When drivers use cell phones, they introduce grave dangers to the road and are more likely to crash. This is why many states have now passed distracted driving laws. But how effective have these laws been?
Highly effective, suggests new research. Distracted driving laws are saving the lives of both teen drivers and their passengers in car crashes. The greatest impact is seen when states ban all drivers from cell phone use, not just junior operators under age 18.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital published the findings from a 10-year study in Pediatrics journal. Reviewing more than 38,000 motor vehicle crashes reported between 2007 and 2017, researchers found a significant decrease in fatal motor vehicle crashes among drivers age 16-19.
There was actually a 43 percent reduction in deaths among 16-year-old drivers in states which passed hand held cell phone bans for all drivers (not just a ban for junior operators under 18).
Researchers had the challenge of working with evolving cell phone laws. When the study began in 2007, just 15 states had passed one type of distracted driving law, often a texting while driving ban. By the end, researchers were reviewing the impact of multiple bans, including texting while driving bans (both primary and secondary), hand-held bans and bans on all types of cell phone use for drivers under age 18.
Distracted Driving In Massachusetts
Massachusetts distracted driving crashes are a serious concern, having caused the deaths of drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Once drivers pick up a cell phone, it is hard to break their attention away. The younger the driver, the harder it can be and this makes it essential for teens to establish good habits from the start.
In Massachusetts, a high school student was the first to be criminally prosecuted for motor vehicle homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, according to CNN. Police allege the 17-year-old Haverhill man exchanged nearly 200 text messages in the hours leading up to the fatal crash in 2011. The crash killed a 55-year-old New Hampshire driver and seriously injured his girlfriend, who was riding in his passenger seat. As the prosecutor said at sentencing, “there are no winners today.” He went onto say, “…in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”
The state of Massachusetts reported a 170 percent increase in distracted driving crashes between 2014 and 2016. Over the past few years, lawmakers and safety advocates negotiated proposals to pass a hands-free law or a ban on handheld cell phone use. This finally reached resolution in November 2019, taking effect in April.
Under the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law, drivers are no longer allowed to use hand-held cell phones. They must now use voice-activated technology. The goal is to reduce injuries by taking away the act of reaching for a phone and attempting to dial. However drivers must still use voice-activated cell phones cautiously. Drivers can still cause accidents when using voice-activated technology and can still be held liable if they cause someone’s injuries.
Teen drivers – Massachusetts junior operators under age 18 – are still not allowed to use hands-free cell phones under the new law.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys fight for the rights of those injured by negligent driving in Boston and across Massachusetts. With more than 100 years combined experience, we have a reputation for strong results for victims of car accidents, truck crashes and bus collisions.
If you have been injured, call our attorneys for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
We all want to get through the COVID-19 crisis. The best way to make a positive impact is to stay home as much as possible. As you wait it out, remember you are living with temporary restrictions. But there are still some important steps you can take to help yourself, your family, community and local businesses now and in the weeks to come.
Wash Your Hands. This is a critical step, especially now. Read the CDC’s page, “When and How to Wash Your Hands.”
Protect Your Home and Family Members. The CDC has published an easy-to-print COVID-19 household checklist. Put this on your refrigerator or somewhere visible so everyone in your family can see it. Check out these other CDC advisories too: cleaning and protecting your home and managing stress and anxiety. Share these with family members so you can help each other keep up a routine, along with regular exercise and proper rest.
Social Distancing. Stay home as much as you can. If you have to go out, stay at least six feet away from others. Don’t shake hands, hug or make physical contact.
Look for COVID-19 Messages on Business Websites. Look for COVID-19 messages on websites – before you visit the grocery store, pharmacy or any business. Many businesses are closed due to Gov. Charlie Baker’s “Stay-at-Home” – Essential Services Only order. Grocery stores and pharmacies remain open as essential services. Do your part as a customer and follow their guidelines to protect their hardworking employees and the public.
Connect. Stay connected to friends and family, especially older adults who live alone. Not just by social media or text messaging. Make regular contact by phone or even better, through a video chat tool. This way you can really see and hear how your loved ones are doing – and if they need your help in some way.
Follow State and Local Orders and Updates. As a Massachusetts resident, the best way to to stay informed is to watch the daily briefings from Gov. Charlie Baker. You can follow the Massachusetts state briefings on TV or online (www.mass.gov/covid19). You can also sign up for text messages (COVIDMA to 888-777). Another resource is the Massachusetts 211 website or you can call 2-1-1.
