By now, many of us are ready for a summer road trip. Maybe you cannot reach your first-choice destination due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Or maybe you are just taking it slow with a day-trip. Whatever your plan, we hope you can fit in some fun while practicing safety.
First, make sure your vehicle is ready. Check your vehicle’s systems. By taking some time now, you are less likely to breakdown or cause a car accident resulting in injury, motor vehicle damage and stress.
Check for Auto Recalls
Find your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Then, check the federal auto recall website, managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). You can also sign up for email alerts from this page.
Each year, there are millions of auto recalls. Drivers are not always properly informed by manufacturers. Without any warning, drivers keep operating vehicles, increasing the risk for a malfunction. Be pro-active about checking on auto recalls. The thorough database contains recalls up to 15 years back. One caveat is the database does not identify vehicles which were recalled but have now been repaired.
Collect Your Owner’s Manual
Make sure you have your owner’s manual in your glove compartment, along with your motor vehicle registration and auto insurance information.
Have Your Car Serviced
Before you travel:
- Check your vehicle maintenance records
- Schedule a tune-up, oil change or battery check as needed
- Check when your car last had a tire rotation
- Make sure your air conditioning system is properly working as well
If you have any questions, schedule an appointment with a mechanic or garage.
Purchase an auto club membership before you travel. Due to COVID-19, you may not be traveling as far as you wanted this year. You may just be day-tripping to Cape Cod. Still, anytime you travel on the highway, an auto membership is a valuable tool.
The NHTSA advises drivers to stock up on essential supplies before you travel.
- Cell phone and charger
- Nonperishable food, drinking water and medications
- Paper or printed maps (in case you lose cell phone coverage)
- First aid kit
- Flares and a white flag
- Jumper cables
- Tire pressure gauge
- Work gloves and extra clothing
- Extra windshield washer fluid
Checking Inside the Car and Mirrors
Remember to check your seatbelts and car seats to make sure they are properly functioning. If you have a young child, they may have outgrown their car seat over the past few months. Replace car seats right away.
Check your mirrors. Your rearview and sideview mirrors should be securely in place to help you view your surroundings. If you have a back-up camera, make sure it works. If you don’t have a back-up camera and you have time, consider purchasing an add-on camera. Consumer Reports offers tips: “How to Add a Back-up Camera to Your Car.”
Before you travel, check the weather and road conditions along your route. Familiarize yourself with the directions before you go. You may use a global positioning system. But when visiting new places, also consider printing travel maps or writing down notes, such as toll locations and rest stops. Write down key phone numbers, such as for hotels. Gather this in a folder or binder.
Share your travel route with a loved one or friend. Keep an emergency contact’s information available, such as in your wallet or the password lock screen of your phone.
If you are traveling within Massachusetts, you can check traffic conditions on Mass511.com. Cape Cod travelers can check the Cape Cod Commission’s Real-Time Traffic Updates. This contains information about Cape Cod car accidents, road closures and construction projects.
Hands Free Cell Phone Systems
On April 1, 2020, the Massachusetts hands-free driving law took effect. Now, all six New England states ban texting while driving and handheld cell phone use.
What you can do: If you want to use your cell phone, purchase Bluetooth and hands-free driving equipment before you travel. If you cannot GPS through Bluetooth or an in-vehicle system, you can purchase a cell phone mount for your dashboard.
Cell phone-related car accidents often ruin vacations while causing serious injuries. Our best advice is to focus on the road and set your cell phone aside. Enjoy the time with your family or friends. Check your messages at the end of the day.
Children and Heatstroke
Children can suffer heatstroke when left alone in a vehicle. A child’s body temperature rises 3-5 times faster than an adult’s and injuries can happen quickly, according to the NHTSA.
