Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

shopping mall parking lot

Parking lot crashes are more likely in Boston and Massachusetts this time of year, as holiday shoppers are out. What can you do to prevent accidents? Put down your cell phone, slow down and always watch for pedestrians.

When you finish your holiday shopping, and start to head home, you may be tempted to pick up your cell phone and call someone. But the parking lot is not a safe place and the holidays are not the season.

Unfortunately, car accident claims typically rise during the holidays, as many of us head out shopping or to enjoy holiday lights. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the increase begins around Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We are now approaching one of the worst stretches, the days just before Christmas. 

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers urge you to travel slowly and set aside distractions to prevent parking lot crashes. Too many drivers are engaging in these distractions, according to this recent National Safety Council poll:

  • 66 percent of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
  • Teens were less likely to make phone calls than adults (60 percent).
  • Another 63 percent said they would program GPS systems.
  • More than half, 56 percent, said they would text and 52 percent said they would use social media.
  • Another 50 percent said yes to sending or receiving e-mails, while 49 percent said they would take photos or watch videos.
  • More than half of all teens and adults also admitted they would take time for personal grooming (59 percent of teens; 53 percent of adults).

Tips for Preventing Parking Lot Crashes

  • Drive slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to react to pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Do not cut through parking lots; follow the traffic lane.
  • Avoid distracted driving activities, such as cell phone use, texting, listening to loud music and engaging in intense discussion. 
  • Choose your place to check electronics, such as before you leave the mall or store.
  • Use blinker signals.
  • Obey stop signs and other signs. Back out carefully.
  • Always watch for pedestrians in the parking lot and at the entrance. Be extremely patient and always wait for them to reach the sidewalk before moving.
  • Walk all the way around your vehicle before stepping inside, looking for pedestrians and parents with small children and baby strollers.
  • Consider parking away from other cars to avoid shopping mall parking lot crashes.

The Impact: Parking Lot Crashes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports parking lot crashes account for about 20 percent of all auto claims. The NSC reports on average each year, there are 60,000 injured by parking lot crashes and 500 or more who die. Pedestrian accidents account for many parking lot crashes. Backup accidents are responsible for nearly 10 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes in parking lots.

Over the past few years, a number of pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts parking lots have been fatal. In 2017, a Trader Joe’s employee in Acton was killed. A year earlier, a 52-year-old woman died in Wilmington, outside a Rite-Aid. In 2015, a pedestrian was killed in the parking lot of the Cloverleaf Mall in Natick, just across the street from the Natick Collection (or the old Natick Mall).

Cell Phone Use and Massachusetts Law

Eight years ago, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. If you are texting or writing an e-mail and cause a car crash, you could be cited by police. If you injure another driver, the police citation could be used in a civil lawsuit to prove your negligence and you will have to pay compensation to the victim.

All but three states have texting while driving bans. Hand-held cell phone bans are a different story, with just 16 states approving bans. Hand-held cell phones are still permitted when driving in Massachusetts, but safety advocates urge drivers not to use them, especially in parking lots. In a matter of seconds, a simple act such as trying to look up GPS directions or dialing a friend can lead to a serious and possibly fatal accident.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

If you have been injured in a parking lot crash, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation under Massachusetts law. Contacting a Boston car accident lawyer promptly is essential so they can act quickly to protect your rights.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in auto collisions. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Dooring bicycle accidentA recent New York Times article on dooring injuries shows the risks to cyclists continue, even after advocacy efforts in Boston and other cities.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent cyclists who have been seriously injured in dooring accidents. While many dooring accidents happen in urban areas such as Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, dooring can happen in any community in Massachusetts. When drivers or passengers open doors without checking, cyclists can suffer devastating injuries, including broken bones, facial fractures and head injuries. Dooring crashes can be fatal.

Dooring crashes do not always make the news in Boston. But they are happening, more than any other type of bicycle accident. In fact, in November 2016, The Boston Globe reported cyclists faced a 225 percent higher risk for dooring than any other bicycle accident injury.

Elderly couple on crosswalkPedestrians are facing a crisis on the roads, here in Boston and across the country. From 2009 to 2015, there was a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths across the U.S. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 

Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping in with a comprehensive set of recommendations to improve safety, including: Continue reading

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Americans are checking their cell phones every 12 minutes, according to new research. This means more distraction, including in the car.

As we wait out this snowstorm, you may be checking your smart phone more than usual. This is understandable. But how often do you check on an average weekday? One report shows Americans are checking their smart phones every 12 minutes or 80 times a day. And between Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, we all know someone who may check even more often.

Use your smart phones as often as you want – except in the car. Please consider these thoughts as you wait out the snow:

Drowsy Driving

A new study shows college students are engaging in drowsy driving and do not consider it to be as dangerous as texting while driving and operating under the influence.

As a parent, you have probably talked to your college student about the risks of drunk driving and texting while driving on many occasions. What about drowsy driving? A new study reports college students are not taking this risk as seriously – even as drowsy driving causes an estimated 300,000 traffic crashes each year in the U.S.

The study was published in the February edition of the journal Sleep Health. Researchers conducted four focus groups involving 26 undergraduate students in 2016. Students were asked about their driving behaviors and perceptions about dangerous driving.

