Days after expanding its Tesla safety investigation, the federal government has released 10 months of data showing nearly 400 crashes involving self-driving and driver-assisted vehicles, according to The New York Times. Tesla vehicles were involved in 70 percent of the self-driving and driver-assisted crashes.
Of 392 crashes, 273 involved Tesla vehicles operating with Autopilot, Full Self Driving or related features, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Six people were killed while others were injured. The crashes ranged from serious collisions to fender benders or smaller incidents.
- Honda vehicles were involved in 90 incidents.
- Waymo, a driverless taxi service in Arizona, was involved in 62 crashes. The service is owned by Google’s parent company.
- The G.M. Cruise taxi service was linked to 23 accidents in the San Francisco area.
- Subaru reported 10 crashes; Ford, G.M., BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota and Porsche each reported 5 or fewer.
Last year, the NHTSA issued an order requiring automakers to report car accidents involving vehicles with driver-assist systems or fully-automated vehicles being tested on public roads. This is the first data release under the order and an NHTSA official cautioned the public not to make conclusions yet.
The data covers just 10 months, but provides no context on the total number of vehicles each manufacturer has on the road with automated technologies.
Tesla has about 830,000 vehicles with driver-assisted technologies on the road, according to The New York Times. But other companies, such as Ford and GM, also have technologies that allow hands-free driving in certain situations. They have sold fewer models.
In addition, automakers have long sold cars, trucks and SUVs with some level of driver-assist systems, such as cruise control or automatic braking when traffic ahead slows. With this data release, the NHTSA said it plans to keep collecting data on auto crashes involving these features and technologies, as a guide for future safety requirements.
NHTSA Expands Investigation of Tesla Autopilot Feature
The data comes as the NHTSA investigates years of car crash reports involving Tesla’s Autopilot feature. On June 9, the agency announced it was expanding the probe to include all four Tesla cars – Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y – from 2014 and 2021, according to The New York Times.
The agency said it was upgrading its preliminary evaluation to an engineering analysis, a step required before a safety recall, according to The New York Times. The NHTSA has set a one-year timetable for the review.
The Texas-based company designs the world’s most popular luxury vehicles, many of which use the Autopilot technology to perform key aspects of driving, such as steering, accelerating and braking automatically within the lane. The NHTSA is investigating whether the Autopilot fails to prevent drivers from diverting their attention from the road and engaging in other unsafe behaviors.
This wouldn’t be the first Tesla recall. In November 2021, Tesla recalled almost 12,000 vehicles from its Full Self Driving beta test. This was a version of Autopilot designed for city driving. The company reported a software update could unexpectedly activate a vehicle’s emergency brakes.
Tesla Self-Driving Crash and Sleeping Driver Report in Massachusetts
Tesla crashes have made headlines across the country.
There was a bizarre story on the sleeping driver traveling in a Tesla vehicle on the MassPike back in 2019. A driver captured video of another driver and his passenger traveling in a Tesla vehicle in the next lane. Both were in a heavy sleep.
State Police called the behavior “extremely dangerous” and said the driver would be subject to criminal charges if they ever identified and located him. That never happened.
But State Police caught the driver in a Tesla self-driving crash in West Bridgewater in 2020.
According to news reports, a state trooper pulled over a college student in an SUV on Route 24 in West Bridgewater. A Tesla driver slammed into the trooper’s cruiser, then hit the 21-year-old’s vehicle as she reached for her registration. The driver was reportedly operating in Tesla’s Autopilot mode, according to a NBC Boston report. He was charged with negligent operation.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 125 years of combined experience successfully obtaining record recoveries for clients injured by negligent driving. Our attorneys are experienced in handling cases involving car accidents and commercial truck crashes across Massachusetts. We represent clients at all stages of motor vehicle accident cases, from insurance claims through to trial and appeal, if necessary.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Massachusetts lawmakers have been asked to approve legislation to protect cyclists from serious and fatal injuries caused by large truck crashes.
“An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities,” would in part require state-contracted trucks to be outfitted with safety sideguards, crossover mirrors, convex mirrors and blind-spot decals to reduce the risk of cyclists being swept underneath the tall carriage of large vehicles. These sideswipe truck accidents are often fatal for cyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, the convex mirrors would help expand a truck driver’s view of cyclists. The version of the bill proposed in the House of Representatives would also require use of backup cameras.
The bill numbers are HD.1888 and SD.1613. More on the bill and others proposed this session can be found on the MassBike website.
