Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Driving using a cell phone mounted to a vehicle dashboard

Drivers are not allowed to pick up cell phones under the Massachusetts hands-free driving law, but can quickly tap the device for activation of hands-free mode or GPS.

A dangerous trend has emerged on our roads, cell phones and social media accounts, with the rise of drivers “vlogging,” live-streaming and making video phone calls. In a 2020 survey, more than 20 percent of drivers admitted to recording video on cell phones. This is more than double the response from 2015.

Now, after a cyclist’s tragic death, a local lawmaker is proposing Massachusetts update its hands-free driving law to ban both recording and broadcasting video while driving.

Nationwide, 48 states have banned texting while driving and 24 states have passed hands-free driving laws, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Massachusetts would join four other states which have banned recording and broadcasting as part of their hands-free laws, according to state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, who has proposed the legislation.

Sen. Comerford proposed “Charlie’s Law” in the wake of a cyclist’s death near Northampton High School in October 2021. A 23-year-old driver is accused of video chatting on the FaceTime app, then running past a stop sign and striking the cyclist in a fatal bike crash, according to local news reports. The driver now faces criminal charges, including negligent motor vehicle homicide. Meanwhile, state lawmakers held the first hearing on Charlie’s Law earlier this month.

Background on Massachusetts Distracted Driving Laws

Looking to prevent injuries and deaths in car accidents, Massachusetts passed a ban on texting while driving in 2010. After many years of debate, lawmakers reached agreement on a more comprehensive hands-free driving law in 2019.

The Massachusetts hands-free driving law took effect in early 2020 and drivers now face fines for violations, starting with $100 for the first offense.

For third and subsequent offenses, drivers face up to $500 in fines and an insurance surcharge. They must also attend a distracted driving education program.

Under the hands-free law, drivers are only allowed to touch mobile phones and electronic devices to quickly activate hands-free mode, when devices are mounted to a windshield, dashboard or center console. Drivers are still allowed to use voice-to-text commands and make phone calls so long as cell phones are properly mounted.

As it stands, the Massachusetts hands-free driving law does not specifically ban drivers from making video conference calls or vlogging activities, such as recording or live broadcasting video of one’s self while driving to post on social media sites. As long as cell phones are mounted, drivers are not violating the law.

Drivers may be cited or charged if police investigate a car crash and find they violated another traffic law, such as a marked lanes violation. But updating the hands-free law – which is a primary enforcement law – may allow police to stop and cite drivers they see using cell phone video features before a crash happens.

Sen. Comerford has proposed S. 2733, “An Act Prohibiting Video Recording or Broadcasting While Driving.” The bill proposes adding language to the existing law stating no operator shall record or broadcast video of themselves on a mobile device, with a few exceptions.

  • Drivers would still be allowed to record or broadcast video in an “emergency or exigent circumstance” or “when it is so clearly in the public interest as to override the public safety purpose of this sentence.”
  • Dash cams can still be used to record traffic conditions or passengers in a vehicle, but they must be mounted. This allows commercial drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers to continue recording passenger behavior.

More Than Twice As Many Drivers Admitted to Recording While Driving in 2020

In its 2021 Driving While Distracted study, State Farm Auto Insurance reported 22 percent of drivers admitted to recording behind the wheel in 2020, compared to 10 percent in 2015.

Younger drivers were more likely to engage in this behavior:

  • Nearly half – 44 percent – of drivers in the 18 to 29-year-old demographic admitted to recording video while driving.
  • More than a third of drivers age 30 to 39 admitted the same.

This was not the only increase. State Farm reported 89 percent of drivers – or nearly 9 out of 10 – admitted to engaging in one of the 14 distracted driving behaviors covered in its online survey.

One troubling note was most drivers in states which had passed hands-free driving said they were aware of laws, but one in five were not informed. Six percent of the drivers even said their state did not ban handheld cell phone use.

Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorneys
Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers offer more than 100 years combined experience representing those injured by negligent and reckless driving. Our attorneys work with clients throughout the Boston area, including those who live and work in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Brookline, Arlington and Quincy.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may require medical care and have to miss time at work. You may have many questions. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case with you and help you determine whether you have a potential claim.

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Drunk driving crash at night

Automakers may soon have to build cars with technology to work toward stopping drunk driving crashes.

The $1 trillion infrastructure bill is being called the most important legislation in more than 40 years in the work to stop drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths.

After a long pandemic, the infrastructure bills calls for expansive funding across all areas of transportation, including airports, public transit, roads, bridges, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.

The infrastructure bill also includes new safety mandates for automakers, including that new cars be built with technology to detect and reduce drunk driving and for rear-seat reminders to alert parents that a child has been left behind.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Friday, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk. The U.S. Senate had already approved the bill in August.

“Single Most Important” Legislation to Stop Drunk Driving Accidents

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers called the infrastructure bill the “single most important legislation” in its 41-year history of working to stop drunk driving tragedies.

Drunk driving kills about 10,000 people each year on U.S. roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. This accounts for roughly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities.

The infrastructure bill calls for all new cars to comply with an advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology standard. The legislation does not specify what the technology will be.

