Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Red light crashes

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

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

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

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

Massachusetts Red Light Accidents

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

Safety Recommendations: Roundabouts and Traffic Cameras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

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

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Massachusetts State House

Massachusetts lawmakers plan to hold an oversight hearing on how the RMV processes out-of-state license violations.

Many are grieving in the wake of the fatal motorcycle crash in New Hampshire. At the same time, many are asking, “Where was the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles?” State lawmakers say they will now convene an oversight hearing to review the RMV safety lapses.

The Massachusetts RMV failed to suspend Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s CDL license, a move which could have prevented the June 21 crash killing seven motorcyclists in Randolph, New Hampshire. Three other riders were injured. The motorcyclists belonged to the Jarheads MC, a New England club for Marine veterans and their spouses.

But how was Zhukovskyy even driving?

Weeks earlier, Zhukovskyy had been charged with an OUI in the state of Connecticut. The Massachusetts RMV received this information yet took no action, leaving the 23-year-old West Springfield man free to drive using his CDL license, which allows him to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Even though he had a reckless driving history, Zhukovsky received his Class A license – or CDL – in August 2018, WCVB reported.

He had received his Massachusetts personal driving license in April 2013. Soon after, he was picked up for operating under the influence for hitting two vehicles in Westfield, Massachusetts, according to NBC Boston. He lost his Massachusetts driver’s license for 210 days.

Zhukovsky had a history of reckless driving and license suspensions in five states before the New Hampshire crash. In addition to the recent OUI arrest in Connecticut, he had been charged or involved in crashes in Massachusetts, Iowa, Ohio and Texas. He allegedly flipped a tractor-trailer haulting cars in Baytown, Texas just after the Connecticut OUI and just 18 days before the New Hampshire crash. He was not cited in that incident.

Still, Zhukovsky was driving a pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer for his employer, Westfield Transport, in New Hampshire.

Mistakes at the Massachusett RMV

In the days after the truck crash, families mourned the motorcyclists and the Massachusetts registrar of motor vehicles resigned. We learned Zhukovsky wasn’t the only driver who slipped under the radar.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack held a series of news conferences. On July 5, they acknowledged they had launched a review of the out-of-state notifications, finding nearly 900 drivers had been allowed to keep driving in Massachusetts even as they faced serious charges in other states. As a result, state officials suspended approximately 876 drivers.

These were serious offenses, including operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs, leaving the scene of a fatal accident and even vehicular homicide.

According to The Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles had ignored thousands of notifications from other states and it was unclear when this practice began. The Globe reported no one at the RMV had been responsible for tracking paper notifications since at least March 2018. These notifications were found in 53 bins in the RMV’s Quincy headquarters, organized by the month of arrival, but with no action taken.

A state official told the Globe it was unclear why the RMV personnel stopped processing the paper notifications. However, the state had signed up for a voluntary electronic notification system created by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators that same month.

We can expect learn more about the safety lapses and the RMV in coming weeks. According to MassLive.com, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation has announced it will hold an oversight hearing later in July.

Meanwhile, Gov. Baker and Transportation Secretary Pollack say the Department of Transportation has or will:

  • Extend its review of out-of-state license infractions back to 2011. More drivers could face suspensions.
  • Hire an accounting firm, Grant Thornton, to conduct a forensic audit and determine why Zhukovskyy’s license was not revoked. The firm is expected to release a 30-day report, then a final report within 60 days.
  • Create a new deputy registrar position to focus on public safety at the RMV.
  • Gov. Baker said he is drafting legislation to tighten requirements for CDL licenses.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing victims of motor vehicle accidents, truck crashes and motorcycle accidents in Boston, Worcester and across Massachusetts. Learn more about our work and results from our past clients and their families.

If you have been injured, learn your rights for seeking compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244, 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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It was painful to learn of the New Hampshire truck crash which killed seven motorcyclists and injured three others last weekend. That one crash could injure so many is heart-breaking and we send our deepest condolences to the families. 

The horrific accident happened Friday night in the community of Randolph, New Hampshire. The motorcyclists belonged to the Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club for Marine Corps veterans and close friends, according to The Boston Globe. The group was reportedly traveling to their annual meeting eastbound on Route 2 when they were struck by the truck traveling west. Reports said the truck crossed the double yellow line.

