Pedestrian safety is always an important topic. But in Massachusetts, the topic is most critical during the winter months, when a large number of pedestrian accidents happen.
First, everyone on the road – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists – must use reasonable care and follow traffic laws. Then, take another careful look at intersections and school zones you travel through. Read traffic signs and find the crosswalk markings. They may not be as visible during snow conditions, at night or when a large truck is in the next lane. Make sure to stop well before the crosswalk.
Under Massachusetts law, pedestrians have the right of way when they are in a crosswalk and the “Walk” signal is operational. When there is no signal, drivers shall yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Finally, learn where pedestrian accidents and crosswalk accidents have happened in Massachusetts. Read the list below and take away any insights you can to protect yourself, older parents and young children.
From 2007 to 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reported the highest numbers of pedestrian crashes were in Lynn. The downtown area – the roads along Washington Street, Central Avenue and Union Street – saw a total of 321 pedestrian crashes, including 223 incidents which resulted in injury or death. There were another 98 crashes without injuries.
The area approaching the Tobin Bridge saw 260 pedestrian crashes over the same decade. The crash cluster included Chestnut Street, Cherry Street, Ash Street and Everett Avenue. These reports included 192 pedestrian crashes resulting in injury or death and 68 other incidents with no injury reports.
MassDOT reported North Main Street and surrounding streets had the third highest number of pedestrian accidents. There were 143 pedestrian injuries and deaths. This cluster included North Main Street then stretched over Interstate 195 to Columbia Street, Hope Street, down to Peckham and Palmer streets.
Central Square is one of the busiest pedestrian walking areas in all of Massachusetts. Central Square and nearby streets ranked fourth for pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts. With 143 total crashes, this cluster includes Lansdowne Street and Hancock Street. This area is near the Central Square T stop, bus services and Cambridge city services.
With 134 pedestrian crashes, a stretch of downtown Boston ranked fifth for the most pedestrian accidents. This area included Boylston Street to the Mass Turnpike, Route 93 and Frontage Road. There were 84 crashes resulting in injury or death.
This Bristol County community saw 82 pedestrian crashes between Route 6 and Hawthorne Street, which is near the waterfront and Buzzards Bay. Of these, 65 crashes resulted in death or injury.
There were 77 total crashes which injured pedestrians in downtown Quincy between 2007 and 2016. These pedestrian crashes happened along Hancock Street, between Elm Street and the corner of Washington Street corner. This area sits near Quincy City Hall, the Thomas Crane Public Library and National Park Service.
85 Worcester pedestrian accidents were reported in a cluster of streets along Francis J. McGrath Boulevard. These streets included Southbridge Street, Charleton Street and Sycamore Street. Injury was involved in 55 of these Worcester pedestrian crashes.
Along Acushnet Avenue and Sawyer Street, approaching Interstate 195, there were 72 pedestrian accident reports. Of these, 55 pedestrian accidents involved injury or death.
Somerville and Cambridge
There were 69 pedestrian crashes reported in the traffic cluster around Davis Square in Somerville, just along the Cambridge border. Davis Square is where Highland Avenue converges with Holland Street, College Avenue, Dover Street and Day Street. Just a mile from Tufts University in Medford, Davis Square is an ideal commuter location, with an MBTA Red Line subway service into Boston and Cambridge.
About the Data
This data was published in the MassDOT 2016 Top Crash Locations Report, December 2018.
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At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys provide experienced representation to those injured by negligent driving, including in pedestrian accidents and bicycle crashes. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
A driver was tragically killed in a Somerville crosswalk over the weekend. The victim was struck on Saturday night around 8 p.m. as she crossed along Mystic Avenue (Route 38), near McGrath Highway and Stop & Shop.
The victim, a Somerville resident, was transported from the scene and later pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Meanwhile, Massachusetts State Police began investigating and searching for the driver, who had fled the scene. The 64-year-old Roxbury man turned himself in Sunday morning and was charged with leaving the scene of a crash causing personal injury or death and a crosswalk violation, according to WBZ Boston. He pleaded not guilty at arraignment today in Somerville District Court, where prosecutors revealed a few details about the crash. The driver admitted to drinking two glasses of wine at dinner before the crash and said he initially stopped because he suspected he had hit someone. He was allowed to remain free on $1,000 bail on the condition he refrain from alcohol. He is not allowed to drive.
