Trouble in Toyland Report 2020Families often enjoy looking through toy catalogs together this time of year. After seeing what excites your child, you may be tempted to immediately order their holiday gifts. However, before you do, we encourage parents and grandparents to check the Trouble in Toyland report.

The 35th anniversary Trouble in Toyland report was recently released. This year, U.S. PIRG warned about the dangers of:

  • Mislabeled choking hazards
  • Flocked animal figures (toys with small attached pieces)
  • Recalled toys which may still be available online
  • Noisy toys
  • In-app purchases
  • Not advisable for children

Choking Hazards

Parents are advised to look for small part warnings on toys. “Small part” is not a subjective term. It is anything that fits within the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s toy test cylinder. The test cylinder measures 2.25 inches long and 1.25 inches wide and is roughly the size of a young child’s throat. A small part may be a game piece or a marble of the right size. It may also include a toy accessory, such as doll clothing.

The most common “small parts” warning: “WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD–Small Parts. Not for children under 3 years.” Toys designed for children ages 3 through 6 must also carry warning labels indicating they are not safe for children under 3.

Parents can become familiar with the risks by reading this year’s Trouble In Toyland. Make it a priority not to purchase a product with small parts and bring them into your home. Always read toy safety and age appropriate labels. Doing so puts you on a path to protect your family.

Flocked Toys

If you purchase a toy figurine or doll that comes with accessories, such as ribbons or clothing, remember your child can put those small parts in their mouths. Calico Critters – the popular animal family figures – are now under scrutiny.

One child was killed while playing with a set containing a small pacifier in New Mexico, according to a court filing. Another child in Utah also choked on the pacifier accessory, according to the a local news website, and shared in the Trouble in Toyland report. Both children were under 3 years old.

Fortunately, there are many versions of toys. If you find a toy you like and it has small fabric parts, keep looking until you find one without removable accessories.

Online Toy Shopping

Trouble in Toyland shared a valuable insight about searching for holiday toys on Amazon. If you search for “toys for 2-year-old boys,” for instance, you may see a number of listings which do not provide a small part warning. Do not trust that searching by year means toys are screened for safety. Remember, Amazon is a marketplace of merchants, not just one company. Closely look at product descriptions before making a purchase. In addition to reading reviews, you want to confirm the details. Look at the product picture, then read the description. Double check the product packaging once it arrives by mail and open it to confirm it has the parts you expected.

Beware of recalled toys as well. Since the 2019 Trouble in Toyland, the Consumer Product Safety Commissioned issued 10 toy recalls in the U.S., according to this report. When a product is recalled, it should be immediately removed from the store shelves and online listings. Some toys were still being sold online after recalls. Researchers even found one toy – a Fisher-Price Barbie Dream Camper which was recalled in February 2019 – still on sale. The camper was an outdoor riding toy for children. The CPSC received 17 reports of campers continuing to travel after the foot pedal was released.

Not Advisable For Children

Also featured was a section called, “items not advisable for children.” These items are not really toys, but are given to children as toys. At the top of the list is high-powered magnet desk sets. We wrote about the dangers of high-powered magnet sets last holiday season.  Magnet sets may seem like fun gifts for adults, but you should never purchase one because they are so dangerous and the small parts can stick around your home forever. Children can be tempted to play with these magnets and swallow them. At this point, the magnets can attempt to connect together in a child’s stomach. The magnets touched on some serious personal injuries.

In September 2020, a 9-year-old boy took two magnets from a Neutronball building set and placed them on his lip, pretending to have a piercing. He then swallowed them and had to seek medical treatment at a hospital. In May, another 9-year-old swallowed parts from a Zen Magnets LLC set. She hid this from her parents for a week, until she began suffering intense stomach pain. She required surgery, but survived.

Beware of Digital Apps

Parents may be asked to sign up for an app related to a “smart toy” their child received as a gift. Or a child may have received a tablet or cell phone and try to sign up for apps themselves.

While there is a case to be made for limiting your child’s screen time overall, beware of giving your child access to digital apps. These can be tempting and children may like the graphics and thought of winning a prize. The Trouble in Toyland report mentioned one app called Coin Master. This is rated for ages 13 and over, though the graphics may easily capture the attention of a younger child.

We are sharing this story because Coin Master offers in-app purchases. The most expensive option is $99.99. Children may only see higher options once they get into the game.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Toy Safety Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing individuals who have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. Our firm is highly experienced in the area of product liability and injuries caused by defective products. We are writing about holiday toy safety as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, where our goal is to protect children from injuries. For the past 8 years, our attorneys have also donated 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts to protect against head injuries.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Driver and an older pedestrian at a Massachusetts crosswalkIt is a fact: pedestrians age 65 and older face an increased risk for being injured by a car accident or truck crash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians of this age accounted for 1 in 5 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. They also suffered 1 in 10 percent of all injuries.