Come up with a family plan for traveling this summer. Never leave your children alone in your car in parking lots, when you visit family and friends or any time you make quick stops. Your car is a powerful piece of machinery. Everyone in and out of the car together. Or if you have two adults, designate one your driver, who stays in your vehicle with your children and the air conditioning. Let the passenger get out and do your errands.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Crash Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Boston car accident attorneys fight for the rights of those injured by negligence and wrongdoing in Massachusetts. Our attorneys represent those injured across Massachusetts, from Boston and Cambridge to the North Shore and Quincy and the South Shore and Cape Cod.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, learn your legal rights. Consult Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
As of today April 1, Massachusetts police departments can start to issue citations and fines to drivers who violate the Massachusetts hands-free driving law. We encourage you to follow the Massachusetts COVID-19 “Stay at Home” advisory. But if you have to go out, you can help yourself drive more safely and avoid a fine by checking that your car is set up for hands-free mode. Even better? Read this update, but turn off your cell phone while driving. Many of us are exhausted and out-of-routine. Focus on the roads and what you need to get done, so you can get back home.
So far, many drivers are still picking up phones, despite the new law. During the initial grace period from Feb. 23-Mar. 31, police issued 4,500 written warnings across Massachusetts, according to a state official interviewed by WGBH. The official said drivers must become aware of both the law and that police are watching.
“…the police officers I’ve talked to seem to say that everyone who is pulled over says, “Yes, I’ve heard about it. Sorry. My mistake,” said Jeff Larason, director of highway safety at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety. (Listen to the WGBH segment in full).
Massachusetts passed a texting while driving law in 2010 but lawmakers spent nearly 10 years debating the handheld cell phone ban.
The Massachusetts hands-free driving law was passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in November 2019 and quickly signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Nov. 29. To help drivers get ready, the state granted an initial grace period. Larason told WGBH 4,500 drivers had received written warnings (broadcast date: March 13). The Boston Globe reported State Police had issued 578 warnings to drivers, in just the first week. On Cape Cod, local police reported 150 verbal or written warnings in the first week (Source: South Coast Today via Cape Cod Times).
What the law allows and bans:
- The law states drivers cannot use any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is being operated in hands-free mode.
- Drivers can only touch cell phones and mobile phones once to activate hands-free mode.
- Cell phones must be properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard or center console and not impede with operation. This is the only way drivers are allowed to use GPS or voice to text technology such as Bluetooth.
- Drivers are specifically not allowed to touch phones for texting and emailing. Use of apps, video or Internet is also prohibited.
- Drivers who are 18 and younger are not allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel. Hands-free is illegal and can result in violation of their Massachusetts Junior Operator’s License.
- You may be stopped. But you are not allowed to pick up your phone at red lights or stop lights.
- You can pick up your cell phone and make a call if you are in a stationary position, outside a travel lane or bicycle lane.
- There is also an exemption for emergency professionals who need to pick up the phone for calls and those calling 911. 911 calls must be taken seriously. The state advises drivers to make every attempt to pull over before calling 911 – even if you are in hands-free mode.
Violations of the Massachusetts Hands-Free Driving Law
Police in Massachusetts can now start issuing tickets. Here are the penalties:
First offense: $100 fine.
Second offense: $250 fine and distracted driving education.
Third offense: $500 fine and distracted driving education.
With a third offense, you may face an insurance surcharge.
Massachusetts hands-free driving law, Mass.gov
Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers: 800-379-1244
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling cases for clients injured by negligent use of cell phones and texting while driving. We represent clients across the state of Massachusetts in car accident cases, including in Boston, the North Shore, the South Shore and Cape Cod.
We are open and working remotely for our clients during the state’s COVID-19 advisories. If you have been injured, we are providing free legal consultations at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
Massachusetts has finally approved distracted driving legislation. Gov. Charlie Baker signed on Monday, establishing New England as a hands-free driving zone.
According to The Boston Globe, the new distracted driving law will take effect on Feb. 23, 2020. Massachusetts police officers will issue warnings until the end of March, then citations will begin. This transition period is meant to help drivers get used to the new law. Become familiar with Bluetooth and other “hands-free” technologies now, and if you plan to use an electronic device for navigation, purchase a mount for your windshield or dashboard.