According to StreetsBlog Mass, the crosswalk is located along Mystic Avenue. It provides pedestrians with access to the Kensington Underpass, which runs under I-93 and connects most of Somerville’s residential neighborhoods to businesses and offices in the Assembly Square district.
This is at least the second fatal pedestrian crosswalk accident in Somerville this year. Both were hit-and-run crashes. In February, a beloved 40-year-old educator was walking in a crosswalk at the Harden Road and Powderhouse Boulevard intersection. She was hit by a truck which never stopped and died from her injuries. Somerville Police had to launch a regional search. Days later, police found the 55-year-old Norwood driver, with help from a Tufts University police officer who spotted the truck parked on University Avenue in Medford. Still damaged, the truck was parked just a mile from the site of the pedestrian hit-and-run.
Tips for Driving Safely Near Pedestrians
Pedestrian accidents are often serious and life-threatening. You have probably heard this before, but drivers really can prevent most pedestrian injuries by slowing down and focusing on the road. Most people drive faster than they realize. According to AAA, when you adjust your speed from 25 mph to 35 mph, you double your risk for causing a fatal pedestrian accident.
Our safety tips for drivers:
- Travel the speed limit or lower when appropriate in neighborhoods and areas near stores and restaurants.
- Travel slowly through parking lots; never cut across parking lots or check cell phones.
- Always stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- Take caution when driving at night.
- Older drivers should have regular vision exams and monitor their driving.
- Watch fatigue.
- Use GPS before you start driving.
- Do not use your cell phone for any reason. Even hands-free technology can be a distraction, especially during the summer months and for night driving.
- Never operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated or while under the influence of marijuana.
- Put down drinks and food.
- Talk to your family. If anyone is ever in an unimaginable situation and has hit a pedestrian or bicyclist, tell them to stop, call police and wait at the scene.
- Leaving the scene is against the law in Massachusetts. If the driver leaves the scene, the victim may not get the medical care they need to survive. Minutes and seconds matter.
Beyond preventing injury, it’s in your best interest to slow down if you don’t want a ticket. More than 40 Massachusetts communities have now established slower, 25 mph default speed limits. Massachusetts sets a 30 mph default speed limit for communities. But under state Municipal Modernization Law passed in 2016, individual cities and towns can opt into a 25 mph speed limit instead in thickly settled areas and business districts. They can also create 20 mph work safety zones. Communities cannot alter speed limits on state roads.
Next time you enter one of these communities, watch for the speed limit signs as you enter. Boston, Cambridge and Somerville are among the communities which have adopted the lower 25 mph speed limit. The City of Somerville implemented a 25 mph speed limit citywide as soon as the state law took effect back in 2016. It also pursued 20 mph limits in work safety zones.
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Breakstone, White & Gluck is known for our extensive experience handling personal injury cases and our superb results for those injured and their families throughout Massachusetts. We invite you to learn about our results after pedestrian crashes.
Our Boston personal injury attorneys specialize in representing those injured in pedestrian accidents involving crosswalks and other pedestrian car accidents. If you have been injured, it is critical to learn your legal rights for seeking compensation and learn about the process ahead. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
First, the City of Boston dropped speed limits to 25 mph, with a goal of reducing traffic fatalities and pedestrian injuries. Now, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council have their eyes on 20 mph on neighborhood streets. The next step is obtaining state approval.
The City of Boston first sought to lower speed limits as part of its VisionZero campaign a few years ago. That proposal also required approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Baker’s signature.
Gov. Baker signed the Municipal Modernization Bill into law in 2016, including language that allowed cities and towns to lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Cities and towns can now lower speed limits on all (or select) municipal roads in thickly settled areas or business districts. Many communities have done so, including Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Arlington and Dedham. Now, unless traffic signs are posted otherwise, it’s 25 mph in these communities.
While the speed limit in these communities has dropped, the fines remain the same. In Massachusetts, speeding carries a $105 fine for speeding. If you exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, there is an extra $10 fine per each mile per hour.
Boston was the first to approve lower speeds, with this taking effect in January 2017. But the City of Boston’s goal was always 20 mph and remains so for city neighborhoods. In fact, the Boston City Council approved a 20 mph speed limit back in 2016.
As the City of Boston pursues a 20 mph speed limit for neighborhoods, there is early data showing that the 30 to 25 mph drop has changed traffic patterns for the better. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, after the lower speed limit took effect, Boston saw a 29 percent reduction in traffic traveling over 35 mph.