If the president signs the bill, the NHTSA will be charged with finalizing rules for implementing a technology within three years. Automakers will have an additional two years to incorporate the changes into the production.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has long advocated that states make breathalyzers mandatory sentencing for those who have been convicted of drunk driving.

The Washington Post interviewed a few experts who said to expect more passive technologies than a breathalyzer.

Potential technologies could work around breath or blood sensors, or cameras.

The NHTSA has worked with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) for more than 10 years to develop technologies that discretely detect alcohol on drivers’ breath.

Drunk Driving Accidents and Injuries in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, drivers who operated under the influence of alcohol killed 120 people in 2018 (Source: MADD). As with the federal numbers, this represents about a third of all traffic fatalities across the state that year.

Drunk driving accidents are preventable if drivers remember their responsibilities. Massachusetts drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care on the roads. Operating under the influence is both against the law and negligent if you cause a crash resulting in injury.

Drivers also have a responsibility not to operate while impaired by drugs, including marijuana, which was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston law firm that specializes in representing clients in personal injury and car accident cases. We have expertise in representing victims and families of drunk driving accidents in claims against drivers and in Massachusetts liquor liability claims involving third parties.

Our firm stands out for our experience. Each of our partners offers more than 30 years of experience representing clients in Boston and across Massachusetts.

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

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Pedestrian accidents at night

As the days get shorter, drivers must watch for pedestrians. The number of pedestrian fatalities has risen in Massachusetts during 2021.

The majority of all pedestrian fatalities occur at night or in dark light conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is a significant point come October in Massachusetts, when the days get shorter and the walk home becomes darker.

As a driver, renew your commitment to travel safely near pedestrians this Fall. This is critical. In addition to shorter days, Massachusetts is seeing a rise in pedestrian fatalities as traffic volumes start to rebound. In August, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reported traffic volumes had returned to just 5 percent below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

As of October 21, 2021, 58 pedestrians have died on Massachusetts roads this year, according to MassDOT crash data. 55 pedestrian fatalities were recorded in 2020, when traffic was lightest due to Covid 19 stay at home policies. Prior to the pandemic, there were 78 fatal pedestrian injuries statewide in 2019.

There have been 1,086 total pedestrian accidents reported in 2021 so far, including those involving fatal injuries, non-fatal injuries and property damage without injury, compared to 1,443 pedestrian crashes in 2020 and 2,198 pre-pandemic in 2019. (Source: MassDOT, 2017-2021 Pedestrian, Cyclist and Motorcyclist Crashes by Injury).

While helpful, the data is just a snapshot. A better resource: ask anyone who walks if driving patterns are still irregular due to the pandemic. Roads may be less congested, but drivers are picking up speeds at times. This endangers pedestrians, especially at night, when there is less visibility.

Reminders for Driving Safely Near Pedestrians and Reducing the Risk of Injury

Drive Slowly and Watch for Pedestrians

Drive slowly and always look for pedestrians. Take an extra moment to look in all directions before you step on the gas. Pedestrians are more likely to blend in at night, even in well-lit areas.

Yield and Stop at Crosswalks

Drivers have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians before turning at traffic signals and to stop or yield for pedestrians to safely walk through crosswalks. Many pedestrian accidents at night occur in intersections and crosswalks.

Once you start moving, you can attempt to break quickly but you really have less control, especially in short distance situations, such as when turning at an intersection or backing out of a parking space. Take a moment and take a good look for pedestrians first.

Give Yourself More Time When Getting in Your Car

Drivers can reduce their risk of hitting a pedestrian by giving their full attention to the road. To do this, give yourself time to get ready for the ride while you are parked: buckle your child up and set up your cell phone in hands-free mode if you plan to use it. Make sure you have directions typed into your GPS or you know where you are going. 

When you are finished, then give yourself time to turn on the vehicle and look for pedestrians. 

Drive at Night Without Distractions

The state of Massachusetts now allows drivers to use cell phones in hands-free mode, but this can be a dangerous distraction when driving at night. The best policy is to pull over in a legal parking space if you need to call someone and avoid causing a car accident or truck crash, resulting in pedestrian injuries.

Reduce Your Speed

During the day and at night, you give yourself more time to stop for pedestrians when you travel at the speed limit or below if necessary for safety conditions.

Look for Both Pedestrians and Cyclists

Pedestrians may or may not wear bright clothing, so you have to really check when you drive at night or in the early morning.  Pedestrians may be hard to see, even when traveling through a well-lit intersection or parking lot.

Cyclists may be easier to see as they approach. In Massachusetts, cyclists must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector at night, or specifically from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise under M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B. 

This means you may see a white light when a cyclist is approaching and red light (or reflector) from behind. You may also see reflective material on a cyclist’s pedals.

Consider the Impact of Darkness on Drivers

It is simply harder to see at night. Not just for senior citizens. Age-related vision changes can pay a toll much earlier than retirement age. For instance, a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old, according to the National Safety Council. It is critical for all drivers to schedule an annual eye exam, get proper rest and set aside distractions.

