Articles Posted in Negligence

Derailed MBTA green line trolley in Newton, Massachusetts 2008

Breakstone, White & Gluck represented a passenger who survived the Green Line D branch crash in Newton on May 28, 2008.

Boston travelers are taking a deep breath after several dangerous incidents on the MBTA.

If you have been injured on the MBTA or another common carrier, these injury claims are distinct from other negligence claims. Common carriers owe their passengers the “highest degree of care,” a higher duty than other drivers or private carriers.

MBTA accidents are highly traumatic for everyone on board. If you have been injured, promptly consult a lawyer experienced in investigating MBTA crashes, derailments and other transportation accidents. As police and safety agencies investigate, a MBTA accident lawyer can launch an independent investigation, monitor your medical care and protect your legal rights.

What is a Common Carrier?

A common carrier holds itself out as willing to provide transportation services to the public for a fee. Common carriers may include the MBTA, train companies, airlines, regional transportation agencies, privately-owned bus companies or limo services.

Common carriers owe passengers the “highest degree of care” because passengers have little control over the operation of their transport, the actions of the employees, the conduct of the business and their own safety. Holton v. Boston Elevated Ry., 303 Mass. 242, 244, 21 N.E.2d 251 (1939).

Common law recognizes both common carriers and private carriers. A private carrier offers transportation services by special arrangement or contract. When someone is injured on a private carrier, such as a friend’s car, the ordinary rules of negligence apply, not the heightened duty of care that applies to common carriers. Houle v. Lewonis, 245 Mass. 254, 255, 140 N.E. 427 (1923).

Passengers Suffer Injuries on Green Line Crash on July 30, 2021

In addition to local and state police, the National Transportation Safety Board has the authority to investigate accidents involving common carriers.

In Boston, authorities have been investigating the Green Line trolley crash which injured 27 people, including 4 train operators, along Commonwealth Avenue on July 30, 2021. A 50-year-old train operator is accused of driving 31 mph – three times the speed limit – and then running into another train (Source: NBC Boston). The MBTA has reportedly placed the operator on unpaid leave, as he faces charges.

On Oct. 6, 2021, the MBTA operator was arraigned in Brighton District Court on charges of gross negligence of a person in control of a train and gross negligence of a person having care of a common carrier.

Common carriers can be held liable when their employees act in an unsafe manner and put the public at risk for injury. The MBTA has a responsibility to hire employees who are qualified to operate large vehicles, and is also responsible for providing proper supervision.

There are questions about the driver’s experience prior to the July 30th crash. WCVB reports the driver had been suspended by the MBTA at least six times over seven years!

Troubling History of Green Line Crashes in Boston

Over the past 15 years, MBTA trolley operators have caused many serious crashes and injuries in Boston. Breakstone, White & Gluck represented a survivor of the May 28th, 2008 Green Line crash on the D branch in Newton. The Green Line operator died in this crash. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded the cause was both operator error and lack of automated systems, according to WBUR, “NTSB Faults T Safety Systems in Deadly Trolley Crash,” July 15, 2009.

Then on May 8, 2009, a Green Line operator was texting his girlfriend and crashed between Government Center and Park Street, injuring 50 passengers. The crash caused nearly $10 million in damage to three trolley cars, according to news reports.

While prosecutors sought jail time, the 24-year-old ultimately pleaded guilty to negligence and was sentenced to serve two years of probation and perform 100 hours of community service.

The Green Line derailments and crashes have continued. In 2019, The Boston Globe reported the MBTA had seen 43 train derailments over a five-year period, the second-worst safety record in the country.

The Globe reported this in the wake of June 8, 2019, when a Green Line derailed between the Kenmore and Fenway stops. The train went off the tracks around 11 a.m. on a busy Saturday. The Red Sox were just about to open a double-header against the Tampa Rays at Fenway Park. Eleven people were injured and 600 riders were displaced.

The MBTA placed the operator – who was among the injured – on leave pending an investigation. The MBTA initially cited operator error as the likely cause, according to the Boston Herald.