By Monday, the driver – a 23-year-old Springfield, Mass. man – had been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide in the case. Massachusetts State Police took Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy into custody at his home. He was then taken to Springfield District Court, where he waived extradition to New Hampshire.

New Hampshire authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, but there are questions about whether Zhukovskyy should have been driving at all following his arrests on OUI charges last month and back in 2013, according to news reports. Meanwhile, his employer, Springfield-based Westport Transport is said to be cooperating with police.

While this type of collision causing so many injuries is rare, motorcycle crashes are not, especially during the summer in New England. Per mile, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, Massachusetts authorities report they have responded to four fatal motorcycle crashes between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Some of the crashes involved a single motorcyclist. This was the case in New Bedford, Belchertown and Andover. But in Westport, a preliminary investigation shows the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on Route 177 when there was a collision with a Ford Ranger turning onto Tickle Road. The driver of the Ford Ranger stayed on the scene and was said to be cooperating with police.

In addition to local authorities, motorcycle accidents should be investigated by an experienced motorcycle crash attorney. In some cases, another driver may not appear to be involved. But drivers who speed, stop short, pass a motorcycle illegally or fail to check their blindspot cause motorcyclists to crash all the time. These are known as no-contact crashes.

When trucks hit motorcyclists, injuries can be more severe as we saw in New Hampshire. Truck companies have a responsibility to train drivers how to operate near motorcyclists. Truck drivers must also take care to properly load vehicles, especially if they are carrying equipment and materials on open open trailers.

 At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we urge drivers to observe the following:

  • Motorcyclists have the right to operate on the same roads as drivers and must follow the same traffic laws and signals.
  • Provide motorcyclists room. Travel several car lengths behind motorcyclists. 
  • Motorcyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in a lane in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Source: The Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual and AmericanMotorcyclist.com). 
  • Motorcyclist are not permitted to travel between traffic lanes (or split lanes).
  • Accidents can happen when drivers fail to look before they turn. In fact, this was the cause of 44 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2013, according to esurance.com.
  • Attempt to make eye contact with motorcyclists at intersections. Many motorcyclists do not have self-canceling turn signals like car and you cannot trust a motorcyclist will turn until you see it.
  • Check your mirrors and blindspots often.
  • Some drivers have trouble driving in the rain. Expect the same from motorcyclists. Be patient and give them more room.
  • Do not speed through traffic lights or make quick unexpected movements at traffic lights and intersections.
  • Do not speed on any roads.
  • Do not overload trucks and trailers. Secure equipment and materials behind a closed door or under secure ratchet straps, bungee tarp straps or other appropriate equipment.
  • Do not attempt to pass motorcyclists unless you must. While you are allowed to do so in Massachusetts, the motorcyclist may not be expecting the move and surprises can lead to accidents and falls.
  • Never drive when you are tired; do not drive when you are normally sleeping or getting ready for bed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Remove all distractions from your car, including cell phones. Hold heavy conversation and limit snacks and drinks.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips

If you are a motorcyclist, please read our past blog, “Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips.” The article can be a resource if you are just starting to ride, looking to become licensed or have questions about your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston car accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured in motorcycle accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Teen driver and teen passenger sitting in front seat of car, using cell phones.

A recent study shows teen drivers are more likely to cause crashes resulting in injury or death during the summer months.

When your teen driver picks up the keys, you may casually say, “Have fun and be safe.” But this is when your worry sets in.

In this blog, Breakstone, White & Gluck reports on the latest research on teen drivers along with essential safety fundamentals to share with your family. Our partners each have more than 35 years of experience representing those who have been injured by negligent drivers in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. To avoid these tragedies, we encourage parents to play an even more proactive role to encourage safety during the summer months.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety “100 Deadliest Days” Study

A new study reports two-thirds of people injured or killed in car crashes involve a teen driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released this figure as part of its “100 Deadliest Days” report on the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes caused by teens during the summer months, according to AAA.

More than a quarter of the teen driving crashes were caused by speeding. Teens who were drinking and driving caused 17 percent of the deadly collisions while distracted driving behaviors caused 9 percent of the deaths.

Other findings:

  • Teen drivers, age 15-18, are 17 percent more likely to cause a fatal car crash in the summer than other times of the year.
  • The legal age for consuming alcohol is 21 years old in every state. Yet 1 in 6 teens involved in fatal summer crashes tested positive for alcohol.
  • More than 52 percent of teens participating in AAA’s research reported they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days. Another 40 percent admitted to sending one.
  • As part of its research, AAA used in-vehicle dash cameras and found 58 percent of teens who caused a crash were engaged in distracted behaviors. This was four times as high as federal estimates.

