lifebuoy

Tips for swimming safely in Massachusetts pools, lakes and ponds and ocean beaches.

We wish our friends, families and colleagues a wonderful Fourth of July holiday week. Whether you enjoy the fireworks in Boston or travel to Cape Cod, we hope you enjoy a more leisurely pace, some good BBQ and a little time in the water. But before you swim, we urge you to remember the rules of water safety at all times.

Ten people die in unintentional drownings each day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While young children suffer a high number of drowning deaths, swimmers of all ages are at risk during the holiday week and summer months, when we spend more time near the water. This is partly because of our water skills – many of us can’t swim or we overestimate our abilities. According to the American Red Cross, 80 percent of Americans claim they can swim, but just 56 percent can actually perform the five basic water competency skills.

Alcohol consumption also tends to rise during celebrations and gatherings. Alcohol consumption can interfere with one’s ability to interpret their surroundings and respond in any setting, but especially in extreme heat. Near the water, alcohol is particularly potent, factoring into up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation, according to the CDC.

Swimming Pool Safety

Pools should be protected by four-sided fencing which stands at least four feet tall. Doors should be self-closing and self-latching. If you are a parent, avoid visiting homes with inadequate fencing because this is the first and most important line of defense in protecting your child against drowning.

Pools should also have anti-entrapment drain covers and safety release systems to protect children from drain entrapment. Ask pool owners where the drains are before you swim.

Watch children closely. Commit to avoiding distractions such as cell phones, conversation or grilling.

In general, beware of any activity which encourages you to move your gaze up, down or away from the pool. If a child is struggling in the water, they need an immediate response and they cannot call out to you if they are starting to drown.

Never consume alcohol at the pool.

Swim with young children and keep them within arm’s reach.

When using an unfamiliar pool, take a test swim on your own without your child.

Walk into a pool using steps or a ladder, rather than diving.

When you are done swimming, if you have young children, leave the pool area and make sure it’s properly secured.

Water Safety in Lakes and Ponds

If you are swimming, look for a public or private beach staffed by lifeguards.

Adults and children should wear life jackets when in lakes and ponds, on a boat or a dock.

Do not consume alcohol at the lake or pond.

Always swim with a friend or family member.

Closely supervise young children to prevent drownings. At lakes and ponds, there are more elements to consider, including shifting sand and dark water.

Enter the water feet first from a beach or other areas marked as safe entrances.

Only dive in areas which are clearly marked as safe for diving. Jumping in feet first is safer.

Never dive from bridges or boats.

Be responsive to water and weather conditions. Leave the water immediately when there is thunder and lightning.

Pay attention to boats, personal watercraft and other swimmers on the pond which could interfere with your ability to swim safely.

Water Safety at the Ocean

Do not expect your family to be ready for the beach just because they have experience in a swimming pool or even a lake or pond. The ocean is much more challenging and unpredictable.

Choose beaches staffed by lifeguards. In addition to responding to emergencies, lifeguards can share information about water conditions, such as the tide schedule, vegetation, marine animals and fish.

Just like every lake and pond, remember every beach has different conditions.

Swim with young children.

Never swim alone; swim with a buddy.

Learn how to identify a rip tide and how to respond. According to the American Red Cross, swimmers are advised to swim parallel to the shore line until they are free from the rip tide. When swimmers can’t do this, they can attempt to  just float and tread water until they have moved out of the rip tide.

Leave the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lighting. You should also head back to shore if you are traveling in a boat. If you can’t return to shore, lie in the bottom of the boat or shelter in the cabin if you can.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck are committed to providing clients with aggressive and thorough representation. We represent clients in all types of personal injury cases, including car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, dog bites, swimming pool injuries and premises liability cases. For a free legal consultation, contact us today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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It was painful to learn of the New Hampshire truck crash which killed seven motorcyclists and injured three others last weekend. That one crash could injure so many is heart-breaking and we send our deepest condolences to the families. 

The horrific accident happened Friday night in the community of Randolph, New Hampshire. The motorcyclists belonged to the Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club for Marine Corps veterans and close friends, according to The Boston Globe. The group was reportedly traveling to their annual meeting eastbound on Route 2 when they were struck by the truck traveling west. Reports said the truck crossed the double yellow line.

By Monday, the driver – a 23-year-old Springfield, Mass. man – had been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide in the case. Massachusetts State Police took Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy into custody at his home. He was then taken to Springfield District Court, where he waived extradition to New Hampshire.