Consult a MBTA Accident Lawyer – Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing those injured by the MBTA and other common carriers. We have successfully recovered multi-million awards for clients injured in major transportation accidents, including Green Line subway crashes and bus accidents. Read more about our results for clients injured in MBTA crashes.

If you or a loved one has been injured by negligence, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation with our attorneys, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Children at the Arlington Police Bicycle Safety Day in August 2021

On your mark, get set, go! Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate bicycle helmets for children at the Arlington Police Department’s Bicycle Safety Day.

For many children, back to school means back to the school bus. But more and more, many students are walking or biking to school.

Back to school is a good time to introduce children to bicycle safety and this year, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to partner with the Waltham and Arlington police departments to give helmets to children.

On Saturday, August 28th, the Waltham Police Department gave away free Project KidSafe helmets to children at the “Meet the New Chief Day.” The Arlington Police Department also gave away free helmets at Bicycle Safety Day on August 24th  at Gibbs Junior High School, where many students walk or bike each day to class.

Our Tips to Help Children Wear Bicycle Helmets Back to School This Fall in Massachusetts

A new school year means a new routine. Whether you or your child ride daily or on occasion, we urge you to commit to wearing a helmet.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a properly fitted helmet is the “single most effective way” to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the majority of cyclists who ultimately die after a bike crash first sustained a head injury as their most significant injury.

Children Must Wear Bicycle Helmets Under Massachusetts Law. Under Massachusetts law, cyclists who are 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Helmets should be properly fitted and meet the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Beyond safety, there are other consequences. A police officer can actually impound your child’s bike for up to 15 days if they are caught riding without a helmet in Massachusetts, though many officers work hard to avoid this step and would rather encourage helmet use.

Waltham Police officer gives away free children's bicycle helmets donated by Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck

Waltham police officers give away free bicycle helmets at the “Meet the New Chief” event in August.

Why Parents and Adult Cyclists Should Wear Helmets. Cyclists of all ages should wear helmets to protect themselves.

As a parent, if you wear a helmet and make sure your child wears one when you ride together, your child will take notice. They are more likely to wear a helmet even when you are not there and they will have some practice at fastening their own helmet.

Label Your Child’s Helmet. Write your child’s name inside the helmet, on the strap or on the outside of the helmet.

Wear Your Helmet; Do Not Carry It In Your Backpack. Many children (and adults) ride, then put their helmets in their backpack while they are at work or school. Encourage your child to keep their helmet outside their backpack so they put it right on.

Buy a Durable Bike Lock. Purchase a durable bike lock in case your child cannot find their helmet and has to walk or get a ride home from school or a friend’s house. Keep this on their bike at all times. Insist that your child should contact you and never ride without a helmet.

Buy Your Child a Spare Bike Helmet. Purchase your child an extra bicycle helmet now before they misplace theirs. Unless you live near a bike shop, it can be difficult to step away from your routine to go purchase a bike helmet right away, especially during the busy Fall season.

At the same time, purchase a spare helmet for yourself, too. Keep your spare at home or at the office. This will come in handy if you damage your helmet, lose it or decide you want to take the Blue Bikes bikeshare home.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our attorneys specialize in representing those injured by negligent driving, bicycle accidents, premises liability accidents, defective and unsafe products, construction accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death.

If you have been injured, learn your 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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Two students walking to school in Boston, holding hands with their parent.

As students head back to school in Massachusetts, drivers are urged to travel safely and follow speed limits.

Back-to-school is a fun and exciting time for students, especially getting to reconnect with friends after summer vacation. As students get ready, drivers should too. You should expect to see more students walking, biking or waiting at school bus stops. Commit to drive safely and be mindful of speed limits. 

Take a Test Drive 

Before students return, drive through your community, school parking lots and nearby intersections. Observe whether there has been roadwork or if new bike lanes have been added. Look for new traffic signs related to parking, school drop-offs and traffic direction. Look for sidewalks. As a driver, you have to make quick decisions and this check will help you later.