For Safety, Cities in Massachusetts and Other States Have Already Started Mandating Sideguards
This is not the first time truck sideguards have been proposed in the Massachusetts Legislature or local communities. In 2014, the City of Boston passed the first sideguard ordinance in the nation, requiring sideguards, crossover mirrors, convex mirrors and blind-spot awareness decals on city-contracted trucks. Somerville and Cambridge have also pursued their own bylaws and ordinances to protect cyclists, pedestrians and others against injury. The City of Cambridge initially approved an ordinance for city-owned trucks, then discussed extending the requirement to city-contracted trucks in 2019, after two fatal bike crashes the previous year, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. One of the cyclists was hit by a subcontractor working on a city paving project at the intersection of Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Museum Way. We do not have an update on whether the city changed its ordinance.
Beyond Massachusetts, Washington D.C. and Portland, Oregon have passed truck sideguard ordinances. Portland has had an ordinance in place since 2019, following the death of at least 22 people in heavy-weight truck accidents in the previous four years, according to the city website.
On average, 26 pedestrians and 22 cyclists are killed in truck collisions with the left and right side of large commercial trucks in the U.S. This is according to a May 2020 report on truck sideguards published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Association (U.S. DOT).
But the dangers of large trucks are much greater when you factor in cyclists who survive serious truck crash injuries.
Sideguards are just one step toward protecting cyclists. They may prevent a cyclist from being swept under a commercial truck, tractor trailer or trash truck. But sideguards cannot protect against all bicycle accidents. It is essential that drivers also operate with reasonable care, check for cyclists and use their mirrors. At intersections, commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to check left, right, front and back for cyclists. We can’t stress the importance of this.
While this may sound like an easy task, it is actually a unique sequence. Think about it. Drivers generally check front and back for other drivers who are traveling in the same lane and in nearby areas. By contrast, cyclists are usually traveling in the same direction, on the right side of the road or incoming from other parts of the intersection. They are often approaching trucks from behind, then meet parallel at an intersection or stop.
Cyclists are also allowed to travel in the center lane when they need to do so for safety, a common move at intersections. This is because of the chance a truck may overtake a cyclist making a right turn in the bike lane or on the side of the road. When this happens, cyclists can become trapped underneath in the absence of sideguards. Even with sideguards, a truck can collide with the cyclist from the side, causing a forceful and fatal collision sending a cyclist into sidewalks and curbs, vehicles parked on the side of the road or in the middle of the intersection. This is known as a right-hand hook crash.
In addition to sideguards and convex mirrors, backup cameras have become the leading safety tool for all drivers in recent years. The right one can also contribute to safer encounters with cyclists.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers Experienced in Representing Cyclists Injured by Large Vehicles and Trucks
The bicycle accident attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have extensive experience pursuing financial compensation for cyclists injured in bicycle accidents involving large trucks and vehicles. If you have been injured, the cause may have been a driver’s negligence or a truck’s defective mechanical system. It is vital that you or a family member report the bicycle accident right away to police and consult with an experienced attorney.
Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented clients injured by negligence in Massachusetts since 1992, including in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville; Plymouth and Brockton; the South Shore, Cape Cod, Framingham, Worcester, and Lawrence, Danvers and Newburyport and Gloucester on the North Shore.
For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 (toll-free) or 617-723-7676. For your convenience, you can also use our contact form.
Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a series of new articles to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under your Massachusetts auto insurance policy. As part of these articles, we share tips on how to buy more coverage to help yourself or your family members should you ever be injured or your vehicle damaged. Another driver may be at fault, but if they are uninsured or underinsured, you may need to look to your own auto insurance policy.
When someone buys a car, they learn a tough lesson: auto insurance can be costly for Massachusetts drivers. But under Massachusetts law, drivers are required to purchase an auto insurance policy and this is essential if you are injured in a car crash. Our Boston car accident lawyers share tips for getting started.
Infographic: What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in Massachusetts
Our infographic explains Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and our recommendations for Bodily Injury Coverage, Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Medical Payments Coverage.
While we hope you are never involved in a crash, drivers can take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report. It is your responsibility to submit this form to your auto insurer if you are involved in a car accident resulting in more than $1,000 property damage or injury.
More Auto Insurance Articles
Still have a question? Please visit our website, where we have more articles on insurance coverage for drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
Free Legal Consultation
Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured in car accidents, truck crashes and other traffic incidents across Massachusetts. Our firm is based at 2 Center Plaza across from Boston City Hall and we offer a free legal consultation by telephone. Contact our firm today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
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 Massachusetts 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 in Boston, MA
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.