November, December and January are among the darkest months of the year in Massachusetts. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers caution all pedestrians take steps to protect themselves. Start before you leave home. One of the most effective steps you can take is to wear a neon colored vest, jacket or other accessories so drivers can see you.

Safety Tips for Older Pedestrians

Arrange for a Ride. During the winter months, ask a friend or family member to give you a ride to the store and help you with other errands. If you do not have someone, call your local town or city hall to speak to their Council on Aging, which may be able to help arrange you a ride. You can go back to walking in the Spring when there is better visibility.

Use Crosswalks. In Massachusetts, pedestrians have the right of way when walking across the street in a crosswalk which has a “Walk” signal or green light.

Do Not Cross the Street Alone. Look for areas where there is a crossing guard if you can. Also look for areas where there are other pedestrians crossing. Do an honest evaluation; if you are walking much slower than other pedestrians, you should only cross when there is a crossing guard or accept a ride.

Avoid Complicated Intersections. Rather than walking through complex intersections, either accept a ride or change your route for the winter months. Also stay clear of wide intersections or roads with traffic passing in both directions.

Be Mindful of Traffic Conditions. If you walk, do so during daylight hours and when traffic is lightest. This is not just advice for crossing the street. Keep this in mind when you are walking through parking lots, where there is a high risk for pedestrian accidents at night.

Find Another Way to Walk For Exercise. Many of us – young and older – like to incorporate some walking for exercise into our daily routines of work and errands. If you miss walking, find a way to walk off the street. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is not safe to work out at a health club or gym. You may have to explore other options for exercise this year, such as hiking or even just walking on a lawn. Again, we encourage you to ask friends, family members and others in your community for suggestions.

Safety Reminders for Drivers

Use Reasonable Care and Travel Slowly. Massachusetts drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care when driving. During the winter months, this means watching for pedestrians at all times, including when you get in your car and when you park. This is the time to utilize your vehicle’s back-up camera. Also watch when you exit your vehicle so you avoid dooring a pedestrian or a cyclist.

Travel Slowly. You cannot control all traffic conditions. But you can control your speed. By traveling slowly, even under the speed limit in residential neighborhoods, you have a greater ability to stop for pedestrians and avoid a pedestrian crash. This is important because older pedestrians are likely to take more time to cross the street. Many pedestrian car crashes occur because a driver misjudged the pedestrian’s speed.

Approach Familiar Places With Caution, Too. Take care even when driving near familiar places, such as a friend’s home, the pizza place down the street or a nearby grocery store. At night, there is a different traffic pace. During the pandemic, the pedestrian and vehicle traffic is changing weekly. There is a greater chance of car accidents in these conditions.

Be Aware of Eye Strain. If prescribed, drivers should wear their glasses at night. The rest of us should also be aware of the risks of eye strain and drowsiness at night. When possible, keep night driving trips short to keep your eyes strong.

Do Not Use Cell Phones. Months after the Massachusetts Hands-Free Driving Law took effect, drivers should know there is no tolerance for picking up a cell phone. The act of dialing a number and cradling a phone takes a driver’s attention off the road for at least several seconds. Drivers have caused many pedestrian crashes through cell phone use. On the same note, pedestrians should set aside cell phones while walking at night near traffic and minimize distractions.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented pedestrians injured by negligent driving in car accidents, bus crashes and truck collisions across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Somerville, Chelsea and Everett.

If you have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, learn your legal rights. Breakstone, White & Gluck is an accomplished Boston law firm known consistently recognized for our results for clients, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.

In Boston, we are known for our experience and expertise in representing pedestrians who have been injured in MBTA bus accidents. We won a landmark personal injury case, resulting in a $7.1 million verdict for our client, after trial and appeals to the state’s highest court. Our client had the horrific experience of being struck by a MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk. The driver had admitted fault, and the MBTA police investigation confirmed the finding. But the MBTA refused to even make an offer of settlement and our attorneys pursued an award at trial.

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

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Breakstone, White & Gluck - Boston personal injury lawyers

From left to right, our partners: Ronald E. Gluck, Marc L. Breakstone and David W. White. Breakstone, White & Gluck recently received two tier 1 rankings in the U.S. News “Best Law Firms” rankings. Our three partners were recognized this year individually in the annual Best Lawyers rankings in August. Our associate, Reza Breakstone, was also recognized in the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch list.

It is our pleasure to announce that Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston has received two Tier 1 rankings from the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2021 edition of “Best Law Firms.” The firm received a Tier 1 ranking in the specialty of personal injury litigation for plaintiffs in Boston. The firm also received a Tier 1 ranking in medical malpractice law for plaintiffs in Boston.

