Articles Tagged with “Boston car accident lawyers”

Traffic jam

As a record-number of holiday travelers hit the road, Boston will be especially hard hit this week, according to AAA’s travel forecast.

However you celebrate, we hope you enjoy a festive holiday season, filled with friends, family, holiday events or volunteering.

But most of all, here at Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys hope you commit to travel safely during the holidays. While it’s the season for giving, Thanksgiving to New Year’s brings some of the most dangerous days on the roads.

AAA is forecasting a record-breaking 112.5 million holiday travelers – or 1 in 3 Americans. This represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year. More than 102 million will travel by car, the highest number in 17 years. The forecast holds bad news for Boston though. On Wednesday afternoon, we could end up with one of the longest commutes in the nation.

Tips for driving safely for the holiday season:

Plan for Boston holiday travelers. AAA and INRIX forecast this Thursday, Dec. 20th, will be the most congested day nationwide. Boston is on a list of 10 holiday hot spots, with the worst travel expected on Wednesday, Dec. 19th. The absolute worst time to drive is 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day and you can expect the commute to take 3.5 times as long. It’s hard to believe the forecast is so terrible. It’s based on historical data and recent travel trends.

Unfortunately, this heavy traffic won’t just impact those starting their holiday commute; it will also challenge workers, school buses, delivery services and just about all of us.

Make a plan. Take public transportation if you can. Adjust your work hours if your employer allows it. Services like Waze and Mass511 can help you navigate and take away some of the stress.

Buckle up. Wear your seat belt at all times. When driving others, ask if they are buckled up before you start moving. People really need the reminder. Even after years of safety campaigns, nearly 10 percent of Americans are still not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, seat belts could have saved more than 2,400 people killed in car accidents (Source: NHTSA).

The day before you travel, also take time to check your children’s car seats, so they are properly secured.

Plan enough space for holiday gifts. When traveling with gifts or food, make sure you leave enough space so you can see through your windows.

Watch your speed, especially near pedestrians. Speeding is involved in one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA. It is also a leading cause in car accidents which injure pedestrians. Commit to traveling the speed limit or slower if you need to adjust for weather conditions, dark roads or unfamiliar areas. Have patience in parking lots and remember, during the holiday season, pedestrians may be out later at night.

Drive sober. If you celebrate outside your home, our suggestion is to skip the alcohol and focus instead on all you are grateful for this year. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver whom you trust not to drink. As a backup, install the Uber and Lyft apps on your phone.

Drunk drivers killed 10,874 people in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, representing 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Here in Massachusetts, drunk drivers caused 34 percent of all traffic deaths.

As personal injury attorneys who represent those injured by drunk drivers, we know firsthand that when someone is killed by a drunk driver, nothing is ever the same for the family. Drunk driving accidents are senseless, entirely preventable had the driver just made a better decision.

As for drunk drivers, they can be criminally charged and expect to face a civil lawsuit, as can others in certain cases, including bars and restaurants in liquor liability cases.

Marijuana will be in greater supply this year, after retail stores have opened for recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts. Use good judgment. Do not consume marijuana when you are driving. Users are about 25 percent more likely to crash than other drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No distracted driving. We cannot say it enough: it’s critical to put your cell phone away when you are driving, especially in heavy traffic. Tell your loved ones your phone is off the hook until you stop driving and turn your engine off. Stay committed to that. Don’t engage in texting while driving, reading e-mail or checking Facebook when driving.

Have your directions ready in advance. If you are driving long distance with children, make sure you have snacks, books, coloring sets or games prepared. If possible, drive with another adult so they can respond to your children and make an emergency call if necessary.

Finally, plan ahead and decide where you want to take rest breaks.

Emergency supplies. Do everything you can to ensure you reach your destination safely. Carry cash, a credit card and an emergency kit containing: a mobile phone charger, a first-aid kit, water and snacks, a flashlight and extra batteries, warning flares, jumper cables and a basic tool kit. And don’t forget ice scrapers, shovels and blankets.


