Traffic jam in Massachusetts

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

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

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

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We welcomed a new community partner to our Project KidSafe campaign this year. SHIFT Community Bicycle Collective is well known in Somerville for its streetside bike education and repair workshops. The organization is a resource for the city’s cyclists, including the youngest riders.

Breakstone, White & Gluck made a donation of bicycle helmets to SHIFT and the organization gave them away a few at a time over the year, as volunteers came across children who needed one. Here are some photos of children who received helmets at Family Bike Day on Sept. 16, outside the Somerville Public Library East Branch. Looks like we have a few more cyclists out there ready to ride safely! That’s the goal, so we are happy to see it. Our thanks to SHIFT for doing such a good job this year.

Over 2,000 Bicycle Helmets for Kids in Somerville – So Far!

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For the fifth year, the Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee had one of the busiest tables at Westwood Town Day, which was held on Saturday, Sept. 23 this year. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated 150 bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign and sent Attorney David W. White out to help fit helmets for the kids. Attorney White is a Westwood resident, former committee member and cyclist so he had a blast. Thank you to all the committee members for donating their time.

Children age 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle in Massachusetts. Breakstone, White & Gluck recommends cyclists of all ages wear helmets every time you ride to protect yourself from a head injury. If you are a parent, your children are more likely to wear a helmet if you do, so it is even more important. Learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign.

20141118_crosswalkPedestrian safety was the focus of several NBC Boston reports last night. One segment was called “Boston’s Crosswalk Crisis” and another was called “Cro$$walk Crisis: Private Funding for Public Ways.” They are worth viewing for anyone who lives or works in Boston. A few figures from the reports:

  • Pedestrian deaths rose 15 percent in Boston in 2016.
  • Nine pedestrians have died this year, up 30 percent from this time last year.

Truck on Boston highwayLarge 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.

Cyclists riding through Inman Square now have a safer ride home. The City of Cambridge has recently installed separated bicycle lanes on Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street. The lanes are clearly marked, with flex posts creating a barrier between cyclists and drivers.

These lanes should have many benefits. We hope one is to reduce dooring crashes, such as the one that killed Amanda Phillips in Inman Square in 2016. The 27-year-old Somerville resident was riding a bike and collided into a Jeep door which was left open. The impact pushed her into the travel lane, where she was hit and killed by a landscaping truck. The accident happened near Hampshire and Cambridge streets.

Dooring has been against the law in Massachusetts since 2009. M.G.L. c.90 § 14 states, “no person shall open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.”

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Friends, family and colleagues helped us celebrate 25 years of serving our clients in June.

Photos from the event were published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on August 31, 2017. Subscription required for access.

Cambridge police officer fitting bike helmets

Thank you to the Cambridge Police Department for fitting bike helmets for the kids at Rindge Tower Apartments. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

Just-A-Start, a community development corporation serving Cambridge, treated families at the Rindge Tower Apartments to a Community BBQ with all the best fixings of summer last week. From hot dogs, hamburgers and snow cones to bouncy houses, music and conga lines, the gathering drew more than 150 people from the 273-unit apartment building near Alewife Station.

The Cambridge Police Department participated, distributing safety materials and free bicycle helmets from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign. Officers distributed and fitted over 80 helmets for children.

College student and moving box

Many college students heading to Boston will be living in off-campus housing. The attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck share safety tips and resources.

College students are just days away from starting the Fall semester. In Boston and Cambridge, we urge students to make time for an extra lesson on safe housing. Make sure you understand your rights as a tenant and your landlord’s responsibility to maintain a safe property.

Boston and Cambridge have more than 40 colleges and universities. Because of a shortage in dorm space, many students end up in off-campus housing. Unfortunately, some find themselves dealing with unresponsive landlords who want to collect rent, without doing the work to maintain a property. If you are in this situation, it is important to remember that if a landlord is charging you rent, you have the right to a safe and sanitary apartment.

When a landlord is unresponsive and negligent, it can lead to many problems. It can result in sanitary issues, such as mold, rodents or a bug infestations. It can also lead to broken equipment (for instance, a broken smoke alarm, which needs to be addressed right away).

Porch collapses and fires are two of the most common and serious types of premises liability accidents. As a result of landlord negligence, over the past 10 years, five college students have died in off-campus fires in Massachusetts, according to the state’s website.

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Boston personal injury attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was recently interviewed by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on the voir dire process.

Requiring attorneys to get pre-approval to question potential jurors is the “wrong approach,” Attorney Marc L. Breakstone said in a recent Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article.

Breakstone was commenting on a change to the rules for voir dire in Massachusetts. Judges were long responsible for questioning prospective jurors to determine if they could sit fair and impartial in Massachusetts courts. But in 2014, the Legislature approved the introduction of attorney-conducted voir dire. For the first time, attorneys were allowed to directly question prospective jurors.