New Hampshire authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, but there are questions about whether Zhukovskyy should have been driving at all following his arrests on OUI charges last month and back in 2013, according to news reports. Meanwhile, his employer, Springfield-based Westport Transport is said to be cooperating with police.

While this type of collision causing so many injuries is rare, motorcycle crashes are not, especially during the summer in New England. Per mile, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, Massachusetts authorities report they have responded to four fatal motorcycle crashes between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Some of the crashes involved a single motorcyclist. This was the case in New Bedford, Belchertown and Andover. But in Westport, a preliminary investigation shows the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on Route 177 when there was a collision with a Ford Ranger turning onto Tickle Road. The driver of the Ford Ranger stayed on the scene and was said to be cooperating with police.

In addition to local authorities, motorcycle accidents should be investigated by an experienced motorcycle crash attorney. In some cases, another driver may not appear to be involved. But drivers who speed, stop short, pass a motorcycle illegally or fail to check their blindspot cause motorcyclists to crash all the time. These are known as no-contact crashes.

When trucks hit motorcyclists, injuries can be more severe as we saw in New Hampshire. Truck companies have a responsibility to train drivers how to operate near motorcyclists. Truck drivers must also take care to properly load vehicles, especially if they are carrying equipment and materials on open open trailers.

 At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we urge drivers to observe the following:

  • Motorcyclists have the right to operate on the same roads as drivers and must follow the same traffic laws and signals.
  • Provide motorcyclists room. Travel several car lengths behind motorcyclists. 
  • Motorcyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in a lane in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Source: The Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual and AmericanMotorcyclist.com). 
  • Motorcyclist are not permitted to travel between traffic lanes (or split lanes).
  • Accidents can happen when drivers fail to look before they turn. In fact, this was the cause of 44 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2013, according to esurance.com.
  • Attempt to make eye contact with motorcyclists at intersections. Many motorcyclists do not have self-canceling turn signals like car and you cannot trust a motorcyclist will turn until you see it.
  • Check your mirrors and blindspots often.
  • Some drivers have trouble driving in the rain. Expect the same from motorcyclists. Be patient and give them more room.
  • Do not speed through traffic lights or make quick unexpected movements at traffic lights and intersections.
  • Do not speed on any roads.
  • Do not overload trucks and trailers. Secure equipment and materials behind a closed door or under secure ratchet straps, bungee tarp straps or other appropriate equipment.
  • Do not attempt to pass motorcyclists unless you must. While you are allowed to do so in Massachusetts, the motorcyclist may not be expecting the move and surprises can lead to accidents and falls.
  • Never drive when you are tired; do not drive when you are normally sleeping or getting ready for bed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Remove all distractions from your car, including cell phones. Hold heavy conversation and limit snacks and drinks.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips

If you are a motorcyclist, please read our past blog, “Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips.” The article can be a resource if you are just starting to ride, looking to become licensed or have questions about your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston car accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured in motorcycle accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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BBQ grill fire in Massachusetts backyard.

The first rule of grill safety: never leave your BBQ unattended.

As we approach the Fourth of July, many of us have grilling on our minds, and all the delights of summer BBQs. If you plan to grill, we hope you enjoy, but please remember to follow the rules of safety at all times.

This is the time to plan, because as we enjoy friends and family, July is the peak month for grill fires, the weeks when nearly 20 percent of all grill fires across the U.S. happen, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). August is another high risk month, accounting for 12 percent of grill fires.

Though these fires are devastating and life-changing events, they don’t always make the news. But according to the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office, there were 474 fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues between 2014 and 2018. Nineteen civilians were injured and seven firefighters were hurt in the wreckage. Property damage totaled $3.8 million in losses.

Across the 50 states, firefighters responded to 10,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis and barbecues each year from 2013 to 2017. Ten civilians were killed and 160 were injured. Property damage resulted in $123 million in losses.

Grilling Safety Tips

Compiled From the Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office and Other Sources

Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors.

Never leave your grill unattended.

Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

Grills should be set up at least 10 feet away from the house or deck railings.

Gas grills can be used on first-floor decks and patios, but they must be located on the ground level or have an outdoor stairway leading to the ground.

Grills should never be set up under a roof overhang or low-hanging tree branches.

Grills should not be used on fire escapes.

Take additional precautions around children. Keep matches and lighters out of their reach. Create a circle of safety, keeping children and pets at least three feet away (more space is better).

Do your grilling at least three feet away from tables and furniture. Fold grill covers and remove them from the cooking area.