Other research goes deeper, showing teen drivers crash nearly 4 times as often per mile as drivers age 20 and up (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.) The younger the driver, the more likely they are to crash due to inexperience or risky behaviors. Even a couple years can make a significant difference. For instance, the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is 1.5 times as great as for 18- and 19-year-olds.

A few tips for your family:

Teen driving agreement. If you have never done so, now is a good time to have your child sign a teen driving agreement. Don’t just get a signature. Ask your teen to read each point out loud and ask if they understand or have any questions. 

Massachusetts Junior Operator Law. Remind your teen that they have additional restrictions under the state’s junior operator law. If they violate the law, they may be cited and the infraction will go on their driving record. There is nothing you can do to help them at that point unless you plan to hire a criminal defense lawyer and attempt to challenge the citation.

For the first six months, drivers age 16 ½ to 18 cannot carry passengers under the age of 18, except for family members. The law also bans junior operators from driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. and cell phone use is not allowed for any reason. There are additional consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding or drag racing.

Drinking and Driving. Explain to your teen that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving in your home. Encourage them to avoid parties where there are a large number of teens or where teens may be drinking.

At the same time, they should never get in the car with a friend who has been drinking and you will do everything you can to help them get home safely in situations involving alcohol. Come up with an emergency plan together now before there is a crisis situation.

Drive with your teen. Ask your teen to tag along when you go to the grocery store or mall. Show them how you handle the parking lot or the busy intersection where you need to watch for cyclists and pedestrians. Talk through some of the steps out loud. Then, give them the wheel on the way home. 

Set a good example. Do not heavily consume alcohol and never drive if you do. Put your cell phone in the back seat when you drive. If your teen calls, say, “I was driving and couldn’t talk.” If you use a hands-free driving device, consider limiting use while your teen gets started on the road. 

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience. Our lawyers are committed to providing aggressive representation and obtaining the best possible financial results for clients – in every case. We represent clients injured by car crashes and in truck accidents in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and across Massachusetts.

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

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Woman hailing a rideshare driver in BostonA new report says Uber, Lyft and their drivers should move to fix auto recalls quickly. What actually happens is far different in many cases.

In New York and Seattle, one in every 6 rideshare vehicles registered for Uber and Lyft has an open safety recall on it, according to Consumer Reports. This means while a vehicle has been recalled, the driver continues to operate it and carry passengers without addressing the broken parts. Some of the recalls, such as those involving Takata airbags, have been associated with serious car accidents and injuries. Others involve defective seat belts or the potential for car fires or engine failure.

Consumer Reports reviewed safety records for 94,000 rideshare vehicles registered to Uber and Lyft in New York City and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located. Some drivers work for more than one company, so the consumer website grouped them together and also included some data for smaller competitors.

Consumer Reports called for stronger safety recall laws and says rideshare vehicle defects should be repaired promptly to protect the public from car accidents and injuries.

When shown the data, Uber’s response was that it “encourages and reminds” drivers to have recalls fixed. The company said it blocks certain vehicles from using its platform if there is a “DO NOT DRIVE” warning from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Uber also participates in the NHTSA’s twice-a-year campaign to raise awareness about addressing auto recalls.

Lyft’s response was rideshare drivers, by using their personal vehicles, are representing that their cars meet safety standards. It went on to say drivers have a “strong personal incentive” to repair their vehicles since they are used for work and in their personal lives, “driving their kids to school or friends around town.” The company said it works with lawmakers, regulators and local officials to develop safety regulations.

Safety Tips for Rideshare Passengers

Use an App to Check For Recalls

Consumer Reports suggests consumers check for auto recalls using the myCarfax app. Once you book your Uber or Lyft, you will receive the vehicle’s license plate. Type that number into myCarfax to check if the car has a safety recall.

Avoid the Front Seat

You can also avoid the front passenger seat. Rideshare drivers may still be operating with defective Takata airbags. Takata and auto manufacturers have spent years recalling millions of airbags because they have the potential to explode and cause traumatic and deadly injuries. Around the world, 24 people have been killed and hundreds of people have suffered injuries.

