Should Cyclists Have to Stop at Red Lights in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, there was recently a discussion about bicycles and red lights. Specifically, should cyclists be allowed to travel through red lights when it is safe to do so?

Massachusetts law states every person operating a bicycle “shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth.” M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B. Cyclists have a responsibility to stop at red lights, just like drivers, whether they are traveling in the traffic lane, bike lane or in other situations. But bicycles and motor vehicles face much different road conditions, even as they travel alongside each other.

There are times when cyclists need flexibility to travel safely. Sometimes yielding, rather than coming to a full stop at a red light, can help a cyclist avoid a serious injury or help the overall flow of traffic on the road.

Traditionally, many Massachusetts police departments have not conducted enforcement. Until last summer, when the Somerville Police Department stopped 198 cyclists and issued written warnings for cyclists, according to NBC Boston. Somerville Police said the effort – funded by a state safety grant – was about education.

This move drew strong criticism in Somerville and across the Boston area, where many ride bicycles and parking is limited. In July, the Somerville City Council approved a measure calling for the Somerville police chief to adopt a policy of de-prioritizing enforcement of cyclists who treat read lights as stop signs when it is safe to do so. This measure was sent to the city’s traffic and parking committee for review.

The measure mentioned the “Idaho Stop,” though one city councilor said the goal is de-prioritization, not to pass a traffic law, because the city has discretion over enforcement.

What is the Idaho Stop Law?

  • Passed in 1982, the “Idaho Stop Law” allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
  • Idaho was the only state to pass a law for decades. Since 2017, at least seven other states have passed similar laws. We say similar because most of these states have passed laws allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs, but have not changed laws at red lights, according to a 2023 update from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington all have laws that allow cyclists to yield at stop signs. Just two – Idaho and Oklahoma – have passed laws for both red lights and stop signs.

Stop-as-Yield Laws Associated with Fewer Bicycle Accidents

Massachusetts lawmakers passed vulnerable road user protections into law last December. As a result, drivers must now give cyclists, pedestrians and a list of others at least 4 feet of space when passing. This is a major change for safety.

“Stop-as-yield” laws could be another step for safety. The NHTSA reports these laws are associated with lower rates of bicycle injuries.

In the 1980s, Idaho reported a 14.5 percent decline in bicyclist injuries in the year after the Idaho Stop Law. Decades later, Delaware passed a more limited law allowing cyclists to yield at stop signs. In the first 30 months, there was a 23 percent reduction in bike crashes at stop sign intersections.

Free Legal Consultation – Contact a Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Breakstone, White & Gluck has helped cyclists who have been injured by negligent driving across Massachusetts since 1992. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights for recovering compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and other financial losses. Our attorneys may also be able to advise you if you have been injured and need to replace a damaged bike. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Why You Should Pay Attention When There is a Recall of Your Vehicle

Why You Should Pay Attention When There is a Recall of Your VehicleGovernment regulations aimed at promoting safety are crucial due to the high number of motor vehicles on U.S. roadways. The primary goal is to save lives by ensuring the safe operation of vehicles. When manufacturers discover a defect or issue that affects the intended functionality of a vehicle, they may initiate a recall.

Vehicle recalls impact millions of drivers annually. It is important to understand your legal rights if you sustain injuries in a car accident caused by a recalled vehicle or if your own vehicle is subject to a recall. It is crucial to be aware of your legal rights if you are involved in a car accident caused by a recalled vehicle or if your own vehicle is subject to a recall. Understanding these rights will help you navigate the legal process and seek appropriate compensation for any injuries sustained.

What are a consumer’s rights if they are dealing with an auto defect or recall?

As a vehicle owner, it is essential to understand and assert your rights. The first step is to check for any recalls associated with your vehicle. If a safety-related defect is identified in the design or manufacturing of an automobile, the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may issue a recall. This ensures that owners of the affected vehicles have the right to bring their cars to authorized dealerships for free repairs or replacements of the defective parts.

If your vehicle was initially defective at the time of purchase and caused injuries while being used as intended by the manufacturer, you may have grounds for a product liability claim in Massachusetts. Unlike many other types of lawsuits, in a product liability suit, there is no need to prove that the manufacturer acted negligently or made mistakes during the production of the car. Simply demonstrating that the vehicle was defective, and that the defect caused harm, may be sufficient to pursue a claim for compensation.

Understanding your rights as a vehicle owner empowers you to take appropriate action in the event of a recall or if you have suffered injuries due to a defective vehicle. It is advisable to consult with a qualified attorney who focuses on product liability to evaluate your case and determine the best course of action to seek the compensation you deserve.

What are your options if your car has been recalled?

Taking action and reporting any potential safety defects in your vehicle or equipment is crucial to promote road safety. By reporting such concerns to the NHTSA, you initiate an essential first step towards addressing the issue and improving overall safety on our roads. If the agency receives multiple reports from different individuals regarding the same product, it may indicate the presence of a safety-related defect that warrants an investigation.

To make it convenient for consumers to report suspected safety defects to NHTSA, the agency provides two avenues for filing such complaints. These options are designed to ensure ease of access and encourage individuals to report their concerns promptly. By utilizing these reporting mechanisms, you contribute to creating a safer environment for all road users. Reporting safety defects is an important responsibility, and your action plays a significant role in helping identify and address potential risks associated with vehicles and equipment.

