Many of us will head back to work and school in September and October, at least part time. Due to COVID-19 and our new schedules, some of us may choose to walk for the first time, instead of relying on public transportation. If you walk, use caution – especially in intersections.
Nearly 20 percent of all traffic accidents result in pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Safety Council. An estimated 40 percent of all pedestrian accidents occur in intersections, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
A few facts from a FHWA study on pedestrian accidents in intersections:
Drivers are making unsafe turns. According to this study, one in five pedestrian accidents at signalized intersections occurred when vehicles made unsafe turns.
Left-turning vehicles cause more pedestrian accidents at intersections. Pedestrians at signalized intersections are more likely to be hit by a left-turning vehicle. Researchers found 60 percent of drivers who hit pedestrians turned left, while 40 percent turned right. The FHWA researchers noted a driver’s view may be impeded more when turning left.
Pedestrians walk safer in groups. Researchers concluded that pedestrians walking in groups were less likely to be hit by left-turning vehicles than those walking alone. Again, this may be due to drivers being able to see pedestrians better. There was a notable difference – three out of four pedestrians hit by left-turning vehicles were walking alone.
Take Steps to Protect Yourself at Intersections
If you are a pedestrian, cars and trucks have the advantage in size. You have to assume drivers won’t always be able to see you as traffic moves. You also have to be prepared for negligent operators, who are speeding or allow themselves to become distracted.
You can take steps to protect yourself though. Purchasing a neon vest is a good place to start. If a driver can see you, they may be more likely to slow down. Also take advantage of technology. Use Google Maps or another traffic app to plan your walking route.
At intersections, look for crosswalks with pedestrian traffic signals. Wait for the walk signals before crossing. Drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians in all marked crosswalks in Massachusetts. Yet pedestrian signals are more visible and can make a big difference in protecting pedestrians.
Drivers also have a responsibility to check for pedestrians (and cyclists) before turning at intersections. Studies have found that drivers are not looking enough – which is frustrating because more cars now have rearview mirror cameras to help them. Drivers need to be scanning the intersection more in front and behind for pedestrians and cyclists. This is critical in Boston, Cambridge and other cities because commercial truck drivers travel much higher up than pedestrians and cyclists and often, there is no eye contact. But truck drivers are not the only risk. Pedestrians have to be aware of all vehicles – SUVs, cars, buses. These drivers should also be paying attention to you.
Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston and Cambridge Pedestrian Accident Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys specialize in the representation of those injured in pedestrian accidents and bicycle crashes in Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Pedestrian crashes have made devastating headlines in Boston and Somerville this past week. In Boston, a van struck two pedestrians at a feared intersection last Wednesday (Sept. 11th). One victim, a young woman, later died from her injuries. The next day in Somerville, a garbage truck critically injured a woman on the McGrath Highway.
As the investigations begin, many are questioning the traffic signals. In Boston, city officials responded quickly, with Mayor Marty Walsh already announcing changes at Melcher and Summer streets. This intersection is located in the Fort Point neighborhood near the Seaport District and South Boston.
Going forward, pedestrians will have a full right of way at the intersection.
According to WHDH, the traffic signal had been giving pedestrians the light to start crossing Summer Street. Then, drivers on Melcher Street were given the green light to turn while pedestrians were still crossing. Signage warned drivers to yield to pedestrians, but residents and businesses said this wasn’t enough. They worried about their safety and complained to city officials.
Boston Police are investigating. No criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the van.
The next day in Somerville (Sept. 14th), a woman was hit by a garbage truck and transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. The 34-year-old was hit on the McGrath Highway, at the intersection of Somerville Avenue. According to NBC Boston, the woman had been attempting to cross the street around 1:45 p.m., using the marked crosswalk. The garbage truck struck her as it turned.
As in Boston, State Police are investigating. No criminal charges have been filed against the driver.
As we wait to hear more, the Somerville News Weekly is reporting the traffic signal may have been re-synchronized the day after the truck crash. The report questions whether the driver and pedestrian had overlapping traffic signals, as was the case in Boston.
Somerville saw a new traffic pattern introduced earlier this year around the intersection, according to the news weekly. Traffic accidents have followed.
