Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Uber app on a cell phone

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled Uber did not provide users with reasonable notice of its terms and conditions.

Have you ever signed up for a rideshare app and been frustrated to see the extensive terms and conditions – all on your small cell phone screen? Just what are you agreeing to?

You are not alone. Now, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has found Uber failed to provide reasonable notice of its terms and conditions to users. A Massachusetts man and a family member filed a discrimination lawsuit against Uber in 2016, then were compelled into arbitration with the rideshare company based on the app’s terms and conditions.

But on Monday, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled there was no enforceable arbitration agreement between Uber and the plaintiffs in Christopher P. Kauders & another vs. Uber Technologies, Inc. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case back to Superior Court.

The Court reviewed Uber’s complicated registration process, noting app users could easily bypass the initial screens, but the process grew much more cumbersome as the consumer approached the terms and conditions and privacy policy.

The Court wrote certain terms and conditions were extensive and far reaching and, “may literally require an individual user to sign his or her life away, as Uber may not be liable if something happened to the user during one of the rides.”

Facts

In 2016, the plaintiffs filed a civil lawsuit against Uber in Suffolk Superior Court, claiming that Uber had discriminated against them in violation of M.G. L. c. 272, § 98A. This statute prohibits discrimination against anyone who is blind, deaf or has another physical handicap and is accompanied by a guide dog in Massachusetts. One of the plaintiffs was blind and claimed three Uber drivers had refused him service in 2015 and 2016.

Citing a provision in its terms and conditions, Uber moved for arbitration against the plaintiffs’ opposition. On June 4, 2018, the arbitrator issued a ruling finding that Uber was not liable for the discriminatory acts of the drivers, who are independent contractors.

Then, on June 25, 2018, a decision came in the case of Cullinane vs. Uber Techs, Inc. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that Uber’s registration process did not create a contract because app users did not have reasonable notice of the terms and conditions.

Users Not Given Reasonable Notice of Terms and Conditions

In Kauders, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote that Uber writes terms which are extremely favorable to the company and does not give users “reasonable notice” of the terms and conditions.

The Court concluded, “Uber’s terms and conditions did not constitute a contract with the plaintiffs. The app’s registration process did not provide users with reasonable notice of the terms and conditions and did not obtain a clear manifestation of assent to the terms, both of which could have been easily achieved.”

Another problem, the Court wrote, is Uber can amend the terms and conditions whenever it wants without consent from users. The burden is on the consumer to keep checking and there is no way for the consumer to object.

In response to the decision, an Uber spokeswoman told The Boston Globe the company  had already modified its application forms in a way that should comply with the Court’s reasoning.

What if You Are Injured in a Rideshare Accident?

Rideshare companies have worked to limit their liability in many areas. However, those injured in rideshare car accidents in Massachusetts still have the right to pursue financial compensation for their injuries.  In 2016, Massachusetts passed legislation to regulate Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies. Under the legislation, drivers must carry an adequate level of auto insurance while working for a rideshare company.

Rideshare accidents can happen and injure passengers, but also drivers of other vehicles and their passengers, as well as pedestrians and cyclists. If you have been injured, it is important to document whether a driver was operating a rideshare vehicle for work or personal use at the time of the crash.

This may be important because rideshare drivers are required to have additional coverage when logged onto the transportation company’s digital network or while the driver is engaged in a pre-arranged ride in Massachusetts.

In the News

Watch Attorney David W. White speak to NBC Boston about complicated rideshare app agreements in 2019:

Boston Car Accident Lawyers – Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in the handling of personal injury cases in Massachusetts and has been consistently recognized for our results, including as Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers.

If you have been injured in a car accident or a rideshare accident, learn your legal rights. It is in your best interest to consult a Boston car accident attorney before signing any documentation or speaking to the driver’s insurance company.

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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snow plow accidents can happen in parking lot

Drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care and caution during snow conditions. In Massachusetts, numerous car accidents were reported across the state during last weekend’s Nor’easter. In Lowell, a woman in a wheelchair was killed by a snowplow crash.

