Articles Tagged with “car accidents”

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.

Boston Attorney Marc BreakstoneAttorney Marc L. Breakstone was quoted as a legal expert in a Boston Herald article titled “In Driver’s Seat With Insurance” (March 31, 2017). NuTonomy, the self-driving car company now testing its hands-free technology in Boston, has taken out a $5 million insurance policy to guard against lawsuits. Earlier this month, a self-driving Uber vehicle was involved in a car accident in Tempe, Arizona. Police found the Uber vehicle was traveling at 38 mph, below the speed limit, when the collision occurred and was not at fault. While there were no serious injuries, the accident has raised concerns.

Attorney Breakstone was asked whether the City of Boston could be held liable if there is an accident involving NuTonomy. He said no, but read his full answer.

Attorney Reza Breakstone has written on the topic of self-driving cars and the legal questions they raise. In 2016, he co-wrote an article titled, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” for The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California.

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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.

reza-breakstone-webAttorney Reza Breakstone writes about the legal ramifications of self-driving cars in an article published in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California. Attorney Breakstone co-authored the article with Attorney Paul Hoybjerg of Roseville, California. In the article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” the authors write the time has come for the self-driving car.

“The self-driving car is no longer a distant dream of an imagined future. It is here, it is now, and it is reality. There already exist automated functions that come standard on vehicles: anti-lock brakes, self-parking, cruise control, and crash avoidance cameras. Automated cars will affect more than simply your ability to tie your tie or apply your make-up on the way to work. They stand to completely change the automotive industry, insurance world, legal market, public transport and city planning, while redefining the American culture of feeling “freedom” behind the wheel.”

The article explains the current levels of automation among vehicles on the market, investments in the industry and ramifications for auto insurers and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.

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“The less thrilling ramifications may be to the bottom line of auto insurers and the plaintiffs’ and defense bars in personal injury cases. Currently, auto insurance premiums account for $200 billion nationwide. The insurance industry, with decreased vehicle ownership and decreased liability issues on the part of the user, will find itself cut out of the equation. Allstate Corp. Chairman Thomas Wilson predicts that driverless cars will have “the most detrimental impact on auto insurance” and one “we don’t want to wait” to figure it out.”

Read the full article.

About Attorney Reza Breakstone
Attorney Reza Breakstone joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate in 2015.  Learn more about Reza on our website.

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Fox 25 TV has reported the driver who hit and killed a Massachusetts state trooper has left the hospital. He is scheduled to appear in court and be criminally charged, but has not been formally charged yet.

David Njuguna, 30, of Webster, is expected to appear in Dudley District Court in about a month and be formally charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle, failure to stay within marked lanes and speeding, State Police told the news station. He is currently out free without court bail conditions, though his driver’s license has been revoked.

marcbreakstone_125.jpgFox 25 TV asked Attorney Marc Breakstone, who has represented car accident victims in Massachusetts for 30 years, why criminal charges have not been filed already.

Walking, even in the crosswalk, is becoming more dangerous.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting a 10 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in traffic crashes across the U.S. last year. This marks the largest increase in four decades, since data was first collected.

The official tally shows an estimated 2,368 pedestrians were killed between January and June of 2015. Researchers expect annual figures to reach the 10 percent mark.

20160119-cellphoneincar-300.jpgThe Massachusetts State Senate is expected to consider a ban on hand-held mobile electronic devices while driving. Many feel a ban is long overdue and we agree.

“Even New Hampshire has gone hands-free. It’s time for Beacon Hill to act,” wrote the Boston Herald editorial board.

The Senate is expected to consider the ban Thursday. Under the proposed legislation, Massachusetts drivers could still talk on the phone using hands-free technology.

Drivers would receive a $100 fine for the first violation, $250 for the second and $500 for all subsequent violations. Drivers cited three times would receive an auto insurance surcharge.

The bill would change the law in Massachusetts for all drivers over 18. Junior operators are already banned from cell phone use behind the wheel.