Both Somerville and Boston have seen pedestrian accidents resulting in serious injury and death this year. In Somerville, drivers have hit residents, then kept traveling.
In February, a 40-year-old educator was killed in the crosswalk at Hardan Road and Powderhouse Boulevard. The alleged driver, a Norwood man, never stopped and even went out for dinner later that evening. Days later, the police search came to an end when the man’s truck was found the vehicle parked in Somerville.
Another pedestrian was killed in July. The 52-year-old woman was struck along Mystic Avenue, near McGrath Highway and Stop & Shop. This time, the 64-year-old driver from Roxbury turned himself into Somerville Police the next day. The Boston Globe also raised questions about this traffic signal in its reporting, observing pedestrians had just 12 seconds to cross the busy area.
In late August, a 69-year-old man was seriously injured in the early morning hours on Mystic Avenue and Shore Drive. Another driver found him and stopped to help, according to WCVB. As in the other Somerville crashes, neighbors were stunned that the driver fled the scene.
In Boston, several pedestrians were injured by cars this summer. One area of concern has been Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. On June 23rd, a car collided with a pedestrian during the morning commute there. She died shortly later. In July, a Boston Public Health Commission hit a pedestrian in the same area, this time causing minor injuries.
Boston Pedestrian Car Crash Lawyers – Breakstone, White & Gluck
The Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those injured by car accidents and pedestrian accidents. If you or a loved one have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation with our attorneys, contact 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
If a traffic enforcement sting came to your community, how many drivers would be stopped and cited for unsafe driving? Would you be among them?
We ask these questions as students head back to school across Massachusetts, in communities from Boston and Cambridge to Plymouth and Brockton to Worcester and Springfield.
Police departments across the state have set up traffic enforcement over the past few weeks, focusing on drivers who are not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks and school buses. A few of the communities include New Bedford, Attleboro and South Boston.
In South Boston, the surveillance followed the tragic death of a 2-year-old in a traffic crash. The child was being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk, when a van and car collided. The van plowed onto the sidewalk, injuring and ultimately killing the young boy. A day after the crash, the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police set up a traffic enforcement initiative focusing on crosswalk enforcement, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors. Within a few days, officers had issued approximately 500 citations for traffic violations. This is a very telling number, one Massachusetts drivers can’t ignore.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Our firm is committed to safety for children, giving away over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. With experience representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian crosswalk accidents and other traffic crashes, we offer these tips for safe driving:
Slow down at crosswalks. Students who walk to school may have a crossing guard help them across the street. Always slow down as you approach crossing guards and children. Make eye contact with the crossing guard and assume you should stop. The crossing guard will wave you through when it’s safe to go.
But even when there is no crossing guard, drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when there is a “Walk” or green signal. Other times, drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way by slowing or stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This includes times when pedestrians are in the crosswalk on the same side as the driver and when pedestrians are approaching from the other half of the lane and within 10 feet. There is a $200 fine for crosswalk violations in Massachusetts.
The best thing to do is approach crosswalks slowly and stop if you see anyone even near the entrance of the crosswalk. If you can, make eye contact with them, then wave for them to go. Depending on whether other cars stop, they may not be able to immediately cross. You may need to be patient for a few moments.
M.G.L. c.89 § 11 is the law governing pedestrian rights in crosswalks in Massachusetts. Read more about the law.
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.
The Boston Herald has renewed concerns about pedestrian safety with a report that nine pedestrians were hit in Boston on the same day.
On Tuesday, January 17th, the city saw its worst day for pedestrian accidents since at least June 2015, according to a Herald analysis. The first pedestrian accident occurred at a McDonald’s restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue in the South End. This accident occurred shortly after 9:30 a.m. The other eight accidents occurred between 4:30 p.m. and about 9 p.m., in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Brighton and Hyde Park.
Pedestrian Accidents: The Numbers
Pedestrian accidents are a concern for everyone on the roads. In Massachusetts, we do a lot of walking. According to WalkBoston, more than 10 percent of all trips in Massachusetts are taken on foot (this is more than 40 percent greater than the national average).
When it comes to work, 12 percent of Massachusetts residents commute by walking. The number is higher in some communities. In Cambridge, 24 percent of residents walk to work.