When the snow starts to fall, get ready for winter travel conditions. While many Massachusetts residents are working remotely, most of us are still driving in some capacity and it is critical to prepare. You want to travel safely, slowly and defensively so no one is injured.

If you fail to exercise reasonable care during snow and ice conditions, you are more likely to slip, slide or crash on the road. You could cause yourself injury and need a new vehicle. But even more critical, you could cause someone else serious injury in a car accident. You could be held financially liable and have to pay a claim through your Massachusetts automobile insurance policy.

Stock your car up with emergency supplies. Include jumper cables, a snow shovel and scraper, a flashlight, extra windshield wiper fluid, antifreeze and a basic tool kit, with a screwdriver and other essentials. Also pack a warm blanket, bottled water and a snack, as well as a bright colored flag to wave should you need help. Another tip from the state of Massachusetts: have sand, road salt, a strip of carpet or kitty litter for traction should you need it.

Check your vehicle’s systems. Keep up with routine maintenance during the pandemic, even if you are not driving as often. On your own, you can inspect your tires, headlights and taillights to make sure they are working. You can also check your wiper blades and windshield washer fluid, heat and defrost.

Check weather alerts and traffic updates. Check both weather and traffic conditions before leaving home. Check weather conditions hour-by-hour so you are prepared.

Stay home. Avoid traveling during heavy snow conditions. If you must travel, use public transportation or delay your commute if possible.

Most New England residents do not re-arrange their travel plans for rain. Schools have “snow days” but not “rain days.” But be aware that any type of precipitation impacts visibility and safety on the road. One recent study looked at more than 125,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes between 2006 and 2011 and put a number on the risk for car accidents.

According to the study, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the risk rises based on the intensity of the precipitation. Light precipitation may increase the potential hazard by 27 percent. The risk more than doubles during heavier precipitation.

One of the researchers told the Washington Post that many drivers do not appreciate how the risk for crashes increases during even light rain.

Clear snow off your car. Plan an extra few minutes to remove snow from your vehicle’s roof, windshield and windows. You should be able to see in all directions from the driver’s seat.

In Massachusetts, police can cite drivers who neglect to clear snow because this interferes with safe travel. Drivers can receive a civil citation and have to pay a fine. However, the greater risk is that someone could be seriously injured by flyaway snow and ice or that the snow and ice could block someone’s view.

Drivers can prevent these accidents by simply doing a little more work before they drive. As a driver, you should know if you neglect to clear snow and ice and cause someone injury, you could be held financially responsible for the victim’s injuries and other damages. In Massachusetts, you could also be criminally charged with reckless or negligent operation of a motor vehicle. If you have been injured by a driver who neglected to remove snow and ice from their vehicle, you should report this fact to police investigating the car crash. You may also want to consult a Boston personal injury lawyer to learn your legal rights.

Slow down. Travel below the speed limit, even if others are traveling at the normal speed or speeding. Lowering your speed gives you more control over your vehicle. Remember, traffic is less predictable during snow storms and the road ahead may not be fully plowed. With less visibility, you may will need to watch more closely for pedestrians.

Charge cell phones. Keep your phone charged so you can use it during an emergency, but don’t use it. It is best to wait until you get home to talk, even if you are using an in-vehicle system or Bluetooth as allowed under the Massachusetts hands-free law. You can still cause a car accident if you are distracted and using a cell phone, even if you are following the law. You can still be held liable if you cause someone injury because you were not paying attention.

Travel safely near plow trucks. The state of Massachusetts advises drivers to stay at least 200 feet back when approaching a snow plow truck or other snow removal equipment. Do not attempt to pass a snow plow at any time. Drivers should be prepared for snow plows to make sudden stops at any time. Staying back gives you more time to slow down or stop, reducing the chance of a snow plow crash.

Snow plow drivers are likely to have poor visibility and you do not know how long they have been working without a break. What you can do is turn your vehicle lights on and wipe these clean from snow regularly. By taking these steps and giving snow plow drivers space, you are less likely to be involved in a collision with a snow plow or other vehicles also trying to dodge the snow plow.

Snow plows need as much room as possible in part because they must also watch for pedestrians.