Additional resources:

AAA’s Holiday Travel Forecast for 2018

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2017 Data: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA


About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

For more than 25 years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented those injured by car accidents in Massachusetts. Our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our top results for clients and their families. We have consistently been recognized for our results, including by Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers. 

If you have 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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shopping mall parking lot

Parking lot crashes are more likely in Boston and Massachusetts this time of year, as holiday shoppers are out. What can you do to prevent accidents? Put down your cell phone, slow down and always watch for pedestrians.

When you finish your holiday shopping, and start to head home, you may be tempted to pick up your cell phone and call someone. But the parking lot is not a safe place and the holidays are not the season.

Unfortunately, car accident claims typically rise during the holidays, as many of us head out shopping or to enjoy holiday lights. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the increase begins around Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We are now approaching one of the worst stretches, the days just before Christmas. 

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers urge you to travel slowly and set aside distractions to prevent parking lot crashes. Too many drivers are engaging in these distractions, according to this recent National Safety Council poll:

  • 66 percent of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
  • Teens were less likely to make phone calls than adults (60 percent).
  • Another 63 percent said they would program GPS systems.
  • More than half, 56 percent, said they would text and 52 percent said they would use social media.
  • Another 50 percent said yes to sending or receiving e-mails, while 49 percent said they would take photos or watch videos.
  • More than half of all teens and adults also admitted they would take time for personal grooming (59 percent of teens; 53 percent of adults).

Tips for Preventing Parking Lot Crashes

  • Drive slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to react to pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Do not cut through parking lots; follow the traffic lane.
  • Avoid distracted driving activities, such as cell phone use, texting, listening to loud music and engaging in intense discussion. 
  • Choose your place to check electronics, such as before you leave the mall or store.
  • Use blinker signals.
  • Obey stop signs and other signs. Back out carefully.
  • Always watch for pedestrians in the parking lot and at the entrance. Be extremely patient and always wait for them to reach the sidewalk before moving.
  • Walk all the way around your vehicle before stepping inside, looking for pedestrians and parents with small children and baby strollers.
  • Consider parking away from other cars to avoid shopping mall parking lot crashes.

The Impact: Parking Lot Crashes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports parking lot crashes account for about 20 percent of all auto claims. The NSC reports on average each year, there are 60,000 injured by parking lot crashes and 500 or more who die. Pedestrian accidents account for many parking lot crashes. Backup accidents are responsible for nearly 10 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes in parking lots.

Over the past few years, a number of pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts parking lots have been fatal. In 2017, a Trader Joe’s employee in Acton was killed. A year earlier, a 52-year-old woman died in Wilmington, outside a Rite-Aid. In 2015, a pedestrian was killed in the parking lot of the Cloverleaf Mall in Natick, just across the street from the Natick Collection (or the old Natick Mall).

Cell Phone Use and Massachusetts Law

Eight years ago, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. If you are texting or writing an e-mail and cause a car crash, you could be cited by police. If you injure another driver, the police citation could be used in a civil lawsuit to prove your negligence and you will have to pay compensation to the victim.

All but three states have texting while driving bans. Hand-held cell phone bans are a different story, with just 16 states approving bans. Hand-held cell phones are still permitted when driving in Massachusetts, but safety advocates urge drivers not to use them, especially in parking lots. In a matter of seconds, a simple act such as trying to look up GPS directions or dialing a friend can lead to a serious and possibly fatal accident.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

If you have been injured in a parking lot crash, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation under Massachusetts law. Contacting a Boston car accident lawyer promptly is essential so they can act quickly to protect your rights.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in auto collisions. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Passenger paying private driver for a rideIn Massachusetts, you can pay a licensed cab, Uber or Lyft for a ride and expect the driver to carry auto insurance if you are injured. These drivers are required to buy minimum levels of auto insurance under Massachusetts law, which is the way it should be.

But now, two years after Massachusetts began regulating rideshare companies, auto insurance companies are becoming more careful in investigating car crashes to make sure they do not involve “gypsy cabs” or situations where passengers pay a private individual for a ride, even though they are not licensed as a business, taxi or have not met rideshare regulations. Insurance companies are saying passengers are not covered for injuries in these situations, and it’s an important warning to consumers.