U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers compiles the “Best Law Firms” rankings annually to recognize firms for professional excellence and consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. A firm must have at least one attorney recognized on The Best Lawyers of America list to be eligible for a “Best Law Firms” ranking. All three of our partners – Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck – have been individually recognized, including by the 26th edition of The Best Lawyers in America, which was announced in August 2020.

Firms are recognized based on a rigorous evaluation process, including a collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from leading attorneys in a field and review of additional information law firms submit may submit for consideration. Awards are given in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan practice areas.

Recognized firms received a tier 1, tier 2 or tier 3 rating. Breakstone, White & Gluck received Tier 1 rankings in personal injury and medical malpractice and these reflect the highest level of respect a firm can earn among other leading leaders and clients in local communities and practice areas.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was recognized by Best Lawyers in August in medical malpractice law – plaintiffs, personal injury litigation – plaintiffs and professional malpractice law – plaintiffs.

Attorney David W. White was recognized by Best Lawyers in personal injury – personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, insurance law and medical malpractice law – plaintiffs.

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck was recognized by Best Lawyers in personal injury litigation – plaintiffs.

Attorney Reza Breakstone was recognized by Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch (2021) in medical malpractice law – plaintiffs.

More Recognition for Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston offers our clients more than 100 years combined experience in the handling of personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We are proud of our consistently strong results and to have achieved a high level of satisfaction from our clients. We invite you to read some of our client reviews or our case results in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice and car accidents.

Breakstone, White & Gluck been consistently recognized for our attorneys’ results for clients. Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms have mentioned our firm name in at least one practice area each year since 2011.

In addition, for the 17th year, our lawyers were recently selected to the annual Massachusetts Super Lawyers lists, as top rated Boston personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers. Breakstone, White & Gluck also earned a spot on the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list and has received past rankings on Top 100 New England Super Lawyers. The Top 100 lists are notable because they draw from attorneys across all practice areas, not just our firm’s specialties.

Our attorneys also maintain an AV rating – the highest rating for legal abilities and professional standards from Martindale-Hubbell.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers – Boston Medical Malpractice Lawyers

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

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For our consistently strong results for clients, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our attorneys have been recognized in the 2020 Super Lawyers rankings, including on the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list.

We are pleased to share this announcement with our clients, colleagues and friends. This is the 17th year our attorneys have been recognized as top-rated lawyers for plaintiffs in Massachusetts personal injury and medical malpractice cases.

Attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck founded our law firm 28 years ago in Boston. We have unique experience. Breakstone, White & Gluck has always been led by the same three partners, each with more than 35 years of individual experience. All of our partners are committed to reaching the best possible result for clients.

Many firms are willing to accept an insurance company’s best offer after a serious accident. But when our clients do not receive a fair offer, we are committed to taking cases to trial. Our attorneys are known for our trial skills and experience. We have successfully defended verdicts through the appeals stage and the Supreme Judicial Court, the highest court in Massachusetts.

As a firm, we have deep experience in representing those injured in car accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents. We have earned record-setting awards in medical malpractice, product liability and negligence cases in Massachusetts. Clients and their families have turned to us after serious and fatal construction site accidents and explosions caused by negligence. Our attorneys are detailed, thorough and experienced in investigating construction accident scenes, then demonstrating fault to insurance companies or in court. We also handle many cases involving premises liability and property owner neglect, including dog bites, slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents and catastrophic injuries resulting in brain injuries, paralysis and spinal cord injuries. In these cases, we work to help clients recover compensation for their short-term, then carefully evaluate and demonstrate long-term needs.

Marc L. BreakstoneMarc L. Breakstone specializes in representing plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice litigation. For 2020, he has received recognition on two lists: Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers (all practice areas) and as a Top-Rated Boston Super Lawyer in medical malpractice.

This is the 13th year that Attorney Breakstone has been recognized on the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list. He has been recognized pm the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers list 7 times, most recently in 2018 and 2019.

DW-250David W. White has been selected to the 2020 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston. A past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Attorney White has previously been selected to the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers 7 times and to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers on 3 occasions.

Ronald E. GluckRonald E. Gluck has been selected to the 2020 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston. Attorney Gluck has received Super Lawyers recognition each year since 2005. He serves on the Board of Trustees at the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. With his extensive experience representing cyclists and pedestrians injured in truck accidents, Attorney Gluck has collaborated with the Charles River Wheelers in 2020, writing The Gluck Legal Takeaway, a serious of safety articles for cyclists.