What can happen if you choose to not get your recalled car fixed

Failing to address a vehicle recall and subsequently being involved in an accident can expose you to legal consequences. Injured parties, including motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians, have the right to file a negligence claims if they can demonstrate that your negligence in ignoring the recall contributed to the accident. As the owner of a vehicle, you have a duty to maintain the vehicle in a reasonably safe manner. This includes having product defects promptly remedied by an authorized dealer.

If your vehicle is in a collision, and the injuries from the collision were caused at least in part by a defect in the vehicle, and if you had failed to have the vehicle repaired, you may have exposed yourself to liability. If a claim is brought against a manufacturer or dealer, the defendant may bring you into the case (“implead” you). And you may be found jointly and severally liable if you are found to have been negligent.

How can a Boston-based product liability attorney help with these matters?

If you believe you have a legal claim to pursue concerning a recalled vehicle and any injuries you may have sustained because of that vehicle, it is crucial to consult with an experienced product liability attorney. It is essential that you act swiftly, so critical evidence is not lost or destroyed. Preservation of evidence is extremely important, and failure to do so may result in a finding against you for “spoliation.” It is important to keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts is three years.

When selecting a product liability lawyer, it is crucial to choose someone who possesses a thorough understanding of the intricate laws and nuances within this heavily regulated field. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we have the necessary resources and experience to effectively evaluate and handle your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys have a well-established network of experts in product liability who can serve as consultants and witnesses when needed.

Our firm understands the importance of taking care of the necessary legal details, ensuring that you have the peace of mind to concentrate on your healing process. We are committed to supporting you throughout the legal process, providing the necessary guidance and advocacy to pursue the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at our office in Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676, or use our contact form.

Social Media and Product Liability

The Internet has revolutionized global connectivity, enabling individuals worldwide to connect, share ideas, and engage in advocacy efforts without significant resources or specialized technical skills. This remarkable ability to communicate online, whether through blogs, social media platforms, or educational and cultural platforms like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive, is not a mere coincidence. It stems from the recognition by Congress that in order for user-generated speech to flourish on the Internet, it is crucial to safeguard the services that empower and facilitate such expression.

However, while securing free speech is important, it is critical that proper protection is taken in order to safeguard users, especially children, from harmful content. Revelations brought forward by whistleblower Frances Haugen and a series of studies have triggered a wave of class actions and lawsuits against social media companies. These lawsuits aim to hold these companies accountable for the alleged harms caused to children, particularly teenage girls, by their platforms’ algorithms. The disclosed internal documents suggest that social media platforms were aware of the potential harm to mental health, including issues related to body image, caused by their platforms.

What is Section 230?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects the freedom of expression on the internet and shields online intermediaries from liability for the speech of others. It recognizes that individuals should be responsible for their own actions and statements online, while platforms and services should not be held accountable for the content generated by users. The law promotes user speech by preventing most civil suits against users or services based on third-party content.

Section 230’s protections are not absolute and do not cover companies that violate federal criminal law, create illegal or harmful content, or infringe on intellectual property rights. For over 25 years, Section 230 has played a vital role in safeguarding the free and open internet. It has been instrumental in protecting small blogs, big platforms, and individual users from lawsuits related to forwarding email, hosting online reviews, or sharing objectionable content.

What are the issues with Section 230?

While Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides crucial protections to social media platforms by shielding them from liability for user-generated content, it does not address the issue of negligent design and the potential role of these platforms in fostering illicit and dangerous content on the internet.

Section 230 primarily focuses on establishing a legal framework that encourages the free flow of user speech by limiting the liability of platforms for the actions and statements of their users. However, critics argue that it fails to adequately address the responsibility of social media companies in designing and maintaining their platforms in a way that prevents the proliferation of harmful or illegal content.

There is growing concern that social media platforms, while not directly responsible for the content posted by users, may have a level of accountability when it comes to their platform design choices and policies. Negligent design refers to situations where the design or functionality of a platform contributes to the facilitation or amplification of illicit and dangerous content, such as hate speech, disinformation, harassment, or illegal activities.

Critics argue that social media companies should be more proactive in implementing robust moderation mechanisms, content policies, and algorithmic systems to prevent the spread of harmful content. Negligent design claims suggest that platforms have a duty to consider the potential risks associated with their design choices and take reasonable measures to mitigate those risks.

Can I file a product liability claim against a social media company?

Product liability lawsuits have traditionally been employed to seek justice and hold manufacturers accountable for injuries caused by defective products. However, the application of product liability laws in the context of social media websites is an evolving area of legal exploration. While social media platforms may not fit the traditional definition of a physical product, there are growing discussions around the possibility of using product liability theories to address the harm caused by these platforms.

Product liability lawsuits generally require demonstrating that a product was defective and that the defect caused the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. In the case of social media companies, the concept of a “defective product” may be expanded to include design flaws, algorithmic biases, inadequate content moderation, or the failure to implement sufficient safety measures on their websites. These factors can contribute to the proliferation of harmful content, including misinformation, hate speech, cyberbullying, or other forms of online harm.

To pursue a product liability claim against a social media company, it would be necessary to establish a causal link between the platform’s online design or policies and the harm suffered by the plaintiff. This could involve demonstrating that the platform’s intentional or negligent actions created an environment that facilitated the harm or failed to provide adequate protections for users.

