More Pedestrian Accidents Were Fatal in Massachusetts Last Year
As the New Year begins, Massachusetts closes the door on a very dangerous year for pedestrians.
There was disappointing news on the state’s roads, as traffic fatalities rose 19 percent over 2020, according to MassDOT preliminary data (January 4, 2022). But those who walked faced the most risks. Pedestrian fatalities increased a stunning 38 percent, coming in near pre-pandemic levels.
Statewide, 76 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents last year, compared to 2019, when there were 78 deaths. The state recorded 55 pedestrian deaths in 2020, when traffic volumes fell early on during the Massachusetts “stay-at-home” and essential worker orders.
Most concerning is when a driver injured a pedestrian last year, the encounter was more often fatal. According to the January 4th data, in Massachusetts, you had a greater chance of surviving a pedestrian accident in 2019 than you did last year.
The state recorded about 2,197 pedestrian accidents in 2019. About 3.5 percent of these resulted in fatal injuries. Meanwhile, in 2021, there were 1,520 reports of motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians. Five percent of these crashes claimed a pedestrian’s life.
These are preliminary numbers from the MassDOT. It is important to remember these could rise in future days and weeks.
Drivers Have a Duty to Decrease Speed At Times for Safety
Drivers may operate recklessly or make unsafe choices, such as speeding or running a red light, during any season. Come winter, when the snow and ice arrive, these decisions can be deadly for pedestrians. Drivers may have less time to make corrections.
In Massachusetts, drivers have a duty to use reasonable care and this includes traveling at a safe speed.
Drivers have a duty to observe the posted speed limit as the maximum that is “reasonable and proper.” But they must use good judgment and lower their speed for safety, “when a special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic, or by reason of weather or highway conditions.” M.G.L. c. 90, § 17.
This describes many winter driving situations.
Still, as a pedestrian, you should expect drivers may speed and approach you too closely in the winter. While you cannot control this, you can try to stay visible. When drivers see you, they may recognize their responsibility to slow down as appropriate for the road conditions.
Safety Tips for Pedestrians During the Winter Months
Use Sidewalks. Sidewalks are an essential safety tool in the winter. Always use sidewalks and stay inside the snowbank when waiting for crosswalk signals.
Consider Yourself a Pedestrian. Most of us are a pedestrian at some point in the day. You may consider yourself a pedestrian if you walk to work or take your children to school. Or if you walk for exercise. But you are also a pedestrian when you walk through the grocery store parking lot, drop off a package at the post office or wait for a bus or rideshare. Recognize this and take steps to protect yourself just as you would if you were walking to work or around your neighborhood.
One challenge is pedestrians do not have the same tools as drivers, such as safety mirrors. You may not be able to see drivers up high in trucks or work vehicles. Because of this, it is important to use crosswalks and try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets, intersections and parking lots. Again, when drivers see you, they are more likely to slow down or look for you before they turn and this is even more critical when snow is taking up room on the roads.
Stand Out in Bright Colors. Now is a good time to add a few bright colors to your wardrobe. Wear neon or reflective clothing to help drivers see you. This is a simple step with a big return because it encourages drivers to maintain a safe distance.
Look for Crosswalks with Traffic Signals and Safety Signs. Look for crosswalks with traffic signals, which are designed to guide drivers and pedestrians at all hours, through all types of weather. Keep in mind you may not be able to see traffic signs or paint markings after winter snowstorms.
Stay Away from Plow Trucks! Stay away from plow trucks on roads or parking lots. Grocery store parking lots are full of hazards in the winter because they see so much traffic and may need frequent plowing. You may find snowplow drivers are continuously at work. It is never safe to approach a snowplow, even parked vehicles. The driver could make a sudden decision to back up.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized among the top personal injury law firms in Boston and across Massachusetts. Our lawyers specialize in representing those injured by negligent driving and we provide experienced and aggressive representation to pedestrians and families after serious crashes and crosswalk accidents.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Deck the Halls, But Decorate Safely
Though a time for joy, the holidays can also set the stage for potential injuries, as we rush, stress, decorate and wrap. Surprisingly, you may discover some of the most dangerous hazards right in your own home, among the holiday decorations and boxes you pull of storage to deck the halls.
While colorful and festive, holiday decorations contribute to many injuries each year. During 2019, nearly 15,000 people were injured in holiday decorating incidents and treated in emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly half of these injuries involved falls. Many others are injured each year after the decorations are hung, by defective or poorly-made products or decorations that are set up unsafely.
Unlike some situations, you have control of your home and can take steps to protect yourself, your family and holiday guests.
Start by simply walking around your home and checking your holiday decorations and your Christmas tree, if you have one. Make sure all your decorations are out of reach of young children and put away all tools, such as ladders and hammers, or boxes you may have left out while decorating.
Watch for unsafe products, such as those which arrive in questionable packaging or contain broken or small parts. Manufacturers have a responsibility to design products and provide reasonable warnings for safe use. There can be a high cost when manufacturers or others in the supply chain neglect their responsibilities in the rush to sell, or when individual sellers on Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace offer used goods without the original packaging. But it can happen and ruin a family’s holiday – unless you recognize the risk and act to prevent injury.