Safe Handling of Propane Tanks

Never smoke while handling or cooking with a propane cylinder.

Keep propane tanks outdoors at all times, at least 10 feet distance from doors and other building openings. This includes windows and dryer vents.

Keep propane tanks at least 20 feet from air intake vents and ignition sources.

Propane cylinders should be stored outdoors in shady areas. Cylinders should not be used or kept in high temperatures.

Replace propane cylinders that are aging, rusting or showing other wear and tear.

Charcoal Grills

As with other grills, only use charcoal grills outdoors.

When using charcoal grills, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never use gasoline or kerosene.

Never add lighter fluid to hot coals. This can cause a flash fire, causing serious skin burns.

Use charcoal grills in open outdoor decks and patios, just as you would gas grills. Be aware that charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide, a clear, odor-free gas which can accumulate in spaces and be deadly. Charcoal grills should never be placed in close quarters near an open window.

Allow the grill to cool. After 48 hours pass, you can safely dispose of coals.

If you cannot wait 48 hours, soak the coals in water, then place them in a metal container.

Maintaining Grills

Review the product manual and instructions that come with your grill.

Start by opening your grill to see if there is any animal activity or unexpected conditions.

Next, check that your propane tank is safe for use. Dab soapy water on your propane tank and turn it on for a moment. If there is bubbling, you may have a potential leak. This should be done carefully. Before you try, watch a National Fire Protection Association video.

Check that connections are tight before you turn the gas on.

Clean the grease trap every time you grill.

Rooftop Grilling

Rooftop grilling is against the law in Massachusetts. When someone tries to grill on a rooftop, the damage can be deadly and exponential. Some may still remember the 2010 gas grill fire explosion that exploded and lit up the sky over Charlestown. Starting the fire was an illegal propane tank which exploded on a residential building’s rooftop. Soon after, three other illegal gas tanks burst nearby, igniting a 4-alarm blaze which move through several buildings.

Firefighters – 125 in all – battled the fire on a 100-degree Boston day. Nine firefighters and two civilians were treated for heat exhaustion injuries.

Maintain Safe Decks and Porches

Grill fires can happen when someone makes a mistake while cooking, when a child gets too close to the grill or if the grill has a product defect. Landlords may be held responsible in certain grill fires if they keep a defective grill or fail to meet building codes and illegally close off access ways. In Massachusetts, most residential properties are also required to have working smoke alarms on each floor of floor, including inside bedrooms and other areas. They must also have working carbon monoxide detectors. 

You cannot always prevent negligence in these situations. But you may be able to minimize many injuries by providing yourself a little more room to work and taking it slow. Keep the grill area and walkways leading there open and clear. When you take grill covers off, set them in safe areas away from the grill. Finally, tell everyone in your home you are grilling and ask another adult to watch children.

Sources for this blog include:
Grilling Safety, Mass.gov
Getting Fired Up for Grilling Safety, Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Office
National Fire Protection Association

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm with expertise in premises liability and product liability cases. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys have been recognized as top-rated personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, we also work to bring safety information to individuals and families to help them make safe choices.

If you have been seriously injured by the negligence of someone else, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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People looking at wood tick embedded in human skin
Usually we post blog entries about preventing accidents and safety issues. But here is something that is a serious matter of public health, and we want you to protect yourself!

The incidence of tick-borne illnesses is rising sharply in Massachusetts, in New England, and throughout the country. If not diagnosed and treated promptly, infections can lead to disabling injuries, brain damage, organ failure, and even death. Prompt diagnosis is key, but even more important: Avoiding tick bites.

Understanding tick behavior is the first line of defense. Ticks are active throughout the warm weather months, but even a warm day in February can bring them out. They are most likely to transmit disease in the spring and early summer when they are in their nymph stage (when they are young and smaller). Ticks lurk in leaf litter, tall grass, and on shrubbery, just waiting to hitch a ride on your skin and clothing. Then they wander around until they find a place to bite. They will attach themselves and suck your blood until they are fully engorged. And if they are carrying one of the many bacteria that can make you ill, it will be transmitted during this time.

Derailed MBTA green line trolley in Newton, Massachusetts 2008

The MBTA saw 43 train derailments over five years, many Green Line trolley derailments. (File photo: bwglaw.com)

Two MBTA subway derailments have injured over a dozen and shaken hundreds of Boston commuters over the past week. At least 12 of the injured passengers were transported to local hospitals. You are not alone if you are watching and wondering if Boston’s subways are safe for use.