Older Drivers

Still, older drivers may struggle the most when driving at night. At 60 or older, drivers may not see as well at night and may suffer from a loss in color and depth perception, making it harder to judge speeds and distances, according to the American Optometric Association.  

Safety precautions for older drivers traveling at night:

  • Have an annual eye examination.
  • Consider taking a driving class to brush up on your driving skills and learn about age-related vision changes. The AARP offers courses and other organizations may also.
  • Limit or avoid driving at night.
  • Reduce your speed and expect pedestrians.
  • Be cautious at intersections, taking extra care to yield to pedestrians.

Limit Teen Driving at Night

As a parent, let your teen drive during the day, but consider limiting their driving hours at night this Fall. Teens are still learning and driving safely at night takes practice. And right now, traffic is even less predictable and your teens may be driving alongside more trucks and delivery vans as we approach the holidays.

This is a suggestion. But remember under the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law, teens are not permitted to drive at all between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys provide thorough and aggressive representation to those injured by negligence across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Winthrop, Arlington, Somerville, Everett and Chelsea. We also serve clients across the state, including in Quincy and the South Shore, Hyannis, Barnstable and Cape Cod, Framingham, Worcester and the Danvers and the North Shore.

Our firm specializes in representing pedestrians and cyclists who have been injured in auto accidents, truck accidents and bus crashes, including MBTA bus accidents in the city of Boston.

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

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School bus stop sign

School buses are back on the road in the Boston area. Take time to plan for safety.

As students head back to school, safety is paramount near school buses. Breakstone, White & Gluck offers reminders to help parents and drivers make safe decisions.

Parents: Learn Massachusetts School Bus Safety Laws 

School transportation offices offer a wealth of information, including on safety procedures, safety laws and bus routes. Read the materials your school transportation office sends you promptly. Save the office phone number in your cell phone contacts.

You can also learn by asking your child what they learn. In Massachusetts, students are required to receive classroom instruction on safe riding practices at least three times each school year, under M.G.L. c. 90, § 7B. School districts are also required to conduct twice a year on-bus emergency evacuation drills. You can learn more from the School Health Services website.

The Risk for School Bus Accidents and Injuries

The National Safety Council reports school buses are the safest way for children to get to school. But still, school bus accidents are reported each year.

In 2019, there were 109 fatalities and 13,000 injuries in school bus-related accidents across the U.S., according to the National Safety Council data tabulations. School bus passengers suffered about 6 percent of deaths and 34 percent of injuries in school bus-related accidents between 2010 and 2019. Drivers and passengers in other vehicles suffered nearly 70 percent of the deaths and 53 percent of the injuries. Pedestrians accounted for 17 percent of all deaths.

One important insight: Two-thirds of all children killed in school bus-related fatalities are outside the vehicle at the time, according to the National Safety Council. This means the steps we all take to help students get on and off the school bus safely are critical.

School districts and bus companies have a responsibility to hire school bus drivers who are licensed, trained and have safe driving records. In addition, they have a duty to maintain the mechanical operations and keep a work log. Meanwhile, other drivers on the road have a responsibility to use caution and follow safety laws near school buses. Drivers who take this responsibility seriously can make the drive easier and safer for school children, bus drivers and others on the road.

  • As a parent, learn as much as you can about school bus safety procedures from your school.
  • Ask about training requirements, criminal and sexual offender registry checks and physical exams drivers must undergo.
  • Support and reinforce what your child learns at school and from the bus driver.
  • Take a ride on the school bus with your child if you have the chance.
  • Notice your child’s bus driver must wear a seat belt. Your child’s school district may or may not have installed seat belts for children. They are not required by state law. School districts can install them following federal safety standards.
  • Seat belts are, however, required in other school transportation vehicles, including vans and vehicles carrying 8 or fewer passengers.
  • Join your child at the school bus stop. Help them learn how to get on and off the school bus safely.
  • Read permission slips and ask questions before you allow your child to ride the bus for sporting events and field trips. Ask if the school district will provide the bus and bus driver, or if a private company has been contracted. Ask for emergency contact numbers and procedures specific to the trip, should the bus be delayed or if there is a safety issue.

Teaching Children How to Get On and Off a School Bus Safely

Getting On a School Bus Safely
For a young child, the sight of a school bus can be exciting and over stimulating.

Walk your child through the steps of safety. Teach them to recognize the difference between yellow and red.

Explain that the school bus will approach and flash its yellow lights as it slows down, but that your child should not move toward the bus yet. This is a good time for your child to pick up their backpack and stand at least 10 feet back from the road.

Your child should wait for the school bus to reach a full stop, flash its red lights and extend the stop sign. The bus driver will open the door, make eye contact with your child and let them know they can board the bus.

Exit a School Bus Safely
When stepping off the bus, your child should cross the street in front of the school bus, never behind. Your child should step off the road and onto the sidewalk right away. Let your child know if they leave any belongings on the school bus, you can call the school transportation office later.

It is not safe to turn back because school bus drivers and other drivers are not expecting this. While school bus drivers are supposed to check mirrors before moving ahead with their route, there is a very real risk they will not see your child. The greater risk is other drivers may become impatient and start to move toward your child before the bus has stopped flashing its safety lights.