It was heart-breaking to watch the TV news coverage last week, the scenes following a cement truck crash which killed a cyclist in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The 69-year-old victim, a librarian in Brookline, was hit at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive on Friday afternoon.
As State Police investigate the fatal bicycle accident, we should all be concerned about trucks. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in Boston or Cambridge, you have likely witnessed a truck crash or near crash. Or felt the sheer terror of a truck too close.
At times, it is hard not to travel in fear of trucks in Massachusetts, especially in Boston and Cambridge. One very upsetting moment came earlier this month, when a city truck reportedly plowed over a sidewalk in Chinatown, hitting a pedestrian. The truck ultimately smashed into the side of Liu Yi Shou Hotspot Boston, which is located at Washington and Kneeland streets, near Tufts Medical Center. The pedestrian was treated for non-life threatening injuries while the restaurant sustained heavy structural damage.
Because trucks are heavy-weight vehicles, drivers must be properly trained and use reasonable care when operating. Just as in Chinatown, truck crashes can cause injuries to pedestrians. Cyclists are also vulnerable, especially when crossing intersections near trucks.
In Massachusetts, the law specifically addresses a truck driver’s responsibility when making right turns at intersections near cyclists. Truck drivers must make the turn at a “safe distance,” at a “speed that is reasonable and proper,” according to the law. To do this in Boston, truck drivers have to check. Large vehicles are set up much higher than cyclists. Drivers need to use mirrors and specifically looking down at the bike lane before turning.
When a driver neglects to check, there can be serious consequences. They can end up cutting a cyclist off in a right hook accident. This can lead to severe injuries and often death.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in investigating truck crashes which have seriously injured or killed cyclists.
Last year, Attorney Ron Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck settled a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a cyclist who was killed by a truck driver in a hit-and-run crash. The driver hit our 38-year-old client at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Read about the case in Boston Magazine.
Truck Accident Statistics
- Nationwide, fatal truck crashes have increased by 3 percent, from 4,704 to 4,213, according to the 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Truck drivers were speeding in 6.9 percent of truck crashes involving a fatality. They were engaged in distractions in 6.1 percent of fatal truck crashes. Failure to yield the right of way resulted in 4 percent of truck crashes resulting in a wrongful death. These were the leading causes; violations were not reported in many of the accidents (2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016).
- In 2016, 840 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a 2 percent rise over 2015. More significantly, this continued a trend of near two percent increases and marked a 25-year high for fatal cyclist accidents in the U.S. Cyclists age 55-59 and 60-64 had the highest fatality rates. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists).
- Single-vehicle truck crashes killed 85 cyclists in 2016, just about 10 percent of all traffic deaths (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts).
How Cyclists Are Being Injured By Trucks
When cyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles, they are most likely to be hit by the front of the vehicle, according to the NHTSA FARS data. Cyclists are hit from the front in 78 percent of all cyclist vs. motor vehicle deaths, including in 89 percent of accidents involving cars and 83 percent of accidents involving light trucks, SUVs, pick-up vehicles or vans.
The numbers change when you look at fatal accidents involving large trucks and cyclists. While 48 percent of cyclists who died were hit from the front of large trucks, 22 percent were struck by the right side of a truck, while 9 percent were hit on the left side. Another 7 percent were by the back of the truck.
Truck Sideguard Ordinances and Legislation in Massachusetts
Some cities and states want to encourage truck safety by passing ordinances that require trucks to be equipped with side guards. This covers the area between a truck’s wheels, where cyclists and pedestrians can become trapped. Two cities in Massachusetts have already passed ordinances for city-contracted trucks and large vehicles. The ordinances also require trucks to use convex mirrors to help them see blind spots.
Boston was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance in 2014. Somerville has since followed, passing the Somerville Ordinance to Safeguard Vulnerable Road Users. A statewide law could be next. A proposal now on Beacon Hill is asking lawmakers to mandate side guards on all city- and state-owned vehicles by 2020. Contractors would be required to meet the new standard by 2022.
Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.
If you or someone in your family has been injured, contact us today for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Massachusetts State Police are investigating a tragic crash which killed a female cyclist today in a heavily congested Boston intersection. The bicycle crash happened in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, less than a half mile from Fenway Park. Witnesses described a frightening scene as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the woman, according to WBZ-TV. The woman was transported to Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she sadly died from her injuries. The woman’s bike was left crushed in the road as State Police blocked off two traffic lanes to investigate.