Finding justice through product liability lawsuits against social media websites may provide an avenue to hold these platforms accountable for the harm caused by their design choices, policies, or implementation failures. However, it’s important to recognize that this area of law is still evolving, and legal challenges may arise in applying traditional product liability principles to digital platforms. Discussions around the limitations of Section 230 and the need for regulatory reforms aim to address these concerns and hold social media platforms accountable for their role in nurturing illicit and dangerous content on the internet.

The Boston attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck are invested in this growing and developing form of holding social media websites accountable for certain damage and harm caused to children, particularly teenage girls, by their platforms’ algorithms. If social media platforms are aware of the potential harm to mental health, including issues related to body image, caused by their platforms, then they need to be held liable so that families and individuals may receive restitution.

If you have been injured or suffered a loss as a result of a defective product, the skilled product liability lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck are here to assist you. We have extensive experience in investigating injuries caused by defective products, including toys and vehicles. Our dedicated team is committed to providing compassionate representation to each client we serve. We understand the importance of acting promptly to protect your rights if you believe you have a case. To arrange a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Massachusetts lawyers, please call our office in Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or complete our contact form.

Attractive Nuisance Law in Massachusetts

With the summer months feeling hotter and hotter, pools are a delightful respite from the heat. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool on your property, then you’ve likely already taken a few dips. It is important, however, that you understand the responsibility that comes with having a pool. Pools have a unique appeal, particularly during hot summer days, drawing the curiosity of children who may not fully comprehend the risks involved. Tragically, unattended or poorly secured pools can become hazardous environments, leading to accidents such as drowning or severe injuries. Understanding the concept of attractive nuisance and recognizing the dangers associated with pools is crucial for property owners to take appropriate measures to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of children in their vicinity.

What is an attractive nuisance?

An attractive nuisance refers to a hazardous situation present on a property that has the potential to attract children and pose a significant safety risk to them. The classification of certain features or properties as attractive nuisances depends on the specific circumstances of each case. Swimming pools are the most common attractive nuisance for children. An old tree house or an old rope swing would be other examples of attractive nuisances.

What are the laws concerning attractive nuisances in Massachusetts?

According to Massachusetts state law M.G.L. c. 231, § 85Q, a landowner who maintains an artificial condition on their property can be held responsible for physical harm caused to trespassing children under the following conditions:

  • The landowner is aware or has reason to believe that children are likely to trespass on the specific area.
  • The condition is known or should be known by the landowner, and it presents an unreasonable risk of severe bodily harm or death to the children.
  • Due to their young age, the children are unable to discover the condition or comprehend the risks associated with interacting with it.
  • The landowner’s interest in maintaining the condition is minimal compared to the potential risk it poses to children.
  • The landowner fails to take reasonable measures to eliminate the danger or protect the children in any other appropriate manner.

If a visitor or invitee is injured due to an attractive nuisance on their property under these circumstances, then the landowner can be held liable for the accident.

What is the duty of care that the landowner owes?

In premises liability cases, the level of duty of care owed by a property owner largely depends on the status of the visitor. Visitors can be categorized into two main types:

  • Invitees. This refers to individuals or customers who are invited to the property for business purposes or as members of the general public. This category also includes friends, acquaintances, or individuals invited for social visits. Property owners owe invitees a duty of reasonable care to inspect, identify, and eliminate hazards, and to keep their properties reasonably safe.
  • Trespassers. Trespassers are individuals who enter the property without permission. The duty of care owed to trespassers is generally low. Property owners cannot set traps, and if it is known that there are occasional trespassers, there is a duty to warn them about known dangerous conditions.

However, when an attractive nuisance is present on the property, the property owner owes a duty of care to any trespassing children. In such cases, property owners are required to essentially treat these children as invitees and actively take steps to prevent harm. If a child is injured while trespassing to access an attractive nuisance, the law will consider them as invitees for legal purposes.

Drowning and other catastrophic injuries from pool accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “in the United States more children ages 1–4 die from drowning than any other cause of death. For children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes.” Owners of pools have a duty to prevent unauthorized access to pool areas using proper fencing and proper locks and latches.

Every year, there are 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings— an average of 11 drowning deaths per day. Additionally there are 8,000 nonfatal drownings—that is an average of 22 nonfatal drownings per day.

It is clear that drowning is the most common and deadly accident when it comes to children and pools. Other injuries that can be sustained in or around swimming pools include:

How can an attorney help me if my child has been hurt due to an attractive nuisance?

Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to providing comprehensive legal assistance if your child has suffered an injury due to an attractive nuisance, especially a pool. From the outset, our experienced attorneys will conduct a thorough evaluation of your case, examining the circumstances surrounding the incident and assessing the liability of the property owner. We will gather essential evidence, including photographs, witness statements, and property records, to build a strong case that highlights the property owner’s negligence.

In cases involving attractive nuisances like pools, expert consultation plays a significant role. We will consult with safety experts, engineers, and medical professionals who can provide valuable insights into the incident, evaluate the property’s compliance with safety regulations, and offer expert testimony if necessary. Armed with a compelling case, we will engage in negotiations with the responsible parties, aiming to secure fair awards that take into account medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and any long-term consequences of the injuries. Our dedicated legal team is prepared to take your case to trial if a satisfactory award cannot be reached, providing strong representation in the courtroom.