Other Drivers Should Keep a Safe Distance From School Buses

Other drivers have a responsibility to travel safely near school buses and follow traffic laws. This starts with traveling at slower speeds and being prepared to stop.

In Massachusetts, “no person shall operate a motor vehicle within a distance of 100 feet behind a school bus,” per M.G.L. c. 90, § 14. Drivers must also reach a full stop for school buses that have stopped and activated signals to let children on or off. Drivers must remain stopped until the school bus pulls back its stop sign and starts moving again.

Never pass a school bus that has stopped and is flashing its lights. You can cause a very serious accident involving a school bus or another vehicle. Drivers who violate this law can expect a $250 fine for the first offense if they are caught by police or if the school bus driver reports their license plate, M.G.L. c. 90, § 14. Repeat offenders can face additional fines up to $2,000 and license suspensions – all for making a reckless decision stemming from impatience. This is a decision you will only regret later, especially if you cause someone injury and face a civil lawsuit seeking financial damages.

These are simple laws. But many drivers follow school buses more closely than they realize. Next time, try leaving a little more room. You will give the school bus driver more time and open up your own view of the road, helping you to make safer decisions and avoid a collision with the bus or a car accident.

Just as important is safety near school bus stops. Slow down near school bus stops. Never back up your car out of your driveway near a school bus stop. Park your car in a position that allows you to drive out safely in the morning or wait until the bus has come and gone.

While parents and children should stay 10 feet back from the road, there are times when children or pets may step into the road. You have to be prepared to stop – and be patient to avoid an accident.

Distracted Driving Near School Buses

Picking up a cell phone can be a deadly decision near a school bus, where young children and other pedestrians and cyclists may approach your vehicle closely at times. Commit to safety and focus on the roads, not your device, as students head back to school.

The Dangers of School Buses at Intersections

School buses can obstruct a driver’s view at an intersection. Stay back 100 feet or more so you can watch for the school bus as well as pedestrians and cyclists, and avoid a traffic accident.

Remember that pedestrians may approach near sidewalks and crosswalks, but cyclists may travel in the traffic lane or to the right of traffic. If a school bus has stopped in front of you at an intersection, you may not be able to see if a cyclist has stopped next to them until traffic starts to move.


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Car accident at intersection in Boston area

Read and find out if you travel through one of the top crash locations in Massachus

While drivers have a duty to operate with reasonable care and follow traffic laws, it is also worth noting the road you are traveling on. In Massachusetts, certain intersections have a track record of more car accidents than others.

Which intersections? In its most recent report, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) shared the top 200 crash locations across the state. Released in September 2020, MassDOT’s 2017 Top Crash Locations Report offers insights as drivers plan their summer travel and resume commuting.

The rankings are based on reports to the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ Crash Data System from 2015-2017. A weighted methodology was used to compile the list.

Here are the top 10 car crash locations in Massachusetts:

  1. VFW Highway at Bridge Street, Lowell
  2. Randolph Avenue at Chickatwabut Road, Milton
  3. Morton Street at Harvard Street, Boston
  4. Ash Street and West Elm Street, Brockton
  5. Appleton Street at Central Street, Lowell
  6. Pleasant Street at Lincoln Street, Stoughton
  7. Main Street at Plainfield Street, Springfield
  8. High Street at Cabot Street, Holyoke
  9. Broadway at Third Street, Chelsea
  10. Saint James Avenue at Saint James Boulevard, Springfield

Several communities had multiple intersections on the list. Lowell has four of the top 25.

Top Crash Locations in Lowell

Two of the highest-ranked intersections were on the VFW Highway along the Merrimack River in Lowell. The VFW Highway at Bridge Street was named the top crash location statewide. The VFW Highway and Mammath Road ranked 22nd.

Also in Lowell, Appleton Street at Central Street and School Street at Branch Street appeared among the top 25 motor vehicle crash areas.

Brockton Top Crash Locations

MassDOT listed 31 Brockton intersections among the top 200 crash locations. The five top crash locations in Brockton:

4) Ash Street and West Elm Street, Brockton

15) Court Street at Montello Street, Brockton

23) Forest Avenue at Bouve Avenue, Brockton

24) Main Street at Nilsson Street, Brockton

25) Warren Avenue at Father Kenney Way, Brockton

One of the top crash locations was the area of North Quincy and Chestnut Streets on the Abington and Brockton border. Nearby, two Randolph intersections along Route 28 appeared on the list. At 41 was the intersection of South Main Street and Union Street. North Main Street and Scanlon Drive ranked 126 (this finished in the same position as six other intersections in Brockton, Lowell, Cambridge and two locations in Worcester).

Can You Change Your Commute to Avoid High Crash Locations?

Every driver wants to avoid a car crash. Apps such as Google Directions and Waze can offer valuable insights about traffic volumes. But we encourage you to look through the full MassDOT list of top crash locations.