Look Right, Left, Front, Back

Drivers can prevent many traffic accidents by checking their blindspots and all sides of their vehicles at intersections more. At red lights and stop signs, it is critical that you check, especially from behind. You must watch for pedestrians, but also cyclists. Consider that after you initially stop your car, a cyclist could approach from behind. If you neglect to check, you may not see them before the encounter turns into a very serious bicycle accident.

When you park, commit to look. Check all sides, including your blindspot. Use your back-up cameras and really look for pedestrians, whether you are in a school parking lot or at a local restaurant or other business. Before you step out of your vehicle, check again so you do not hit a cyclist or pedestrian with your door. These accidents can happy very suddenly if you do neglect to look and a cyclist is nearby. Learn more about dooring accidents.

Slow Down for Students

In Massachusetts, drivers must follow a 20 mph speed limit in school zones. The Vision Zero campaign has documented that slower is safer for pedestrians, even just 5 mph.

From the City of Boston’s Vision Zero campaign:

  • There is a 17 percent likelihood of fatality or severe injury when drivers travel 20 mph and hit a pedestrian.
  • At 25 mph, the risk of pedestrian death or severe injury rises to 30 percent.
  • At 30 mph – still not that fast – there was a 47 percent chance of a pedestrian accident turning fatal. 

Travel Safely Behind School Buses

After the past year, it is more important than ever to practice patience near school buses and school bus stops. Each day may be different as parents, children and school bus drivers try to manage under COVID-19 conditions. Remember the basics of school bus safety.

When a bus flashes its yellow signals, this means the driver is getting ready to stop. Other drivers on the road should slow down and prepare to stop. Drivers must stop when the school bus activates its red lights and extends its stop sign.

Never pass a school bus that has activated its signals and extended its stop sign. In Massachusetts, drivers must keep vehicles at least 100 feet behind a school bus at all times. M.G.L. c. 90, § 14

When a school bus stops, drivers traveling in both directions must stop. And if you end up stopping behind a school bus that is letting off children, just wait. Wait until all the children have fully stepped onto the sidewalk and give the bus distance when it starts moving again. This also gives you time to assess the traffic and look for an opportunity to get off the bus route if you want to. 

Stop and Look for Pedestrians at Crosswalks and Intersections

Drivers should commit to stop for students in crosswalks. Students expect drivers to stop and if drivers travel slowly and are prepared to stop, they have extra time to make safe decisions near children.

In Massachusetts, drivers have a responsibility to yield, slow down or stop for all pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Drivers must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks with an activated “Walk” signal. Another point is that you should follow other drivers and their decisions near crosswalks. When the car in front of you stops for a pedestrian at a marked crosswalk, you have a duty to stop and wait for the pedestrian to cross.

Read more on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s page on pedestrian crosswalk laws.

Teens Suffer Many Pedestrian Injuries

When you hear “back-to-school safety,” many people think of young elementary school students. But in “Alarming Dangers in School Zones, 2016,” SafeKids Worldwide reports that older teens, ages 15-19, account for 26 percent of all children age 19 and younger.  Yet the older teens accounted for about half of all pedestrian fatalities, with many occurring at night. 

This is relevant because when school begins, there will be a rise in traffic and pedestrian activity even outside school hours. High school students may be participating in afterschool sports, extracurricular activities, an afterschool job or visiting more with friends. 

Call 911 to Report Injuries to Children, Pedestrians and Cyclists

If you pass a student or an older pedestrian or cyclist who has been injured, stop and call 911. This is a really difficult time as the pandemic continues and there is likely to be traffic congestion at times and demands on our emergency response services. 

Never assume a pedestrian has help. Nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-run crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. If a driver flees the scene, the victim may not have anyone to call 911, delaying their access to medical care. Every minute counts to a pedestrian injured in a car accident.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for justice for clients who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. Our lawyers are committed to excellence in every personal injury case we handle. We have earned consistent recognition in The Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts Super Lawyers for our results for clients.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.

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Car accident at intersection in Boston area

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

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

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

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

Here are the top 10 car crash locations in Massachusetts:

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

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

Top Crash Locations in Lowell

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

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

Brockton Top Crash Locations

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

4) Ash Street and West Elm Street, Brockton

15) Court Street at Montello Street, Brockton

23) Forest Avenue at Bouve Avenue, Brockton

24) Main Street at Nilsson Street, Brockton

25) Warren Avenue at Father Kenney Way, Brockton

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

Can You Change Your Commute to Avoid High Crash Locations?