Super Lawyers is a rating service which recognizes outstanding lawyers in Massachusetts and other states. Selections are made using a multiphase process, including a statewide survey of lawyers, independent research and evaluation and peer reviews from within a practice area.

Our Super Lawyers web pages:

Marc L. Breakstone

David W. White

Ronald E. Gluck

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Teen considering drinking and driving, a leading cause of teen car accidents.

Teens are more likely to be killed in an alcohol-related crash than anyone else on the roads, according to the CDC.

Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, 2020. Breakstone, White & Gluck is sharing articles to encourage parents and teens to collaborate and discuss safe driving decisions.

As every parent well knows, it is not easy to talk to your teen about safe driving decisions. You may talk, while your teen just looks at your car keys. Despite the challenges, we encourage you to be patient and stay the course in these conversations, especially when it comes to discouraging drinking and driving.

Talk to your teen about their responsibilities. In Massachusetts, teens who are between 16 ½ and 18 are eligible for a junior operator’s license. Teens face special restrictions, such as they cannot carry friends who are under 18 without supervision for the first six months of driving. They are also banned from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. Like all drivers, junior operators are not allowed to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs  under any circumstances. They can face criminal penalties for operating to endanger/recklessly or while negligent. But the greatest danger is teens who operate while impaired are more likely to cause a drunk driving accident due to their impairment and poor choice.

We are writing about this because teens are more likely to avoid drinking and driving when they make the decision in advance, with a parent’s support, not to drink until they are 21.

Teach teens to respect the legal drinking age. In Massachusetts, you must be at least 21 years old to legally consume alcohol. Make sure your teen knows you expect them not to drink until they reach the legal age. Let them know they can talk to you or another family member if they face pressure to drink or someone offers them alcohol.

Be honest about why you want your teen to avoid alcohol. Explain that you want them to live the best life they can. As a teen, they are still developing physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally. As this happens, teens are still developing their values and their compass for making good decisions.

Consider this: those age 12 to 20 consume 11 percent of all alcohol in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because of their inexperience, teens are more likely to consume more drinks than an adult drinker.

Risk for injuries when teens drink and drive. Teens are more likely to be killed in an alcohol-related crash than anyone else on the roads, according to the CDC. In 2016, 1 out of 5 teens involved in fatal car crashes had been drinking.

Teens can put themselves at risk when they drive drunk,  but another danger is when they travel with friends who have consumed alcohol. According to the 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16.5 percent of high school students had traveled with a driver who had consumed alcohol in the previous month. This is a revealing number, but it gets worse.

Unfortunately, drinking and driving just paves the way for other poor decisions. According to the CDC, nearly 60 percent of the drivers age 15-20 who were killed in car crashes after drinking and driving weren’t wearing seat belts. Nearly a third of all male drivers in this age group were speeding when they crashed and 20 percent had been drinking and driving.

A teen who consumes alcohol, then causes a car accident resulting in injury may face criminal consequences. Parents can also be held liable for personal injuries if the victim pursues a claim against your car insurance policy or a civil lawsuit. For a teen, the experience of injuring another person is hard to recover from. It’s incredibly more painful when they were being reckless, such as operating under the influence of alcohol.

What you can offer your teen is support and guidance. Look for a teen-parent driving contract online for help. Review the agreement with your teen and make sure they know that you will always come pick them up if they need a ride. Also let them know that driving mistakes and accidents do happen. But you can’t support unsafe choices like drinking and driving, which endangers them and others on the road.

Other negative effects of teen drinking. The consequences of underage drinking are very real, even beyond driving. Teens who engage in underage drinking are more likely to suffer from social problems, such as high absentee rates and failing grades, face legal problems such as arrest and experience physical fatigue and hangovers, according to the CDC. They are also more likely to become the victim of a physical or sexual assault. There can also be a long term impact on their physical development.

Tell your child what every adult knows: delaying that first drink can make life’s hard experiences a little more manageable. Make sure they know you are proud of them and that they should feel good about their decision.

Never provide alcohol to your teens. On the same note, it is illegal to provide alcohol to your teen and their friends. If you allow your teen or others to drink in your home and someone is injured as a result, you could face criminal arrest and even jail time under Massachusetts social host liability laws. There are many stories of parents who have allowed this or even supplied the alcohol. Sometimes, parents have thought it is better to keep teens close if they are going to drink. But this is a dangerous thought and you could end up financially responsible for a very painful situation.

Likewise, make sure you know where your teen is going and with whom. It doesn’t help your teen to spend time at a friend’s home where alcohol is readily available or where their parents or older siblings are frequently drinking in the home.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers provide aggressive and thorough representation to those injured by the negligence of other drivers across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our Boston car accident lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

To learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign and our National Teen Driving Safety Week articles, visit www.bwglaw.com/project-kidsafe.com.