Throughout the legal process, we understand the emotional toll this experience can have on you and your child. Our compassionate attorneys will provide unwavering support and guidance, addressing your concerns and ensuring that you feel heard and understood. Your child’s well-being is our priority, and we are here to fight for justice while seeking the maximum compensation possible. To schedule a free consultation, call us at our office in Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676, or use our contact form. Let us help you navigate the complexities of the legal system with empathy and experience.

Look for the Massachusetts License Plate

When a driver causes a crash, they have a legal responsibility to stop and provide you or the victim with their Massachusetts driver’s license, vehicle registration and license plate number.

Sadly, many drivers keep going. National figures show 24 percent of all 2021 pedestrian accidents were hit-and-run crashes. These drivers take off with the important information a victim needs to pursue a full insurance claim and compensation for their medical expenses and financial losses in recovery.

What can you do? Look for the Massachusetts license plate. In most cases, the person injured will not have a chance to look. But witnesses may be able to catch this information and make a real difference.

Research has found people who see a license plate for three or fewer seconds can remember an average of 3.5 characters. That memory quickly fades. If you witnessed a crash, the best way you can help is by:

  • Writing down the license plate number.
  • Taking a cell phone photo of the license plate number.
  • Using your phone to make a voice note of the license plate number.
  • Taking note of a partial plate number.

Breaking Down the Massachusetts License Plate

Before your next drive, take a closer look at the Massachusetts license plate so you know what to expect.

First, a bit of history: Massachusetts was the first state to issue a motor vehicle license plate back in 1903. Starting with “1,” the state issued more than 3,000 plates in the first year, according to the state library archives. Today, license plates are made at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute – MCI Cedar Junction.

Massachusetts license plates have a maximum of six characters, a combination of letters and numbers.

But your first thought about Massachusetts license plates may be the open road and, “The Spirit of America,” from the popular 1980s tourism campaign.

Not all Massachusetts license plates carry this slogan across the bottom. The state also issues passenger normal plates with a white background and green lettering, according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles Passenger Plate Manual.

Massachusetts Passenger Plates. Source: Page 4 of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Passenger Plate Manual

Here are a few basics:

  • All vehicles registered in Massachusetts should have a front and back license plate.
  • Like street signs, license plates are designed to reflect under headlights.
  • Close up, you can see license plates are marked with the year and month of registration along the top.
  • You can also see the “Strand of DNA,” in this WGBH news video.

Massachusetts Vanity and Specialty Plates

A few license plates break away from the traditional in Massachusetts and may be a little easier to remember. The RMV offers vanity plates. For an extra fee, you can choose two to six characters of your choice. The state maintains discretion over appropriate combinations.

The state also offers more than three dozen specialty license plates, including the Boston Red Sox design and charity plates. Specialty plates are unique. For example, these may have two letters vertical, followed by the numbers.

Cape Cod & Islands specialty plate. Source: Massachusetts Passenger Plate Manual.

Capturing License Plates and Car Accidents on Video

When a driver flees, a vehicle, crash and license plate may still be accessible if captured on camera. There are a number of potential sources for video. The search and negotiation for video must begin immediately after a car crash.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys have extensive experience in the area of video evidence. We are committed to locating video early to provide our clients with the most favorable position in negotiations with insurers.

From Our Experience: Negotiating for Video Evidence for One Client

One of our attorneys represented the family of a woman who was struck and killed in a pedestrian accident near a supermarket in the Boston area.

This was a devastating experience, one that became more painful as our attorney investigated. There were no witnesses in the early morning car accident, except for the driver, who remained on the scene, but was not forthcoming with police officers about the details of what happened.

Our attorney learned the supermarket’s security team was in possession of video surveillance, which was good news.

However, the security team was reluctant to release the video. Our attorney worked with a commitment to preserve and recover the video evidence for the victim’s family. When he did, the video proved to be powerful evidence that showed the driver’s negligence.

Read more about this pedestrian accident case on our website.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is known for our results for victims of car crashes and pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation with one of our partners, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or reach out using our contact form.

Are You Packing Unsafe Children’s Products on Your Summer Vacation?

Are you packing your family up for the beach and thinking, “Why is this stroller so heavy?” If so, you should also ask, “Is this stroller safe?”

Companies have a duty to design and build safe products. When they learn of potential dangers associated with their product, the public expects safety warnings through a recall and corrective action.

One watchdog group says regulators and companies are failing the public by not sharing product recall information early or widely enough to prevent injuries.

In 2022, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) waited an average of 16 incidents before a recall was issued, according to Kids In Danger, which released a special report, “Hidden Hazards: 2022 Children’s Product Recalls,” earlier this year.

Sharing recall information should be easier with social media. But you are missing a lot in your news feed. The CPSC only posted updates on 42 percent of children’s product recalls and injuries on Facebook last year, according to Kids In Danger.

The other part of this story is low product correction rates. According to Kids In Danger, CPSC records show an average of 25 percent corrected products on 2021 recalls. But the agency only provided the watchdog data on 11 of 64 requests.

Protect your family from defective products and injuries. Do a visual check of your children’s products, such as strollers, car seats and sleepers, with each use. Then, make a point to inspect your children’s products a few times each year and also check for product recalls by visiting Check before you travel, when you are already packing up your belongings.

2022 Saw Highest Number of Children’s Product Recalls Since 2013

From Peloton to baby swings, the CPSC announced 293 product recalls last year, a 33 percent rise over 2021.