There is a whole industry of gypsy cab drivers on the roads in wake of the rideshare legislation. They are simply ignoring the regulations and setting up social media pages advertising their services. They may also grow their business by word of mouth and by serving the same passengers they know well. Their prices may undercut other ride services, but there is a huge catch in the bargain: there may be no insurance in case of a car accident.

Gypsy cab drivers can offer cheaper fares for two reasons: they don’t buy the proper commercial insurance, and they fail to report their earnings to the state and federal government, so they don’t pay taxes.

Don’t take a chance! The odds are you will arrive at your destination safely. But the few dollars you save will look like a really poor investment if something goes wrong along the way, and you end up hurt in a car accident.

Please hold your wallet and read our consumer safety tips:

Gas and expenses.  Can you share expenses for a trip? This should not be a problem, as long as everybody is paying their fair share, and nobody is making a profit.

Rethink your carpool. Carpooling is encouraged in our traffic-gridlocked state, especially when traveling during rush hour. But it’s not a real carpool if you never drive, and you pay somebody a fee to be their passenger. If you are the driver, you need to make sure your passengers are protected, or you may find yourself without insurance protection! Consider appropriate increases in your personal auto insurance coverage, which we explain later in this article.

Travel by cab, limousine or rideshare. Cabs, limousines, and rideshare vehicles are required to carry auto insurance to cover passengers in Massachusetts. How much coverage varies by type of ride service and by municipality. For example, a cab in Boston may have only $20,000 in basic coverage. But remember: you may have zero protection in gypsy cab situations.

Massachusetts lawmakers did better in passing legislation for rideshare vehicles in 2016, requiring them to carry adequate amounts of coverage when drivers are engaged in a pre-arranged ride. You can read about the required amounts on our Uber accidents web page.  

Review your own auto insurance policy. In Massachusetts, you are required to carry auto insurance for your vehicle. Look at your personal policy or the policy covering other vehicles in your household. You may be able to buy additional coverage which may help if you are injured by a driver in a gypsy cab situation. Buying additional coverage on your own policy can also help if you are injured by any driver who has no auto insurance or does not have an adequate amount to properly compensate you for your injuries. 

Look at the Auto Coverage Selections sheet and call your auto insurance agent. We tell our clients that the most important coverages you can have to protect yourself are underinsured motorist, uninsured motorist, and medical payments coverage. Ask your agent or broker about the cost of raising your optional coverages, and pay what you can afford. Learn more on our Massachusetts auto insurance safety tips page.

Excess coverage actually costs very little over the minimum coverage you are required to carry. Many people are surprised to learn they may be able to increase their coverage for a few dollars each year. This is a good investment for your own protection and for your peace of mind.

College students beware! College students are at high risk for suffering injuries in car accidents involving gypsy cabs. For decades, it has been a common practice for students to pay roommates and friends for rides. But in light of the position insurance companies are taking, it is time to stop paying your friends for anything more than your share of the gas and tolls.

Please consider this warning when you make your holiday travel arrangements in Massachusetts. This affects travelers coming into Logan Airport, South Station and North Station. But also travelers in college areas such as Boston, Cambridge, Framingham, Lowell, Worcester and Springfield and Amherst. 

Call our Boston Car Accident Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience successfully recovering compensation for drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians seriously injured by car crashes. Our Boston car accident lawyers are highly experienced at investigating car and truck crashes and have an expert knowledge of Massachusetts auto insurance laws. We handle accidents involving Uber vehicles across the state, from Cape Cod to Boston to Worcester and Western Massachusetts.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, call 800-379-1244 or617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Ronald E. Gluck, Marc L. Breakstone and David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck

We are pleased to announce that Breakstone, White & Gluck and our attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers for the 15th year. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Lawyers are rated nationwide, across 70 practice areas, with just a select number recognized.

2018 Recognition

In 2018, our lawyers have been named to a number of Super Lawyers lists, including the 2018 Top New England Super Lawyers,  2018 Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers in personal injury and medical malpractice, and the 2018 Rising Stars list.