Use Caution While Hanging Holiday Decorations
Still have some decorating to do? Remember not to rush. During a season of merry and bright, you want to be safe and avoid injury. Holiday decorating can cause a range of injuries, from passing muscle strain to broken bones, though injuries can be much more serious, resulting in head injuries and even permanent disability. At a minimum, many people experience some muscle strain the next day after reaching and climbing. Planning can help!
So make a decorating plan. Team up with a family member or a friend so you have help carrying heavy boxes or using ladders or step stools.
Consider whether you are physically up for holiday decorating. As you get older, you may not be able to take on the same physical challenges. Acknowledge this before you start.
While you may be thinking, “Bah humbug,” you can still decorate. Just make a few adjustments for safety or to account for your late start. You can hang fewer holiday lights and hang them lower so you can stay off ladders, which are associated with many fall injuries during the holiday season.
Decorators of all ages should consider the cold weather. Even without snow or ice, you face a greater risk for muscle strain and injury during cold weather. It is never safe to climb a ladder in snow, ice, rain, winds or at night.
Water Your Christmas Tree Regularly
If you celebrate Christmas, your tree is the center of your holiday season, where you gather for family photos. But you should only purchase a live tree if you are home and have time to care for it.
Just as they bring joy, Christmas trees can cause devastation if they dry out and catch on fire. Each year, fire departments respond to an average of 160 Christmas tree fires across the U.S., resulting in injuries, deaths and millions of dollars in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These experiences can change a family and the holidays forever.
If you have already brought your tree inside, you may have cut 2 inches off the bottom before placing it in the tree stand. Now, your concern is watering the tree.
Regularly water your Christmas tree and keep it away from fireplaces and heating devices, which can accelerate drying out. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends that families check their tree daily and make sure the water level does not fall below the base of the tree.
Your Christmas tree stand is one of your most important holiday decorations in terms of safety. Choose one which can hold enough water to support your tree’s needs throughout the year. As a general rule, the association recommends stands provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
If you are not up for a live tree, go artificial. Make sure your artificial Christmas tree is marked “flame-resistant.”
Watch for Defective Products and Check Holiday Extension Cords for Safety
Closely examine holiday decorations and equipment before you start decorating. Your trusted tools and supplies may have been recalled for safety since your last use or may not work well with newer products you have purchased.
Check ornament boxes for cracks; make sure ladders and foot stools are in good working condition, if you have to use them. Extension cords should be free from damage and cracks.
This is easy to forget. Many of us reach for extension cords after we start setting up decorations, not first. But here are a few points for safety on extension cords:
- Extension cords should be tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek (ETL) or CSA Group Testing and Certification. Similarly, holiday lights should also be tested.
- You should only use one extension cord at the most, so measure and buy one that meets your needs.
- Make it a habit to check for safety recalls before you plug your holiday extension cords in. Just visit www.cpsc.gov and search for extension cord recalls
- Replace your extension cords every few years. You trust these cords to light up your holiday and protect your family and home over the years, yet you expose them to more wear and tear than other products when you string them around your tree, furniture and take them in and out of storage each year.
Keep a Safe Home for Holiday Guests and Children
Consider what may be in a child’s reach or limit an older guest’s mobility. Move ornaments and decorations with small pieces and sharp edges out of reach. Remember children are curious and may pull at decorations or small broken lights found under a tree or plastic packaging you may have dropped while wrapping gifts. A child could find these, put them in their mouth and choke or suffocate – the worst thought for the holiday season.
Look beyond your holiday decorations as well. You may not be able to see all the hazards, so think about how your home products are powered. For example, flashlights and electric holiday lights may contain small button batteries, which a young child could find and swallow. So may your remote controls, including those you use to manage your holiday lights, and these can be too easy for children to open. You may treasure the holiday cards you receive, but these can also tempt children. Tuck away cards with removable pieces.
It is critical to think about fire prevention, especially before you invite guests into your home. Take a moment to test your smoke alarms. As we mentioned above, keep holiday decorations away from working fireplaces and stoves. Turn these appliances off when you have guests over and skip candle use for holiday ambiance or at the holiday meal.
Finally, we often hang or position decorations near entrances or hallways where people can enjoy them. This can bring joy, but block access to essential exits if a fire ever broke out. It is best to enjoy these somewhere else and keep all entrances and hallways clear.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in personal injury law, representing those who have been injured or killed by negligence across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington.
With more than 100 years combined experience, our lawyers have been recognized among the top personal injury attorneys in Massachusetts and New England. We represent clients in all areas of personal injury law, including injuries and wrongful death resulting from defective products.
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.
Don’t Rush; Reminders to Help Massachusetts Families Buy Safe Holiday Toys in 2021
Many of us are feeling quite stressed about holiday shopping as we watch the news. Still, when you shop for a child, safety is essential. Slow down and look for a fun, safe and age-appropriate toy that will bring joy, not injury, into your home.
Read Age-Appropriate Warning Labels, Toy Packaging and Online Descriptions
You may think you are buying a safe because the toy was featured on a morning news program or has received top reviews online. But despite your best intentions, you may not actually be purchasing the same toy. To avoid buying a so-called counterfeit toy, look for reputable sellers, such as department stores. Try to purchase from brick-and-mortar stores.