According to news reports, the first derailment happened over the weekend (June 9, 2019), when a Green Line trolley derailed in a tunnel near Kenmore Square. This accident happened about 11 a.m. Police and firefighters aided 150 passengers off the derailed trolley and out of the dark tunnel. Another 500 startled passengers were evacuated from other trolleys along the Green Line. Eleven people were injured, with 10 people sent to local hospitals. The Green Line trolley operator was among those injured.

Soon after, The Boston Globe reported the train derailment was not due to aging infrastructure or equipment, but was “operator-related.” The MBTA suspended the 62-year-old operator pending the outcome of the investigation.

WHDH reported the operator had three years of experience operating trains. Meanwhile, The Boston Globe reported the train derailed after the outbound D Line train left Kenmore Square. The trolley operator approached a signal marking where the D and C lines split (near Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue). He kept traveling over a switch that was in the process of switching between the lines.

Then Tuesday morning (June 11, 2019), a Red Line train derailed near the UMass Boston campus and the John F. Kennedy presidential library. About 60 passengers were evacuated. Despite the terrifying scene, just two people were treated for injuries. One was treated for a hand injury at the scene. Another person initially left the crash scene, then returned, asking to be transported to a hospital for neck pain.

Crews were still working to repair the Red Line damage Wednesday, leaving hundreds of commuters without their usual way into Boston. The Red Line provides services through Quincy, downtown Boston and Cambridge. The line ends at Alewife station.

The 39-year-old operator has been taken off duty pending the outcome of the investigation, according to WHDH.

According to MBTA ridership figures, the red line carried 272,000 people daily in 2013. This makes it the busiest subway line. The Green Line was second, with 227,000 passengers. The Green Line and the Mattapan Line are the only light-rail trolley systems.

Unfortunately, MBTA train derailments are more common than the public may realize. The Boston Globe reports MBTA trains have derailed 43 times over the past five years. This is the second-worst safety record in the U.S.

Train derailments must be thoroughly investigated by an experienced lawyer. Causes can include operator error, cell phone use, texting or speeding. Aging infrastructure and equipment failure are other potential causes.

If You Were Injured in a MBTA Train Derailment

If you were injured, it is in your best interest to receive a medical evaluation from a hospital or your physician. Then consult an experienced MBTA accident lawyer and learn your legal rights.

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced in representing individuals who have been injured by the MBTA. Our attorneys have investigated and represented clients injured by Green Line trolley collisions, MBTA bus crashes and other accidents. We have also represented families who have lost loved ones in MBTA accidents.

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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quincypolice-merrymount-2019-400-3Quincy Police officers visited Merrymount School last week, speaking to children about bicycle safety in the city, and making the critical commitment to wear a bicycle helmet every time they ride. Quincy police officers talked to students at all grade levels, then gave away 100 bicycle helmets donated by Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign.

We are pleased to make this donation just in time for summer. This is the third year Breakstone, White & Gluck has partnered with the Quincy Police Department to encourage children and families to wear bicycle helmets to protect against head injuries. Breakstone, White & Gluck founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013, with a goal of helping children ride safely. Our attorneys have since given away more than 25,000 bicycle helmets to help children in the Boston area and across Massachusetts.

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Photos are courtesy of the Quincy Police Department.

doctor with a patient at a Boston hospital

A new report shows after medical errors, medical providers only offer 25 percent of patients and families in Massachusetts support services, such as counseling or help from a social workers. Very few patients are offered financial assistance or compensation.

New research shows patients suffered nearly 62,000 medical errors during a single year in Massachusetts, resulting in more than $617 million in related insurance claims.

The Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety compiled its latest report after conducting two studies. The first analyzed health insurance claims data. The second study randomly chose 5,000 households in Massachusetts. Nearly 1,000 people responded they had suffered a medical error or someone in their household or a close family member had. The center heard from 253 people in a follow-up survey.

The Betsy Lehman Center was founded following the death of Betsy Lehman in 1994. Lehman, a Boston Globe health columnist, suffered a massive overdose of chemotherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in December 1994.

Two months after her death, Dana Farber staff informed Lehman’s family there had been a medication error. This was a rare step and the Boston Globe began investigating patient safety. Today, the Betsy Lehman Center operates as a non-regulatory state agency, reporting on medical errors and leading patient safety initiatives.