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Driving in groups, teens face greater risks for car accidents.

For safety, teens are not allowed to drive with their friends for the first six months of holding a driver’s license in Massachusetts.

Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, 2020. Breakstone, White & Gluck is sharing articles to encourage parents and teens to collaborate and discuss safe driving decisions.

In Massachusetts, drivers who are at least 16 ½ are eligible to receive their driver’s license after a six-month permit period. Because Massachusetts has a Junior Operator Law, teens do not immediately assume full driving privileges. There are restrictions to help reduce the risk of teen car accidents, including one on passengers.

For the first six months, Massachusetts junior operators are not allowed to travel with friends and others under age 18, unless accompanied by another driver who is at least 21 years old and meets other requirements mentioned in statute below. There is an exemption for siblings and family members. The passenger restriction is a critical part of the law, giving teens more time to learn road skills without the distraction of friends.

M.G.L. c.90 § 8 states, “No person holding a junior operator’s license shall operate a motor vehicle during the first 6 months of licensure while a person under 18 years of age, other than the operator or an immediate family member of the operator, is present in the vehicle unless also accompanied by another person, duly licensed by his state of residence, who is at least 21 years of age with at least 1 year of driving experience and who is occupying a seat beside the driver.”

The passenger restriction should be taken seriously. As we discuss below, the distractions of carrying other teens combined with driver inexperience, can contribute to the risk for car accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries and paralysis, and death. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The junior operator law attempts to give teens more time for practice.

If stopped for carrying unlawful passengers, teens can lose their license for 60 days for the first offense. For the second offense, drivers face a 180-day license suspension and must attend driver attitudinal retraining. There is a one-year license suspension and driver attitudinal retraining for subsequent offenses.

More Passengers, More Risk for Crashes

Research has shown teens need the extra time driving without their friends.

Compared to no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old’s risk for death per mile increases 44 percent when they carry just one passenger under the age of 21, according to the AAA Foundation for Road Safety. The risk doubles when a teen driver carries two passengers younger than 21. The death rate quadruples when there are three or more passengers.

The older the passenger, the less risk for a car accident. There is a 62 percent decrease for a crash when a passenger age 35 or older is aboard. Take this statistic as motivation to give your teens the keys as you ride along. If you develop a good routine with them, you can help them build a full range of driving skills.

As they become more skilled, reward them by letting them drive to new places – a special lunch spot or a scenic view. This helps them build skills, learn responsibility and find some enjoyment from driving. With more time, they can practice fundamentals, such as how to turn through that intersection near your home, how to check for cyclists and how to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. When teens drive with their friends, they are less likely to give these things their full attention.

Come Up With a Driving Plan for Your Teen

The takeaway is come up with a plan for your family. If your teen just earned their Massachusetts junior operator license, the state says they are not allowed to drive with friends under 18 for the first few months but that they can drive with their siblings right away. Remember, the law is a guide. This is your choice to make based on what your teen and their siblings are ready for. Your goal is to help your teen steer clear of car accidents. Think about each situation before you say yes.

When your teen is allowed to start driving passengers under 18, take another pause. The data still shows fewer passengers is safer.

You may want to start slow. Allow your teen to drive with just one friend. Choose a friend who is responsible, trustworthy and has a parent whom you know well and shares your views on raising safe and responsible teen drivers.  That parent should also share your views on open communication. If something should happen and your teen should find themselves at risk, you want your teen and their friend to both feel they can call for a ride.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has decades of experience representing by negligent driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, we work to protect children and families. Each year, we write about National Teen Driver Safety Week to encourage parents and teens to talk about safety on the roads.

If you have been injured and want to consult a Boston car accident lawyer, you can visit our website or contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 for a free legal consultation. You can also use our contact form.

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Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, 2020. Breakstone, White & Gluck is sharing articles to encourage parents and teens to discuss safe driving decisions.

Teen driver wearing a seat beltSeat belts are a simple step for safety. As a parent, you probably remind your child to buckle their seat belt before each ride. But when your teen becomes a licensed driver, you won’t always be there. Still, what you say matters. Teens are twice as likely to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger when parents set rules and monitor their driving behavior, according to the Teen Driver Source website, which is operated by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Tell your teen you expect them to wear a seat belt whenever they travel in a motor vehicle. This includes when they drive and when they are traveling as a passenger. As a second step, put this in writing. Find a teen driving safety agreement with your teen and state this is one of your expectations. If you catch your teen driving without their seat belt, you can step back their access to the keys until you have a discussion.

