The majority of all pedestrian fatalities occur at night or in dark light conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is a significant point come October in Massachusetts, when the days get shorter and the walk home becomes darker.
As a driver, renew your commitment to travel safely near pedestrians this Fall. This is critical. In addition to shorter days, Massachusetts is seeing a rise in pedestrian fatalities as traffic volumes start to rebound. In August, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reported traffic volumes had returned to just 5 percent below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
As of October 21, 2021, 58 pedestrians have died on Massachusetts roads this year, according to MassDOT crash data. 55 pedestrian fatalities were recorded in 2020, when traffic was lightest due to Covid 19 stay at home policies. Prior to the pandemic, there were 78 fatal pedestrian injuries statewide in 2019.
There have been 1,086 total pedestrian accidents reported in 2021 so far, including those involving fatal injuries, non-fatal injuries and property damage without injury, compared to 1,443 pedestrian crashes in 2020 and 2,198 pre-pandemic in 2019. (Source: MassDOT, 2017-2021 Pedestrian, Cyclist and Motorcyclist Crashes by Injury).
While helpful, the data is just a snapshot. A better resource: ask anyone who walks if driving patterns are still irregular due to the pandemic. Roads may be less congested, but drivers are picking up speeds at times. This endangers pedestrians, especially at night, when there is less visibility.
Reminders for Driving Safely Near Pedestrians and Reducing the Risk of Injury
Drive Slowly and Watch for Pedestrians
Drive slowly and always look for pedestrians. Take an extra moment to look in all directions before you step on the gas. Pedestrians are more likely to blend in at night, even in well-lit areas.
Yield and Stop at Crosswalks
Drivers have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians before turning at traffic signals and to stop or yield for pedestrians to safely walk through crosswalks. Many pedestrian accidents at night occur in intersections and crosswalks.
Once you start moving, you can attempt to break quickly but you really have less control, especially in short distance situations, such as when turning at an intersection or backing out of a parking space. Take a moment and take a good look for pedestrians first.
Give Yourself More Time When Getting in Your Car
Drivers can reduce their risk of hitting a pedestrian by giving their full attention to the road. To do this, give yourself time to get ready for the ride while you are parked: buckle your child up and set up your cell phone in hands-free mode if you plan to use it. Make sure you have directions typed into your GPS or you know where you are going.
When you are finished, then give yourself time to turn on the vehicle and look for pedestrians.
Drive at Night Without Distractions
The state of Massachusetts now allows drivers to use cell phones in hands-free mode, but this can be a dangerous distraction when driving at night. The best policy is to pull over in a legal parking space if you need to call someone and avoid causing a car accident or truck crash, resulting in pedestrian injuries.
Reduce Your Speed
During the day and at night, you give yourself more time to stop for pedestrians when you travel at the speed limit or below if necessary for safety conditions.
Look for Both Pedestrians and Cyclists
Pedestrians may or may not wear bright clothing, so you have to really check when you drive at night or in the early morning. Pedestrians may be hard to see, even when traveling through a well-lit intersection or parking lot.
Cyclists may be easier to see as they approach. In Massachusetts, cyclists must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector at night, or specifically from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise under M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B.
This means you may see a white light when a cyclist is approaching and red light (or reflector) from behind. You may also see reflective material on a cyclist’s pedals.
Consider the Impact of Darkness on Drivers
It is simply harder to see at night. Not just for senior citizens. Age-related vision changes can pay a toll much earlier than retirement age. For instance, a 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old, according to the National Safety Council. It is critical for all drivers to schedule an annual eye exam, get proper rest and set aside distractions.
Still, older drivers may struggle the most when driving at night. At 60 or older, drivers may not see as well at night and may suffer from a loss in color and depth perception, making it harder to judge speeds and distances, according to the American Optometric Association.
Safety precautions for older drivers traveling at night:
- Have an annual eye examination.
- Consider taking a driving class to brush up on your driving skills and learn about age-related vision changes. The AARP offers courses and other organizations may also.
- Limit or avoid driving at night.
- Reduce your speed and expect pedestrians.
- Be cautious at intersections, taking extra care to yield to pedestrians.
Limit Teen Driving at Night
As a parent, let your teen drive during the day, but consider limiting their driving hours at night this Fall. Teens are still learning and driving safely at night takes practice. And right now, traffic is even less predictable and your teens may be driving alongside more trucks and delivery vans as we approach the holidays.
This is a suggestion. But remember under the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law, teens are not permitted to drive at all between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys provide thorough and aggressive representation to those injured by negligence across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Winthrop, Arlington, Somerville, Everett and Chelsea. We also serve clients across the state, including in Quincy and the South Shore, Hyannis, Barnstable and Cape Cod, Framingham, Worcester and the Danvers and the North Shore.