This included 100 recalls for children’s products, the most since 2013, according to Kids in Danger. About a third of these recalls fell into the toy category. Many of these products contained small parts and posed a choking hazard.

While the number of children’s products recalls went up last year, there was a decline in the total number of product units involved in these recalls. This came as the CPSC moved away from announcing recalls of infant sleepers in 2021. Last year, the agency announced more recalls of children’s products with excessive lead levels and clothing that failed to meet federal flammability guidelines.

Watch for 2022 Children’s Product Recalls

There were four deaths associated with children’s product recalls in 2022.

  • Wall-Mounted Basketball Nets. The CPSC announced the recall of 18,000 Goalsetter mounted basketball goals last October, in the wake of four reports of the product detaching from the walls. The announcement also revealed chilling news: a 14-year-old boy had died when the product fell on him in 2018.
  • Dangerous Weighted Blankets. Check if your children are using recalled blankets. There is a good chance they are if you shop at Target. The retailer recalled the Pillowfort Weighted Blankets in December 2022, several months after two young girls became entrapped in a blanket cover and died in North Carolina. These were children’s blankets, with some featuring unicorn and constellation patterns.
  • 4Moms MamaRoo Baby Swing. After a 10-month old’s death, the CPSC announced the recall of two million MamaRoo swings and 220,000 RockaRoo swings last August. The announcement reported the restraint straps posed potential entanglement and strangulation hazards.

Products Involved in Injuries

Kids In Danger also highlighted other children’s product recalls associated with high numbers of injuries. These included:

  • Huffy Corporation Blue’s Clues Foot to Floor Ride-on Toys – 18 injuries
  • Pacific Igniter and Pacific Bubble Pop 20” Kids’ Bicycles – 10 injuries
  • Mockingbird Single-to-Double Strollers – 8 injuries
  • HD Premier DigitDots Magnetic Balls – 4 injuries

As You Pack: Products to Double Check

Check for Stroller Recalls. After you inspect your stroller yourself, check the CPSC website for stroller recalls.

Are You Packing Unsafe Children’s Products on Your Summer Vacation?If your stroller is recalled, stop using it or request the company’s repair kit if that’s an option. Be aware that strollers can have defects causing injury to children riding, but also to parents and others. Last year, the UPPAbaby jogging stroller was recalled. At that time, the public learned a young child – who wasn’t riding in the stroller – had suffered the tragedy of a finger amputation because of defective stroller parts.

Checked for Baby Sleep Product and Lounger Recalls.

The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper recall has changed a great deal for families since April 2019, including family vacation. Families should purchase infant sleepers which follow the new federal safety standard approved in 2021.

But the CPSC has not issued safety rules for infant loungers, according to a recent NBC News report. Parents should be aware that in 2021, The Boppy Company recalled 3.3 million of its popular Boppy newborn loungers because of the risk that a child could roll into a position that obstructs their breathing. The recall came with the grave news that eight children had died while using the loungers. As you pack for vacation, be aware that some of these loungers may still be in circulation. Parents may also encounter other poorly made products which have similar hazards, but haven’t been recalled yet.

The safest approach is to pack your own stroller and baby furniture when you travel. This way you and your child are familiar with the products and know what to expect. While they have the best of intentions, avoid borrowing children’s products from friends and family. Pack what you bring with care, laying it outside of other luggage.

Check Scooters, Bicycles and Other Outdoor Products. Finally before we sign off, make sure to check for bike and scooter recalls before you travel.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Product Liability Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing victims of defective products. When someone is injured by a defective product, there must be a full and prompt investigation to determine what happened and where along the supply chain this occurred. Many injuries result from defective design, manufacturing errors or failure to warn the consumer about a possible harm.

Learn more about our attorneys and their results for clients in product liability cases. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Rest, Then Drive: Safety Reminders to Avoid Drowsy Driving This Memorial Day

Rest, Then Drive: Safety Reminders to Avoid Drowsy Driving This Memorial DayMore Americans are expected to travel this Memorial Day and this means more drivers should rest up for safety. Rest is a foundation, whether you are working, watching your children or cooking. Having enough rest is critical when you drive, helping you stay alert and aware.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports drowsy driving caused 633 traffic deaths in 2020, a 9 percent increase over 2019. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports drowsy driving is underreported and is actually involved in 16-20 percent of all police-reported vehicle crashes in the U.S.

Although drivers of any age can fall asleep or nod off, the National Sleep Foundation reports drivers age 16-25 are at the greatest risk.

When drivers become drowsy, they may be slower to react and unable to appreciate the conditions around them. Drivers may struggle to pay attention and keep their eyes open.

The National Safety Council reports two important points on the topic of drowsy driving. First, the council reports fatigued drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a crash. Second, driving after 20 hours without sleep can be equivalent to driving with a .08 blood alcohol level.

Study Shows Drowsy Drivers Recognize Fatigue – But Don’t Want to Take Breaks

In March, AAA reported most drivers in one study misread their fatigue levels and ignored opportunities to rest during a 3-hour drive at night. AAA concluded that drivers need to do a better self-evaluation of their own drowsiness and more education is needed to encourage drivers to act on early signs of drowsiness.

In this study, 90 drivers were asked to finish a 150-mile simulated night driving experiment. They were given the opportunity to stop every 20 minutes at simulated rest areas.