Seat belts are required by law. Wearing a seat belt is required by law in Massachusetts. Drivers and their passengers must both wear seat belts.

Seat belts protect against deadly force. The goal isn’t to scare your teen. But the reality is cars, trucks and other vehicles are heavy and powerful machinery. We all need to wear seat belts to protect against the potential force of a car crash.

Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, according to Teen Driver Source. They also reduce the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.

Seat belts also reduce the risk of ejection from the vehicle. Those who do not wear seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a traffic crash, according to Teen Driver Source. When a person is ejected from their vehicle, they are more likely to die in a crash. This was the case for 3 out of 4 people.

How seat belts prevent injuries. Seat belts are designed to spread crash forces across the stronger bony parts of the body, including the shoulders, rib cage and pelvis, according to the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They are also designed to prevent occupants from being ejected from a vehicle.

Drivers and passengers should all wear seat belts – to protect themselves and each other. If there is an accident and one of the vehicle’s occupants is not wearing one, they could be ejected and increase the risk of injury to others in the vehicle.

In a frontal crash, drivers and front passengers are left at an increased risk for injury if the back-seat passengers are not wearing seat belts. Exposure to unbelted occupants increases the risk of injury or death to other vehicles by 40 percent, according to the IIHS.

More People Are Wearing Seat Belts in Massachusetts

The good news is more people appear to be wearing seat belts in Massachusetts. In 2018, the state conducted a seat belt usage observation study, reporting 81.58 percent of drivers and front outboard passengers were observed to be wearing seat belts. This was 7.9 percentage points over the year before and the highest ever observed rate in Massachusetts.

To reach this number, the state observed 28,265 drivers and front outboard passengers in 24,2145 vehicles at 147 observation locations. You can learn more by reading the study.

According to the IIHS and other organizations, states with primary enforcement seat belt laws have higher seat belt use rates. In 2019, the IIHS reported states with primary enforcement laws saw 91 percent seat belt use compared to 86 percent. Massachusetts has a secondary enforcement seat belt law, meaning police can stop drivers for traffic violations, then issue citations for failure to wear seat belts. But police cannot stop drivers just because they are not wearing seat belts.

If you are parent or teen, we hope this is good background information. The point is you should wear your seat belt every time you ride – and encourage others to do the same.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for the rights of those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. Our attorneys specialize in the handling of car accidents, truck accidents and bus collisions in the Boston area. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

To learn more about teen driving safety and other topics, please visit our Project KidSafe campaign page.

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20191015-teendrivingMotor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Each year, National Teen Driver Safety Week highlights safety insights for families and teens. This year, the event runs from October 18-24th. We encourage you to follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Teen Driver Source for more information. Teen Driver Source is operated by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadephia, which offers Facebook and Twitter feeds.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the greatest dangers teen drivers face are: alcohol consumption, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding and driving with passengers in the vehicle. This year, COVID-19 has introduced a new concern. Teens are driving far less and risk losing core skills. This is where National Teen Driver Safety Week comes in as an important resource this year.

Driving Safety Contract. If you follow Teen Driver Safety Week, you may learn about teen driver contracts. You can also print this parent-teen driving contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Make your own edits and ask your teen to sign as a condition for using your vehicle. Give your teen a copy of the document to file away and review. This is a good way to lay out  expectations for your teens and what will happen if they violate the agreement.

Make Sure Teens Get Enough Driving Time. If teens are not driving as much during COVID-19, they risk falling behind on fundamental skills. To prevent this, encourage your teen to drive regularly. When you go out with your teen, split the driving responsibilities so you know they are logging at least some time behind the wheel and you can monitor their progress.

Hold back judgment and sharp comments if you see some of their skills have regressed. This may happen. Just help them get practice in where they need it. Take advantage of empty parking lots and slower times of the week. You can get them back on track.

Drive Around Town With Your Teen. When you can, walk and drive around your community with your teen, including during the morning and afternoon commutes. This gives your teen a preview of what may come when they pull out of the driveway alone. You may see more pedestrians and cyclists in areas. You may see parking changes and restaurants offering sidewalk service. Share observation with your teens and try to make helpful suggestions to help them drive safely and avoid car accidents.

Stress the Importance of Slowing Down. Speed is a factor in nearly 30 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers, according to AAA. Teens often have a heavy foot on the gas pedal and this only changes as they gain experience. For now, if teens can simply slow down, they can significantly reduce their risk of a collision.

Start by helping your teen recognize speed limits because they are not always posted right in front of them. While they should have learned this in driver’s ed, new drivers can use a reminder from time to time. Massachusetts sets a default speed limit of 30 mph in thickly settled and business areas, unless posted otherwise or an individual community has opted to lower the speed to 25 mph. School zones and work zones are 20 mph.

