily use and exposure to sun, making the product less effective in protecting your child.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured and killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others, including by car accidents. In 2013, we launched our Project KidSafe campaign to offer education and safety resources for children and families in Massachusetts. Learn more about Our Attorneys and our Project KidSafe campaign.

If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, learn your legal rights from one of our attorneys. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Nissan recall

Nissan has recalled 1.23 million vehicles because the backup camera displays are not working properly (Sept. 2019)

It is always wise to stay informed about your car and to regularly check for auto recalls. This was the lesson of the past decade and is sound advice again in 2019, as General Motors, Ford and Nissan have announced new safety defects.

General Motors Recalls
General Motors (GM) has issued several recalls during 2019, most notable 3.5 million SUVs and trucks with faulty brakes. This recall was announced in mid-September and was associated with 13 related injuries and 113 car crashes, according to Consumer Reports. This was a known problem in some GM models, including the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra pickup trucks and the Chevrolet Tahoe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating since November 2018, when it received complaints. General Motors has been repairing vehicles since December 2018. A Canadian recall was issued in June.

The GM vehicles have a defect with a powered brake-assist system, potentially impacting the amount of pressure required to stop. There are several warning signs: drivers may experience a vibrating brake pedal, hear a ticking noise or see a message reading “Service Brake Assist” on the dashboard. GM dealers can re-program the braking software at no charge.

Nissan Recalls
Don’t trust the backup camera display if you are driving a Nissan. The automaker has just recalled 1.23 million vehicles – including many of its most popular models – because the backup camera displays are not properly returning to their default settings. This recall involves 2018 and 2019 models of the Nissan Altima, Nissan Murano, Nissan Pathfinder, the Infiniti and numerous other models. No injuries were reported. Read more.

Ford Recalls
Ford has also made negative headlines. Back in January, the automaker called back 953,000 vehicles worldwide as part of the ongoing Takata airbag recall. More than 782,000 vehicles were in the U.S. market. The recall covers 2010 through 2014 models, including the Ford Edge, Ford Ranger, Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Mercury Milan and the Ford Mustang.

Automakers continue to recall the Takata airbags, which have caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of serious injuries. The deadly recall has now touched 41.6 million vehicles, according to the NHTSA. While these recalls were first announced years ago, the NHTSA says the repairs must happen in phases over time. Priority has been given to the oldest vehicles in Florida and other warm weather states.

In August, more bad news and another recall. Ford announced that more than 550,000 more trucks and SUVs in North America had glitches – the backseats were not providing proper restraints. Among the vehicles: certain 2018 through 2020 models, including F-150 pickups, Super Duty trucks, Explorer SUVs and Expedition SUVs.

Toyota Recalls
In August, Toyota recalled 135,000 Corollas and Matrix hatchback vehicles from model years 2005 to 2008, according to Cars.com. These vehicles had airbags which needed replacement due to the Takata recalls, but these repairs were previously made and were not related to the latest recall.

Check Your Vehicle for Safety Recalls
You can visit the NHTSA website to check if your vehicle has been subject to a recall.

Boston Product Liability Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is known as one of the best personal injury law firms in Massachusetts. We have extensive experience handing cases which involve car accidents, truck crashes and pedestrian injuries in Boston and other communities. In some cases, a defective part may contribute to a car crash and injuries. Our attorneys have investigated and aggressively represented clients in these cases, ultimately obtaining the financial compensation they deserve.

If you have been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Boston attorney David W. White

Attorney David W. White was interviewed by NBC Boston and said consumers are surrendering key rights when they enter into e-scooter agreements.

Electric scooters may look like an easy and convenient way to travel. But as they move into Massachusetts, there are definitely words of caution for riders.

Attorney David W. White was interviewed as part of NBC Boston’s coverage on e-scooters. He told NBC Boston’s Ally Donnelly that riders are often unaware of how vulnerable they are. If they are injured, they may look to their health insurance plan for coverage. But if they hit a pedestrian or cause property damage, they are on their own.

“You’re putting everything in the hands of the company and preserving essentially no rights for yourself whatsoever,” Attorney White said.

When riders accept a scooter company’s user agreement, they agree to resolve any issues through confidential arbitration with the e-scooter company and the maximum award is $100 – no matter what the situation.  In most cases, when someone is seriously injured, they may require medical expenses as well as other damages, such as lost wages and pain and suffering.

But he said, “The most they will ever give you if they give you anything is $100.”

NBC Boston interviewed scooter riders in Brookline who admitted they hadn’t read the user agreement. While it appeared tiny on a cell phone, NBC Boston found one agreement actually printed out to 50 pages.

Attorney White said, “Our legislature is a decade behind this issue. Our insurance industry is a decade behind this issue. Everyone should care about this.”

The Boston City Council approved scooter regulations last March. Meanwhile, the Town of Brookline launched its e-scooter pilot program last April, bringing 200 scooters to the road. The program continues through mid-November.

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Drunk driving accidents resulting in injury

The Massachusetts Legislature is being asked to reconsider a ignition interlock law for first-time OUI offenders.