Before purchasing or at home, closely examine the packaging on the toy and make sure it matches the manufacturer’s online description. If you purchased the toy online, the toy packaging should also match the description on Amazon or the online marketplace. Once the toy arrives, open and inspect the box contents.
Everything should be consistent, including the age-recommendation labels.
Check for Toy Recalls
The packaging is a tool to help you shop, as is the CPSC website, which you can check for toy safety recalls. In addition to recalling toys, the CPSC has also recalled many inclined infant sleepers over the past two years. Last summer, the commission approved a new federal safety standard for infant sleep products which will take effect in mid-2022. Here is one of our recent blogs on infant sleep products.
U.S. Toy-Related Injuries and Deaths by Age 2018-2020
No one wants to think about the possibility of a child suffering an injury while playing with their own toys. Yet this is a risk in when so many toys are sold online through Amazon, Ebay and other online marketplaces. Independent sellers can sell on these sites or quickly build their own websites, optimize them in the search engines, then close sites down.
Between 2018 and 2020, 50 children were killed in toy-related accidents across the U.S., according to CPSC data released in May 2021. Many children suffered suffocation and other injuries in accidents involving toys with small parts, balls, stuffed animals or accessories. Two children drowned on water toys. Seven children died in accidents involving non-motorized scooters and two were killed on nonmotorized riding toys.
In 2020, nine children were killed and nearly 150,000 children age 14 and younger were treated for toy-related injuries in hospital ERs. Here is a breakdown of toy-related injuries by age during 2020:
- Children under 5 suffered 40 percent of all toy-related injuries.
- Children age 12 and younger suffered 73 percent of toy-related injuries.
- Children age 14 and younger suffered 75 percent of toy-related injuries.
Common Toy Shopping Mistakes
As we have discussed, you can reduce the risk of injury in your household by reading age recommendations and carefully inspecting toys and packaging. But you can also challenge yourself if you have these thoughts:
Buying Holiday Toys Because Just They Are Available or Priced Right
Earlier this month, the Toy Association shared positive news: 76 percent of parents surveyed said they read age recommendations before buying toys.
However, many can be swayed. About 65 percent of parents said they may buy a counterfeit/knock-off toy if their first choice was unavailable. Meanwhile, 63 percent said they could be influenced by a lower price.
Buying Outside Age-Recommendations for Toys
“This toy is marked age 8 and older, but my 5 ½ year old is up for challenging toys .” Sound familiar? The Toy Association reports 68 percent of parents share this thought and would buy a toy outside age recommendations.
Consider age-recommendation labels an important tool, designed to protect your child from choking, an eye or head injury or a broken bone. Age recommendations are not arbitrary; they are based on a toy’s performance under federal toy safety requirements.
For example, toys with small parts or balls have to undergo the “small parts cylinder” test. The cylinder has a diameter of 1.25 inches, with a slanted bottom opening 1 to 2.25 inches. If a toy or small part passes through the cylinder, it has to carry an age-warning label that states, “Choking Hazard – Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.” Read more about the small parts regulations for toys.
Read more in our Project KidSafe toy safety series.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Product Liability Attorneys
Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for victims of negligence and wrongdoing in Massachusetts. Consistently recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers, our personal injury lawyers specialize in product liability, holding companies responsible for injuries and wrongful death caused by defective products, toys and vehicles.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is located in 2 Center Plaza in Boston, across the street from the Government Center T stop and Boston City Hall. If you have been injured, Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a free legal consultation. Learn your legal rights by calling and speaking with one of our attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
New Cars May Get Technology to Help Detect and Reduce Drunk Driving
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill is being called the most important legislation in more than 40 years in the work to stop drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths.
After a long pandemic, the infrastructure bills calls for expansive funding across all areas of transportation, including airports, public transit, roads, bridges, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.
The infrastructure bill also includes new safety mandates for automakers, including that new cars be built with technology to detect and reduce drunk driving and for rear-seat reminders to alert parents that a child has been left behind.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Friday, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk. The U.S. Senate had already approved the bill in August.
“Single Most Important” Legislation to Stop Drunk Driving Accidents
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers called the infrastructure bill the “single most important legislation” in its 41-year history of working to stop drunk driving tragedies.
Drunk driving kills about 10,000 people each year on U.S. roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. This accounts for roughly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities.
The infrastructure bill calls for all new cars to comply with an advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology standard. The legislation does not specify what the technology will be.
If the president signs the bill, the NHTSA will be charged with finalizing rules for implementing a technology within three years. Automakers will have an additional two years to incorporate the changes into the production.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has long advocated that states make breathalyzers mandatory sentencing for those who have been convicted of drunk driving.
The Washington Post interviewed a few experts who said to expect more passive technologies than a breathalyzer.
Potential technologies could work around breath or blood sensors, or cameras.
The NHTSA has worked with the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) for more than 10 years to develop technologies that discretely detect alcohol on drivers’ breath.
Drunk Driving Accidents and Injuries in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, drivers who operated under the influence of alcohol killed 120 people in 2018 (Source: MADD). As with the federal numbers, this represents about a third of all traffic fatalities across the state that year.
Drunk driving accidents are preventable if drivers remember their responsibilities. Massachusetts drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care on the roads. Operating under the influence is both against the law and negligent if you cause a crash resulting in injury.