Encourage your teen to travel at or below the speed limit, especially in residential neighborhoods. By doing so, they reduce their risk of causing a car accident due to inexperience in the first few months or year of driving. They reduce their chance of causing themselves or someone else serious injuries and all the emotions and stress.

Reduce Distractions. Slowing down is the most effective tool for safe driving. It’s also important to reduce distractions. This means setting aside cell phones and limiting conversation with passengers in the vehicle. Sure, your teen is going to engage in discussion with others in the car. But try to make conversation lighter and focus more on observation, such as, “I see cars backing up at the traffic light ahead” or “there is an ambulance coming.” Save heavy discussion for before or after the drive.

Safety Steps Near Pedestrians and Cyclists. Teens may struggle to drive near pedestrians and cyclists. Every few weeks, drive through school zones and busy areas with your teen again, just as a refresher. Show them how you stop at crosswalks for pedestrians and leave room in anticipation of pedestrians. Instead of chatting at traffic lights, use this time to show your teen how to check for cyclists. More and more people have been cycling over the past decade in Massachusetts. This likely increased during COVID-19 and will likely continue. The reality is cars are not the only vehicle on the roads. Cyclists have the right to travel in the road too. You can really help your teen by teaching them to look for cyclists.

Buckling Up. Teens and young adults have the lowest rates of seat belt use, according to the CDC. Almost half of all drivers age 15-20 who died in car crashes were not wearing seatbelts in 2017, according to the CDC. During COVID-19, your teen may go long periods of time without driving or traveling in the car. Remind your teen – and all your family members – to always buckle up.

Boston and Cambridge Car Accident Lawyers – Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by negligent driving. If you have been injured in a car accident and someone else was responsible, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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View from Inman Square, Cambridge

View from Inman Square, Cambridge, once ranked the top bike crash site in Massachusetts, according to MassDOT crash data. Photo: 2017, after installation of new bike lanes.

With strong encouragement from local cyclists, the Cambridge City Council voted to expand and update the Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance this week. The council approved the original ordinance last year, drawing national attention with an ambitious commitment to build 20 miles of protected bike lanes.

But cyclists felt there was more work to do. They recently asked the Cambridge City Council to prioritize areas for protected bike lane development, add new roads and establish a deadline for improvements.

  • The Cambridge City Council approved a May 1, 2026 deadline for building out Cambridge’s network of protected bike lanes (now 22.6 miles), using either permanent construction or quick-build approaches (Source: Cambridge Bicycle Safety announcement dated October 6, 2020).
  • Protected bike lanes will also be added in more areas, including Broadway, between Harvard University and Kendall Square, and Garden Street, according to according to StreetsBlog Mass.
  • City councilors also voted to prioritize bike lane development in the area north of Harvard Square, directing city staff to develop a detailed plan by May 2021. Hampshire and Cambridge streets, near Inman Square, will also now move up on the work list (Source: StreetsBlog Mass).

The vote comes several weeks after a cyclist was killed in Harvard Square. In August, a large tractor-trailer struck and killed the male cyclist on Massachusetts Avenue, near Brattle Street. Just a year ago, in September 2019, another bicycle accident resulted in a female cyclist’s death in the area.  A devastated family member later wrote a guest column in a local newspaper, urging the city to make safety improvements in Harvard Square.

The City of Cambridge has been studying traffic in congested Harvard Square. After the cyclist’s death in August, a city official stated Cambridge will add a separated bike lane and reduce travel lanes on Massachusetts Avenue, between the Harvard Square Kiosk and Harvard Square (Source: The Boston Herald, August 26, 2020).

Harvard Square is known for historic buildings and iconic shops, such as The Coop, the Harvard University bookstore. Adjacent to Harvard Yard and Harvard University, the square is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street. The MBTA red line stops there and pedestrians and cyclists are in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic, buses and trucks.

Other Cambridge Bicycle Accidents

The Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a volunteer group, has led the effort for expanding protected bike lanes across the city. Its announcement noted this was the first mandatory timeline for building a bike lane network in the United States.

Safety is a leading concern for cyclists in Cambridge. Between residents and commuters, Cambridge has a high number of cyclists. When cyclists have been injured or killed in traffic accidents, many people have felt the impact. There has been a strong response in each case.

In June 2016, a 27-year-old cyclist was tragically hit and killed in a bicycle crash in Inman Square. The woman was struck by a Jeep Cherokee’s open door, then pushed into the travel lane, where she was ultimately struck by a moving dump truck, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Then, in October 2016, a cyclist was fatally injured in Porter Square. The cyclist was struck by a tractor-trailer and a sedan during a morning ride. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

After these crashes, a Cambridge resident campaigned to encourage drivers to use the Dutch Reach method before exiting their vehicles. This method encourages drivers to take a full look at the road from their seat, so they do not risk “dooring” a cyclist.