If you travel through one of these intersections, consider why there are so many auto accidents. Some roads have high traffic volumes, especially during commuting hours. With more drivers, you may see more unsafe maneuvers, such as talking on a cell phone, speeding or failure to yield. Other roads have become large truck routes or are just aging, with outdated traffic infrastructure or poor lighting.

If you can, try to avoid these intersections or adjust your commute to avoid peak traffic. If you must travel these areas, pay attention and consider safety, near other vehicles as well as other pedestrians and cyclists. And watch for change. If you search online, you may find some of these intersections are scheduled for re-construction in the near future.

Free Legal Consultation – Contact Our Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck offers our clients more than 100 years combined experience in handling car accidents, truck crashes and other motor vehicle collisions. Clients turn to us for our experience, expertise and our commitment to achieving the best result in every case. Read about our past results for clients in personal injury cases.

If you have been injured by another driver, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact our car accident attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Bicycle riding down a road in the Boston suburbs.Cyclists may get a little more room for safety if lawmakers pass the road safety legislation Gov. Charlie Baker proposed this week.

On Monday, the Baker-Polito administration filed an expansive road safety package, which among other changes, calls for a new primary seat belt law and a controversial measure allowing cities and towns to install red-light cameras. 

One proposal – to be called Haley’s Law – seeks much steeper penalties for drivers who operate with a suspended license. Currently, drivers may face fines and/or up to 10 days in jail for the first offense in Massachusetts per M.G.L. c. 90, § 23. 

With the new legislation, a driver who lets their license lapse, then drives could face up to $1,000 in fines and 5 years in prison for the first offense. Drivers who cause auto crashes resulting in serious injury could face up to 2 ½ years in a House of Correction. There would be a mandatory two-year sentence, and up to 10 years imprisonment, for drivers convicted in fatal crashes.

The legislation is called, “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads in the Commonwealth,” and was filed as Massachusetts re-opens after COVID-19. The pandemic changed everything on our roads. But despite lighter traffic, our roads were not safer last year. 

According to state figures, Massachusetts saw 334 traffic fatalities during 2020, compared to 336 in 2019. 

Safety Reforms for Massachusetts Cyclists

For cyclists, there are two significant proposals: a 3-foot safe passing distance and a truck sideguard mandate for all state-owned and operated trucks.

3-Foot Safe Passing Distance

When traveling near cyclists, the legislation would require drivers to maintain a three-foot safe passing distance and a safe and proper speed. Drivers would have the same responsibility near cyclists traveling without a protective barrier, such as a protected bike lane with flex posts. 36 other states have safe passing laws, according to the Baker-Polito administration. The proposed legislation would give both drivers and future road projects more direction on how to accommodate cyclists. Massachusetts lawmakers have not acted on similar legislation in previous sessions. 

Most drivers know they must stay at least three feet away as a precaution to avoid bicycle crashes. But currently, Massachusetts traffic laws only recognize that drivers must pass cyclists at a “safe distance.” There is no consistent message on how much room to give cyclists.

Massachusetts traffic laws currently state in, “approaching or passing a person on a bicycle the operator of a motor vehicle shall slow down and pass at a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.” M.G.L. c. 90 § 14. Drivers must “wait for a safe opportunity to overtake” a bicyclist or other vehicle, per M.G.L. c. 89 § 2.

Stronger Truck Safety Equipment Requirements

The Baker-Polito administration is calling for state-owned and operated trucks to utilize safety equipment such as sideguards, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors. All these state vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds would have to comply by Jan. 1, 2024.

The goal is to reduce the risk of injury and death to pedestrians and cyclists, the most likely victims in truck crashes, according to the Volpe National Transportation Center. 

In Boston, we have seen numerous cyclists killed when truck drivers and companies are neglect to look. In 2014, the Boston City Council took strong action, passing the first-in-the-nation truck sideguard ordinance. All city-owned and city-contracted trucks must now be equipped with sideguards, convex mirrors, crossover mirrors and blind-spot awareness decals.

Today, as you drive through Boston,  you will see large trucks with sideguards. But Boston – and Somerville and Cambridge have similar regulations – can only influence safety within the city. This is why many – including Breakstone, White & Gluck – support passing statewide legislation requiring sideguards protect cyclists and pedestrians from being swept under trucks. While this proposal would only impact state-owned and operated trucks, this could protect many cyclists and potentially encourage private industry.

Support Truck Sideguards in Massachusetts

MassBike is advocating for the passage of  “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads in the Commonwealth,”  which will protect cyclists on Massachusetts roads. If you support the organization’s work, visit the MassBike website and learn how to contact your local legislators and voice your support.

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Wrong way sign alerts drivers they are traveling in the wrong direction and may cause a head-on car crash

Wrong-way crashes are on a dangerous rise in Massachusetts and across the U.S., according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

No one ever wants to hear the phrase “wrong-way crash.” But head-on collisions are frequent and often fatal on Massachusetts highways.

A new traffic analysis reveals the number of wrong-way crashes is rising on divided highways across the U.S. The majority of these auto crashes involve an alcohol-impaired operator. Drivers are exceeding the legal limit in 6 of 10 wrong-way car crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Drunk driving is the leading cause. Yet researchers say other factors, including a driver’s age and driving without a passenger, contribute. For example, 87 percent of wrong-way drivers travel alone. Passengers can be a resource for drivers, giving them an extra set of eyes to catch potential mistakes.