Drivers also have a responsibility not to operate while impaired by drugs, including marijuana, which was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston law firm that specializes in representing clients in personal injury and car accident cases. We have expertise in representing victims and families of drunk driving accidents in claims against drivers and in Massachusetts liquor liability claims involving third parties.
Our firm stands out for our experience. Each of our partners offers more than 30 years of experience representing clients in Boston and across Massachusetts.
For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Take a Simple Step for Safety: Test Your Smoke Alarms When You Set Your Clocks Back This Weekend
Stay vigilant about smoke alarms and protect your family this winter. This coming Sunday – November 7th – Daylight Saving Time ends. As you set your clocks back, we encourage you to also test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
It is critical that your smoke alarms work as we approach winter, when we spend more time indoors, cook for the holidays and there is a greater risk for home fires and fire injuries.
Half of All Massachusetts Fire Deaths Occur in Homes Without Working Smoke Alarms
In 2020, half of all Massachusetts fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, the state fire marshal’s office announced earlier this year. This was based on preliminary data.
End-of-year data showed there were 29,641 fires across Massachusetts in 2020, a 16 percent increase over 2019. The number of civilian deaths rose from 39 in preliminary data to 44, up from 42 in 2019. There were 245 civilian injuries and 594 fire service injuries in 2020. Smoking was the leading cause of residential fire deaths in Massachusetts, followed by electrical and cooking fires.
The traditional reminder has been to replace your home’s smoke alarm batteries twice a year – at the start and end of Daylight Saving Time. You should still do so if your smoke alarms operate on regular batteries.
But in 2016, the state of Massachusetts updated the fire safety requirements, steering more homeowners toward newer smoke alarms designed to last 10 years without a battery change. So not everyone needs to change their smoke alarm batteries.
Testing is still essential. If a fire breaks out, you may have seconds to escape and your smoke alarm has to work for you, your family, loved ones and roommates. Commit to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. This is a simple step – just press the test button.
Read Your Product Manual and Learn the Sounds of Your Smoke Alarm
Read your smoke alarm product manual. Make sure you recognize how the alarm sounds – when it chirps to alert you of failing batteries and in an actual emergency. If you do not know, search for the product information online or call the manufacturer. The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office also shared safety tips as part of Fire Prevention Week earlier this month. The theme was “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” the sound of your smoke alarms.
Involve other family members in this, especially older adults. Those 65 and older are highly vulnerable when fires break out, accounting for more than 40 percent of all fire deaths in Massachusetts during 2020, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Older adults may seem healthy, but they may suffer from a medical condition they haven’t shared or side effects to medication. Another potential barrier is untreated hearing loss.
One in three people between age 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Aging. When they get older, nearly half of all adults age 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Step in and help older adults. Offer to take them to their primary care doctor and learn about smoke alarms for those who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.
Check for Smoke Alarm Recalls
Unfortunately, like other products, there are times when smoke alarms are recalled due to defect. In May 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of more than 220,000 Kidde TrueSense Smoke Alarms and Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms. These alarms were newer models, sold between May 2019 and September 2020.
When you test the batteries at Daylight Saving Time, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for smoke alarm recalls. Take time for this, even if you have registered your smoke alarm with the manufacturer. While you are there, check for product recalls involving unsafe winter heating products, including electric blankets, space heaters, children’s pajamas and other products. This is an easy but important step for safety. If you own any of these products, take the recall seriously. Remove the defective product from your home now so no one reaches for it on a cold night.
One Survey: Many Americans Are Not Testing Smoke Alarm Batteries
While this is a simple step, not everyone is testing smoke alarms. Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports survey found roughly one-third of all Americans could not recall when they last tested their home’s smoke alarm. About 25 percent could not recall replacing their smoke alarm batteries, while more than half could not remember when they had installed the devices. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can easily test your smoke alarm and pull out the product materials right now.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in premises liability accidents, construction accidents, structure fires and fires caused by landlord neglect. Our attorneys have represented clients, including college students, tenants and their families after serious injuries and wrongful death in fires.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a fire, learn your legal rights. Contact our attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
As the Days Get Shorter, Make Pedestrian Safety a Priority in Massachusetts
The majority of all pedestrian fatalities occur at night or in dark light conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is a significant point come October in Massachusetts, when the days get shorter and the walk home becomes darker.
As a driver, renew your commitment to travel safely near pedestrians this Fall. This is critical. In addition to shorter days, Massachusetts is seeing a rise in pedestrian fatalities as traffic volumes start to rebound. In August, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reported traffic volumes had returned to just 5 percent below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
As of October 21, 2021, 58 pedestrians have died on Massachusetts roads this year, according to MassDOT crash data. 55 pedestrian fatalities were recorded in 2020, when traffic was lightest due to Covid 19 stay at home policies. Prior to the pandemic, there were 78 fatal pedestrian injuries statewide in 2019.
There have been 1,086 total pedestrian accidents reported in 2021 so far, including those involving fatal injuries, non-fatal injuries and property damage without injury, compared to 1,443 pedestrian crashes in 2020 and 2,198 pre-pandemic in 2019. (Source: MassDOT, 2017-2021 Pedestrian, Cyclist and Motorcyclist Crashes by Injury).
