Articles Posted in Winter Safety

Elderly couple on crosswalkThe Boston Herald has renewed concerns about pedestrian safety with a report that nine pedestrians were hit in Boston on the same day.

On Tuesday, January 17th, the city saw its worst day for pedestrian accidents since at least June 2015, according to a Herald analysis. The first pedestrian accident occurred at a McDonald’s restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue in the South End. This accident occurred shortly after 9:30 a.m. The other eight accidents occurred between 4:30 p.m. and about 9 p.m., in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Brighton and Hyde Park.

Pedestrian Accidents: The Numbers
Pedestrian accidents are a concern for everyone on the roads. In Massachusetts, we do a lot of walking. According to WalkBoston, more than 10 percent of all trips in Massachusetts are taken on foot (this is more than 40 percent greater than the national average).

When it comes to work, 12 percent of Massachusetts residents commute by walking. The number is higher in some communities. In Cambridge, 24 percent of residents walk to work.

According to the Boston Herald, pedestrian injuries are on the rise in Boston. In 2016, 904 pedestrians were injured in crashes, a 15 percent increase over 2015. Twelve pedestrians died in 2016, up from nine in 2015.

Mayor Marty Walsh has formed a Vision Zero task force with a goal of eliminating fatal and serious traffic fatalities in Boston by 2030. As part of the Vision Zero work, the city lowered its default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph in early January. The change does not impact state-owned roads. If you live or work in Boston, learn more about Boston’s speed limit change.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

Use Sidewalks. The sidewalk is the safest place for pedestrians. If no sidewalks are available, walk on the left side, against traffic so that drivers have a chance to make eye contact with you.

At Night. Carry a flashlight and wear a reflective safety vest if you walk at night or in the early morning.

Use Crosswalks and Traffic Signals. Use crosswalks and press the Walk button when available. Drivers are required to stop for you under Massachusetts law. Other cars are not allowed to pass the stopped vehicle.

Pay Attention to Safety Alerts. Winter is a harsh time for pedestrians. Pay attention to safety alerts and travel warnings from the State of Massachusetts, the MBTA, public schools, communities and your employers.

Beware of Snowbanks and Snowplows. Tall snowbanks obstruct the view between drivers and pedestrians. Wear a neon safety vest if you must walk in travel in these areas and pay attention to traffic. After a storm, expect to see snowplows on streets and working in parking lots. Take it slow.

Beware of Construction Areas. Areas such as North Station in Boston are now much harder for pedestrians to travel due to construction. Pay attention to notices about construction schedules and avoid building activity and construction workers whenever possible.

Watch for Cars Backing Up. Pedestrian accidents can happen when drivers neglect to check for pedestrians as they pull out of a parking space or a driveway. Watch out for these drivers and stop to let them back out.

From Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience
20170130-youtube-busaccidentOur attorneys have over 100 years combined experience representing pedestrians who have been injured by the negligence of drivers and defective roadway conditions. Our law firm represented one pedestrian who was struck by a MBTA bus in a crosswalk in 2005. The pedestrian suffered serious injuries and required amputation of her right leg. The case went to trial and was appealed by the MBTA. The final award was $7.1 million for our client. See the re-enactment video we prepared for trial. It shows one way pedestrians can be put at serious risk.

 

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dw-200-webMany of us would rather skip the shovels, snowblowers and ice scrapers this winter. But when the snow falls, remember that Massachusetts property owners have a responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe. So your shovel must come out.

For over 100 years, Massachusetts property owners enjoyed a special exemption from liability for “natural accumulations” of snow and ice. An injured person previously had to demonstrate that the accumulation was unnatural, such as the frozen discharge from a gutter, or a pile of plowed snow across a sidewalk. But for the past six years, Massachusetts has followed the rule of reasonable care.

All residential and commercial property owners now have to take reasonable steps to clear the snow and ice hazards and keep their property safe for traveling.

icicles_200.jpgWith the official start of winter just days away, it is a good time to get your home and automobile ready. While some types of home heating equipment require little preparation, it is best to review yours before the snowfall.

Winter home heating carries the risk for fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result from a build-up of the invisible, poisoning gas. Each year, half of all home fires occur in the three months from December to February, when home heating equipment is most used. Some 1,500 Americans die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning, while more than 10,000 suffer carbon monoxide injuries, according to Children’s Hospital Boston.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are working and properly placed. Massachusetts requires smoke alarms be installed on every habitable level of a residence as well as in basements. Carbon monoxide detectors are also required on every habitable level of the home. Additional units are recommended outside of bedrooms and sleeping areas.

Chimneys
Get your chimney professionally cleaned once a year. Report any cracks or water leaking. Fall is the best time for a cleaning. Creosote can build up in the chimney over time, lead to blockages and produce carbon monoxide. Creosote is created when firewood does not burn correctly, when wet or soft wood is placed in the fireplace and by closing the fireplace before the wood is fully burned.

Fireplaces
Open the fireplace damper before lighting and keep it open until the ashes are cool. Never close the damper before going to bed if the ashes are still warm. An open damper may prevent the build-up of poisoning gases. Light your fire with matches. Never use gasoline, charcoal lighter or another fuel because the vapors can explode. Make sure you have no flammable materials near open flames.

Furnace Vents
Your heating system will likely have a vent on your home’s exterior. The vent will have two pipes, one of which lets air in and one of which sends air back out. Make sure both of these pipes are kept clear of snow to avoid carbon monoxide from building up in your home.

Cars
Check your snow tires and decide whether you need new ones. Check your tires’ air pressure using a gauge, which you can purchase at an auto parts store. Put an emergency kit inside your car and make sure it includes a neon-glow vest, snacks, a flash light and other essential supplies. Click for a full list of emergency safety supplies.

If you have a garage, make sure you do not warm up your car inside it with a closed door. Pull your car out and heat it in the driveway to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

For more information about winter safety, visit these sites:

Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety, Centers for Disease Control.

Home Safety Tips for a Safe and Healthy Winter, Home Safety Council.

Winter Safety Tips, The American Red Cross.
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