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use is now estimated to be involved in 26 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. At any given moment of the day, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA also reported one survey found almost half of all drivers will answer an incoming call while driving. One in four drivers is willing to place a call on all, most, or some trips.

Texting While Driving Bans
In 2010, then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law which banned texting while driving. The state is in good company; today, 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. By contrast, only 14 states have banned hand-held cell phone use, including New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut. Maine and Rhode Island have banned texting while driving but hand-held cell phone bans have failed to gain enough support.

Related:
Read the Boston Herald’s recent editorial on a hand-held cell phone ban in Massachusetts.

Summary of the Safe Driving Law, Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
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As students head back to classes, this is a good time for families to talk about cell phones and distracted driving.

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Each day, nine people are killed in the U.S. in crashes involving distracted driving behaviors, such as using a cell phone, texting while driving or eating. More than 1,100 are injured.

There are now 46 states which ban texting while driving, including Massachusetts, which banned the practice in 2010. Junior operators are not allowed to use cell phones at all in Massachusetts.

For Parents

No Cell Phone Rule. Lead by example. Put your cell phone away while driving your children to school. Tell them to put theirs away too because it creates a distraction for you on the roads. Make this a rule for school drop-offs and pick-ups. If you can, extend it to other travel times.

Drop-Off Zone. After you drop your child off at school, resist the urge to immediately check your cell phone in the drop-off zone. Drive away and check later.

Children and Teens

No Cell Phone Use While Commuting. Keep telling your children the cell phone is not for use while commuting to school. Even if they are young and many years away from driving, they can learn now how distracting any cell phone use can be in the car.

Children should not use cell phones while walking or riding bikes to school, either. They can check in with social media, e-mail and text messages at home. If they must, tell them to step several feet off the sidewalk. Make it clear it is not safe to stop in a parking lot.

School Bus. Encourage your child to keep their cell phone packed on the ride so they can be aware of what is going on around them.

Reward Your Child For Not Using a Cell Phone. When your children do as you ask and leave the cell phone packed up, let them know you noticed.

Teen Drivers

Talk to Your Teen Drivers. Take some time to remind them not to use their cell phone behind the wheel. They could seriously injure someone or be stopped by police and face fines and a temporary loss of license.

No Passengers. Do not allow them to carry other teenage passengers with them until they become experienced drivers, and even then they should limit the number of passengers in their cars. Your teenager needs all their energy to focus on the roads and avoid car accidents.

Your teenager may not be happy with your rules, but younger drivers under 25 are two to three times more likely to text or e-mail while driving than others, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You want to protect your teenager and help them develop safe habits.

Share Safety Materials. Do not be your teen’s only source of information. Occasionally share safety campaign information or news articles about texting while driving with them. One resource is the AT&T It Can Wait campaign.
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Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

As State Police investigate a weekend hit-and-run car crash in Foxborough, attorney Marc L. Breakstone spoke on behalf of his clients who were injured. Breakstone told The Boston Globe there is “overwhelming evidence” that his clients’ vehicle was struck by the Mercedes-Benz Mabach registered to ex-New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Breakstone, a personal injury attorney at Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston, is representing the Billerica family who was struck in the early Sunday morning crash. The parents and child were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after their Nissan Murano was struck suddenly.

Breakstone said the car that struck his clients was likely traveling at least 80 to 85 miles per hour and that his clients never saw any headlights.

“It is an extraordinary act of negligence for one vehicle to strike another vehicle that’s traveling 60 miles an hour on the highway,” Breakstone told the Globe. “I suspect that whatever that driver was under the influence of is the reason that the driver left the scene.”

Around the same time, State Police were notified the 2011 Mercedes-Benz Maybach registered to Spikes had been abandoned nearby in the median strip of Interstate 495 in Foxborough. A Mercedes roadside assistance service operator contacted State Police, telling them the driver of the vehicle reported hitting a deer.