While helpful, the data is just a snapshot. A better resource: ask anyone who walks if driving patterns are still irregular due to the pandemic. Roads may be less congested, but drivers are picking up speeds at times. This endangers pedestrians, especially at night, when there is less visibility.
Reminders for Driving Safely Near Pedestrians and Reducing the Risk of Injury
Drive Slowly and Watch for Pedestrians
Drive slowly and always look for pedestrians. Take an extra moment to look in all directions before you step on the gas. Pedestrians are more likely to blend in at night, even in well-lit areas.
Yield and Stop at Crosswalks
Drivers have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians before turning at traffic signals and to stop or yield for pedestrians to safely walk through crosswalks. Many pedestrian accidents at night occur in intersections and crosswalks.
Once you start moving, you can attempt to break quickly but you really have less control, especially in short distance situations, such as when turning at an intersection or backing out of a parking space. Take a moment and take a good look for pedestrians first.
Give Yourself More Time When Getting in Your Car
Drivers can reduce their risk of hitting a pedestrian by giving their full attention to the road. To do this, give yourself time to get ready for the ride while you are parked: buckle your child up and set up your cell phone in hands-free mode if you plan to use it. Make sure you have directions typed into your GPS or you know where you are going.
When you are finished, then give yourself time to turn on the vehicle and look for pedestrians.
Drive at Night Without Distractions
The state of Massachusetts now allows drivers to use cell phones in hands-free mode, but this can be a dangerous distraction when driving at night. The best policy is to pull over in a legal parking space if you need to call someone and avoid causing a car accident or truck crash, resulting in pedestrian injuries.
Reduce Your Speed
During the day and at night, you give yourself more time to stop for pedestrians when you travel at the speed limit or below if necessary for safety conditions.
Look for Both Pedestrians and Cyclists
Pedestrians may or may not wear bright clothing, so you have to really check when you drive at night or in the early morning. Pedestrians may be hard to see, even when traveling through a well-lit intersection or parking lot.
Cyclists may be easier to see as they approach. In Massachusetts, cyclists must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector at night, or specifically from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise under M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B.
This means you may see a white light when a cyclist is approaching and red light (or reflector) from behind. You may also see reflective material on a cyclist’s pedals.
Consider the Impact of Darkness on Drivers
It is simply harder to see at night. Not just for senior citizens. Age-related vision changes can pay a toll much earlier than retirement age. For instance, a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old, according to the National Safety Council. It is critical for all drivers to schedule an annual eye exam, get proper rest and set aside distractions.
Still, older drivers may struggle the most when driving at night. At 60 or older, drivers may not see as well at night and may suffer from a loss in color and depth perception, making it harder to judge speeds and distances, according to the American Optometric Association.
Safety precautions for older drivers traveling at night:
- Have an annual eye examination.
- Consider taking a driving class to brush up on your driving skills and learn about age-related vision changes. The AARP offers courses and other organizations may also.
- Limit or avoid driving at night.
- Reduce your speed and expect pedestrians.
- Be cautious at intersections, taking extra care to yield to pedestrians.
Limit Teen Driving at Night
As a parent, let your teen drive during the day, but consider limiting their driving hours at night this Fall. Teens are still learning and driving safely at night takes practice. And right now, traffic is even less predictable and your teens may be driving alongside more trucks and delivery vans as we approach the holidays.
This is a suggestion. But remember under the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law, teens are not permitted to drive at all between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys provide thorough and aggressive representation to those injured by negligence across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Winthrop, Arlington, Somerville, Everett and Chelsea. We also serve clients across the state, including in Quincy and the South Shore, Hyannis, Barnstable and Cape Cod, Framingham, Worcester and the Danvers and the North Shore.
Our firm specializes in representing pedestrians and cyclists who have been injured in auto accidents, truck accidents and bus crashes, including MBTA bus accidents in the city of Boston.
For a free legal consultation, contact our firm at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
The Boppy Company Recalls 3.3 Million Newborn Loungers Linked to Deaths
The Boppy Company has now recalled 3.3 million newborn loungers after the deaths of 8 infants. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and The Boppy Company announced the recall on September 23, 2021. Parents are urged to immediately stop using these products and to remove them from their homes.
The infants reportedly suffocated after being placed on their back, side or stomach in these loungers. The deaths were reported between December 2015 and June 2020.
The recalled products include:
- Boppy Original Newborn Loungers
- Boppy Preferred Newborn Loungers
- Pottery Barn Kids Boppy Newborn Loungers
Prior to the recall, The Boppy Company sold the loungers from January 2004 through September 2021 for $30-$44. A total of 3.3 million loungers were sold in the U.S., including by Amazon, Walmart, Target and Pottery Barn Kids. Another 35,000 infant loungers were sold in Canada. The newborn loungers were sold in a number of colors and measured about 23 inches long, 22 inches wide and 7 inches high. Consumers can contact the company for a refund.
In the CPSC’s announcement, The Boppy Company said the infant lounger was not marketed as an infant sleep product and included warnings against unsupervised use. But the CPCS noted the loungers and pillow-like products are not safe near infants, who sleep so much and can quickly suffocate if they roll or turnover.