According to the Boston Herald, pedestrian injuries are on the rise in Boston. In 2016, 904 pedestrians were injured in crashes, a 15 percent increase over 2015. Twelve pedestrians died in 2016, up from nine in 2015.
Mayor Marty Walsh has formed a Vision Zero task force with a goal of eliminating fatal and serious traffic fatalities in Boston by 2030. As part of the Vision Zero work, the city lowered its default speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph in early January. The change does not impact state-owned roads. If you live or work in Boston, learn more about Boston’s speed limit change.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
Use Sidewalks. The sidewalk is the safest place for pedestrians. If no sidewalks are available, walk on the left side, against traffic so that drivers have a chance to make eye contact with you.
At Night. Carry a flashlight and wear a reflective safety vest if you walk at night or in the early morning.
Use Crosswalks and Traffic Signals. Use crosswalks and press the Walk button when available. Drivers are required to stop for you under Massachusetts law. Other cars are not allowed to pass the stopped vehicle.
Pay Attention to Safety Alerts. Winter is a harsh time for pedestrians. Pay attention to safety alerts and travel warnings from the State of Massachusetts, the MBTA, public schools, communities and your employers.
Beware of Snowbanks and Snowplows. Tall snowbanks obstruct the view between drivers and pedestrians. Wear a neon safety vest if you must walk in travel in these areas and pay attention to traffic. After a storm, expect to see snowplows on streets and working in parking lots. Take it slow.
Beware of Construction Areas. Areas such as North Station in Boston are now much harder for pedestrians to travel due to construction. Pay attention to notices about construction schedules and avoid building activity and construction workers whenever possible.
Watch for Cars Backing Up. Pedestrian accidents can happen when drivers neglect to check for pedestrians as they pull out of a parking space or a driveway. Watch out for these drivers and stop to let them back out.
From Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience
Our attorneys have over 100 years combined experience representing pedestrians who have been injured by the negligence of drivers and defective roadway conditions. Our law firm represented one pedestrian who was struck by a MBTA bus in a crosswalk in 2005. The pedestrian suffered serious injuries and required amputation of her right leg. The case went to trial and was appealed by the MBTA. The final award was $7.1 million for our client. See the re-enactment video we prepared for trial. It shows one way pedestrians can be put at serious risk.
During the first two weeks of 2016, Massachusetts has already seen several serious pedestrian accidents.
Last weekend, a 56-year-old security guard leaving work was killed in a hit-and-run accident on West Boylston Street in Worcester. Police have charged a 21-year-old man with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and other violations.
Last week, a 68-year-old pedestrian was killed in South Hadley, as he crossed the street in front of his home. In that case, the driver remained on the scene and police opened an investigation.
In Palmer, a 59-year-old pedestrian was killed while using a crosswalk at the intersection of North Main and Rockview streets. The pedestrian accident occurred about 5 p.m. in the day and the driver fled the scene.
Then in Cape Cod, a 19-year-old man was also killed when hit while crossing Route 28 in Yarmouth.
A few concerns for pedestrians in the winter:
Plow trucks. Last winter, at least two pedestrians in the Boston area were killed in parking lots by snow plow trucks. A 60-year-old employee at the Whole Foods store in Medford was struck and killed while walking across the store’s parking lot. A few days earlier, a Weymouth woman was hit and killed by a snow plow driver who was clearing the parking lot outside her condominium complex.
Parking lots. Pedestrians are just as vulnerable in parking lots as they are in streets. Last week, a pedestrian was hit in the South Street shopping plaza in Holyoke, in front of the Save-A-Lot supermarket.
Crosswalks. In Massachusetts, pedestrians who are crossing the street in a crosswalk or at an intersection with the “Walk” signal have the right of way. But drivers often fail to stop for pedestrians – and sometimes crossing guards. A crossing guard in Holyoke was struck by a car and injured at 8 a.m. one day last week.
About Our Experience
The Boston personal injury attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing individuals who have been injured in pedestrian accidents. Attorney Ronald E. Gluck recently negotiated a $1.25 million settlement for the family of a woman who was hit and killed in a crosswalk. Read about the case here.