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Contact Our Boston Car Accident Lawyers

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

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

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Attorney Ronald E. Gluck recently wrote an article touching on the importance of traffic cameras in his investigation for his client, a cyclist who was seriously injured by a truck. We invite you to read the article, “The Importance of Traffic Cameras in Establishing the Truth: A Video Speaks a Thousand Words,” which is published on the Charles River Wheelers’ website.

You can read more of Ron’s articles by signing up for WheelPeople – The Charles River Wheelers’ newsletter – or by visiting Breakstone, White & Gluck’s website.

 

Young girl playing in a swimming pool with a beach ball.Over the past year, many of us have missed out on seeing friends and loved ones. If you are planning a summer gathering to make up for lost time, we urge you to consider water safety, especially if you own a backyard swimming pool.

With Massachusetts schools about to start summer break, there is a high level of distraction in many homes. Households may have family members working remotely and summer may add to the unpredictable schedules we established during the COVID-19 emergency. But you must be vigilant if you own a pool because the risk for injury is very real. One can drown quickly, in a matter of seconds, and those injured are often young children.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 397 children were killed in swimming pool or spa submersions each year from 2016 to 2018. These children were all under 15 years old. During the same period, there was also an annual average of 6,200 children under 15 treated at hospitals for non-fatal injuries associated with pool or spa submersions.

Already in Massachusetts this year, we have seen several lives lost or nearly lost to drownings in swimming pools, ponds and lakes. In this blog, we focus on how homeowners can reduce the risk for injury and drowning in backyard swimming pools, and their legal responsibilities.

Massachusetts Property Owners Have a Duty to Use Reasonable Care

In Massachusetts, homeowners have a responsibility to use reasonable care to keep their property in reasonably safe condition. When it comes to swimming pools, a property owner’s duty starts with following Massachusetts building regulations to secure pools. They must also maintain safe areas around pools.

It is paramount that Massachusetts homeowners also exercise caution with alcohol. Homeowners can reduce the risk for many drownings and injuries by simply limiting their own alcohol consumption and that of all their guests of legal drinking age. Minors should never be allowed to consume alcohol or a homeowner can face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit if someone is injured.

Secure Your Swimming Pool With Strong Fencing

Pool fencing and pool ladder.

In Massachusetts, the state building code requires property owners to secure swimming pools behind 4-foot high fencing. There are different specifications for above-ground and underground pools, along with pools that use one side of the home as part of the fence.

Pools must be secured with locking devices that face outward away from the pool. The locks must be self-closing and self-latching.

Keep Pool Areas Free From Hazards

Be aware of other potential hazards beyond your actual pool. Your pool area may have outdoor furniture, rafts and floats, a diving board or a slide. One way to prevent a pool-related injury is to limit pool accessories. Secure the products you buy out of sight when you are not using your pool.

We caution you about purchasing diving boards and slides. Accidents involving these products can be serious, resulting in a head injury or a spinal cord injury, which can lead to long-term disability or death. Many homeowners have decided these are just not worth the potential safety risk.

Recognize that these products can be poorly designed or incorrectly installed. A product may not be the right fit for your pool design or reliably support your guests, even if it meets CPSC safety standards. However, if you choose to make a purchase, you should always hire an experienced pool professional to assist you with installation and your homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure your policy provides coverage.

Protect Young Children

Young child at risk for falling and drowning in a backyard swimming pool.In Massachusetts, property owners are responsible for securing pools from young children. Property owners can be held liable for drowning or other injuries suffered by young children, whether they are invited guests or are trespassing. The law recognizes that young children may not understand when they approach a potential hazard. As a property owner, think about how your pool looks from the street, from your yard and from inside your home. Bright-colored rafts and large crowds can quickly capture a child’s attention. Then think about how you have secured your pool.

Keep Gatherings Small

When you invite guests over, keep gatherings small so you can observe the pool area and enjoy the company.