As for older drivers, those between 75 and 79 drive fewer miles and spend less time driving than younger operators. Still, they are more likely to be involved in a wrong-way crash and states are being urged to review how they identify medically at-risk drivers.

How Many Wrong-Way Crashes Are There in Massachusetts Each Year?

In Massachusetts, MassDOT data shows 150 people have died and more than 4,500 have been injured in wrong-way car accidents since 2010, according to CBSBoston.com. Since 2010, there have been 8,200 wrong-way crashes.

Nationwide, wrong-way accidents caused an average of approximately 500 deaths per year from 2015 – 2018, according to AAA. This represents a 34 percent increase from 2010 – 2014.

According to the CBSBoston.com report, the numbers also climbed in Massachusetts, from 19 to 27 deaths on average annually for the same period, a 78 percent increase.

Worcester recorded 366 wrong-way crashes, more than any other community in Massachusetts, followed by Springfield and Boston.

Wrong-Way Crashes Can Also Happen at Local Intersections

The AAA report focuses on wrong-way crashes on divided highways. Drivers can also make dangerous maneuvers resulting in wrong-way accidents at local intersections. From 2015-2018, the Federal Highway Administration reported roughly 400-450 wrong-way crashes at intersections.

Crashes may not be reported the same way at intersections, which have different traffic conditions, speeds and signage. When there is a wrong-way crash, the driver may be cited for another infraction, such as a marked lanes violation or failure to stop for a traffic signal.

But if you have been seriously injured at an intersection with a “Do Not Enter-Wrong Way” sign, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced car accident attorney who can thoroughly investigate the cause of a collision and your injury. An attorney can help you secure evidence promptly and with every aspect of your claim should you need to seek compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

Strengthening Traffic Laws to Reduce Wrong-Way Crashes

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board are working to educate drivers about taking safety precautions to avoid wrong-way crashes and head-on traffic crashes. The most fundamental step is not to drink and drive.

The organizations also support passage of safety laws and infrastructure improvements, including more visible traffic signs.

Ignition-interlock laws are part of this effort and all eyes are on Massachusetts. We are the only state which does not require drivers with a first-time OUI conviction to utilize ignition interlocks, which test one’s blood alcohol concentration before they start driving.

However, after years of unsuccessful debate, Massachusetts may finally be moving closer. Last December, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an amendment to the state budget which if passed, will make ignition interlocks mandatory for all drivers convicted of operating under the influence. This could make a meaningful difference in discouraging choices that lead to drunk driving crashes and very serious injuries across Massachusetts.

Tips for Driving Safely on Highways

Do Not Drink and Drive. Never consume alcohol – or marijuana or other drugs – then drive. Use the designated driver system if you plan to go out and consume alcohol. Drivers have the same responsibility when using prescription medications which carry safety warnings about driving. If you have a question, consult your doctor on when and how you should use your medication.

Stay Alert. Do not drive if you are drowsy or fatigued. If you find yourself too tired to drive, stop your vehicle and come up with a short-term plan for getting some rest or grabbing a cup of coffee. There is always an alternative, including Uber or Lyft. Drivers often want just to push through and reach their destination. But if your vision is blurry or you cannot focus, you are driving negligently and putting others in harm’s way.

Drive with a Friend. You can split up the driving responsibilities, which will reduce your fatigue.

Avoid Distracted Driving. Reaching for a cell phone is the cause of many auto accidents. You are not using reasonable care to drive safely if you attempt to make a phone call while traveling through highway traffic, among other cars, SUVs and large trucks.

While Massachusetts has a hands-free driving law and drivers are legally allowed to make phone calls with Bluetooth devices, the safest approach is to still look for a rest stop or exit and safely park your vehicle before using your phone.

Create a Family Support System. Families can support each other in getting home safely. Try to develop a network of friends and loved ones who will support you. Ask them in advance if they would be willing to come pick you up if you ever needed a ride. Be willing to do the same for them.

Help Older Drivers Plan. Be proactive. Take time to discuss transportation options with the older driver in your life. If they drive, help them plan the best times of day to travel and steer them away from the highway. Remind them the importance of having a regular eye exam.

Let them know they have support. Make a schedule for your loved one to get out several times a week with you, other family members, grandchildren or a Council on Aging.

Free Legal Consultation – Call Our Boston Auto Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those who have suffered serious personal injury or wrongful death due to negligence. We are based at 2 Central Plaza in downtown Boston.

With expertise in Massachusetts insurance laws and traffic accident investigations, our attorneys are here to guide clients through the difficulties you face after a serious accident. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck and our car accident lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Pedestrian Crossing Sign on a Massachusetts RoadLess traffic did not mean fewer pedestrian accidents in the early months of the pandemic. In fact, preliminary traffic data shows there was roughly the same number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019.

However, because there were fewer cars out, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is actually projecting a 20 percent increase in the pedestrian fatality rate per one billion miles traveled, according to the report, “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data.”