But most of the drivers didn’t stop. Drivers were given a financial incentive as motivation to finish the course as quickly as they could without causing a crash. The incentive was $50 for participating and an additional $1 for every minute drivers came in ahead of the 3-hour limit.

Researchers surveyed the drivers at rest areas, with a goal of finding out how the drivers felt and measure how often their eyes shut.

  • About half (49%) of all drivers finished the driving experiment without stopping for a break. Most of these drivers said they didn’t stop because they were tired.
    • 39% stopped for one break.
    • 11% of drivers took two breaks.
  • 75% of the drivers misread their fatigue level based on the study parameters. They called their fatigue low, but were actually showing symptoms of “moderately” or “severely drowsy.”
  • Even when drivers recognized their extreme drowsiness, they resisted 75 percent of the opportunities to take a break.

Safety Tips for Your Memorial Day Travel

Whether you’re traveling to Boston or away for the holiday weekend, Breakstone, White & Gluck wants you to be safe.

  • Beat the Holiday Rush. AAA forecasts Friday, May 26thwill be the peak travel day. Traffic is expected to be lighter on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Stay on Your Normal Schedule. Try to drive during hours when you are normally awake. This is a safe approach for the Memorial Day weekend, but also other times. The NHTSA reports drowsy driving crashes often occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon. These are times our circadian rhythms – our internal clocks – may tell us it’s time to sleep or rest. The bottom line is you want to stay on your schedule as much as you can.
  • Be Aware of Your Fatigue. Be aware of all the factors that contribute to fatigue. You may be suffering from sleep deprivation or you could be physically exhausted from a change in your routine (such as having to get up early for a special work assignment or having to drive late at night). Then there are devices. Follow recommendations for good sleep, such as avoid looking at bright screens in the hours before bed.
  • Take a Break. Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles. Plan your stops before you leave and stick to your schedule so you stay alert.
  • Ride Safer With a Passenger. If you are traveling a long distance, take turns driving. Ask your passenger to install the Massachusetts 511 app and check travel updates for you.
  • Limit Cell Phone Use. If you check your cell phone, do so quickly when you stop to rest. Your goal is to stay rested; you can answer your texts and emails when you reach your destination.
  • Slow Down Near Pedestrians and Cyclists. After a long ride, you may just want to reach your destination. But slow down and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists as you drive off the highway and onto local roads. This is an important transition and if you are exhausted, this may be a moment to take a break. Remember, even if you visit the same community each year, the pace of pedestrians and cyclists may be different this year.

If you do sustain injuries in a car accident this holiday, our Boston injury attorneys will be here to help.

Free Legal Consultation – Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer

Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in personal injury law and provides experienced representation to those injured by negligent or reckless driving in Massachusetts. If you have been injured, consult our attorneys and learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Driving Safely Near Cyclists in Intersections and Bike Boxes in Boston

Driving Safely Near Cyclists in Intersections and Bike Boxes in Boston

With the warm weather, more cyclists are back out in Massachusetts. As a driver, you may easily see the cyclist in front of you at the intersection and give them extra room. But are you ready for the cyclist who approaches from behind? And what about all the new bike lanes?

As more cyclists return to the road, this is a good time to think about how you can travel safely near them in intersections.

Take a Closer Look at Intersections

Take a closer look at the intersections you travel through. Check the signage, traffic lines, bike lanes and other pavement markings. You may notice some of the pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly improvements communities have made since the pandemic. Certain intersections now have bright green bike boxes or bike lanes crossing intersections. This is the case in Boston, in the area of Staniford and Merrimac streets.

If you see anything new or have questions, ask your local police department or town hall. Another resource is the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual.

Then stay tuned. You may see a few more traffic signs in the near future. On April 1, 2023, a new Massachusetts law took effect, establishing that drivers must leave four feet for safety when passing cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

Where to Expect Cyclists in Intersections

Think about how cyclists approach intersections. Many cyclists will use bike lanes if these are available, but under Massachusetts law, cyclists can also travel into the traffic lane with vehicles. Cyclists can ride on their own or up to two abreast.

Drivers have a responsibility to look for cyclists. Make a point to check front, back, right and left as you wait out the traffic lights. When you look back, make a point to actually look. Don’t just use your vehicle’s technology. Use your rearview mirror and turn to check your blindspot over your shoulder.

Learn About Bike Boxes

Source: Massachusetts Driver’s Manual

Certain intersections in Massachusetts now make use of the green bike boxes. These are designated spaces for cyclists to wait between cars and traffic lights at intersections. The goal is to make cyclists more visible to drivers and let them get out first when the light changes.

Cyclists can use the bike box to position themselves for left-hand turns. Cyclists who are turning right or traveling straight should stay right in the bike lane.

Cyclists may or may not use the bike boxes yet. But according to the state driver’s manual, drivers have a responsibility to stop before the green bike boxes at red lights, even if there are no cyclists out.

Where to Find Bike Boxes in Massachusetts

Bike boxes are in use in at least 20 U.S. cities, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

But they are still relatively new to many cyclists and drivers in Massachusetts.

As of September 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) had only identified 91 bike boxes in use across the state.

You can find some of these bike boxes in Brookline, Boston, Cambridge and Somerville.