From the report:

Report “underestimates” medical errors. The Betsy Lehman Center said its reporting likely underestimates the number of medical errors in Massachusetts. This is because diagnostic and medication errors may not be reliably tracked by analyzing insurance claims.

Emotional toll. Patients and their families suffer for years after medical errors. Nearly 30 percent saw an impact on their physical health for at least one year or more, according to the report. One-third of the respondents were still anxious 3-6 years later. One in 5 were depressed and more than 25 percent were sad or angry.

Avoiding health care. One third of survey respondents said they “sometimes” or “always” avoid medical care in general. Two thirds continue to carry reduced levels of trust during medical care. More than half of the respondents still avoid individual doctors and health care systems, even though 3 to 6 years had passed since the incident.

Medical errors can happen anywhere. Massachusetts has highly rated hospitals, but similar rankings are not available for outpatient and long-term care. Many medical errors happen in outpatient settings. In fact, one in 20 patients suffers a medical error during outpatient care, according to research published by Quality & Safety in 2014.

Medical errors are most common in hospitals (41 percent) and doctor’s offices or clinics (27 percent) and the emergency room (15 percent). Another 17 percent of mistakes happen in other healthcare settings, including pharmacies, dental offices and nursing homes.

Massachusetts “I’m sorry” law. Massachusetts passed the health payment reform act in 2012. The law provides physicians a “cooling off” time to disclose medical errors and apologize to patients and families. Physicians are required to inform patients when there is an “unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication resulting from the provider’s mistake.”

Yet the report shows many doctors are not apologizing. Just 19 percent of those surveyed said they received an apology from a doctor. Most of those – 82 percent – felt they received a sincere apology.

After mistakes, just 25 percent of patients and families were offered support services by medical providers. About 8 percent were offered psychological counseling. Another 13 percent were offered spiritual support from a religious advisor. Another 11 percent were asked if they needed assistance from a social worker.

Most providers are not offering additional financial assistance or compensation. Just 3 percent offered patients and families help paying out-of-pocket medical costs following a medical error. Two percent of patients and families received financial compensation for injuries caused by medical errors.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in medical malpractice. We have been consistently recognized for our results for clients in cases involving medical errors, surgical malpractice, failure to diagnose cancer and ambulance negligence.

If you or a family member has 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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Mother and child in a swimming poolEach year, families head into summer, hoping for fun in Massachusetts. No one expects tragedy in the backyard swimming pool. But each year, children suffer drownings and near drownings. Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children in Massachusetts and across the U.S. Young children ages 1 to 4 face the highest risk, followed by older children and teens between the ages 10 and 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, encourages parents and property owners to prepare for the swim season. By acting now, before the temperature rises, property owners and parents can minimize the risk of drowning and injury this summer.

For Pool Owners

Secure Pool Fencing
Pool owners have a responsibility to secure their pools with a strong durable fence. This is your legal responsibility and one of the most important steps you can take to prevent a child from a swimming pool drowning. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends pool owners install a four-sided fence with a self-closing latch around all pools and spas. The fence must be at least 4 feet tall in Massachusetts and must meet certain requirements for vertical clearance and width for fence openings. Read our past blog on pool fencing  or check out this guide on a local community’s website.

If you own a pool, consider adding some additional fencing, shrubs or a planter – or several blocking access to your pool door and fence. This is called a “layers of protection” strategy and the goal is to slow children down so an adult can intervene.

Inspect Your Pool Regularly
Make it a habit to walk outside and inspect your pool daily during the summer months.

Pool Alarms
Consider purchasing a pool alarm to monitor your pool area. There are different types of alarms so do your research and select the best for your needs. But remember, a pool alarm is a supplement to your strong fencing and regularly inspecting your pool. 

Drains
Pool owners should regularly maintain drain systems and ensure they work properly. Spas should be covered and locked when out of use. Children should never wear loose accessories into the pool.

For Parents

Swimming Lessons
Parents who sign children up for swim lessons give them an advantage. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that swim lessons are beneficial for children around age 1 and older.

Supervision: Always Watch and Avoid Distractions
Parents should swim with younger children, practicing “touch supervision.” Keep them within your reach at all times on the shallow end. Even if you are not in the pool with them, still closely watch other children and teens carefully at all times.

Keep conversation with other adults at a minimum when watching children swim. Also set aside all distractions, such as cell phones. It takes much longer than you may realize to “quickly” check your cell phone, e-mail or social media accounts. In that time, a child could drown right in front of you, quickly and silently struggling.