As a result of his campaign, the state of Massachusetts added instruction on the Dutch Reach method to the state driver’s manual to educate drivers.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston and Cambridge Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in the representation of cyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. Our attorneys offer more than 100 years combined experience handling all types of bicycle accidents, including truck crashes injuring cyclists, intersection bike accidents, right hook crashes and dooring. We help cyclists obtain compensation for recovery, including for medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering.

But our attorneys do more than represent cyclists. We are committed to improving safety for cyclists in the Boston area. We have long supported local cyclist clubs. And through our Project KidSafe campaign, we have donated 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts, including in partnership with the Cambridge Police Department. The League of American Bicyclists has honored us as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

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

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Massachusetts Car AccidentAs employees work from home and schools offer remote learning, traffic volumes remain low across Massachusetts. This may mean less stressful driving at times. Yet it can also lead to an increased risk of car accidents caused by speeding.

Across Massachusetts, traffic volumes are 20 percent lower than last year at this time, according to a MassDOT presentation this month. In some areas, traffic is even lighter. For instance, in the City of Boston, traffic is down as much as 48 percent.

North of Boston, there is an 18 percent decrease in traffic right now, according to the presentation. South of Boston, there is a 19 percent drop in MassDOT District 5, which includes Plymouth County, Bristol County and the Cape and Island. West of Boston, the decreases range from 28 percent to 18 percent.

If you commute, a MassDOT official said there is no peak traffic hour right now. This is true during both the morning and the afternoon/evening commutes. There is a consistent bump in traffic during these times, but nothing near pre-COVID 19 traffic levels.

An easier drive into Boston would be welcome news if not for COVID-19.

Boston is known for traffic gridlock. Many publications and websites have ranked the city’s driving experience among the worst in the U.S. Most recently, we earned a new honor, when WalletHub ranked Boston the 83rd worst of 100 driving cities.

According to the survey, Boston drivers log the most hours sitting in traffic congestion each year, along with drivers in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The rankings also noted Boston drivers are more likely to have a car accident than those in other cities.

Boston was ranked among the top 5 cities where drivers were most likely to have a traffic crash. This list also included the California cities of Oakland and Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

Speeding Accidents

Right now, there are fewer cars on the road. This may sound safer.

But NECN recently reported on the dangerous trend of drivers speeding into open roads. In Iowa, the state patrol recorded a 101 percent increase in drivers speeding 100+ mph from January through August. There was also a 75 percent increase in tickets for drivers who were traveling 25 mph or more over the speed limit.

In California, the highway patrol issued more than 15,000 tickets from mid-March through August 19 for speeding over 100 mph. This was a 100 percent increase over the same period in 2019.

Then, there is Ohio. Between April and September, state troopers issued 2,200 tickets to drivers traveling more than 100 mph between April and September. This marked a 61 percent increase from the same time last year. The highest speed was a stunning 147 mph.

Speeding can cause serious and fatal injuries, even when traffic is light. In April, there were 28 deaths, compared to 27 in April 2019 – despite half the traffic.

Like other states, Massachusetts has seen an alarming number of drivers cited for speeding. In March and April alone, Massachusetts police issued 15,071 speeding citations, including 259 drivers traveling at 100 miles or more, according to a Boston Herald report.

Police cited 1,035 drivers for traveling speeds of 90 mph to 100 mph. Another 2,518 were traveling between 80 and 90 mph.

Some of the fastest drivers were traveling even faster, at unbelievable and unsafe speeds. In Stoughton, a driver was caught traveling 140 mph in a 65 mph zone. Two other drivers reached 130 mph speeds in Ludlow and North Attleboro. On Cape Cod, a driver was caught traveling 125 mph.

Speeding is highly dangerous. MGL c.90, § 17 states, “No person operating a motor vehicle on any way shall run it at a rate of speed greater than is reasonable and proper, having regard to traffic and the use of the way and the safety of the public.”

Drivers have a duty to use reasonable care in Massachusetts. This means traveling the speed limit or slower when necessary for safety, even when there is no sign posted. In Massachusetts, cities and towns have a default speed limit of 30 mph in thickly settled or business districts. In 2016, the state passed the Municipal Modernization Act allowing communities to lower default speed limits to 25 mph. Many communities have done so and enjoy the improvements. Near schools and work zones, the speed limit is 20 mph.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Crash Attorneys

If you have been injured, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced car accident lawyer. Since 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented those injured by negligent driving across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and the South Shore, the North Shore, Plymouth, Brockton and Cape Cod.

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

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