Also follow your town, city or child’s school on Facebook and local websites. Sign up for email newsletters. If you have an older parent – or a grown child living away from home – sign up for alerts about their community as well. Mention these notices to them and ask if they need help following the orders.
Housing. You should not have to move during this time. Landlords should not pursue evictions. The Housing Court has rescheduled all non-emergency matters until April 21, 2020 or later. The court vacated all default judgments entered between March 1 and April 21.
Everyone is struggling right now. Keep your cool, but also keep good records. Ask your landlord to put any instruction or request in writing even if that’s not your normal practice. Digitally file all e-mails or letters by date so you can easily access them (save them as PDF files). Still take photos and report serious safety violations so you are safe staying in your apartment.
Encourage family members who rent to keep neat files too – and ask them to share communications with their landlords with you as they come in. This way, you will know if they are safe, if you need to help and you won’t have to play catch up learning what happened.
This is also a stressful time for homeowners. Again, take a deep breath and remember you have legal rights. In Massachusetts, to start foreclosure, a mortgage lender must issue a homeowner a default notice and a 90-day “right-to-cure” period, during which you must make all your missed payments. Homeowners can also use this time to apply for a loan modification.
Legal Assistance. Breakstone, White & Gluck may be able to assist you with an injury claim. But there are many issues arising during the COVID-19 outbreak – about unemployment, housing, health insurance and other public benefits. During the COVID-19 outbreak, look online first. If you have a question, visit the Massachusetts Legal Answers website, operated by the American Bar Association.
If you would like to consult an attorney, visit the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.
Another resource is Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, which accepts consumer complaints and can help explain your legal rights. Having trouble with a certain company? Call and ask how many others have lodged the same complaint and what steps you can take.
These resources can help you gain a few insights about Massachusetts law so you can decide whether you need a lawyer. With those insights, good record keeping and a commitment to be patient, you may be able to handle your problem without a lawyer.
Donate Blood. The American Red Cross is looking for healthy individuals to donate blood or platelets.
You can help by making an appointment to donate. Visit the American Red Cross website and search for blood drives in your area. Be prepared to be flexible and schedule an appointment a few days or weeks out due to the emergency situation. The American Red Cross has outlined safety protocols for collecting blood during the COVID-19 crisis. It also offers American Red Cross mobile apps to help you track blood donation appointments and follow other relief work.
Make a Financial Donation. We understand there is great financial uncertainty right now. But if you can, consider these funds and organizations which are helping Massachusetts residents. If you can’t donate, visit their websites and keep their work in mind.
You can read about more organizations in this Boston Globe article.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by the negligence of others. Recognized by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in all areas of personal injury law, including medical malpractice, car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, traumatic brain injuries, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, chemical exposure and gas explosions.
Our attorneys are committed to serving our existing clients and new clients remotely during the COVID-19 state of emergency in Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation, please call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
Our attorneys participated in the Equal Justice Coalition’s Walk to the Hill this morning at the Massachusetts State House. Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White, Ronald E. Gluck and Reza Breakstone joined hundreds of other attorneys in urging state lawmakers to raise state funding for civil legal aid.
Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker released his FY2021 budget and proposed a level budget of $24 million for civil legal aid. The Equal Justice Coalition, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation and supporters are seeking a $5 million increase and that’s why our attorneys participated today. Civil legal aid provides legal assistance to low-income Massachusetts residents who need help with housing, employment, medical care, immigration matters and domestic abuse. It is the last resort for many families, children and the elderly. Advocates say it’s life-changing for people, creating stability and opportunity to stay in their homes and keep working.
The Equal Justice Coalition says civil legal aid organizations are being forced to turn away many Massachusetts residents in need due to funding.
“Investing in civil legal aid is just and makes good economic sense,” the coalition says.
For the fifth year, Somerville 5th graders have met our challenge. Our lawyers are pleased to send 370 students into summer with a free bicycle helmet from Project KidSafe, our campaign to encourage safe cycling and prevent head injuries.
The students earned the helmets by completing the CYCLE Kids curriculum, which teaches bicycle safety fundamentals. CYCLE Kids is offered as part of physical education classes at Somerville public schools. Through CYCLE Kids, some students in Somerville learn how to ride a bicycle for the first time. Others gain valuable experience or take other cycling firsts – such as riding with friends for the first time or their first ride on the Somerville Community Path.