Less than a week ago, there was a tragic accident in Lowell. The two pedestrians, one of whom was in a wheelchair, were struck at the corner of School and Cross streets. The 27-year-old woman in the wheelchair later died, according to NBC Boston. She was with a 39-year-old man and both were wearing safety jackets with reflectors, one witness at the scene told the news station. The accident was under investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Because of the risk for plow truck accidents, we also caution drivers to avoid these vehicles in parking lots. Pedestrians have been hit, injured and killed by plow drivers in Massachusetts parking lots.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck has a track record of successfully representing those injured by negligent drivers in car accidents, SUV crashes and truck collisions. We are experienced in investigating snow plow accidents which have injured pedestrians and other motorists, as well as other vehicle crashes in snow conditions.

Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck represents clients across Massachusetts, including Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Quincy, Milton, Lynn and Saugus.

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

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

Safety Tips for Older Pedestrians

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety Reminders for Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Passengers, More Risk for Crashes

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

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

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

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

Come Up With a Driving Plan for Your Teen

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More People Are Wearing Seat Belts in Massachusetts

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speeding Accidents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Crash Attorneys

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

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

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Cars and trucks on highways

Recently, there have been several serious multi-vehicle highway accidents in the Boston area.

Many drivers have chosen backroads for the past few months. Now, as more people are driving again, we want to caution you to drive safely on Massachusetts highways. Recently, there have been some serious highway crashes, including multi-vehicle crashes.

Our safety tips for traveling on local highways:

Stay in your lane. Unless you have to move, staying in your lane is easier for you and more predictable to other drivers. You are also less vulnerable if another driver speeds up behind you suddenly.

Follow the speed limit. Always watch for the posted speeds. Expect to travel 65 mph on major highways and 55 mph on others. But remember you have a duty to use reasonable care. Driving safely may mean you have to slow down due to weather or traffic conditions to protect yourself and other drivers. You may also have to slow down if  you approach a crash scene.

Make safe decisions. When you make bad decisions, you increase your chances of causing a car accident. Two very unsafe decisions are drinking and driving and speeding. On a highway, your dangerous decision is likely to cause far more injuries because of the traffic count and high speed. Think about a game of dominoes, without the game part.

Protect yourself near trucks. Try to avoid traveling right near or behind large trucks. If you must, provide them with ample room to avoid a crash.

Be aware that trucks create wind gusts. Keep both hands on the steering wheel and stay focused on the road.

Back off when a truck driver signals a lane change. On highways, the average truck needs an 8-second gap or 700 feet to change lanes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This is the length of 2 ½ football fields.

Give emergency vehicles room to work. In Massachusetts, the Move Over Law establishes that drivers have duty to move out of the way of emergency responders and vehicles with flashing lights. You can be fined $100 if you violate this law. You are also likely to be held financially liable if you cause someone injury or property damage to a motor vehicle or a highway fixture, such as a sign or a guardrail.

Do not use cell phones on highways. Distraction and high speeds are not a safe combination. Avoid cell phone use on highways – or at least go hands-free. Picking up your cell phone to call someone and texting while driving are against the law in Massachusetts.


Recent Highway Accidents in Massachusetts

3-Car Crash Kills Young Girl on Route 6 in Westport. Two drivers collided on Route 6 in Westport on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 13. After assessing the damage, they decided to keep driving and to address the situation after clearing the highway. But as the cars started to move, a Jeep Grand Cherokee slammed into the vehicles, one of which was carrying a 10-year-old girl who was killed and her 9-year-old sister, who suffered serious injuries.

7-Vehicle Crash on I-93 in Dorchester. In late August, news outlets reported a tragic multiple car crash on I-93 in Dorchester, just after 7:30 p.m. According to the Cape Cod Times, a 39-year-old female driver hit a highway barrier and an ambulance, then died from her injuries. She was not the only victim. The crash involved a total of 7 vehicles and several people were transported to receive medical care.

Wrong Way Crash Kills 2 in Brockton. Meanwhile in Brockton, a 30-year-old driver allegedly drove in the wrong direction at 3 a.m. Her Volkswagen Jetta struck a Hyandai Santa Fe, colliding and killing two people inside The Brockton car crash occurred on the Reynolds Memorial Highway and as of August 23, was under investigating by the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office and the Brockton Police. A third driver in a Chevy Tahoe was involved in the crash, but refused medical treatment (Source: NBC Boston).