The CPSC emphasized babies should sleep on their backs, on a firm and flat surface in a crib, free from any blankets, pillows or padded crib bumpers.
The CPSC has been actively investigating the hazards of infant sleep products. On April 5, 2019, the CPSC and Fisher-Price issued a shocking consumer warning, stating that 10 infants, all 3 months or older, had died rolling over in the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers. Parents were initially urged to stop using the products when children turned 3 months or started to turn.
A week later, more than 30 reports of infant fatalities had emerged. On April 12, 2019, after nearly 10 years of sales, Fisher-Price issued a full recall of 4.7 million Rock n’ Play sleepers and warned parents to stop using the product.
The Washington Post later reported Fisher-Price had developed the Rock ‘n Play product after consulting one physician and had not conducted any clinical research. The newspaper would also report the number of infant deaths had risen to 90.
Infant Sleep Product Recalls and Deaths After the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play
After the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play recall, the CPSC announced several other infant sleeper recalls for products made by Kids II, Summer Infant, Graco and other companies. In June 2021, the CPSC announced another Fisher-Price recall for the 4-in-1 Rock ‘n Glide Soother, and warned that four infants had died while using the product between April 2019 and February 2020. This product went on the market in 2014 and 120,000 units were sold in the U.S.
At the same time, the CPSC announced the recall of 55,000 Fisher-Price 2-in-1- Soothe ‘n Play Gliders between November 2018 and May 2021. No fatalities were reported in association, but the CPSC warned consumers that, “Inclined products, such as gliders, soothers, rockers and swings are not safe for infant sleep, due to the risk of suffocation.”
In 2019, the CPSC released initial findings on infant sleep product research.
New Safety Standard For Infant Sleep Products
In June 2021, the CPSC approved a new federal standard for infant sleep products. Beginning next year, products intended or marketed for infant sleep must meet this new mandatory standard. Under the new standard, if an infant sleep product does not meet a current CPSC sleep standard, it must be tested to ensure the sleep surface angle is 10 degrees or less. The Fisher-Price Rock n’ Play had a 30-degree incline. Moving forward, infant sleep products must also comply with the CPSC’s safety standard for bassinets and cradles.
As the CPSC implements the new safety standard, the agency is also offering parents tips for putting infants to sleep safely. This starts with setting up your child’s sleep and play areas for safety.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Product Liability Lawyers
The Boston product liability lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have more than 100 years combined experience representing those injured or killed by defective products. If you or a loved one have been injured by a company’s negligence, learn your legal rights. Contact our law firm at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form. Read More
Helping Children Remember Bicycle Helmets During Back to School
For many children, back to school means back to the school bus. But more and more, many students are walking or biking to school.
Back to school is a good time to introduce children to bicycle safety and this year, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to partner with the Waltham and Arlington police departments to give helmets to children.
On Saturday, August 28th, the Waltham Police Department gave away free Project KidSafe helmets to children at the “Meet the New Chief Day.” The Arlington Police Department also gave away free helmets at Bicycle Safety Day on August 24th at Gibbs Junior High School, where many students walk or bike each day to class.
Our Tips to Help Children Wear Bicycle Helmets Back to School This Fall in Massachusetts
A new school year means a new routine. Whether you or your child ride daily or on occasion, we urge you to commit to wearing a helmet.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a properly fitted helmet is the “single most effective way” to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the majority of cyclists who ultimately die after a bike crash first sustained a head injury as their most significant injury.
Children Must Wear Bicycle Helmets Under Massachusetts Law. Under Massachusetts law, cyclists who are 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Helmets should be properly fitted and meet the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Beyond safety, there are other consequences. A police officer can actually impound your child’s bike for up to 15 days if they are caught riding without a helmet in Massachusetts, though many officers work hard to avoid this step and would rather encourage helmet use.
Why Parents and Adult Cyclists Should Wear Helmets. Cyclists of all ages should wear helmets to protect themselves.
As a parent, if you wear a helmet and make sure your child wears one when you ride together, your child will take notice. They are more likely to wear a helmet even when you are not there and they will have some practice at fastening their own helmet.
Label Your Child’s Helmet. Write your child’s name inside the helmet, on the strap or on the outside of the helmet.
Wear Your Helmet; Do Not Carry It In Your Backpack. Many children (and adults) ride, then put their helmets in their backpack while they are at work or school. Encourage your child to keep their helmet outside their backpack so they put it right on.
Buy a Durable Bike Lock. Purchase a durable bike lock in case your child cannot find their helmet and has to walk or get a ride home from school or a friend’s house. Keep this on their bike at all times. Insist that your child should contact you and never ride without a helmet.
Buy Your Child a Spare Bike Helmet. Purchase your child an extra bicycle helmet now before they misplace theirs. Unless you live near a bike shop, it can be difficult to step away from your routine to go purchase a bike helmet right away, especially during the busy Fall season.
At the same time, purchase a spare helmet for yourself, too. Keep your spare at home or at the office. This will come in handy if you damage your helmet, lose it or decide you want to take the Blue Bikes bikeshare home.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our attorneys specialize in representing those injured by negligent driving, bicycle accidents, premises liability accidents, defective and unsafe products, construction accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death.