For a free legal consultation, contact our firm at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Less traffic did not mean fewer pedestrian accidents in the early months of the pandemic. In fact, preliminary traffic data shows there was roughly the same number of fatal pedestrian accidents in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019.
However, because there were fewer cars out, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is actually projecting a 20 percent increase in the pedestrian fatality rate per one billion miles traveled, according to the report, “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data.”
According to the data analysis, 2,957 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes during the first half of 2020. This is 6 more pedestrians than the same period of 2019, when the calculation included more vehicles on the road.
If trends continue, 2020 could end up having a record rate of fatal pedestrian accidents, despite having fewer cars on the road.
How much less traffic? The Federal Highway Work Administration reported a 16.5 percent decrease in traffic on all roads and streets in 2020. Here in Massachusetts, MassDOT reported an immediate 50 percent reduction in traffic volumes in April 2020. Massachusetts traffic volumes were still 20 percent lower than normal in September 2020, according to our past blog on COVID-19 traffic conditions in Massachusetts.
Larger Trend of Pedestrian Fatalities
For years, pedestrian fatalities have been on a dangerous rise in the U.S. Prior to COVID-19, pedestrian traffic fatalities stood at the highest levels since 1990. There was a striking 46 percent increase in these accidents from 2010 to 2019, according to the GHSA. In 2019, pedestrian traffic fatalities accounted for roughly 17 percent of all traffic deaths.
How Many Pedestrian Fatalities Occurred in Massachusetts During COVID-19 in 2020?
In preliminary data, Massachusetts reported 17 pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020, compared to 32 from January to June 2019.
Massachusetts was one of 20 states, along with Washington D.C., which reported a decrease in the actual number of pedestrians who were killed in car accidents or crashes involving trucks, SUVs and other vehicles.
In 27 other states, the number of pedestrian fatalities in car accidents and truck crashes increased.
Notably, more than half of all pedestrian fatalities happened in seven of the most populous states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas.
Contributing Factors in the Rising Number of Pedestrian Fatalities
The GHSA cited several trends in these fatalities, including drivers who sped down open roads simply because there was less traffic.
Distraction and fatigue also contributed to many pedestrian crashes, including when drivers were negligent and failed to stop at an intersection or stay within the marked lane. In Massachusetts, the new hands-free cell phone law took effect in April 2020 but the impact was effectively delayed by Covid-19.
In addition, the report touched on the trend of drivers choosing light trucks and SUVs more often. In 2019, sales of light trucks and SUVs far outpaced passenger vehicles. The larger vehicles accounted for 72 percent of all auto sales.
Pedestrians are still more likely to be injured by a driver in a passenger car. However, over the past 10 years, there has been a 69 percent increase in SUV accidents resulting in pedestrian fatalities.
With larger frames, SUVs have a unique front-end design which is particularly threatening to pedestrians. In a pedestrian SUV crash, the grill can strike a pedestrian’s pelvis or chest at nearly the same time the vehicle’s bumper hits the lower extremities, increasing the force of the impact.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our pedestrian accident lawyers are committed to fighting for the rights of those injured or killed by a driver’s negligence or wrongdoing. We have represented clients after pedestrian accidents in Boston, Cambridge and throughout Massachusetts. Our attorneys have recovered significant awards, including:
- $7.1 million for our client was who hit by an MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk
- $2.15 million for the estate of our client who was hit and killed in a parking lot, which was not equipped with pedestrian safety bollards
- $1.375 million for our client who was hit by a speeding MBTA bus in Roxbury
If you or a family member has been injured in a pedestrian crash, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
It is a fact: pedestrians age 65 and older face an increased risk for being injured by a car accident or truck crash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians of this age accounted for 1 in 5 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. They also suffered 1 in 10 percent of all injuries.
November, December and January are among the darkest months of the year in Massachusetts. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers caution all pedestrians take steps to protect themselves. Start before you leave home. One of the most effective steps you can take is to wear a neon colored vest, jacket or other accessories so drivers can see you.
Safety Tips for Older Pedestrians
Arrange for a Ride. During the winter months, ask a friend or family member to give you a ride to the store and help you with other errands. If you do not have someone, call your local town or city hall to speak to their Council on Aging, which may be able to help arrange you a ride. You can go back to walking in the Spring when there is better visibility.
Use Crosswalks. In Massachusetts, pedestrians have the right of way when walking across the street in a crosswalk which has a “Walk” signal or green light.
Do Not Cross the Street Alone. Look for areas where there is a crossing guard if you can. Also look for areas where there are other pedestrians crossing. Do an honest evaluation; if you are walking much slower than other pedestrians, you should only cross when there is a crossing guard or accept a ride.