Littleton Truck Crash on Route 2. In July, there was a very serious crash involving a tractor-trailer and two pick-up trucks on Route 2 in Littleton. Surprisingly, no one was injured in the multi-truck crash. However, emergency crews had to close down the eastbound side of the highway to recover the vehicles.

According to WHDH, emergency responders found the tractor-trailer and one of the pick-up trucks off the road on the guard rail. The other pick-up truck was overturned. Police were investigating the cause of the truck crash, according to WCVB-TV.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured by someone’s negligent driving in Massachusetts, contact the lawyers of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston to learn your legal rights. If you have been injured in a multi-car highway crash, this is even more important. Highway crashes may involve several drivers and business vehicles or a large truck. The insurance claim process is complex for the individual drivers and passengers involved. As they attempt to find their way, the companies can mobilize quickly to defend their financial interests. It is vital that you act immediately to protect your rights.

Contact our Boston car accident attorneys for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Mother securing her baby in the car seat in her carWhile there is so much going on right now, we want to put a spotlight on Child Passenger Safety Week. The safety week began Sunday, Sept. 20th and continues through Saturday, Sept. 26th.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children in our country, according to the CDC. Parents, of course, want to protect their children and follow Massachusetts car seat and safety belt laws. But this can be a challenge as children outgrow car seats, especially during COVID-19, when most shopping has to be done online.

We hope parents and grandparents find the resources on this page helpful. Remember, you want to find a car seat that fits your child and your vehicle.  You also want to feel comfortable using it each day. A second-hand car seat may work for you. But for many people, we encourage to you start with a new car seat if you can.

In Massachusetts, children must ride in federally-approved passenger safety seats.  They must ride in a car seat from birth until they reach age 8 or stand more than 57 inches tall. Children must be properly fastened and secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions. But where should you start? This is where parents often grow frustrated, as there are different car seats based on a child’s age and size. We will get you started: Children should start with rear-facing car seats until they reach the top height or weight limit set by the car seat maker. They will then move to a forward-facing car seat, then finally a booster seat.

Here are some resources:

  1. Child Passenger Safety Week. Read safety resources from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  2. Find the Right Car Seat. Check out this NHTSA chart on finding the right car seat.
  3. Massachusetts Car Seat Resources. Most years, the state of Massachusetts and local communities offer free car seat inspections and fittings for parents. This is an invaluable opportunity for parents. Due to COVID-19, you can expect fewer – if any – in-person car seat inspection opportunities. We suggest you start by visiting the state web page. Here is another helpful resource: Massachusetts Car Seat FAQs
  4. Watch a How-To Video. While it may not be the same as an in-person inspection, the NHTSA offers helpful videos to help parents secure children at different stages.
  5. Keeping Asking for Help. If you are still unsure about your car seat, it is alright to keep asking for help. Try asking a family member or friend. You can also try your pediatrician’s office or visit your local police department’s website to see if they are offering car seat inspections at this time.
  6. Check Your Car Seat for Recalls. Check www.cpsc.gov to see if your car seat has been recalled. If you find a recall, call the manufacturer immediately and ask for the recall action. Often, a company will send a replacement part. But they may issue you a refund and ask you to return a defective car seat to a local store. Always follow a manufacturer’s instructions on disposing a recalled product.
  7. Register Your Car Seat. It’s easy to become distracted when you buy a car seat or a major item. Did you forgot to register yours? Take a minute to visit the manufacturer’s website now. Better late than never on this one. If there is a recall, this is the best way to get timely notification.
  8. Buckle Children Up Last. Pack everything up for the day in your car – work bags, backpacks, sports gear and lunch boxes – then buckle your child into their car seat last. This way you can always keep them in sight and talk to them as you get ready.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those have been injured by negligence and wrongdoing in Massachusetts. We specialize in the handling of personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases, including the representation of cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured. To learn more about our work, read our Car Accident Case Results page.

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

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