Marc L. Breakstone has been selected to the Top 100 New England Super LawyersTop 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated medical malpractice attorney in Boston.

David W. White has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston.

Ronald E. Gluck has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston.

Reza Breakstone has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Rising Stars list.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

reza-breakstone-web

Reza Breakstone

Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck founded the law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston in 1992. Reza Breakstone joined the firm as an associate in 2015.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our lawyers have won numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements. We specialize in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, traumatic brain injuries and motor vehicle crashes. Read more.


Super Lawyers Ratings: Built on Peer Reviews

The 2018 New England Super Lawyers listings, just released, are meant to serve as a resource to help those searching for attorneys and are available for free online. Most years, they are published in Boston Magazine. When you visit a law firm’s website, you can also look for the Super Lawyers badge to see if a lawyer has been rated.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers across the state, along with a Rising Stars list highlighting the top lawyers under 40 years old (or the top 2.5 percent statewide). Lawyers are rated through a multiphase selection process, including a statewide survey of lawyers, independent research evaluation and peer reviews by other top-rated attorneys in a practice area. The peer reviews are what make the Super Lawyers listings so valuable to consumers and other attorneys. When you call a lawyer rated by Super Lawyers, you can trust other highly experienced lawyers have already reviewed the lawyer’s skills and experience in their specialty.

The independent evaluation considers the following 12 indicators:

  • Verdicts/Settlements
  • Transactions
  • Representative Clients
  • Experience
  • Honors/Awards
  • Special licenses/certifications
  • Position within the law firm
  • Bar and/or professional activity
  • Pro bono and community service
  • Scholarly lectures/writings
  • Education/employment background
  • Other outstanding achievements

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Uber app on a cell phone

New state data confirms Boston is the hub of ridesharing. More than half of all rideshare trips in Massachusetts originated here in 2017.

In August 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker signed legislation regulating rideshare vehicles in Massachusetts, creating important protections for consumers. Among the reforms, drivers now have to carry a minimum level of auto insurance to protect passengers who are injured. They must also pass criminal background checks.

Now the state has released ridership data from 2017, the first full year of the regulations. The data provides a glimpse at rideshare’s mark on Massachusetts and particularly the city of Boston, where Uber and Lyft vehicles seem always in sight and rideshare accidents are rising.

Rideshare Numbers in Massachusetts

Massachusetts residents took approximately 64.8 million rideshare trips in 2017, compared to 408 million rides on public transportation, according to the data. Based on feedback from the transportation network companies, the state estimates one-third of rideshare trips carried multiple passengers.

Boston: Rideshare Hub

The majority of rideshare trips originated in Boston: 34.9 million. About 1.8 million Boston rideshare trips began at Logan International Airport. According to a Boston Globe analysis, there were roughly 96,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles on Boston streets each day of 2017!

More than 6.8 million trips started in Cambridge, the second leading city for rideshare starts. This is a dramatic difference for neighboring Boston and Cambridge. Somerville, Brookline and Newton rounded out the top five communities for rideshare starts.

Rideshare may be more convenient than public transportation. But rides can be slow. The slowest rides began in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett and Brookline, according to the state data. The average rideshare speed was 14 to 16 miles per hour in these communities, compared to 30 mph or above in about half of Massachusetts communities.

Rideshare Across Massachusetts

Per person, Suffolk and Middlesex counties saw 80 percent of all rideshare starts in Massachusetts, followed by Nantucket, off the Cape and Islands. Beyond these counties, a few notable numbers came from Worcester, where 848,000 rideshare trips originated and Lowell, where 490,000 rides began. More than 378,000 trips originated in Springfield.

