Articles Posted in Pedestrian Accidents

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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People walking in a crosswalk

Somerville residents are asking for new traffic calming measures after a fatal pedestrian crash last weekend on Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene.

The Somerville community is wrestling with the horrific crash that killed a teacher in a crosswalk last Friday night.

Somerville Police are still searching for the driver in the Somerville pedestrian crash. The driver struck Allison Donovan, an educator in the Watertown public school system, shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, then fled the scene. Another woman in the crosswalk suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

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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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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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

School bus with stop sign and lights

With students back to school in Massachusetts, local police departments are stressing safety around school buses while stepping up enforcement of drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

If a traffic enforcement sting came to your community, how many drivers would be stopped and cited for unsafe driving? Would you be among them?

We ask these questions as students head back to school across Massachusetts, in communities from Boston and Cambridge to Plymouth and Brockton to Worcester and Springfield.

Police departments across the state have set up traffic enforcement over the past few weeks, focusing on drivers who are not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks and school buses. A few of the communities include New Bedford, Attleboro and South Boston.

In South Boston, the surveillance followed the tragic death of a 2-year-old in a traffic crash. The child was being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk, when a van and car collided. The van plowed onto the sidewalk, injuring and ultimately killing the young boy. A day after the crash, the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police set up a traffic enforcement initiative focusing on crosswalk enforcement, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors. Within a few days, officers had issued approximately 500 citations for traffic violations. This is a very telling number, one Massachusetts drivers can’t ignore.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Our firm is committed to safety for children, giving away over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. With experience representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian crosswalk accidents and other traffic crashes, we offer these tips for safe driving:

Slow down at crosswalks. Students who walk to school may have a crossing guard help them across the street. Always slow down as you approach crossing guards and children. Make eye contact with the crossing guard and assume you should stop. The crossing guard will wave you through when it’s safe to go.

But even when there is no crossing guard, drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when there is a “Walk” or green signal. Other times, drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way by slowing or stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This includes times when pedestrians are in the crosswalk on the same side as the driver and when pedestrians are approaching from the other half of the lane and within 10 feet. There is a $200 fine for crosswalk violations in Massachusetts.

The best thing to do is approach crosswalks slowly and stop if you see anyone even near the entrance of the crosswalk. If you can, make eye contact with them, then wave for them to go. Depending on whether other cars stop, they may not be able to immediately cross. You may need to be patient for a few moments.

M.G.L. c.89 § 11 is the law governing pedestrian rights in crosswalks in Massachusetts. Read more about the law.

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Cyclist after a hit and run crashNational Bike Month is a time to celebrate and champion cycling. If you live in Massachusetts, you know the cycling spirit is stronger than ever. But that doesn’t mean conditions are always safe.

In fact, cyclists and pedestrians are at a higher risk now than ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports cycling deaths increased 11 percent from 2015 to 2016. Pedestrian deaths rose 9 percent. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently weighed in with a report on hit and run crashes. The numbers show the toll on pedestrians and cyclists, as well as others on the road.

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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.

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Central Square Cambridge
Safety for pedestrians and cyclists is a top concern in Central Square in Cambridge.

Central Square is located around the intersection of Prospect Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Western Avenue in Cambridge. This area is a commuter hub; the Central Square MBTA subway station and bus stop are located here, near Cambridge City Hall. The state of Massachusetts has designated Central Square as an official cultural district, for its mix of theater and arts, restaurants and history. The NECCO building was long part of that history, but these days, 250 Massachusetts Avenue is now the Novartis’ global headquarters. The Cambridge YMCA is there and MIT is nearby.

Over the years, there have been numerous pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Central Square. Central Square was the #1 location for bike crashes in Massachusetts from 2005-2014, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). It was the 5th highest pedestrian crash location. The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety by improving crosswalks and adding bike lanes across the city. In December 2016, new bike lanes were laid down in Central Square, northbound on Massachusetts Avenue between Sydney and Douglass streets.

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.