MassDOT also shared results from its 5-year study into the effectiveness of bike boxes. Researchers investigated traffic conditions at 11 intersections in Boston and Somerville.

While the data very was limited, researchers attributed the majority of bike crashes to motorists and bicyclists who did not comply with the bike box regulations.

Researchers reported roughly 60 percent of the bike crashes at intersections occurred when cyclists ran through red lights or drivers failed to yield when making left turns.

Another point was on right-hook crashes. Researchers only reviewed one of these crashes, but said the limited data showed bike boxes may help prevent cyclists from suffering these injuries. They also noted that 72 percent of the intersections in the study utilized “No Right Turn on Red” signs.

MassDOT expects to complete a new study on bike boxes in February 2024.

Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing cyclists who have been seriously injured by bicycle accidents and dooring incidents. If you have been injured, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck and learn your legal rights. We offer a free legal consultation.

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Massachusetts has banned drivers from texting, emailing and holding a phone for more than three years now. But look out your window. Many drivers are still picking up, typing or scrolling. Some are getting more advanced with video chat.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an opportunity to refocus, set down your phone and pay attention to traffic conditions. For all the warnings, drivers are still giving into distractions at a high rate, with serious consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,142 people were killed, and as many as 324,652 more people were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2020 alone.

This month is about awareness, but also enforcement. In recent years, Massachusetts police departments have received federal funding to conduct extra safety patrols. Many drivers have learned awareness the hard way during Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Massachusetts Drivers Are Engaging in Distracted Driving and Getting Caught During Enforcement Periods

In 2021, Massachusetts police issued 14,000 more citations than in 2020

How many Massachusetts drivers are engaging in distracted driving? Only the drivers know.

What we know is Massachusetts had a hard-to-enforce texting while driving ban. Then the Massachusetts hands-free law took effect on Feb. 23, 2020.

During 2020, more than 29,600 people were cited for distracted driving, according to a 2022 Mass. Department of Transportation presentation. Police issued more than 44,300 distracted driving citations in 2021 – up more than 14,000 citations from 2020.

This escalated even more in 2022. State officials provided an update in September 2022 and said compared to 2021, Massachusetts had recorded an 85+ percent increase in distracted driving citations during the first two-thirds of 2022. State officials say April saw the most distracted driving citations (more than 12,000) during the first eight months of 2022, more than twice that in May, which came in second.

As a driver, you want to put your cell phone down for safety. The last thing you want is the regret of causing someone a serious injury.

Drivers Admit to Cell Phone Use and Acknowledge the Safety Risks

What becomes difficult to reconcile is many drivers acknowledge the safety risks of cell phone use/texting while driving. According to the AAA Traffic Culture Index Survey, 92 percent of drivers said they believe texting or emailing while driving is very or extremely dangerous.

At the same time, 26 percent of the drivers admitted to sending a text or email while driving in the month before the survey. Even more drivers – 39 percent – admitted to reading a text or email.

Distracted Driving Can Cost You More Than You Think

However, you should also think about your auto insurance policy.

If you violate the Massachusetts hands-free law, the penalties are a $100 fine for the first offense. There is a $250 fine for the second offense (and a mandatory distracted driving education course).

Fines and penalties are more serious for the third and subsequent offenses. There is a $500 fine, a mandatory distracted driving program and you will receive an insurance surcharge. A surcharge could raise your auto insurance premium, and this could impact your insurance for years.

How Many Apps Do You Have on Your Cell Phone?

The Massachusetts hands-free law took effect in late February 2020. With the hands-free law, Massachusetts drivers are no longer allowed to use hand-held cell phones or electronic devices. Drivers are not allowed to touch devices for texting, emailing, apps, video or Internet use.

Drivers were urged to get ready for the hands-free law early, by purchasing dashboard mounts and setting up hands-free technology. But the pandemic was a major interruption and restricted our driving, while bringing big change to our digital lives.

Many of us are now carrying around cell phones with more mobile apps for all sorts of tools and services, from takeout food to pharmacies and other stores. The apps have many notifications and a variety of chirps. We are also logging more hours on social media and email from our phones.

Then there are video games. After the pandemic, three-quarters of all players are now over 18 years old, with an average age of 33, according to a 2022 industry study. Most players – 70 percent – said they prefer playing on smart phones, which allow them to take all sorts of games – from Wordle to Super Mario Bros. to Solitaire on the go.

Video chat is another concern. In Massachusetts, drivers are not allowed to touch cell phones, but they can mount electronic devices and access a number of digital tools, including chat tools.

We have seen the dangers of video chat tools in Massachusetts. In October 2021, a Northampton cyclist was tragically hit and killed by a young driver who police allege had been chatting with a friend on the FaceTime app.

A Massachusetts lawmaker quickly acted after this, proposing an amendment to the state’s hands-free law that would also ban video broadcasting and streaming. The legislation – called “Charlie’s Law” – would prohibit video recording or broadcasting while driving, which would have included vlogging and streaming activities. The president of the Safe Roads Alliance voiced support for the measure, saying driving habits had worsened during the pandemic and that “the car is no place for Zoom meetings, FaceTime, or vlogging.”

There was at least one other fatal accident involving the FaceTime app that year. In April 2021, a 30-year-old man was driving down Highway 62 in Minnesota while talking to his wife on the FaceTime app, according to a news report. He told police his phone was mounted and he was not looking at the device when he struck another driver’s car. This was a traumatic crash, pushing the second vehicle on its side and killing the driver. Two other vehicles were also pulled into this accident.