Until now, most drivers have been able to pick up cell phones to talk in Boston and across Massachusetts. However, under the 2010 texting while driving ban, drivers cannot text, read emails or use social media. This has helped deter some drivers, but overall, not enough without a handheld cell phone ban.
Come next year, Massachusetts drivers can only use cell phones under limited circumstances. Drivers can use electronic devices on “hands-free” mode (though they do get a single-swipe to activate or de-activate the “hands-free” mode). As we mentioned, they must use Bluetooth or a similar “hands-free” technology and mount navigation devices.
Police officers can stop drivers as a primary offense, which is more leeway than they have in enforcing seat belt use. Officers will be required to collect data – including age, race and gender – when they issue a warning or citation. The state will use this data to monitor potential racial profiling by police departments.
The new Massachusetts distracted driving law brings notable consequences. These alone are good financial motivators for putting down your cell phone.
Under the new law, drivers will be fined $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third offense (and any subsequent offense). Second-offenders have to participate in a driver safety course. Drivers can also face an insurance surcharge.
Safety is the most important point. Cell phone use is responsible for more than 1 of 4 car crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Distracted drivers killed 3,166 people across the U.S. in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These are hard numbers to hear.
Massachusetts now joins every other New England state in improving hands-free cell phone legislation. Maine was the last state to approve legislation this past summer. According to the National Conference of State Legislature, 20 states already have laws which ban handheld cell phone use, so Massachusetts could be the 21st.
Boston Car Accident Lawyers – About Breakstone, White & Gluck
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience and provide expert investigation into car crashes involving negligent cell phone use. We represent clients who have been injured by negligent driving across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy and Braintree. South of Boston, our attorneys have represented numerous clients, including those injured in Brockton, Plymouth and Cape Cod, as well as in Framingham, Worcester and north of Boston, Salem, Peabody, Newburyport and Saugus.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
If you regularly travel to Cape Cod, you know to expect traffic slowdowns and use caution near the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. Now, a new report sheds light on just how many accidents really happen at Cape Cod rotaries and intersections.
The Cape Cod Commission released its, “Barnstable County High Crash Locations,” report last month. The report identifies 50 of the most dangerous intersections and several other rankings. These rankings were developed through analysis of 2012-2016 traffic data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and local police departments. The commission collected data on the number of crashes and Equivalent Property Damage Only (EPDO) accidents. Traffic data typically counts EPDO accidents, along with car accidents resulting in injury or death, to provide more context on traffic conditions.
This report confirms that many Cape Cod car accidents are happening on the rotaries in Bourne and Buzzards Bay. Many are also happening on the mid-Cape, in Barnstable, Dennis and Yarmouth. But the report provides insight on just where motor vehicle accidents are happening and how close these accidents are happening to your home, your work, your vacation rental or where you take your daily walk. In some cases, you may want to change which highway exits you use.
If you read the report, you will see there is already good news in some cases; the state and local towns have already implemented improvements to antiquated roads or are planning updates.
But you should also take away the point that it’s important to travel slowly on Cape Cod. This is a special region with beautiful beaches, where residents, vacationers and workers converge each summer from different experiences. As a driver, you have a responsibility to use reasonable care and you give yourself more options by slowing down and putting down your cell phone. Recognize that during the summer season, a safe speed will likely fall below the posted speed limit. Ultimately, your goal is to give other drivers, along with cyclists and pedestrians, adequate room if they need to move over, turn or respond to traffic conditions.
In addition, distracted driving and drunk driving accidents cause many injuries on Cape Cod. Make good decisions. If you drink, stay home or use a designated driver system.
Cape Cod Rotaries with the Most Traffic Crashes
Among rotaries and circular intersections, the Bourne Rotary at Route 28, Sandwich Road and Trowbridge Road saw the highest number of crashes. 445 car crashes were reported over the 5-year period. Safety improvements were completed in 2015. The Mashpee Rotary (at Route 28, Route 151 and Great Neck Road) had the second highest number of Cape Cod crashes.