The Takata recall repairs have been slow at times. The NHTSA has announced the recalls in increments and there have been delays in delivering new airbags to local car dealers at times. But rideshare drivers and the companies have a greater responsibility to address safety recalls because they provide transportation to the public.

Monitor the Model Year of Your Uber

Consumer Reports observed a number of Lyft and Uber vehicles operating even though they didn’t meet the vehicle age requirements set by the rideshare companies or states and cities. This isn’t exactly an auto part recall, but it is closely related. Cars should have expiration dates. An aging vehicle can put rideshare passengers at risk.

The next time you are in a Lyft vehicle, remember the company requires Massachusetts drivers to use vehicles which are 2003 or newer; vehicles should be 2004 or newer on Cape Cod, Springfield and Worcester. Read the Lyft application checklist. As for Uber, the company requires vehicles to be 15 years or newer. Read the Uber vehicle requirements. 

Report Any Safety Issues

If you use a rideshare vehicle and observe safety risks, take a photo and report your concern to the rideshare company or local police.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With more than 100 years combined experience, our Boston personal injury lawyers specialize in representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries in car crashes, commercial truck collisions and Uber and Lyft accidents. Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced at filing successful claims against both the major rideshare companies.

Learn your legal rights if you have been injured. Call our law office for a free legal consultation today: toll-free 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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20 mph speed limit

In Boston, city officials are interested in lowering speed limits to 20 mph in neighborhoods to reduce traffic fatalities. The proposal comes just two years after the city lowered speeds from 30 to 25 mph and will require state approval.

First, the City of Boston dropped speed limits to 25 mph, with a goal of reducing traffic fatalities and pedestrian injuries. Now, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council have their eyes on 20 mph on neighborhood streets. The next step is obtaining state approval.

The City of Boston first sought to lower speed limits as part of its VisionZero campaign a few years ago. That proposal also required approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Baker’s signature.

Gov. Baker signed the Municipal Modernization Bill into law in 2016, including language that allowed cities and towns to lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Cities and towns can now lower speed limits on all (or select) municipal roads in thickly settled areas or business districts. Many communities have done so, including Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Arlington and Dedham. Now, unless traffic signs are posted otherwise, it’s 25 mph in these communities. 

While the speed limit in these communities has dropped, the fines remain the same. In Massachusetts, speeding carries a $105 fine for speeding. If you exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, there is an extra $10 fine per each mile per hour.

Boston was the first to approve lower speeds, with this taking effect in January 2017. But the City of Boston’s goal was always 20 mph and remains so for city neighborhoods. In fact, the Boston City Council approved a 20 mph speed limit back in 2016.

As the City of Boston pursues a 20 mph speed limit for neighborhoods, there is early data showing that the 30 to 25 mph drop has changed traffic patterns for the better. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, after the lower speed limit took effect, Boston saw a 29 percent reduction in traffic traveling over 35 mph.

Mayor Walsh also announced other transportation initiatives last week, including the creation of special drop-off and pick-up sites for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing vehicles. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities confirms that Boston is the truly the hub of ride-hail services. During 2017, nearly 35 million rideshare trips began in the city. Boston saw more than 6 times as many rideshare starts as Cambridge, which has the second largest presences in Massachusetts.

Walsh’s other proposal is to give every student in the Boston public school system a MBTA pass. The price tag hasn’t been negotiated yet with the MBTA. Currently, the city receives a subsidy from the MBTA and pays $5.6 million for MBTA passes for students in Grade 7 and 8 who live more than a mile and a half from their schools.

Data That Supports 20 MPH

  • According to the VisionZero Network, 9 out of 10 pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph survive. Increase the speed to 30 mph and the survival rate drops to 50 percent. At 40 mph, just 10 percent of pedestrians survive.
  • Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Speeding crashes claimed the lives of 59,374 people on U.S. roads from 2010 to 2015 (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Cars speeding through red lights are a leading cause of urban car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some states and local communities permit use of red light and speeding cameras to improve enforcement. But many do not, including Massachusetts and our neighboring New England states. Rhode Island is the one exception, allowing red light cameras by state law and city ordinance. State law permits use of speeding cameras in school zones on weekdays.