Closely Monitor Guests Near Your Swimming Pool

Never invite anyone over to your home to use your swimming pool when you are not there or are engaged in another activity, such as work. Ask if adult guests know how to swim and if children have attended swimming lessons.

If you have young children, commit to watch them and any friends they invite over closely, even if they are not using your pool. Limit the size of gatherings so you can give the children your full attention.

Make the same commitment to safety if you are the parent of a teenager, even if you normally give them more freedom. Set summer rules and make sure your teen understands: they can only have friends over when you are home and gatherings should be kept small. They should always ask before using the swimming pool and you will not permit alcohol.

Whenever you have any guests over, check that your pool is fully secured before they arrive. Not just from outside, but also from guests and children in your home and backyard. Once your guests arrive, it can help to utilize a pool camera, sounding alarm or other technology, even if no one is using the pool. You can also take the low-tech approach of sitting outside where you can see both the pool and the gate. This step shows your guests and children you are truly committed to safety and want them to have fun, but also act responsibly so everyone gets home safely.

Restrict Alcohol Consumption by Your Guests; Never Allow Teens to Drink At Your Home

Massachusetts homeowners have a responsibility not to allow underage drinking in their swimming pool or elsewhere on their property.Carefully consider whether you want to allow your guests to consume alcohol in your home, especially when they come over to swim or are driving. This decision comes with a lot of responsibility. The easiest approach is to not allow alcohol consumption. If you do allow your guests to drink, practice moderation and good judgment. Never let them drive home under the influence.

As for swimming, remember that alcohol and pools are a dangerous combination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with all water recreation. Drinking beer or liquor in the warm weather can contribute to dehydration, which can raise the risk for drowning and submersion injuries.

Massachusetts recognizes social host liability. There can be serious consequences for bad decisions. Homeowners can face criminal charges, including jail time, if they allow minors under 21 to consume alcohol at their home or any property they control, under M.G.L. c. 138 § 34 . Parents can also be criminally charged and convicted if police can prove they left their home and were aware minors were consuming alcohol there in their absence. Minors can also be criminally charged.

In addition to criminal charges, a homeowner can also face a civil lawsuit from those injured as a result of a minor’s alcohol consumption at their home.

Limit Cell Phone Use and Distractions

One can easily become distracted by an email, text or social media and this can be dangerous if you have a pool. If you are checking your cell phone, you could miss the moment someone needs your help. Every second counts when it comes to saving someone from drowning. The best approach is to limit cell phone use and enjoy your guests. Keep both your home and cell phone nearby, but for emergencies only.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys provide aggressive representation and are committed to achieving the best result for clients. Founded in 1992, our personal injury law firm specializes in representing those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others and our attorneys have been consistently recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. We have won numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements in negligence, product liability and medical malpractice cases in Massachusetts. We offer safety tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, through which we work to prevent injuries to children and families.

If you or a family member has been injured, learn your legal rights. We represent clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, the North and South Shores, Cape Cod, Worcester and Central Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation, contact one of our Boston personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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2021-06-framingham-bike-donation-1-2
Breakstone, White & Gluck recently had the opportunity to contribute to a very worthwhile bike safety donation with the Framingham Public Schools. With COVID-19 driving a space shortage on school buses, the school system decided to buy 100 bicycles to help middle school students who needed the most help getting to school.

If you ride a bike, you know you must wear a helmet to protect yourself against head injuries. Well, Breakstone, White & Gluck had helmets and we were pleased to donate 100 bicycle helmets to students as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

This donation began with a school counselor who noticed a student did not have a bus seat and this was causing issues with their attendance. An assistant superintendent asked if other students were facing the same problem. The answer was yes.

Motorcyclist riding down open road

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. In Massachusetts, the message is critical as motorcycle fatalities are rising.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and Massachusetts has to observe with more caution this year. 

The number of fatal motorcycle crashes rose across the state last year. So did the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents, even as traffic volumes fell statewide with COVID-19. State officials say drivers were speeding down open roads and when accidents happened, they were more likely to be fatal.