Across the U.S., 24 states have passed hands-free driving laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). All six New England states have hands-free driving laws (Massachusetts was the last of the New England states).

But these laws have potential limits. As of December 2021, just four U.S. states had passed laws that specifically mention a ban on recording and broadcasting. These states included Georgia, Arizona, Tennessee and Utah.

Georgia’s law took effect in July 2018. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the law does not allow drivers to watch videos, unless for navigation. Drivers are not allowed to record video (except for continuously running dashcams). The dashcam exception was also part of the proposed “Charlie’s Law” in Massachusetts.

The Georgia hands-free law also touches on the use of music streaming apps. Drivers can only activate music streaming apps when parked.

Re-Commit to a Cell Phone Safety Plan

  • Plan your ride. Gone are the days when you can just get in your car and start driving. Every time you get in your car, make a decision about your cell phone. You can secure your phone in the back seat or trunk. Or you can mount your phone and connect to hands-free technology.
  • Call before you drive. Check in with your family members, children or friends before you drive. Explain that you will be driving and will be unavailable to talk or text. If you have a child, tend to their needs before you drive, whether they need to talk for a few minutes or you need to arrange their ride home from sports practice.
  • Never use video while driving. Never use video chat tools or watch video content while driving. These take your focus off the road – or at least put more visuals in your focus. If you want content, look for audio, such as audio books or music (but remember you are not allowed to touch your cell phone while listening).
  • Park before you text. If you feel you have to send a text from your phone, pull over and park in a safe location first. Never stop on the shoulder of the road. Find a parking lot.
  • No social scrolling. Social media has a strong pull. Whether you glance for a moment or get caught up for several minutes, you put yourself, your passengers and others in danger.
  • Check your digital well-being. Most phones have a digital well-being check tool. Check how many hours you have logged today and over the past week. It may be more than you realize and it may be causing you fatigue.

In addition, the more time you spend on your cell phone, the harder it can be to step away in the car.

Make a plan to cut down your cell phone time – even just for a few days. Look at your apps. Consider taking a few social media apps off your phone. Instead, use these apps on your tablet at home.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With over 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in personal injury law and represents those injured in car accidents in Boston and across Massachusetts. Our car accident attorneys are experts in Massachusetts insurance laws and we are committed to helping our clients make their best physical, emotional and financial recovery.

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

New Safety Campaign Encourages Drivers to Stop Deadly Trend of High-Speed Accidents

Fatal speed-related car crash
Fatal speed-related car crash

Speed-related crashes claimed 17 more percent more lives during 2020, according to the NHTSA.

Many of us have resumed our routines or transitioned to a new normal after the pandemic. Except in our cars. Early in the pandemic, drivers began a dangerous trend of driving less and speeding more into open roads, resulting in very serious crashes and injuries.

This past summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new public outreach campaign to address the growing danger of speed-related accidents.

In this blog, we share a few statistics from the NHTSA’s “Speeding Wrecks Lives” campaign to encourage awareness about the consequences of speeding here in Massachusetts.

The impact of speeding during the pandemic:

  • More than 11,000 people were killed by speeding crashes in 2020, a 17 percent increase from 2019.
  • Overall, speeding caused 29 percent of all traffic deaths in 2020.
  • Younger drivers age 18-44 were behind the wheel in 25 percent of fatal speed-related crashes.
  • Younger male drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 were involved in many of these crashes.

Another critical benchmark involves young children. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports speed-related deaths of pedestrians younger than 15 more than doubled between 2018 and 2020.

In June, the State House News Service reported that Massachusetts reached an 11-year high in traffic deaths during 2021. In the article, a Massachusetts DOT board member specifically mentioned the impact of speeding as well as aggressive driving since the pandemic began.

Fatal Pedestrian Crashes Are More Likely At Higher Speeds

The Federal Highway Administration has long stressed the importance of managing speeds on the roads, citing data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The data shows pedestrians have a much higher chance of survival when hit in car crashes at lower speeds.

When a pedestrian is hit by a car traveling 23 mph, they have a 10 percent chance of death, compared to a 50 percent chance of death when a car is traveling 42 mph. Pedestrians are 90 percent more likely to die when hit by a car traveling 58 mph.

Why Speeding is So Dangerous

With this new campaign, the NHTSA continues to educate the public on the specific hazards of high-speed accidents.

Drivers who speed are more likely to lose control of their steering. Even when the driver sees a pedestrian or identifies a potential traffic hazard, they may not have time to stop or change lanes in time if they are speeding. Drivers have more control when they travel at lower speeds and really take time to look for pedestrians and cyclists. When a driver looks, this naturally slows them down and raises their awareness of road conditions. With more pedestrians and cyclists out than ever, drivers should really look, whether they are traveling through downtown areas, school zones or quiet back roads.

When drivers disregard the speed limit, they may also let their guard down in other ways. Speeding can be a springboard for drivers to engage in aggressive driving and road rage.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Auto Accident Lawyers

With more than 125 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing those injured in car accidents, pedestrian crashes and bicycle collisions in Massachusetts. We provide experienced and aggressive representation throughout all stages of motor vehicle accident claims, from investigation to trial and appeal if necessary.

If you have been injured by negligent driving, contact our lawyers for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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