The cement truck reportedly struck the woman on Brookline Avenue at Park Drive around 1:30 p.m., according to Boston.com. Just before 4 p.m., State Police reported the woman had died. The cement truck read, “Boston Sand & Gravel Co.” The driver reportedly stayed on the scene and was also transported to a hospital for evaluation. At this time, State Police have not released the name of the woman, the driver or confirmed the cement truck’s owner.
News photos showed the truck crash that killed the cyclist was near a major traffic block, near Emmanuel College, Boston University’s Fenway Campus and the Emerald Necklace walkway. Nearby is Longwood Medical area, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.
Police focused their investigation on the center of the large intersection, measuring marks in the road, according to WBZ-TV. The bicycle was crushed and the seat was detached. The cement truck remained on site for several hours before being towed away.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is one of the most respected personal injury law firms in Boston. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys represent cyclists and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. With a special expertise in investigating truck crashes and an expansive knowledge of the trucking industry, our attorneys have a record of successfully negotiating the best financial results for our clients. Time and again, we have effectively presented the evidence and negotiated the maximum coverage on insurance policies. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, visit 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience
We invite you to read about one of our recent cases below or in Boston Magazine. Attorney Ron Gluck was recently interviewed about his work for the family of a cyclist who was struck and killed by a truck in Back Bay.
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.
Easton Snow Plow Accident
NBC Boston reports the 64-year-old Easton man was hit about 1 p.m. Wednesday on Washington Street, which is Route 138. The victim parked his van on the street, along the breakdown lane on the northbound lane, when the passenger truck plow approached. The victim was fixing the rear tire on the driver’s side when he was hit. According to the Brockton Enterprise, police arrived to find broken vehicle parts, a pair of sneakers and other debris littering the street. The car jack, tire and van were left behind.
Neighbors witnessed the horrific crash and told NBC Boston that the victim had been kneeling down when he was hit by the plow’s blade, then dragged. One homeowner has turned over home surveillance video to help police with the investigation, according to the news station.
Police are still investigating whether the plow driver will face criminal charges. The police chief told NBC Boston that one focus of the investigation will be where the victim was at the time of the crash, whether he was in the roadway or off the roadway.
Police have not released the driver’s name, but said he remained on the scene and cooperated with the investigation.
Illinois Snow Plow Accident Kills Man
In the Chicago suburbs, there was another sad story in the Village of Libertyville. A 75-year-old man was killed Monday morning while clearing snow and ice from his driveway. According to news reports, the victim may have been snow blowing his driveway when a snow plow driver backed into him. The crash happened in a cul de sac in the 600 block of Bridle Court in the Village of Libertyville.
The man was pronounced dead on the scene and the plow driver was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team began investigation.
Snow Plow Truck Accidents in Massachusetts
Snow plow drivers in Massachusetts have a responsibility to obey all traffic laws and exercise caution, always watching for pedestrians and other vehicles.
They must meet certain requirements to clear snow. First, snow plow drivers must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Second, they must buy commercial auto insurance, along with plow equipment. Finally, the Registry of Motor Vehicles issues special snow removal plates which they must use. Yet, beyond this, there is little oversight, including no restriction on how many hours they are allowed to work.
Plow drivers can work for private companies and contract with cities, towns, the state or private businesses; they can be owned and operated by cities and towns or they can be owned and operated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Over the years, Massachusetts has seen numerous snow plow accidents lead to serious injuries and death. Causes of snow plow accidents can include drowsy driving, checking a cell phone and inexperience with the heavy machinery.
Snow plow drivers have faced criminal charges and civil lawsuits in Massachusetts. In 2016, a plow driver was charged with manslaughter in the death of a 60-year-old man he struck in Medford. A year earlier, the victim left Bread & Circus Bakery – a Whole Foods Market company – and walked across the store’s parking lot. Police allege the plow driver had been smoking marijuana prior to backing up and running over the worker.
Another tragedy came in February 2015, when a 21-year-old Fitchburg woman was killed in a snow plow accident as she walked home from a local Market Basket, where she worked. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the snow plow driver and his company, Einstein’s Inc., along with his insurance carrier, Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp.
According to the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg, the lawsuit alleged the driver had operated negligently, recklessly and carelessly and created a safety risk on public roads and highways and that the company had breached its duty to public to ensure the driver was operating safely.
If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of a snow plow driver in Massachusetts, our Boston personal injury lawyers can help you learn your rights for seeking compensation.