Here are the 20 communities with the most rideshare starts:

  1. BOSTON
  2. CAMBRIDGE
  3. SOMERVILLE
  4. BROOKLINE
  5. NEWTON
  6. MEDFORD
  7. QUINCY
  8. MALDEN
  9. WORCESTER
  10. EVERETT
  11. REVERE
  12. WALTHAM
  13. CHELSEA
  14. LYNN
  15. LOWELL
  16. WATERTOWN
  17. BROCKTON
  18. SPRINGFIELD
  19. LAWRENCE
  20. FRAMINGHAM

Source: Rideshare Data Report, Mass.gov

Protecting Yourself as a Rideshare Passenger in Massachusetts, When to Seek Medical Attention, Call a Lawyer

When traveling by rideshare, stay alert and watch, even if you have a 5-star rated driver. While many rideshare drivers are well trained and simply want to help you reach your destination, car accidents can happen. Rideshare drivers, and others on the road, can be fatigued or engage in texting while driving. Whenever possible, travel with other passengers you know. If you feel unsafe at anytime, ask the driver to pull over and let you out in a safe area. 

In Massachusetts, Uber and Lyft drivers are required to carry a minimum level of auto insurance. If you have been injured while traveling in a rideshare vehicle, the driver has a responsibility to stop and provide you with his license number, auto insurance carrier, address and contact information. If you have been injured, call for an ambulance or visit a hospital emergency room immediately.

Then call an experienced attorney. Visit our Uber accident web page or our Lyft accident web page for more information.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by negligence and wrongdoing. We are conveniently located at 2 Center Plaza, Suite 530, across the street from Boston City Hall and the Government Center MBTA station. 

If you have been injured, contact our firm and learn your rights for seeking compensation. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Attorney David W. White of Boston

Attorney David W. White specializes in personal injury and product liability cases at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston.

Ford drivers are gripping the steering wheel anxiously after the automaker’s stunning safety recall this week. 1.4 million Ford vehicles have been recalled because the bolts on the steering wheels can become loose. Ford will repair the vehicles, but not until the end of April at least.

“This recall is very upsetting,” said Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck. “Nothing is more basic to a car than a steering wheel. Automakers have a responsibility to fully test vehicles and all equipment before bringing them to market. They continue to fail drivers.”

This recall affects 2014-2018 models of the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. According to Consumer Reports, Ford’s customer-service phone number is 866-436-7332 and Lincoln’s customer service phone number is 800-521-4140.

Ford has said it will replace the steering wheel bolt and install a larger nylon patch to maintain pressure. A company spokeswoman said consumers will be notified by mail the week of April 30th.

In announcing the recall, Ford said it was aware of two car accidents related to the defective steering wheels, one involving injury. This is not the full story though. After reviewing federal records, USA Today reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 45 reports of the steering wheels becoming loose or falling off, some resulting in car crashes.

One driver said the steering wheel on his 2014 Ford Fusion became unstable and he drifted into a manhole, destroying his vehicle. Others said they had the frightening experience of having steering wheels come loose as they drove down the highway. One driver said all he did was bump the steering wheel with his knee and it came off.

Once a manufacturer determines there is a safety defect, it has 5 days to notify the NHTSA. Automakers are then responsible for recalling defective motor vehicles or equipment.

Americans may associate Toyota, General Motors and Takata with most auto recalls. Yet Ford has made its own headlines for safety defects. Last year, it recalled 1.3 million F-150 Super Duty pick-up trucks with faulty door latches last year. Consumers reported the doors were swinging open while the vehicles were in operation. It also issued smaller recalls fixing more door latches and to stop cars from overheating. The company had received 29 reports of engines overheating and catching fire in some vehicles with 1.6-liter GTDI engines.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have investigated serious car and truck crashes caused in part by defective parts. We have over 100 years combined experience representing individuals injured by car crashes, truck accidents and other traffic collisions in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Many of our car accident and other personal injury cases involve product liability claims and investigation into dangerous and defective products.

Highlighted Cases
$3 Million Settlement in Tractor-Trailer Crash
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $3 million settlement for our client, who was hit by a tractor-trailer truck owned and operated by a beverage distributor. Read more about the case and the investigation of the truck.
$1.15 Million Settlement in Defective Fitness Equipment Injury
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $1.15 million settlement for our client who was seriously injured while using defective fitness equipment at a local gym. The trainer who was supervising our client was also negligent in a number of ways. Read more.

Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck
If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our Boston personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Americans are checking their cell phones every 12 minutes, according to new research. This means more distraction, including in the car.