“It’s all about your brain. Your brain is going to take you through life,” Attorney Ron Gluck told 5th graders at the Benjamin G. Brown School on Monday. “So protect your brain and it’s our pleasure to give you these helmets. You earned them, through your good work in learning about safety and bicycles.”
“It’s all about safety, but it’s also the law,” Somerville Police Officer Marianne Manfra added. In Massachusetts, cyclists who are 16 years old and younger are required to wear helmets. We urge all cyclists to wear helmets.
Shawn Maguire, principal of the Benjamin G. Brown School, Sharyn Von Trapp, the 5th grade physical education teacher and Steve Simolaris, supervisor of health and physical education at the Somerville public schools, all attended the gathering to recognize students for completing CYCLE Kids. Von Trapp handed students certificates of completion, while Attorney Gluck and Officer Manfra gave students their helmets (and we are pleased to report the students already knew how to fit their own helmets and some knew enough to help friends).
About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Project KidSafe
Attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck founded our law firm in 1992. Breakstone, White & Gluck is a personal injury law firm and as part of our practice, our attorneys have long represented cyclists. We know wearing a bicycle helmet can make every difference in preventing head injuries and saving lives. Wearing a helmet is also a simple step anyone can take. We founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013 to encourage helmet use.
Over six years, our attorneys have given away more than 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts. Each year, we partner with CYCLE Kids and Somerville public schools, along with the Kiwanis Club of Somerville on its annual Bicycle Safety Day. One hundred cyclists turned out this year to learn cycling skills. The event was held last weekend at the East Somerville Community School.
We also partner with Groundwork Somerville, which gives our helmets to students who participate in summer programming and rely on their bikes for transportation throughout the day.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers of Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. To learn more about our attorneys, visit our website. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
One of our favorite events is Boston’s National Bike to Work Festival, when cyclists ride into City Hall Plaza in convoys, bright and early, ready to start a fun morning. Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to participate again this Friday morning. Our attorneys will be out at our Project KidSafe tent, greeting cyclists and workers who come out to celebrate and learn about cycling in Boston.
Please come say hello. Our attorneys can inspect your bike helmet and we are offering our Project KidSafe helmets free to cyclists who need one (available on a first-come basis, while supplies last). In addition, cyclists can sign up for free breakfast and other freebies, plus learn more about the new Blue Bikes.
Boston’s Bike to Work Festival Details: Register by Wednesday, May 16th
If you are interested, please read the City of Boston’s e-mail announcement. Cyclists can sign up to ride into the festival on one of the many convoys coming in from all over the area or just ride in on your own. You must register by Wednesday to receive an event t-shirt and take advantage of the free offerings.
WHAT: Boston’s Bike to Work Day Festival
DATE: Friday, May 18
TIME: 7 a.m.- 9 a.m.
WHERE: Boston City Hall Plaza
LEARN MORE: www.boston.gov/bike-to-work-day
Bike Activities in May
Before we continue, we want to mention all the activities being offered to cyclists this week and month. May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the American League of Bicyclists. As part of National Bike Month, National Bike to Work Day will be celebrated in Boston and communities across the U.S. Here in Massachusetts, MassBike is also presenting Bay State Bike Week from May 12th to May 20th. Check out the Bay State Bike Week calendar and the MassCommute Bicycling Challenge 2018.
Expect to see lots of blue as the City of Boston celebrates the rebranding of the public bike share system at Friday’s event. The metro-Boston’s public bike share system is owned by the municipalities of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville and operated by Motivate. The green Hubway bikes will be phased out, as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts becomes the new title sponsor.
New Balance was the original title sponsor for the system, which launched back in 2011 with 600 bikes. The system has since tripled in size. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans further expansion, and the system could reach 3,000 bikes by year’s end.
According to the City of Boston, Blue Cross and Blue Shield will offer free rentals on Friday. Read this announcement to learn more. You can also visit www.bluebikes.com and download the app if you are interested.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Project KidSafe: Over 20,000 Bicycle Helmets for Children
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury and medical malpractice law firm representing plaintiffs. With more than 100 years combined experience, our lawyers fight for justice for those who have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others.
Our law firm is committed to bike safety and preventing head injuries through our Project KidSafe campaign. Wearing a helmet is required by law for cyclists who are 16 and younger in Massachusetts, though it is critical for cyclists of all ages. Please commit to wear a helmet every time you ride.