Avoid Complicated Intersections. Rather than walking through complex intersections, either accept a ride or change your route for the winter months. Also stay clear of wide intersections or roads with traffic passing in both directions.
Be Mindful of Traffic Conditions. If you walk, do so during daylight hours and when traffic is lightest. This is not just advice for crossing the street. Keep this in mind when you are walking through parking lots, where there is a high risk for pedestrian accidents at night.
Find Another Way to Walk For Exercise. Many of us – young and older – like to incorporate some walking for exercise into our daily routines of work and errands. If you miss walking, find a way to walk off the street. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is not safe to work out at a health club or gym. You may have to explore other options for exercise this year, such as hiking or even just walking on a lawn. Again, we encourage you to ask friends, family members and others in your community for suggestions.
Safety Reminders for Drivers
Use Reasonable Care and Travel Slowly. Massachusetts drivers have a responsibility to use reasonable care when driving. During the winter months, this means watching for pedestrians at all times, including when you get in your car and when you park. This is the time to utilize your vehicle’s back-up camera. Also watch when you exit your vehicle so you avoid dooring a pedestrian or a cyclist.
Travel Slowly. You cannot control all traffic conditions. But you can control your speed. By traveling slowly, even under the speed limit in residential neighborhoods, you have a greater ability to stop for pedestrians and avoid a pedestrian crash. This is important because older pedestrians are likely to take more time to cross the street. Many pedestrian car crashes occur because a driver misjudged the pedestrian’s speed.
Approach Familiar Places With Caution, Too. Take care even when driving near familiar places, such as a friend’s home, the pizza place down the street or a nearby grocery store. At night, there is a different traffic pace. During the pandemic, the pedestrian and vehicle traffic is changing weekly. There is a greater chance of car accidents in these conditions.
Be Aware of Eye Strain. If prescribed, drivers should wear their glasses at night. The rest of us should also be aware of the risks of eye strain and drowsiness at night. When possible, keep night driving trips short to keep your eyes strong.
Do Not Use Cell Phones. Months after the Massachusetts Hands-Free Driving Law took effect, drivers should know there is no tolerance for picking up a cell phone. The act of dialing a number and cradling a phone takes a driver’s attention off the road for at least several seconds. Drivers have caused many pedestrian crashes through cell phone use. On the same note, pedestrians should set aside cell phones while walking at night near traffic and minimize distractions.
Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented pedestrians injured by negligent driving in car accidents, bus crashes and truck collisions across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Somerville, Chelsea and Everett.
If you have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, learn your legal rights. Breakstone, White & Gluck is an accomplished Boston law firm known consistently recognized for our results for clients, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.
In Boston, we are known for our experience and expertise in representing pedestrians who have been injured in MBTA bus accidents. We won a landmark personal injury case, resulting in a $7.1 million verdict for our client, after trial and appeals to the state’s highest court. Our client had the horrific experience of being struck by a MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk. The driver had admitted fault, and the MBTA police investigation confirmed the finding. But the MBTA refused to even make an offer of settlement and our attorneys pursued an award at trial.
For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
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.
It is frightening to watch a driver back up toward a child at play. At least 50 children are victims of backover accidents each week, according to KidsandCars.org. More than 70 percent of backover accidents involve young children and a parent or a relative. Many of these car accidents occur right in home driveways.
As traumatic as backover accidents are, many injuries are preventable. Drivers can recognize the safety risk and make use of technology. Families can communicate and plan. Involve friends and family who visit and park at your home in this conversation. Before they arrive, suggest a safe parking space.
As a Massachusetts driver, you can help prevent backover accidents through a combination of steps. You can use a back-up camera. Stay aware of your blind zone. Near children, the most effective prevention may be getting out and walking around your vehicle. Make sure you have a clear path of travel and if you don’t, be patient. Stay where you are for an extra few minutes until the children have gone back inside.
Comings and Goings. Start by keeping your family together when someone arrives and departs. Keep children inside and let them wave to the driver from the window. If children are outside, an adult should be outside supervising them. Gather together on the front steps or a safe place. Hold on basketball, bikes or riding toys until the person leaves. It’s hard for a young child to resist chasing a ball.
Driveway Barriers. Parents can keep traffic cones in the shed. Put the cones out in your driveway when you are concerned or to block delivery drivers from pulling. You can also look into portable neon driveway fencing products.
Walk Around the Vehicle. Even if drivers have a back-up camera, walk around your vehicle. Check underneath your vehicle and observe if a child or anyone is nearby or may move into your path of travel (such as a child riding a bike or someone pushing a shopping cart).
