Back-to-School Safety Reminders for Massachusetts Drivers

Two students walking to school in Boston, holding hands with their parent.
Two students walking to school in Boston, holding hands with their parent.

As students head back to school in Massachusetts, drivers are urged to travel safely and follow speed limits.

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.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck Welcomes Attorney Reza Breakstone

From the stage to the courtroom, Attorney Reza Breakstone brings a unique blend of skills and experience to the firm.  We are pleased to welcome Reza, who will focus on representing personal injury clients at Breakstone, White & Gluck. He will also counsel small businesses in strategic development, litigation and contract matters.

Reza graduated from the University of Michigan in 2002, where he received several leadership awards.  After college, Reza worked for two years as a legislative aide for the junior Senator from Michigan in Washington D.C. He returned to Boston to attend Northeastern University School of Law.  After graduation from law school in 2008, Reza worked for four years at a prestigious Boston firm, concentrating in complex business litigation, federal antitrust defense and security litigation.  During that period, he received a special assignment as an Assistant District Attorney in Suffolk County District Attorney’s office where he prosecuted criminal cases.  Working in the West Roxbury Division of Boston Municipal Court,  he tried numerous bench and jury trials to verdicts.

“What I learned in the DA’s office is your value as a lawyer is embedded in your judgment, interpersonal skills and treatment of others,”
Reza says. “Having good relationships is essential. When you are at a large firm, having good relationships is important, but productivity is a much more important measure.”

In addition to his legal pursuits, Reza has a passion for acting and improvisational theater.  He has performed in numerous independent films and improvisational theater troupes in New England and Los Angeles.

Reza looks forward to working on behalf of the firm’s injured clients while continuing to assist small businesses and start-ups with development strategies.  In both pursuits, he looks forward to furthering his commitment to “the business of helping people.”

“When you are put in a position to represent someone, it really comes down to confidence and trust,” he said. “I have a lot of people who respect me and trust me. I think the latter is as important as anything.
That really helps when people are bringing their lives to you and saying help me out. It’s because they trust you to get the job done.

To learn more about Reza, please visit his attorney bio page.

Breakstone, White & Gluck Donates 125 Bicycle Helmets to Children at Westwood Day

The Westwood Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Committee distributed 125 bicycle helmets to children at Westwood Day over the weekend. Despite the cold and rainy day, families turned out and the committee distributed the helmets in a little more than two hours.


Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the bicycle helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

Attorney David W. White is a Westwood resident and participated as a member of the Westwood Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Committee.

Through our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated 3,500 helmets this year and over 8,000 helmets since our first donation in 2013. Our goal is to encourage children and families to wear bicycle helmets and reduce the risk of serious head injury should they fall or be injured in a bicycle accident.

Other events:

Watertown Faire on the Square: On Sept. 26th, the Watertown Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee distributed 120 Project KidSafe bicycle helmets to children in the community at the 16th annual Watertown Faire on the Square.

Boston Bikes’ Roll It Forward: Attorney David W. White will join Boston Bikes at the Old Colony public housing development in South Boston on Friday, Oct. 9th. Boston Bikes’ Roll It Forward program provides refurbished bikes to city residents each year and returns for bike repair events. Breakstone, White & Gluck is donating 100 helmets and Attorney White will fit children who need one for the new helmets.

Supporting the Boston Bikes’ Get Biking Challenge for School Children

KidSafelogo-website-2014.jpgAs part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck recently supported the Boston Bikes’ Get Biking Challenge, a city-wide biking competition for children in the Boston Public Schools. Boston Bikes, which is part of the City of Boston, hosted this first-time event in May to celebrate National Bike Month. Students were challenged to ride their bicycles every day of the month and track how many minutes they rode.

Boston Bikes had strong results. Eleven city schools accepted the challenge, which meant more than 3,500 students were invited to participate. Nearly 1,400 students rode their bikes in May. On average, students rode 12 days of the month.

More results:

  • Students biked more than 597,760 minutes combined
  • Some 766 students biked more than 4 hours throughout the month
  • They covered 79,700 miles, or the equivalent of traveling around the Earth’s equator three times

Read more about the Boston Bikes’ Get Biking Challenge.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Project KidSafe
The Boston personal injury law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck launched Project KidSafe in 2013 and has donated 8,000 bicycle helmets to children who need one in eastern and central Massachusetts. Boston Bikes’ Roll It Forward was one of our first partners and we continue to donate to the program, which fixes up used bikes and donates them to children who need one in Boston.

Read more about Project KidSafe.

Attorney David White Discusses Snow and Ice Law on Legal Talk Network

With near record levels of snowfall across Massachusetts this winter, the state has seen many car accidents, over 100 roof collapses and many school closures. These challenges follow Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., the 2010 Massachusetts court ruling which raised the legal burden on Massachusetts property owners to clear snow and ice.

With the ruling, Massachusetts property owners must take reasonable care to remove all snow and ice from their property or be found liable for resulting injuries from snow and ice falls. Previously, property owners were not liable for injuries resulting from natural accumulations. While a new law often faces challenges in the first few months, this extreme winter has added many unexpected turns.

Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck and Attorney James T. Scamby of Tucker, Heifetz & Saltzman joined Legal Talk Network and co-host Bob Ambrogi this week to discuss what the new law means in this extreme winter.

Click here to hear the podcast.

Click here to learn more about the show and news stories about Massachusetts’ snow and ice law.
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