Over the past six years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children, families and other cyclists through our Project KidSafe campaign. We partner with local bike committees, police departments, schools and non-profit organizations to make these donations, including these organizations in Boston:
- City of Boston, Boston Bikes Roll It Forward
- City of Boston, Youth Cycling Program
- Boston Police Department
- Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Partnership
- CommonWheels Bicycle Collective
- Boston Cyclists Union
- Bikes Not Bombs
- Bicyclecentro of East Boston
- Mattapan on Wheels
- Tierney Learning Center of South Boston
- The Home for Little Wanderers
(June 29, 2017) Attorney David W. White was interviewed by NBC Boston on the potential legal options ahead for buyers of condos destroyed by a massive blaze in Dorchester. The fire went up on Wednesday, just a day before a fire inspection was reportedly scheduled.
The six-story Treadmark building had 83 units, including 32 for home ownership and 51 for affordable rentals. It was located in the Ashmont section of Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
News outlets report residents planned to move in as early as July and August, but are now left with hard decisions following the tragedy.
“Whenever you have a big fire like this especially when you’re so close to completion, hundreds of lives are turned inside out,” said White, a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.
The Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) has announced it will honor Attorney David W. White with the MBA President’s Award at its May 4th Annual Dinner. The President’s Award is bestowed upon those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the work of the MBA, to the preservation of MBA values, to the success of MBA initiatives and to the promotion of the MBA’s leadership role within the legal community of Massachusetts.
Attorney White is a past president of the MBA from 2007-2008. While serving as MBA president from 2007-08, White formed the Drug Policy Task Force, which made numerous recommendations for criminal sentencing reform and drug treatment in Massachusetts. He also led the Lawyers’ Eco-Challenge, encouraging law firms to fight global warming by changing their office energy use and recycling practices. He has been involved in several MBA section councils, educational programs and annual conferences.
Attorney White was also recognized for his community service beyond the MBA. Since serving as MBA president, he has been active in building Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign, which donates bicycle helmets to children to prevent head injuries. Founded in 2013, the safety campaign has now distributed more than 15,000 bicycle helmets in Massachusetts.
Read the full announcement with comments from MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano on the MBA website: http://tinyurl.com/lkttt2d.
Driving on U.S. roads became more dangerous in 2016. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase from 2015.
- This was the first year more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents since 2007.
- According to The New York Times, 2015 and 2016 saw a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.
- In addition to deaths, an estimated 4.6 million people suffered serious injuries in car accidents last year. The total costs came to $432.5 billion, for motor vehicle deaths, injuries and property damages.
- In Massachusetts, 399 traffic deaths were reported in 2016, a 13 percent increase over the prior year (these are also preliminary figures).
The National Safety Council said lower gasoline prices and an improving economy may be helping to fuel the rise in traffic deaths. Others point to seat belt laws and texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors.
If you drive, take to the roads safely. Follow the speed limit and make sure everyone in your family puts down their cell phone while driving.
Read our Article: Understanding and Buying Auto Insurance in Massachusetts
Until it happens to you, few people understand the costs associated with a car accident, and the toll on your physical health and emotional well-being. We hope you are never injured, but encourage you to read our article to protect yourself and your family.
We had a great day in Westborough last weekend: Two fun community events, great weather and we handed out 160 free bicycle helmets to children. For this, we partnered up with the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts.
Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the bicycle helmets as part of our Project KidSafe outreach. Attorney David W. White helped distribute the free helmets at Westborough’s Spring Festival, an event featuring just about everything which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Westborough. In addition to bicycle helmets, there was an amateur dog show, children’s carnival, road race, food vendors and the list goes on.
Attorney White and Bruce Tretter, chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, then went to hand out helmets at the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central, which is nearby in Westborough.
“We had a lot of fun, though at times it was a little hectic because so many people were anxious to get helmets for their kids,” attorney David White said. He added, “Wearing a bicycle helmet is the most important step you can take to protect yourself as a cyclist and I hope the children and families left with new helmets and a new commitment to wear them every time they ride.”
Breakstone, White & Gluck donated these bike helmets through our Project KidSafe initiative. We have donated over 3,500 helmets to children in Massachusetts since 2013. By year’s end, we expect to have donated 6,000 helmets. Read more about our Project KidSafe outreach or our bicycle safety tips.
Photo: Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck helping a child at the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts in Westborough.
Photo: From left in back: Bruce Tretter, Chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Betsy Moquin, Director of Marketing & Advancement of the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts; and Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck.
Photo: Bruce Tretter, Chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, helps a child find a helmet.