According to the data analysis, 2,957 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes during the first half of 2020. This is 6 more pedestrians than the same period of 2019, when the calculation included more vehicles on the road.

If trends continue, 2020 could end up having a record rate of fatal pedestrian accidents, despite having fewer cars on the road.

How much less traffic? The Federal Highway Work Administration reported a 16.5 percent decrease in traffic on all roads and streets in 2020. Here in Massachusetts, MassDOT reported an immediate 50 percent reduction in traffic volumes in April 2020. Massachusetts traffic volumes were still 20 percent lower than normal in September 2020, according to our past blog on COVID-19 traffic conditions in Massachusetts.

Larger Trend of Pedestrian Fatalities

For years, pedestrian fatalities have been on a dangerous rise in the U.S. Prior to COVID-19, pedestrian traffic fatalities stood at the highest levels since 1990. There was a striking 46 percent increase in these accidents from 2010 to 2019, according to the GHSA. In 2019, pedestrian traffic fatalities accounted for roughly 17 percent of all traffic deaths.

How Many Pedestrian Fatalities Occurred in Massachusetts During COVID-19 in 2020?

In preliminary data, Massachusetts reported 17 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020, compared to 32 from January to June 2019.

Massachusetts was one of 20 states, along with Washington D.C., which reported a decrease in the actual number of pedestrians who were killed in car accidents or crashes involving trucks, SUVs and other vehicles.

In 27 other states, the number of pedestrian fatalities in car accidents and truck crashes increased.

Notably, more than half of all pedestrian fatalities happened in seven of the most populous states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas.

Contributing Factors in the Rising Number of Pedestrian Fatalities

The GHSA cited several trends in these fatalities, including drivers who sped down open roads simply because there was less traffic.

Distraction and fatigue also contributed to many pedestrian crashes, including when drivers were negligent and failed to stop at an intersection or stay within the marked lane. In Massachusetts, the new hands-free cell phone law took effect in April 2020 but the impact was effectively delayed by Covid-19.

In addition, the report touched on the trend of drivers choosing light trucks and SUVs more often. In 2019, sales of light trucks and SUVs far outpaced passenger vehicles. The larger vehicles accounted for 72 percent of all auto sales.

Pedestrians are still more likely to be injured by a driver in a passenger car. However, over the past 10 years, there has been a 69 percent increase in SUV accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities.

With larger frames, SUVs have a unique front-end design which is particularly threatening to pedestrians. In a pedestrian SUV crash, the grill can strike a pedestrian’s pelvis or chest at nearly the same time the vehicle’s bumper hits the lower extremities, increasing the force of the impact.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our pedestrian accident lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of those injured or killed by a driver’s negligence or wrongdoing. We have represented clients after pedestrian accidents in Boston, Cambridge and throughout Massachusetts. Our attorneys have recovered significant awards, including:

  • $7.1 million for our client was who hit by an MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk
  • $2.15 million for the estate of our client who was hit and killed in a parking lot, which was not equipped with pedestrian safety bollards
  • $1.375 million for our client who was hit by a speeding MBTA bus in Roxbury

If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian crash, 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.

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Massachusetts driver gripping the steering wheelIt has been nearly a year since Massachusetts called the COVID-19 state of emergency. Your daily routine has completely changed and you are not driving very often. Do you still need to buy auto insurance at this point?

Yes. Under state law, you are required to purchase a Massachusetts auto insurance policy if you have a driver’s license and register a vehicle. If you cause a car accident in Massachusetts, you are responsible for compensating anyone you have injured for their medical expenses and other financial losses. You also have to pay for property damage.

Auto insurers granted Massachusetts drivers some discounts last year, but lawmakers and consumer advocates are starting to raise the question of further discounts.

Calls for Action on Reducing Auto Insurance Premiums in Massachusetts

On Feb. 12th, the Lawrence-Eagle Tribune reported state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and other legislators have asked the state Division of Insurance to review insurance rates, premiums and losses. They also want insurers to offer refunds from profits.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office also recently asked regulators to reduce personal automobile insurance premiums by at least 25 percent, according to the newspaper. Her office cited data showing the frequency of liability coverage claims fell more than 50 percent between 2019 and 2020. There was a 70 percent drop in the frequency of collision coverage claims.

Our Massachusetts Auto Insurance Tips During COVID-19

Purchase the Minimum Auto Insurance

Under Massachusetts law, you have to purchase the required minimum coverage limits. There has been no change to the coverage limits during COVID-19.

  • Bodily Injury to Others, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP), $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to Someone Else’s Property, $5,000 per accident

These are low coverage limits. In most cases, drivers should purchase more to adequately protect themselves and others if they cause a car accident. The key with auto insurance is you must purchase the right amounts and coverage types to protect yourself. Learn more about the different coverages in our article, “Understanding and Buying Massachusetts Car Accident Insurance.”