If you are a pool owner and have guests over, be just as vigilant in watching children swim. Try inviting over small groups – just a child or two – to enjoy your pool to keep the visit manageable.

Supervision: The Danger of “Non-Swim Time”
Learn more about the dangers of “non-swim time.” Bode Miller and his wife Morgan have recently discussed this and it’s an important term for both parents and pool owners.

The Millers tragically lost their 19-month-old daughter last year when she drowned in a neighbor’s backyard swimming pool. The child had been in the house with her mother, siblings and other adults.

”Without it being an actual swim time, my awareness and my intensity around protecting her from water was let down,” Morgan Miller said in an interview posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) YouTube channel. 

The Millers also recorded this public service announcement for the AAP.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm. We are committed to promoting safety for children and families through our Project KidSafe campaign. We encourage parents and caretakers to supervise children by the pool and near pools this summer. We also remind property owners that they have a legal responsibility to keep a safe pool area so no one is injured. Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck on our website.

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Teen driver and teen passenger sitting in front seat of car, using cell phones.

A recent study shows teen drivers are more likely to cause crashes resulting in injury or death during the summer months.

When your teen driver picks up the keys, you may casually say, “Have fun and be safe.” But this is when your worry sets in.

In this blog, Breakstone, White & Gluck reports on the latest research on teen drivers along with essential safety fundamentals to share with your family. Our partners each have more than 35 years of experience representing those who have been injured by negligent drivers in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. To avoid these tragedies, we encourage parents to play an even more proactive role to encourage safety during the summer months.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety “100 Deadliest Days” Study

A new study reports two-thirds of people injured or killed in car crashes involve a teen driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released this figure as part of its “100 Deadliest Days” report on the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes caused by teens during the summer months, according to AAA.

More than a quarter of the teen driving crashes were caused by speeding. Teens who were drinking and driving caused 17 percent of the deadly collisions while distracted driving behaviors caused 9 percent of the deaths.

Other findings:

  • Teen drivers, age 15-18, are 17 percent more likely to cause a fatal car crash in the summer than other times of the year.
  • The legal age for consuming alcohol is 21 years old in every state. Yet 1 in 6 teens involved in fatal summer crashes tested positive for alcohol.
  • More than 52 percent of teens participating in AAA’s research reported they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days. Another 40 percent admitted to sending one.
  • As part of its research, AAA used in-vehicle dash cameras and found 58 percent of teens who caused a crash were engaged in distracted behaviors. This was four times as high as federal estimates.

Other research goes deeper, showing teen drivers crash nearly 4 times as often per mile as drivers age 20 and up (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.) The younger the driver, the more likely they are to crash due to inexperience or risky behaviors. Even a couple years can make a significant difference. For instance, the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is 1.5 times as great as for 18- and 19-year-olds.

A few tips for your family:

Teen driving agreement. If you have never done so, now is a good time to have your child sign a teen driving agreement. Don’t just get a signature. Ask your teen to read each point out loud and ask if they understand or have any questions. 

Massachusetts Junior Operator Law. Remind your teen that they have additional restrictions under the state’s junior operator law. If they violate the law, they may be cited and the infraction will go on their driving record. There is nothing you can do to help them at that point unless you plan to hire a criminal defense lawyer and attempt to challenge the citation.

For the first six months, drivers age 16 ½ to 18 cannot carry passengers under the age of 18, except for family members. The law also bans junior operators from driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. and cell phone use is not allowed for any reason. There are additional consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding or drag racing.

Drinking and Driving. Explain to your teen that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving in your home. Encourage them to avoid parties where there are a large number of teens or where teens may be drinking.

At the same time, they should never get in the car with a friend who has been drinking and you will do everything you can to help them get home safely in situations involving alcohol. Come up with an emergency plan together now before there is a crisis situation.

Drive with your teen. Ask your teen to tag along when you go to the grocery store or mall. Show them how you handle the parking lot or the busy intersection where you need to watch for cyclists and pedestrians. Talk through some of the steps out loud. Then, give them the wheel on the way home. 

Set a good example. Do not heavily consume alcohol and never drive if you do. Put your cell phone in the back seat when you drive. If your teen calls, say, “I was driving and couldn’t talk.” If you use a hands-free driving device, consider limiting use while your teen gets started on the road. 

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience. Our lawyers are committed to providing aggressive representation and obtaining the best possible financial results for clients – in every case. We represent clients injured by car crashes and in truck accidents in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and across Massachusetts.

For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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