Statewide, the number of motor vehicle fatalities increased more than 2 percent, from 336 deaths in 2019 to 345 deaths in 2020, according to MassDOT Crash Data as of May 10, 2021. While there were fewer pedestrian fatalities, the state saw a notable increase in both motorcycle and bike accident fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities increased 20 percent, from 48 fatalities in 2019 (including 46 motorcycle operators and 2 passengers) to 58 motorcycle fatalities last year (55 motorcyclists and 3 passengers). MassDOT also reported 10 fatal bicycle crashes last year, a 100 percent increase over 2019.

Because drivers traveled fewer miles last year, the traffic fatality rate climbed much more than the actual numbers across the country. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we encourage drivers to refocus and work to travel safely near motorcyclists. We share these safety tips from the National  Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Motorcycle Safety Tips for Massachusetts Drivers

Motorcyclists Have the Same Rights. Drivers must share the road with motorcyclists. Motorcyclists have the right to travel in the traffic lane and even pass your vehicle, when it is safe to do so. They also have to obey the same traffic signs and signals. You can reduce the risk of causing a motorcycle accident by giving riders extra room and slowing down on your approach.

Recognize a Motorcycle’s Size. Appreciate the difference between a motorcycle and a motor vehicle. Motorcycles may weigh several hundred pounds. An SUV may weigh in at 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. Commercial vehicles carry many times this.

Use Your Mirrors and Look for Motorcyclists. Use your mirrors when you drive. Assume you will be sharing the road with motorcyclists, as well as cyclists and pedestrians. 

Use Your Turn Signals. Activate your turn signal early enough so motorcyclists know you intend to turn.

Never Trust Motorcycle Blinkers. On the other hand, never trust a motorcyclist’s blinkers. Motorcycles may not have self-canceling turn signals. If a motorcyclist forgets to turn their signal off, it may continue blinking. When you approach an intersection and come up behind a motorcyclist, wait until you are certain of their plans to avoid causing a motorcycle turn collision.

Commit Not to Pick Up Your Cell Phone. By committing to this, you are in a better position to safely respond to motorcyclists and other traffic.

Safety Tips for Massachusetts Motorcyclists

If you are a motorcyclist, May is a good time to check in on safety fundamentals.

Check Your Helmet. The best way to protect yourself is to wear a motorcycle helmet. The NHTSA offers tips for choosing a motorcycle helmet

Review Your Auto Insurance. Take a moment to review your auto insurance policy. Another driver may be responsible for your injuries. But the reality is many drivers operate illegally without auto insurance or only purchase the state’s minimum coverage requirements. It is important for you to consider this as you purchase auto insurance. Ask your auto insurance agent for help and read our article on optional auto insurance coverages for Massachusetts motorcyclists.

Sign Up for Motorcycle Training. The Registry of Motor Vehicles offers the Massachusetts Rider Education Program at motorcycle schools across the state. Training classes are designed for all skill levels. At training classes, you have the opportunity to learn and sharpen your skills. You may also qualify for a discount on your auto insurance, savings you can use to buy more coverage.

What to Do If You Are Injured in A Motorcycle Crash

When a driver hits a motorcyclist, victims usually suffer serious and life-threatening injuries. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we understand a motorcycle crash is devastating and emotional. The motorcyclist, along with their family members, needs guidance from an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. We have the experience you need at Breakstone, White & Gluck. Read about our past results for clients in motorcycle accident cases.

Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck for a free legal consultation to learn your rights. Our attorneys will review the facts of your case with you and explain if you have a potential claim against another driver. If you have been injured by a commercial truck, it is even more important to contact an experienced lawyer to oversee the full investigation from the start. 

For a free legal consultation, contact our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong-Way Crashes Can Also Happen at Local Intersections

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

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

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

Strengthening Traffic Laws to Reduce Wrong-Way Crashes

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

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

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

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

Tips for Driving Safely on Highways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Call Our Boston Auto Accident Lawyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Larger Trend of Pedestrian Fatalities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contributing Factors in the Rising Number of Pedestrian Fatalities

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

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

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

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

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

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

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

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

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

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