Related:

Walsh to propose 20 mph limit in neighborhoods and new Uber, Lyft pickup sites, Boston Globe, March 7, 2019

Slow Down! Boston, Cambridge and Other Cities Have Dropped Speeds to 25 MPH, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2017

City of Boston to Lower Speed Limits to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2015

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Drunk driving accidents resulting in injury

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

A proposal to expand use of ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers is back before the Massachusetts Legislature.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito’s transportation bill includes the proposal to mandate ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers. Currently, Massachusetts drivers convicted for the first time may seek hardship licenses allowing them to travel for work and specific purposes. Baker and Polito’s proposal would also put ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for at least six months following conviction. The devices test whether drivers are under the influence and if so, prevents them from starting their vehicle.

snow plow accidents can happen in parking lot

A snow plow crash killed an Easton man this week. Police are currently investigating.

As we battled snow and cold, there were two fatal snow plow accidents this week, including one death here in Massachusetts. In Easton, a snow plow hit and killed a 64-year-old man who was changing a tire on Route 138. Meanwhile, in Illinois, another man was snow blowing his driveway when a plow truck backed into him. Both men were pronounced dead on the scene.

These were not the only snow plow accidents, either. In Johnson County, Kansas, a snowplow driver veered off the road and died in a single-car crash. In New York, a state DOT snow plow and vehicle collided in the Town of Aurelius in Cayuga County. Traffic was stopped as two people were airlifted for medical treatment.

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Hand-held cell phone use would become illegal under new legislation proposed by the Massachusetts’ governor’s office.

Many of us expected Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito would file legislation to limit drivers to hands-free cell phone use this year. But the Baker-Polito Administration went much further last week when it filed, “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.” In announcing the legislation, the administration reported more than 15,000 people were seriously injured in Massachusetts traffic accidents between 2012 and 2016. Another 1,820 people were killed, including 14 road workers.

The Massachusetts Legislature now has a great deal to consider in coming months. Because these proposals will impact us all, we encourage you to follow the media coverage and share your thoughts with your local legislators and town officials.

Cell Phones. In 2010, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. There have been similar proposals, but no action on handheld cell phones. Meanwhile, distracted driving accidents have increased, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016, according to the NHTSA.

The Baker-Polito proposal would require drivers who use electronic devices to go “hands-free” and make use of hands-free driving equipment, such as Bluetooth. Drivers would have to use voice commands instead of reaching for hand-held cell phones. The proposal does allow “a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate hands-free mode.”

If this proposal is approved, Massachusetts would be the 16th state to have a hands-free cell phone law, joining all the New England states.

Primary Seat Belt Enforcement. According to the GHSA, 34 states have primary seat belt laws for drivers and front-seat passengers.

Massachusetts has a secondary seat belt law, meaning police officers cannot simply pull a motor vehicle over for a seat belt violation. A police officer must first observe another moving violation, such as speeding or running a red light.

A primary enforcement law for seat belts has been a hard sell in Massachusetts. But we urge you and your family to use the debate as a reminder to wear a seat belt every time you ride. According to the NHTSA, seat belts saved an estimated 14,668 lives in traffic accidents in 2016. Wearing a seat belt is an easy choice we can all make to protect ourselves.

Road Workers. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation would be granted authority to lower speed limits in construction zones. Fines would double in areas where workers are.

Truck Sideguards. In 2014, the Boston City Council approved a truck sideguard ordinance for all city-contracted trucks – the first in the nation. The governor’s proposal builds on this, mandating sideguards for all state-owned trucks and vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Along with sideguards, trucks must be equipped with convex and cross-over mirrors to increase driver’s visibility. If approved, trucks would have to be equipped by Jan. 1, 2020. All state and municipal contractors would have to do the same by 2022.

The sideguards are intended to protect the area between the truck’s front and back wheels, blocking it off to cyclists and pedestrians who can be caught underneath. Massachusetts has seen numerous cyclists who have been seriously injured or killed by these types of truck accidents.

Electric Scooters. The proposal would start regulating electric scooters like bicycles and allow scooter rentals to move ahead in local communities. This has been a point of contention in the Boston area as bikeshare and rideshare companies are eager to start scooter rentals here. Cities have argued that scooters are illegal because they don’t have directional signals as stated under current state law.

Ignition Interlock Devices. When drivers are convicted of operating under the influence or drunk driving in Massachusetts, they are permitted to apply for a hardship license. With this proposal, anyone who applies for a hardship license must use an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months. The proposal also clarifies that the Registry of Motor Vehicles has authority to impose penalties if drivers attempt to drive after consuming alcohol or tamper with a device.