If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Back to School Bus Safety in Massachusetts
As students head back to school, safety is paramount near school buses. Breakstone, White & Gluck offers reminders to help parents and drivers make safe decisions.
Parents: Learn Massachusetts School Bus Safety Laws
School transportation offices offer a wealth of information, including on safety procedures, safety laws and bus routes. Read the materials your school transportation office sends you promptly. Save the office phone number in your cell phone contacts.
You can also learn by asking your child what they learn. In Massachusetts, students are required to receive classroom instruction on safe riding practices at least three times each school year, under M.G.L. c. 90, § 7B. School districts are also required to conduct twice a year on-bus emergency evacuation drills. You can learn more from the School Health Services website.
The Risk for School Bus Accidents and Injuries
The National Safety Council reports school buses are the safest way for children to get to school. But still, school bus accidents are reported each year.
In 2019, there were 109 fatalities and 13,000 injuries in school bus-related accidents across the U.S., according to the National Safety Council data tabulations. School bus passengers suffered about 6 percent of deaths and 34 percent of injuries in school bus-related accidents between 2010 and 2019. Drivers and passengers in other vehicles suffered nearly 70 percent of the deaths and 53 percent of the injuries. Pedestrians accounted for 17 percent of all deaths.
One important insight: Two-thirds of all children killed in school bus-related fatalities are outside the vehicle at the time, according to the National Safety Council. This means the steps we all take to help students get on and off the school bus safely are critical.
School districts and bus companies have a responsibility to hire school bus drivers who are licensed, trained and have safe driving records. In addition, they have a duty to maintain the mechanical operations and keep a work log. Meanwhile, other drivers on the road have a responsibility to use caution and follow safety laws near school buses. Drivers who take this responsibility seriously can make the drive easier and safer for school children, bus drivers and others on the road.
- As a parent, learn as much as you can about school bus safety procedures from your school.
- Ask about training requirements, criminal and sexual offender registry checks and physical exams drivers must undergo.
- Support and reinforce what your child learns at school and from the bus driver.
- Take a ride on the school bus with your child if you have the chance.
- Notice your child’s bus driver must wear a seat belt. Your child’s school district may or may not have installed seat belts for children. They are not required by state law. School districts can install them following federal safety standards.
- Seat belts are, however, required in other school transportation vehicles, including vans and vehicles carrying 8 or fewer passengers.
- Join your child at the school bus stop. Help them learn how to get on and off the school bus safely.
- Read permission slips and ask questions before you allow your child to ride the bus for sporting events and field trips. Ask if the school district will provide the bus and bus driver, or if a private company has been contracted. Ask for emergency contact numbers and procedures specific to the trip, should the bus be delayed or if there is a safety issue.
Teaching Children How to Get On and Off a School Bus Safely
Getting On a School Bus Safely
For a young child, the sight of a school bus can be exciting and over stimulating.
Walk your child through the steps of safety. Teach them to recognize the difference between yellow and red.
Explain that the school bus will approach and flash its yellow lights as it slows down, but that your child should not move toward the bus yet. This is a good time for your child to pick up their backpack and stand at least 10 feet back from the road.
Your child should wait for the school bus to reach a full stop, flash its red lights and extend the stop sign. The bus driver will open the door, make eye contact with your child and let them know they can board the bus.
Exit a School Bus Safely
When stepping off the bus, your child should cross the street in front of the school bus, never behind. Your child should step off the road and onto the sidewalk right away. Let your child know if they leave any belongings on the school bus, you can call the school transportation office later.
It is not safe to turn back because school bus drivers and other drivers are not expecting this. While school bus drivers are supposed to check mirrors before moving ahead with their route, there is a very real risk they will not see your child. The greater risk is other drivers may become impatient and start to move toward your child before the bus has stopped flashing its safety lights.
Other Drivers Should Keep a Safe Distance From School Buses
Other drivers have a responsibility to travel safely near school buses and follow traffic laws. This starts with traveling at slower speeds and being prepared to stop.
In Massachusetts, “no person shall operate a motor vehicle within a distance of 100 feet behind a school bus,” per M.G.L. c. 90, § 14. Drivers must also reach a full stop for school buses that have stopped and activated signals to let children on or off. Drivers must remain stopped until the school bus pulls back its stop sign and starts moving again.
Never pass a school bus that has stopped and is flashing its lights. You can cause a very serious accident involving a school bus or another vehicle. Drivers who violate this law can expect a $250 fine for the first offense if they are caught by police or if the school bus driver reports their license plate, M.G.L. c. 90, § 14. Repeat offenders can face additional fines up to $2,000 and license suspensions – all for making a reckless decision stemming from impatience. This is a decision you will only regret later, especially if you cause someone injury and face a civil lawsuit seeking financial damages.
These are simple laws. But many drivers follow school buses more closely than they realize. Next time, try leaving a little more room. You will give the school bus driver more time and open up your own view of the road, helping you to make safer decisions and avoid a collision with the bus or a car accident.
Just as important is safety near school bus stops. Slow down near school bus stops. Never back up your car out of your driveway near a school bus stop. Park your car in a position that allows you to drive out safely in the morning or wait until the bus has come and gone.
While parents and children should stay 10 feet back from the road, there are times when children or pets may step into the road. You have to be prepared to stop – and be patient to avoid an accident.