How Auto Insurance Protects You

Right now, you may be asking why you need to buy an auto insurance policy at all. This is a good time to remind you of all the ways your policy can work for you. Most drivers can appreciate that they are required to purchase auto insurance under Massachusetts law. At the very least, under M.G.L. c. 90, § 34J, you may face a fine between $500 to $5,000 if you are caught operating without insurance. Most drivers can also appreciate that auto insurance can protect them financially if they make a mistake and cause someone injury in a car crash.

But there are other protections. First, you may need your auto insurance to protect yourself. Even if another driver was at fault in a car crash, you may have to file a claim with your own policy for your medical expenses and lost wages. This would be true if you were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This would also be the case if you were injured in a hit-and-run accident and could not identify the driver.

If you are a cyclist, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against another driver for your injuries in a bicycle accident. However, having your own auto insurance policy can provide necessary resources to help you recover, especially if the driver does not have auto insurance.

Another benefit is auto insurance can protect our loved ones or those living in our household. Call your insurance agent and ask to add these licensed drivers to your policy. They may be able to draw on the coverage should they ever be injured in a car crash or a bicycle accident and not have coverage elsewhere.

Keep Massachusetts Auto Insurance Payments Current

It is fine to evaluate your auto insurance. But do not withhold or miss an auto insurance premium payment or you could risk your insurer cancelling your policy. If you are facing financial hardship, one option is you can set up a payment plan over the year. In doing so, you may be losing a pre-payment discount, but it may be the best approach for your situation right now.

Before you call your insurer or insurance agent, learn as much as you can. Read the state advisory on Motor Vehicle Insurance Installment Payment Plans.

Seek Quotes from Massachusetts Insurance Agents

In Massachusetts, you can purchase insurance directly through an insurer or an insurance agent. Call and ask if you qualify for any discounts based on your current driving routine, vehicle, employer or group memberships. At a minimum, insurers should offer a discount for traveling more than 5,000 miles in a year.

It is usually worth requesting quotes from more than one insurance agent or companies. In Massachusetts, some insurance agents can offer quotes from multiple companies. Expect most to represent just a single company. Here is the state of Massachusetts insurance agent database.

Check for Discounts and Savings

The best types of discounts and savings are those you achieve just by checking in with your auto insurance agent. For instance, you may be eligible for a discount because you logged fewer than 5,000 miles on your car in 2020.

In some cases, this conversation may not result in savings. You may need to add someone to your household policy or purchase business coverage because you started using your vehicle for work. Whatever your situation, you have a responsibility to keep your auto insurer updated so you have proper coverage should you need it. Many people put their auto insurance coverage at risk without even realizing it when they move and start garaging their vehicle in a new location. Your auto insurance is calculated in part based on where you garage your vehicle. College students who take their vehicles to campus also need to update auto insurers.

Where to Learn More About Massachusetts Auto Insurance

We mentioned a few of our auto insurance articles in this blog. We also invite you to read our other auto insurance articles, including “What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance” and “Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself and Your Finances.”

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorney

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our commitment to pursuing the best financial result for clients. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligent driving, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. We represent clients throughout Massachusetts, including in Boston, Quincy, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Brookline and Arlington.

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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The New Year has begun with several reports of pedestrian accidents across Massachusetts. One pedestrian was seriously injured in Springfield. Two pedestrians were killed, one in Charlestown and one in Oxford.

On January 5th, Boston Police responded to a fatal scene at Charlestown’s City Square. A 92-year-old pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle near the Charlestown Navy Yard and dragged for nearly a mile, according to news reports. Police later announced they had located a vehicle of interest.

A new report highlights the dangerous climb in pedestrian crashes in the U.S. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of pedestrians killed in U.S. car crashes rose by 55 percent, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This is a major increase, following three decades of decreases.

In Massachusetts, 725 pedestrians were killed during this period. Another 17,000 pedestrians were injured. Boston, Springfield, Worcester, New Bedford and Brockton reported the highest numbers of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Massachusetts.

Other notes:

  • Most pedestrian injuries occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • 28 percent of the pedestrian accident victims in Massachusetts were 65 or older
  • 3 out of 4 pedestrians killed on U.S. roads in 2018 were hit during darkness
  • 84 percent of pedestrian accidents over the 10 years occurred on streets with speed limits 30 mph or higher
  • There was a 70 percent increase in pedestrians killed at non-intersection locations without crosswalks

AAA is calling on cities and states to improve traffic infrastructure to provide more protection to pedestrians.

This report is a good reminder for drivers to really watch for pedestrians. This is January and darkness comes early. We are also wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Massachusetts residents are out of routine and may be walking in new areas and at different times. As a driver, you have the ability to slow down and that can make all the difference in preventing a pedestrian accident. According to StreetsBlog, a pedestrian struck by a driver traveling at 20 mph has a 93 percent chance of surviving.

Here are a few safety reminders for drivers:

  • Obey traffic signs.
  • Slow down. Travel below the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • At traffic signals and stop signs, look front, back, right and left before you step on the gas. You have to watch for pedestrians as well as cyclists.
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers are known for our experience representing pedestrians who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, truck collisions and bus accidents. We represent those injured by the negligence of others across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Quincy and other areas. If you or a loved one has been injured, 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.

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