Many of us recall when Massachusetts passed Melanie’s Law to increase penalties for drunk drivers. This was a landmark bill aimed at preventing drunk driving injuries and deaths.

Yet today, when it comes to drunk driving laws, Massachusetts now falls behind some expectations. While ignition interlock devices are mandatory for repeat drunk drivers, they are not required for first-time offenders.

Each year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) asks Massachusetts lawmakers to extend the requirement to first-time offenders. According to the advocacy organization, 119 people are killed each year in Massachusetts drunk driving crashes and that drunk driving fatalities account for 31 percent of all drunk driving deaths.

In January 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Karyn Polito included the measure in the administration’s road safety bill. According to the State House News Service, a hearing was held on the bill, but it remains to be seen if we will hear more this year. There was more than one bill filed this year, but no update since the summer.

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws
Massachusetts lawmakers passed Melanie’s Law in 2005 and this took effect in 2006. Named for the 13-year-old victim of a drunk driver, Melanie’s Law increased penalties for those charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. It also increased jail time in drunk driving accidents resulting in serious injury and death.

Melanie’s Law was the state’s introduction to the ignition interlock device, a small unit designed to detect alcohol on one’s breath. The device is electronically connected to the vehicle’s ignition and won’t allow drivers to operate if they are intoxicated. Over the past 13 years, ignition interlock devices have been installed for more than 17,000 drivers, according to Mass.gov.

According to MADD, ignition interlock devices stopped drivers 31,845 times in Massachusetts between December 1, 2006 and December 1, 2016.

State by State: Ignition Interlock Laws
The national debate over ignition interlock devices dramatically changed in 2013. This is when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new model guidelines encouraging states to pass requirements mandating use of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. States were also urged to establish a minimum period of time for use.

According to the National Conference for State Legislatures, 28 states and the District of Columbia now have mandates for all offenders. These include New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut. The ignition interlock law is slightly different in Maine. Rather than mandating use, first-time offenders are eligible to get their license back earlier (after 30 days) if they keep the ignition interlock installed for the remainder of their sentence.

Like Massachusetts, Rhode Island requires use of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders, though there are differences in the state laws.

Federal Law: Ignition Interlock
MADD isn’t the only organization pursuing ignition interlock devices. The Chicago Tribune reported a former NHTSA administrator was before Congress this summer, urging members to pass a law mandating automakers build vehicles with passive ignition interlock devices. According to the official, the technology has been available since 2006 and wider use could save up to 7,000 lives each year.

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers specialize in investigating all types of car accidents, including those caused by drunk drivers. With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented numerous drivers who have been struck by intoxicated drivers. In drunk driving claims, the injured person may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Additional compensation may also be available through other sources, including restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Pedestrian crashespedestrian-1200 have made devastating headlines in Boston and Somerville this past week. In Boston, a van struck two pedestrians at a feared intersection last Wednesday (Sept. 11th). One victim, a young woman, later died from her injuries. The next day in Somerville, a garbage truck critically injured a woman on the McGrath Highway.

As the investigations begin, many are questioning the traffic signals. In Boston, city officials responded quickly, with Mayor Marty Walsh already announcing changes at Melcher and Summer streets. This intersection is located in the Fort Point neighborhood near the Seaport District and South Boston.

Going forward, pedestrians will have a full right of way at the intersection.

According to WHDH, the traffic signal had been giving pedestrians the light to start crossing Summer Street. Then, drivers on Melcher Street were given the green light to turn while pedestrians were still crossing. Signage warned drivers to yield to pedestrians, but residents and businesses said this wasn’t enough. They worried about their safety and complained to city officials.

Boston Police are investigating. No criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the van.

The next day in Somerville (Sept. 14th), a woman was hit by a garbage truck and transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. The 34-year-old was hit on the McGrath Highway, at the intersection of Somerville Avenue. According to NBC Boston, the woman had been attempting to cross the street around 1:45 p.m., using the marked crosswalk. The garbage truck struck her as it turned.

As in Boston, State Police are investigating. No criminal charges have been filed against the driver.

As we wait to hear more, the Somerville News Weekly is reporting the traffic signal may have been re-synchronized the day after the truck crash. The report questions whether the driver and pedestrian had overlapping traffic signals, as was the case in Boston.

Somerville saw a new traffic pattern introduced earlier this year around the intersection, according to the news weekly. Traffic accidents have followed.

Both Somerville and Boston have seen pedestrian accidents resulting in serious injury and death this year. In Somerville, drivers have hit residents, then kept traveling.

In February, a 40-year-old educator was killed in the crosswalk at Hardan Road and Powderhouse Boulevard. The alleged driver, a Norwood man, never stopped and even went out for dinner later that evening. Days later, the police search came to an end when the man’s truck was found the vehicle parked in Somerville.

Another pedestrian was killed in July. The 52-year-old woman was struck along Mystic Avenue, near McGrath Highway and Stop & Shop. This time, the 64-year-old driver from Roxbury turned himself into Somerville Police the next day. The Boston Globe also raised questions about this traffic signal in its reporting, observing pedestrians had just 12 seconds to cross the busy area.