For a Free Legal Consultation, Call Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.
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.
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.
Large trucks are a stress for many Massachusetts drivers, especially on busy routes like the Mass Pike. The most challenging situations are when a truck comes up behind you or when one tries to pass you.
There were nearly 415,000 truck crashes in the U.S. in 2015, injuring more than 116,000 people and killing more than 4,060, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
As phones, cars, drones and apps all make our world smarter and faster, the trucking industry must get smarter too. Let’s be clear: We are not advocating for self-driving trucks, but tools that increase video monitoring, expand the driver’s visibility and provide error warnings are all going to help improve safety.
A new study reports on four advanced safety technologies for trucks. The study, from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, covers:
- Video-Based Onboard Safety Monitoring Systems
- Lane Departure Warning Systems
- Automatic Emergency Braking Systems
- Air Disc Brakes
AAA says these technologies could save up to 63,000 lives per year. For this study, AAA reported on a number of industry studies.
- Video-Based Onboard Safety Monitoring Systems could deploy two cameras. One would record the road ahead and the other would follow the driver’s behavior and performance inside the cab. To provide more thorough monitoring, the study said rear cameras could be added, one to capture the center line of vision and one for each side. According to the data, video monitoring systems may have prevented 38 to 52 percent of large truck safety critical events, 20 percent of large truck fatal crashes and 36 percent of large-truck injury crashes.
- Lane Departure Warning Systems monitor a truck’s position on the road and provide the driver with warning if the truck starts to leave the lane. AAA reviewed 13 studies which found lane departure warning systems were 13 to 53 percent effective in preventing roadway departure, sideswipe, opposite sideswipe and head-on truck crashes.
- Automatic Emergency Braking Systems are designed to prevent trucks from crashing into other cars from behind. The in-vehicle system uses a sensor to look ahead of the truck, then alerts the driver if there is a potential for collision. The driver can use this information to reduce speed or make another driving decision to prevent a truck crash. If the driver takes no action and the system detects a crash is coming, it will take control of the truck’s brakes. AAA reviewed five studies that found automatic emergency braking systems prevent rear-end collisions by 16 to 52 percent.
- Air Disc Brakes can reduce a truck’s stopping distance by up to 30 percent and reduce large truck rear-end collisions by up to 43 percent, according to the reviewed studies. This technology was not widely used in the U.S. for years.
Lower Technology Safety Measures for Trucks
Not every safety measure has to be high tech. Many U.S. cities are considering lower tech truck safety measures. In 2014, Boston approved the nation’s first truck side guard ordinance, requiring city-contracted trucks to use side guards and convex mirrors. Other cities have followed including New York City and Chicago. Meanwhile, the City of Cambridge has equipped its own city trucks with side guards and MassBike, the state’s largest advocacy organization for cyclists, had proposed legislation for a statewide truck side guard law in Massachusetts. But no action has been taken.
Truck side guards block the area below the truck’s cargo, between the wheels, so cyclists and pedestrians cannot get towed under. Read more on truck accidents and injuries to cyclists.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
If you have been injured, contact the Boston truck crash lawyers of Breakstone, White & Gluck for a free legal consultation. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys have investigated complex truck accidents which have injured drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians. We have negotiated multi-million dollar awards for our clients. Contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Attorney Marc Breakstone recently settled a wrongful death case for the family of a motorcyclist for $3.5 million. The case was settled in March 2016.
The motorcyclist was tragically killed by a waste disposal truck in West Bridgewater in 2013. The truck, which was being operated by a subcontractor, pulled out across the road in the path of the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist applied the brakes and laid down his motorcycle, attempting to avoid the collision and struck the defendant’s truck at less than 5 mph.
The motorcyclist continued to roll under the truck. The truck driver did not see him and ran the rear tires over his body, killing him.
The truck driver should never have been behind the wheel. The driver had a “Z” restriction on his license, which prohibited him for operating any vehicles that did not have a breathalyzer interlock on the ignition. The truck had no interlock and the driver was criminally charged.
About Attorney Marc Breakstone
Marc L. Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers in New England. His record-setting settlements and verdicts have earned him the distinction of being selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England and Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts. He has also been selected by his peers as one of the top medical malpractice plaintiff’s lawyers in the Super Lawyer balloting. In 2002, Attorney Breakstone was honored as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. More on Marc Breakstone.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling motor vehicle accident cases resulting in serious personal injury or wrongful death. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.