State Police say the investigation is ongoing and they have not established who was driving the Mercedes-Benz Maybach or whether the Maybach hit the other car.

Spikes was released by the Patriots on Monday. He played for the Patriots from 2010 through 2013, then joined the Buffalo Bills for the 2014 season. He had recently returned to the Patriots on a one-year deal which would have been worth up to $2 million.

Breakstone told the Globe his clients are working to move past the hit-and-run accident.

“They want their normal lives back,” he said. “They want their good health and their comfortable state of mind. … They’re alarmed, first, that they could have been killed. They’re alarmed that it may have been an NFL player behind the wheel, and they would just [prefer to] not be in the spotlight and just have a return to normalcy.”

Related Coverage:
Accident Blindsided Family, Lawyer Says, The Boston Herald.

Patriots release Brandon Spikes amid crash investigation, WCVB.

Police probing whether ex-Patriots linebacker Spikes’ car hit Billerica family’s, The Lowell Sun.

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10528911_s.jpgWith the snowbanks nearly gone, your teen driver is likely asking for the car keys. Now is a very good time to talk to them about paying attention on the roads and following traffic laws.

Young people ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal motor vehicle crash than other age groups. While cell phone use is a frequent cause, there is also simple inexperience. If you are a parent, you know this conversation takes a lot of work and a lot of repetition.

We offer these safety tips for teen drivers:

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Do not take phone calls while driving. The caller can leave a voicemail.
  • Remember that under Massachusetts Junior Operator License, teen drivers are not allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel. You cannot send texts or make phone calls. If you are caught, you may be fined and your license suspended. It is important to think about these steps for the safety of others and to keep yourself out of trouble.
  • If you must use your phone, pull off the road to a safe area. Put the car in park and remove the keys. Or ask a passenger to call or answer for you.
  • Travel with the phone in the best place to reduce distraction. If your phone ringing or lighting up with messages distracts you, set it in a bag in the backseat.
  • Remember that whatever is happening on your phone can wait, whether it is a social media post, e-mail or photo. It really can.
  • Be mindful of distractions created by loud music or intense conversation. Explain to passengers you need to limit conversation while driving.
  • Remember you cannot carry passengers under the age of 18 during the first six months with a Massachusetts Junior Operator License. The one exception is you can drive with siblings.
  • Do not look up phone numbers or GPS directions on your phone while driving.
  • Many cars have dashboard GPS systems and infotainment systems. Turn them off until you are more experienced.

Other Safe Driving Habits

  • Never consume alcohol and drive. No driver should, but you are more likely than older drivers to get in car accidents because you lack driving experience.
  • Before entering your vehicle, look around for other cars, trucks and hazards. Make sure you provide bicyclists and pedestrians extra time to pass.
  • Shift your eyes every two seconds and check the rear-view mirror every five to eight seconds. This will help you focus on driving.
  • Do not drive drowsy. If you are tired, you will be less capable of responding to potential car accidents. The Massachusetts Junior Operator License restricts young drivers from traveling between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent. This is a good step but realize you always have to be aware of your fatigue level and make good decisions at all hours.
  • Even if you have your license, keep practicing. For instance, if you are weak backing up, practice backing into a parking space in an empty parking lot with a parent. Keep practicing because you will need these skills going forward and will not always have the time to practice.
  • There are construction work zones in many places. Be extra attentive, slow down and watch for workers.
  • Check your speed regularly and slow down. A little extra space between you and the car in front of you can make a big difference toward preventing a car accident.
  • Drive defensively. Expect the unexpected will happen and you may have to stop or change lanes.
  • Signal your intentions to turn or switch lanes early enough to give others time to prepare.
  • Do not drive on the highway on your own before you are ready.
  • Limit the number of times you drive your friends home after sports practices, to the mail or school events. Every teenager looks forward to driving around with their friends, but teens are more likely to become distracted this way.
  • Be careful in school zones and school buses. Slow down and watch out for teenagers and children walking or riding bikes. You are required to stop when school buses stop.

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