In late August, a 69-year-old man was seriously injured in the early morning hours on Mystic Avenue and Shore Drive. Another driver found him and stopped to help, according to WCVB. As in the other Somerville crashes, neighbors were stunned that the driver fled the scene.

In Boston, several pedestrians were injured by cars this summer. One area of concern has been Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. On June 23rd, a car collided with a pedestrian during the morning commute there. She died shortly later. In July, a Boston Public Health Commission hit a pedestrian in the same area, this time causing minor injuries.

Boston Pedestrian Car Crash Lawyers – Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those injured by car accidents and pedestrian accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation with our attorneys, contact 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston was recently mentioned in a Dedham Times article about the Dedham Bike Rodeo in August. Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign participated for the seventh year and donated more than 100 helmets to the kids. Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to helping children ride safely on bikes and protect against head injuries. Founded in 1992, our firm specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice cases across Massachusetts.

Article courtesy of The Dedham Times. Click link for full 2-page article.

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Red light crashes

Drivers who run red lights are causing a record number of deaths in Massachusetts and across the U.S., according to a new study.

While red means stop, we have all seen cars speed on, especially if you live in Boston. Our attorneys have represented countless clients who have been seriously injured or killed by another driver’s recklessness at intersections. Now, a new study reports running a red light is causing a record number of traffic fatalities across the United States. From AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  • Red light running crashes have reached a 10-year high in the U.S.
  • 939 people were killed when drivers sped through red lights in 2017, a 28 percent increase over 2012.
  • More than a quarter of all intersection accidents happen because drivers run red lights.
  • Nearly half of those injured in red light crashes were passengers or occupants of other vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for more than 5 percent of fatalities.
  • Over 35 percent of traffic deaths were red light running drivers themselves.
  • 85 percent of drivers consider it very dangerous to run a red light, yet one in three reported speeding through one in the past 30 days, according to AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index.
  • On the same note, nearly half (more than 2 out of 5 drivers) found it unlikely that they would ever be stopped by law enforcement.
  • Despite these responses, running a red light can have serious consequences, resulting in a possible insurance surcharge or criminal charges.

AAA officials count Americans driving more and distracted driving as two causes. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration reports more than 50 percent of fatal and injury crashes in the U.S. happen at or near an intersection.

Massachusetts Red Light Accidents

Red light crashes are a danger at Massachusetts intersections. From 2008 to 2017, Massachusetts lost 43 people when drivers ran red lights, according to Wicked Local. These deaths are just the drivers who were caught and are in addition to other injuries.

Safety Recommendations: Roundabouts and Traffic Cameras

AAA officials say roundabouts and traffic cameras could reduce the number of crashes. Massachusetts is actively working to convert rotaries into roundabouts, which are considered safer because they force drivers into the correct lanes. However, with more than 100 rotaries across Massachusetts, change will take time.

There is long-standing opposition to traffic cameras at Massachusetts intersections, even as AAA says traffic cameras have reduced fatal red light running crashes by 21 percent in large cities. Overall, traffic cameras have contributed to a 14 percent reduction in all fatal crashes at signalized intersections.

Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not have a state law permitting use on local intersections. While MassDOT operates traffic cameras along the MassPike, there is a battle over local intersections.

More than a decade ago, several Massachusetts communities attempted to pass ordinances allowing for red light cameras, among them Saugus, Lawrence and Springfield. South of Boston, Brockton also approved a local traffic camera ordinance. Traffic cameras were never installed. Citing privacy concerns, state lawmakers declined to pass the legislation necessary for these local ordinances to stand. Now years later, there are state lawmakers interested in similar legislation, so we may be revisiting the debate at some point. Here is one lawmaker’s blog.

Across state lines, you may find traffic cameras at red lights in Rhode Island, along with 19 other states. Rhode Island, however, does not have a state authorizing the use of speed cameras (Source: Governors Highway Safety Association).

AAA only recommends traffic cameras at intersections with demonstrated patterns of red light violations or high crash rates. Cameras should be part of broader traffic safety programs and drivers should be notified through signage and other methods.

Reducing Red Light Accidents in Massachusetts
Drivers have a responsibility to operate with care and pass other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians at a safe distance in Boston and every other community in Massachusetts.

The Boston area commute is stressful. Leaving your home a few minutes earlier was once an effective way to beat the traffic. Unfortunately, as traffic congestion has grown, you now have to leave even earlier in many Massachusetts communities and that isn’t always enough to beat the 2-3 hour commutes. But even in these conditions, practicing patience and putting down your cell phone are paramount to preventing red light crashes and distracted driving accidents causing injury or death. Always watch for pedestrians and cyclists, maintaining a safe distance at all times and taking extra care when approaching crosswalks and bike lanes. Remember you may not be able to see a pedestrian until that moment they step onto the road.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has been recognized for our superior results for clients. Founded in 1992, our law firm specializes in representing those who have been injured due to the negligence and wrongdoing of others. We specialize in handling cases involving car accidents and truck crashes in Boston, Cambridge, the South Shore, the North Shore and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your rights. Contact our firm for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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