Further Reading:

Mass.gov: “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.”

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing individuals injured in car accidents, truck accidents and other catastrophic collisions. If you have been injured, learn your rights at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Traffic jam

As a record-number of holiday travelers hit the road, Boston will be especially hard hit this week, according to AAA’s travel forecast.

However you celebrate, we hope you enjoy a festive holiday season, filled with friends, family, holiday events or volunteering.

But most of all, here at Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys hope you commit to travel safely during the holidays. While it’s the season for giving, Thanksgiving to New Year’s brings some of the most dangerous days on the roads.

AAA is forecasting a record-breaking 112.5 million holiday travelers – or 1 in 3 Americans. This represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year. More than 102 million will travel by car, the highest number in 17 years. The forecast holds bad news for Boston though. On Wednesday afternoon, we could end up with one of the longest commutes in the nation.

Tips for driving safely for the holiday season:

Plan for Boston holiday travelers. AAA and INRIX forecast this Thursday, Dec. 20th, will be the most congested day nationwide. Boston is on a list of 10 holiday hot spots, with the worst travel expected on Wednesday, Dec. 19th. The absolute worst time to drive is 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day and you can expect the commute to take 3.5 times as long. It’s hard to believe the forecast is so terrible. It’s based on historical data and recent travel trends.

Unfortunately, this heavy traffic won’t just impact those starting their holiday commute; it will also challenge workers, school buses, delivery services and just about all of us.

Make a plan. Take public transportation if you can. Adjust your work hours if your employer allows it. Services like Waze and Mass511 can help you navigate and take away some of the stress.

Buckle up. Wear your seat belt at all times. When driving others, ask if they are buckled up before you start moving. People really need the reminder. Even after years of safety campaigns, nearly 10 percent of Americans are still not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, seat belts could have saved more than 2,400 people killed in car accidents (Source: NHTSA).

The day before you travel, also take time to check your children’s car seats, so they are properly secured.

Plan enough space for holiday gifts. When traveling with gifts or food, make sure you leave enough space so you can see through your windows.

Watch your speed, especially near pedestrians. Speeding is involved in one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA. It is also a leading cause in car accidents which injure pedestrians. Commit to traveling the speed limit or slower if you need to adjust for weather conditions, dark roads or unfamiliar areas. Have patience in parking lots and remember, during the holiday season, pedestrians may be out later at night.

Drive sober. If you celebrate outside your home, our suggestion is to skip the alcohol and focus instead on all you are grateful for this year. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver whom you trust not to drink. As a backup, install the Uber and Lyft apps on your phone.

Drunk drivers killed 10,874 people in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, representing 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Here in Massachusetts, drunk drivers caused 34 percent of all traffic deaths.

As personal injury attorneys who represent those injured by drunk drivers, we know firsthand that when someone is killed by a drunk driver, nothing is ever the same for the family. Drunk driving accidents are senseless, entirely preventable had the driver just made a better decision.

As for drunk drivers, they can be criminally charged and expect to face a civil lawsuit, as can others in certain cases, including bars and restaurants in liquor liability cases.

Marijuana will be in greater supply this year, after retail stores have opened for recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts. Use good judgment. Do not consume marijuana when you are driving. Users are about 25 percent more likely to crash than other drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No distracted driving. We cannot say it enough: it’s critical to put your cell phone away when you are driving, especially in heavy traffic. Tell your loved ones your phone is off the hook until you stop driving and turn your engine off. Stay committed to that. Don’t engage in texting while driving, reading e-mail or checking Facebook when driving.

Have your directions ready in advance. If you are driving long distance with children, make sure you have snacks, books, coloring sets or games prepared. If possible, drive with another adult so they can respond to your children and make an emergency call if necessary.

Finally, plan ahead and decide where you want to take rest breaks.

Emergency supplies. Do everything you can to ensure you reach your destination safely. Carry cash, a credit card and an emergency kit containing: a mobile phone charger, a first-aid kit, water and snacks, a flashlight and extra batteries, warning flares, jumper cables and a basic tool kit. And don’t forget ice scrapers, shovels and blankets.


Additional resources:

AAA’s Holiday Travel Forecast for 2018

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2017 Data: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA


About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

For more than 25 years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented those injured by car accidents in Massachusetts. Our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our top results for clients and their families. We have consistently been recognized for our results, including by Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers. 

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. 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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