As we wait out this snowstorm, you may be checking your smart phone more than usual. This is understandable. But how often do you check on an average weekday? One report shows Americans are checking their smart phones every 12 minutes or 80 times a day. And between Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, we all know someone who may check even more often.

Use your smart phones as often as you want – except in the car. Please consider these thoughts as you wait out the snow:

20180305-seatbelt-1200There is nothing more important than protecting your family and other passengers in the car. Many of us drive less often in the winter in Massachusetts. But in a few weeks, families will be back in the car more for afterschool sports, activities and weekend trips.

Take a few minutes now to inspect your vehicle’s seat belts and child passenger safety seats. Make sure this equipment is working and properly adjusted to fit each child. Replace car seats if your children have outgrown them. Then talk to your family about the importance of always wearing a seat belt.

Dangers on the Road for Children

Thanksgiving week traffic jam in Boston

Driving to your Thanksgiving destination can be demanding. Read our tips to help you get there safely with a little less stress (if that’s possible).

We all want to know the secret to beating the Thanksgiving week traffic out of Boston. To help, we have put together a few travel tips. Please travel safely, be patient and enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends.

Traffic Apps and Resources. Here are a few websites for travelers: Boston.com/Traffic or Mass511.com. Traffic apps: Google Maps, Waze, AAA or GoTime.

Boston’s Worst Traffic Bottlenecks. AAA is reporting on the Boston region’s 10 top traffic bottlenecks for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They include several locations along Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and the MassPike (Interstate 90).  Read the full list now before you drive. Try to avoid them if you can.

Check Your Car. Whether you drive your own car or rent a vehicle, spend a few minutes in the driver’s seat before you leave. Make sure you know how to use key features such as the blinkers, headlights and the heating system. Many new vehicles now have complex infotainment systems. Decide now what features you need to use for this trip – and which are distractions.

Essentials. Make sure your motor vehicle registration is in your glove compartment and that you have your health insurance card (or cards if you are a parent traveling with children).

Choose the Best Travel Times. AAA predicts a 3 percent increase in holiday travel this year, so we know to expect more traffic. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon will be the most challenging time, according to Waze. Another busy travel time is Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Plan to Stop. Take a break to fend off fatigue and let kids burn off energy. Stop once every two hours.

Gas Up and Emergency Kit. Always start your trip with a full tank of gas. Then, make sure you have a strong emergency kit, with jumper cables, a quart of motor oil, coolant, a first aid kit and a toolkit. Find your auto club membership, a safety vest, a flashlight with extra batteries and a roadside flare. Finally, pack warm clothes, blankets and your cell phone charger.

Commit to Use Your Cell Phone Safely. Our best tip for you is to turn your phone off. If you are traveling with someone, ask them to hold your cell phone and receive occasional phone calls or traffic alerts for you.

When traffic is heavy, a driver can cause a multi-car pile-up with a single glance at a cell phone – and that’s on any given day. The traffic is much worse during the Thanksgiving Week. That is why texting while driving is banned in Massachusetts and 46 other states, and why many are pushing to see Massachusetts ban all cell phone use by drivers.

No Drinking and Driving Accidents. Drunk driving accidents increase during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving week. Always, always travel with a designated driver who agrees not to drink. Or do not consume alcohol. No one ever regrets making this decision the next morning.

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textingincar-c-300Here is another reason for Massachusetts and other states to consider passing laws which ban handheld cell phone use by drivers. A new study reports one in four drivers who crashed was using a cell phone within the previous minute. Cambridge Mobile Telematics released the study last week to coincide with April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Our country needs a reminder this year. Motor vehicle accident deaths are on the rise, as the National Safety Council reported nearly 40,000 deaths in traffic crashes last year. In fact, the period from 2014 to 2016 saw the largest two-year increase in more than 50 years.

Meanwhile, this year has already seen hundreds of deaths across the U.S. Just last month came a horrific accident in Texas. A driver in Uvalde County, who was texting while driving his pick-up truck, crashed into a church bus, killing 13 people. Texas is one of 5 states which do not ban texting while driving.