Most of the students considered themselves safe drivers, yet they viewed drowsy driving as less risky than operating under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving. Students actually said drowsy driving was “normal” and an “unavoidable part of their lives.” They admitted to drowsy driving in the past. Whether as a driver or passenger, many had actually been in some way involved in a drowsy driving car crash or near accident. In most cases, students were driving alone in the early morning or at night.

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Thanksgiving week traffic jam in Boston

Driving to your Thanksgiving destination can be demanding. Read our tips to help you get there safely with a little less stress (if that’s possible).

We all want to know the secret to beating the Thanksgiving week traffic out of Boston. To help, we have put together a few travel tips. Please travel safely, be patient and enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends.

Traffic Apps and Resources. Here are a few websites for travelers: Boston.com/Traffic or Mass511.com. Traffic apps: Google Maps, Waze, AAA or GoTime.

Boston’s Worst Traffic Bottlenecks. AAA is reporting on the Boston region’s 10 top traffic bottlenecks for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They include several locations along Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and the MassPike (Interstate 90).  Read the full list now before you drive. Try to avoid them if you can.

Check Your Car. Whether you drive your own car or rent a vehicle, spend a few minutes in the driver’s seat before you leave. Make sure you know how to use key features such as the blinkers, headlights and the heating system. Many new vehicles now have complex infotainment systems. Decide now what features you need to use for this trip – and which are distractions.

Essentials. Make sure your motor vehicle registration is in your glove compartment and that you have your health insurance card (or cards if you are a parent traveling with children).

Choose the Best Travel Times. AAA predicts a 3 percent increase in holiday travel this year, so we know to expect more traffic. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon will be the most challenging time, according to Waze. Another busy travel time is Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Plan to Stop. Take a break to fend off fatigue and let kids burn off energy. Stop once every two hours.

Gas Up and Emergency Kit. Always start your trip with a full tank of gas. Then, make sure you have a strong emergency kit, with jumper cables, a quart of motor oil, coolant, a first aid kit and a toolkit. Find your auto club membership, a safety vest, a flashlight with extra batteries and a roadside flare. Finally, pack warm clothes, blankets and your cell phone charger.

Commit to Use Your Cell Phone Safely. Our best tip for you is to turn your phone off. If you are traveling with someone, ask them to hold your cell phone and receive occasional phone calls or traffic alerts for you.

When traffic is heavy, a driver can cause a multi-car pile-up with a single glance at a cell phone – and that’s on any given day. The traffic is much worse during the Thanksgiving Week. That is why texting while driving is banned in Massachusetts and 46 other states, and why many are pushing to see Massachusetts ban all cell phone use by drivers.

No Drinking and Driving Accidents. Drunk driving accidents increase during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving week. Always, always travel with a designated driver who agrees not to drink. Or do not consume alcohol. No one ever regrets making this decision the next morning.

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Local communities are restricting road use to stop the flood of drivers who use Waze and other traffic apps.

Commuting is a battle in Massachusetts, full of frustrations and hazards. But residents, communities and lawmakers continue to fight back to improve safety.

On Monday, the state House of Representatives considered a controversial bill proposing new fines for jaywalking and jaywalking while distracted (or as The Boston Globe writes, “Jay-texters”). Meanwhile, WBZ reports communities are closing off roads in response to traffic apps such as Waze and Google Maps.

parking lot accidents
There was a sad story in Westford over the weekend, when a woman was hit and killed in a Market Basket parking lot. Police are still investigating, but according to media reports, the 64-year-old woman was putting groceries into the back of her Toyota Highlander SUV, which was hit by another vehicle. The impact caused her SUV to roll back on top of her.

This is not an isolated accident. Parking lot accidents and backovers are frequently reported in every community in Massachusetts, from Boston and Cambridge to Worcester and Framingham. But the latest accident raises the questions: have parking lots become as dangerous as the roads? And what can be done to improve safety? We should all be able to shop safely.

AAA reports 14 percent of all car accidents take place in parking lots. These can range from minor incidents, such as fender benders or someone opening a car door and hitting another vehicle. Other times, someone is seriously injured or killed, from backovers or speeding drivers.

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Parking lot serving the MBTA Commuter Rail Station in Waltham. The parking lot is on Carter Street, which the city may upgrade in coming years.

Some of the region’s most dangerous roads and intersections are about to be redesigned in Waltham.

The City of Waltham released its 180-page transportation master plan last January. Some of the steps will drastically change the roads – for example, removing a traffic lane on Lexington Street, acquiring land to expand a road and a “super crosswalk.” The goal is to reduce Waltham car accidents and make it easier to travel the city. This is a 10-year master plan, but some changes have already been made.

Over the summer, the city removed a lane of traffic on Lexington Street, from Curve Street to Lake Street. The city’s goal was to reduce car accidents caused by speeding. The speed limit is 30 mph, but drivers often travel 40 to 45 mph.

The street was repainted with two southbound lanes and one northbound lane. Over the first few days, there was a lot of confusion. Some drivers continued to travel on the old lane –  head-on into traffic in the new lane – putting vehicles at risk for a collision, according to a news report.

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Traffic jam in Massachusetts

Fatal car crashes in the U.S. rose more than 5 percent in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The roads were far more dangerous in 2016, with 37,461 people killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. This represents a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. Passenger and motorcyclist deaths reached an 8-year high. More cyclists and pedestrians were killed than in any year since the early 1990s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released the 2016 figures from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).