Two other major intersections in Bourne came in third and fourth, the Otis Rotary at Route 28, Connery Avenue and Lake Drive, and the Belmont Rotary in Bourne at Route 28, Main Street and the Buzzards Bay Bypass. There were 257 Barnstable car crashes in Hyannis, at the Barnstable Airport rotary along Route 28.
Other Top Crash Intersections on Cape Cod Intersections
1) Top Dennis Car Crash Intersection
Route 134 (East-West Dennis Road) at Patriot Square/Market Place
170 crashes and 254 EPDO accidents
2) Top Barnstable Car Accident Intersection
Route 28 (Falmouth Road) and Bearses Way
153 crashes and 285 EPDO accidents
3) Second Highest Traffic Crash Location in Barnstable
Route 28 (Iyannough Road) at Yarmouth Road
136 crashes and 260 EPDO accidents
4) Top Yarmouth Car Accident Location
Route 28 at Old Main Street/North Main Street
106 crashes, 212 EPDO accidents
5) Dennis Traffic Crash Location with Second Highest Number of Crashes
Route 134 (East-West Dennis Road ( at Upper County Road)
Top Crash Locations Along Route 6
1) Dennis, Exit 9A/9B on Route 6 at Route 134
2) Bourne, Exit 1A Route 6 (Pilgrims Highway) at Scenic Highway
3) Barnstable, Exit 6, Route 6 at Route 132, departing toward Barnstable Municipal Airport, the Cape Cod Mall and the Steamship Authority
4) Yarmouth, Exit 7 Route 6 at Willow Street
5) Harwich, Exit 10 at Route 6 at Pleasant Lake Avenue
Where Fatal Car Crashes Happen on Cape Cod
From 2012-2016, there were 86 fatal crashes on Cape Cod, according to the report. Three communities recorded just about half of these deaths.
Barnstable, which includes Hyannis, Marston Mills and other villages, recorded 19 deaths. There were 13 deaths in Yarmouth car accidents. Meanwhile, Falmouth saw 12 traffic fatalities.
Where Cyclists and Pedestrians are Vulnerable on Cape Cod
- Along Route 28 in downtown Falmouth, Hyannis, Yarmouth, Chatham and Orleans
- Buzzards Bay in Bourne
- Station Avenue in Yarmouth and Route 134 in Dennis
- Downtown Orleans
- Commercial Street in Provincetown
The commission also noted that bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents often go unreported. This may happen when a cyclist or pedestrian decides they were not seriously injured and do not need medical care.
We share shortened versions of the Cape Cod accident locations. Learn more by reading the Cape Cod Commission’s report.
Free Legal Consultation – Cape Cod Car Accident Lawyers
With decades of experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for the rights of victims of negligent or reckless driving on Cape Cod and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, contact our Cape Cod car accident attorneys and learn your legal rights.
While there are many lawyers based on Cape Cod, be cautious. Resist the urge to hire the first lawyer you speak to. This is a major decision. Before you hire an attorney, carefully review the facts of your car crash with them. Learn about an attorney’s specific experience handling car accident cases in Massachusetts. Some lawyers may concentrate only on car accidents. Some may only have a few years of experience. Others may not have experience taking certain types of cases to trial. These details matter when you hire a motor vehicle accident lawyer. Because you never know whether the insurance company will look to settle or attempt to take a case to court.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys bring over 100 years combined experienced to our clients. Our partners founded our firm in 1992 and we are known for our extensive experience in the handling of car accident cases, as well as truck crashes and bus accidents. Each year, we also represent cyclists and pedestrians after serious injuries, settling many cases. But we are committed to taking cases to trial when necessary to achieve the best result for our clients.
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, we invite you to contact Breakstone, White & Gluck for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.