Mayor Walsh also announced other transportation initiatives last week, including the creation of special drop-off and pick-up sites for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing vehicles. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities confirms that Boston is the truly the hub of ride-hail services. During 2017, nearly 35 million rideshare trips began in the city. Boston saw more than 6 times as many rideshare starts as Cambridge, which has the second largest presences in Massachusetts.
Walsh’s other proposal is to give every student in the Boston public school system a MBTA pass. The price tag hasn’t been negotiated yet with the MBTA. Currently, the city receives a subsidy from the MBTA and pays $5.6 million for MBTA passes for students in Grade 7 and 8 who live more than a mile and a half from their schools.
Data That Supports 20 MPH
- According to the VisionZero Network, 9 out of 10 pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph survive. Increase the speed to 30 mph and the survival rate drops to 50 percent. At 40 mph, just 10 percent of pedestrians survive.
- Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. (Source: VisionZero Network).
- Speeding crashes claimed the lives of 59,374 people on U.S. roads from 2010 to 2015 (Source: VisionZero Network).
- Cars speeding through red lights are a leading cause of urban car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some states and local communities permit use of red light and speeding cameras to improve enforcement. But many do not, including Massachusetts and our neighboring New England states. Rhode Island is the one exception, allowing red light cameras by state law and city ordinance. State law permits use of speeding cameras in school zones on weekdays.
Walsh to propose 20 mph limit in neighborhoods and new Uber, Lyft pickup sites, Boston Globe, March 7, 2019
Slow Down! Boston, Cambridge and Other Cities Have Dropped Speeds to 25 MPH, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2017
As we approach summer, the message for Massachusetts drivers is to please slow down. Last month, in a matter of days, several car accidents seriously injured or killed pedestrians, some in crosswalks.
On May 19, just after 7 a.m., an Acton 8th grader was struck by a van in a crosswalk at the intersection of Main Street and Hayward Road. She suffered serious injuries, leaving the scene by medical helicopter.
On May 22, a minivan crashed into two elderly women in Sandwich. The women, ages 70 and 88, went into cardiac arrest and later died at Cape Cod Hospital. At the time of impact, the women were in the crosswalk at the intersection of Route 6A and Merchants Road.
A few days later, a Watertown man was the victim, struck by a Toyota SUV at the intersection of Watertown Street and Aldrich Road. Then in Boston, the Memorial Day weekend ended with a fatal pedestrian accident on Tremont Street in the South End.
As we start summer, more people will be outside walking and everyone wants to stay safe. With a little planning, we can all drive safely this summer.
Slow Down. Under state legislation passed last year, Massachusetts cities and towns have the authority to reduce default speed limits from 30 to 25 mph. Boston, Cambridge, Medford and Quincy are among those which have dropped speeds.
Take it slow. Lower speeds give you more time to respond and prevent injuries. If there is a car crash, the impact may be less. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, if a pedestrian is struck at 40 miles per hour, the pedestrian has an 80 percent chance of dying. Reduce the speed to 20 miles per hour and there is a 10 percent chance of death.
No Distractions. Never use cell phones or electronic devices while driving. Give the road your full attention. If you are a parent, remind your teen about the dangers of distracted driving and the law. In Massachusetts, it is illegal for drivers under 18 to text or use cell phones and they could lose their driver’s license.
GPS Detours. Local police and communities are on to drivers who use GPS apps to find short-cuts. While it is perfectly acceptable to use these apps, remember that these detours typically lead to local roads. Unlike I-128 and I-93, you can expect pedestrians, cyclists, school buses and police officers who are monitoring traffic for speeding and violations. Read about stepped up patrols in the city of Quincy.
Crosswalks. Drivers should always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and provide them with adequate time and space to safely cross the road. Drivers behind you are also required to stop.
Parking Lots. Always watch for pedestrians in parking lots. Last February, an employee at Trader Joe’s in Acton was hit by a SUV backing out of a space outside the grocery store. She died on the scene, just minutes after finishing her shift and preparing to head home for the day.
Summer Festivals. When possible, carpool or walk to concerts and summer festivals. Drivers can be impatient, increasing the likelihood of a crash.
No Driving and Driving. Don’t drink and drive. Driving and driving is against the law and you have zero ability to watch out for pedestrians if you under the influence.
Be Rested. Many drivers leave their Cape Cod or New Hampshire vacations early or late to avoid the commute. Make sure you are properly rested.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured and killed in pedestrian accidents and car crashes in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.