Distracted Driving Near School Buses
Picking up a cell phone can be a deadly decision near a school bus, where young children and other pedestrians and cyclists may approach your vehicle closely at times. Commit to safety and focus on the roads, not your device, as students head back to school.
The Dangers of School Buses at Intersections
School buses can obstruct a driver’s view at an intersection. Stay back 100 feet or more so you can watch for the school bus as well as pedestrians and cyclists, and avoid a traffic accident.
Remember that pedestrians may approach near sidewalks and crosswalks, but cyclists may travel in the traffic lane or to the right of traffic. If a school bus has stopped in front of you at an intersection, you may not be able to see if a cyclist has stopped next to them until traffic starts to move.
Back-to-School Safety Reminders for Massachusetts Drivers
Back-to-school is a fun and exciting time for students, especially getting to reconnect with friends after summer vacation. As students get ready, drivers should too. You should expect to see more students walking, biking or waiting at school bus stops. Commit to drive safely and be mindful of speed limits.
Take a Test Drive
Before students return, drive through your community, school parking lots and nearby intersections. Observe whether there has been roadwork or if new bike lanes have been added. Look for new traffic signs related to parking, school drop-offs and traffic direction. Look for sidewalks. As a driver, you have to make quick decisions and this check will help you later.
Look Right, Left, Front, Back
Drivers can prevent many traffic accidents by checking their blindspots and all sides of their vehicles at intersections more. At red lights and stop signs, it is critical that you check, especially from behind. You must watch for pedestrians, but also cyclists. Consider that after you initially stop your car, a cyclist could approach from behind. If you neglect to check, you may not see them before the encounter turns into a very serious bicycle accident.
When you park, commit to look. Check all sides, including your blindspot. Use your back-up cameras and really look for pedestrians, whether you are in a school parking lot or at a local restaurant or other business. Before you step out of your vehicle, check again so you do not hit a cyclist or pedestrian with your door. These accidents can happy very suddenly if you do neglect to look and a cyclist is nearby. Learn more about dooring accidents.
Slow Down for Students
In Massachusetts, drivers must follow a 20 mph speed limit in school zones. The Vision Zero campaign has documented that slower is safer for pedestrians, even just 5 mph.
From the City of Boston’s Vision Zero campaign:
- There is a 17 percent likelihood of fatality or severe injury when drivers travel 20 mph and hit a pedestrian.
- At 25 mph, the risk of pedestrian death or severe injury rises to 30 percent.
- At 30 mph – still not that fast – there was a 47 percent chance of a pedestrian accident turning fatal.
Travel Safely Behind School Buses
After the past year, it is more important than ever to practice patience near school buses and school bus stops. Each day may be different as parents, children and school bus drivers try to manage under COVID-19 conditions. Remember the basics of school bus safety.
When a bus flashes its yellow signals, this means the driver is getting ready to stop. Other drivers on the road should slow down and prepare to stop. Drivers must stop when the school bus activates its red lights and extends its stop sign.
Never pass a school bus that has activated its signals and extended its stop sign. In Massachusetts, drivers must keep vehicles at least 100 feet behind a school bus at all times. M.G.L. c. 90, § 14
When a school bus stops, drivers traveling in both directions must stop. And if you end up stopping behind a school bus that is letting off children, just wait. Wait until all the children have fully stepped onto the sidewalk and give the bus distance when it starts moving again. This also gives you time to assess the traffic and look for an opportunity to get off the bus route if you want to.
Stop and Look for Pedestrians at Crosswalks and Intersections
Drivers should commit to stop for students in crosswalks. Students expect drivers to stop and if drivers travel slowly and are prepared to stop, they have extra time to make safe decisions near children.
In Massachusetts, drivers have a responsibility to yield, slow down or stop for all pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Drivers must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks with an activated “Walk” signal. Another point is that you should follow other drivers and their decisions near crosswalks. When the car in front of you stops for a pedestrian at a marked crosswalk, you have a duty to stop and wait for the pedestrian to cross.
Read more on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s page on pedestrian crosswalk laws.
Teens Suffer Many Pedestrian Injuries
When you hear “back-to-school safety,” many people think of young elementary school students. But in “Alarming Dangers in School Zones, 2016,” SafeKids Worldwide reports that older teens, ages 15-19, account for 26 percent of all children age 19 and younger. Yet the older teens accounted for about half of all pedestrian fatalities, with many occurring at night.
This is relevant because when school begins, there will be a rise in traffic and pedestrian activity even outside school hours. High school students may be participating in afterschool sports, extracurricular activities, an afterschool job or visiting more with friends.
Call 911 to Report Injuries to Children, Pedestrians and Cyclists
If you pass a student or an older pedestrian or cyclist who has been injured, stop and call 911. This is a really difficult time as the pandemic continues and there is likely to be traffic congestion at times and demands on our emergency response services.
Never assume a pedestrian has help. Nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-run crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. If a driver flees the scene, the victim may not have anyone to call 911, delaying their access to medical care. Every minute counts to a pedestrian injured in a car accident.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for justice for clients who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. Our lawyers are committed to excellence in every personal injury case we handle. We have earned consistent recognition in The Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts Super Lawyers for our results for clients.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.