Park Consistently. If you are a parent or live near children, park your vehicle in the same place in your driveway or garage each day. Be consistent with your approach. Whether you pull in or back into your driveway or garage, make sure children are in a safe place. If you are a parent, keep children in the backseat if you back in. Come to a complete stop, turn and check on your children in the backseat, then get out of the vehicle together.
Large Vehicles. Trucks, SUVs, RVs and vans are more likely to cause backover crashes, according to NHTSA. The taller the vehicle, the greater the driver’s blind zone.
Blind Zone. The blind zone is the area behind a vehicle which a driver can’t see. Whatever vehicle you drive, learn about your blind zone. Consumer Reports found small sedans usually have a 12 foot blind zone for the average driver. Midsized SUVs have an 18-foot blind zone, while large SUVs have 19 feet. Pick-up trucks have the largest blind zone among the passenger vehicles – 24 feet.
Back-up Cameras. As of May 2018, all new passenger cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds have to be outfitted with rearview monitoring technology, according to Edmunds.com. If you are driving an older vehicle, you can install a back-up camera on your own – and it is an important tool which can save lives. Read “How to Add a Backup Camera to Your Car,” by Consumer Reports.
Bicycles and Pedestrians. Backover accidents can also injure adults, including cyclists and pedestrians. Look all around your vehicle before you pull out of a parking space. Be aware of different types of activities and movements in downtown and other business areas. When possible, avoid parking near crosswalks.
Parking Lot Crashes. In parking lots, pull into parking spaces whenever possible. Keep watch of pedestrians and shoppers when you pull out or back out of spaces. Set aside cell phones and do not drive when you are overfatigued.
Another note is right now, many Massachusetts grocery stores, retailers and restaurants are offering curbside pick-up services. While convenient, remember not every business is experienced with this. Drive into parking lots slowly and watch for curbside pick-up signs. If there are no signs, find a parking space and call the store. Always watch for pedestrians, who are also just figuring this all out.
Boston Car Accident Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident attorneys specialize in representing victims of car accidents and pedestrian accidents. We represent those injured across Massachusetts, from Boston and Cambridge to the North Shore to Quincy and the South Shore and Cape Cod.
For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
When the snow falls, Massachusetts becomes more treacherous for everyone who walks. Older pedestrians are particularly vulnerable.
Massachusetts now has more than one million residents who are 65 or older – or roughly 15 percent of our population, according to a recent report, “Risk Factors for Older Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities in MA.” The report was prepared for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in August 2019.
As Massachusetts residents live longer, many are more likely to be out walking for health or transportation. The state report identifies common risks to older pedestrians:
Winter Months. Researchers studied 4,472 pedestrian crashes across Massachusetts between 2006 and 2015, reporting crashes involving older pedestrians peak at 5 p.m. and during the month of December. November and January are also high risk months for older pedestrians, as they navigate darker conditions. When snow and ice is not cleared, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways can also contribute to unsafe conditions, as do drivers who fail to look for pedestrians and stop at crosswalks.
Causes of Older Pedestrian Crashes. Drivers who caused older pedestrian crashes were often inattentive, failed to yield the right of way or had trouble with visibility.
Where Older Pedestrians Were Hit. Older pedestrians were often hit at crosswalks at intersections, where they should have safety protections.
Where Older Pedestrians Crashes Occur. Researchers found Cambridge, Fall River, Lynn and New Bedford among the the top communities for highest number of older pedestrian crashes and the highest per capita.
Changing Face of Pedestrian Accidents. Crash rates involving “younger old” pedestrians – those between age 55 and 74 – increased. Crash rates among older pedestrians (75 and older) remained consistent.
Community Health. Communities with higher rates of disability reported greater rates of older pedestrian crashes. These included the urban neighborhoods of Boston, Lawrence and Chelsea.
Community Amenities. Communities with a high number of cultural amenities within walking distance – such as libraries and fitness centers – had higher crash rates among older pedestrians.
Not Just Older Pedestrians in Massachusetts. This state report comes as pedestrian fatalities rise across the country. Last March, the Governors Highway Safety Association announced a 35 percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 10 years ago (Streets Blog). This was the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1990.
Nationally, research shows 48 percent of pedestrian fatalities involved victims 50 and older, according to the Massachusetts study. Meanwhile, Massachusetts reports half of all pedestrian fatalities involve a pedestrian 55 and older.
The state report recommends work to protect older pedestrians be tied in with the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, which was established in 2017. Among other advisories, the state report also sought infrastructure improvements in certain communities and creation of a winter public awareness campaign aimed at protecting older pedestrians.
Our Safety Tips for Pedestrians During Winter
Wear Neon. Pedestrians can make themselves more visible to traffic by wearing neon colors and neon reflective tape. Consider buying neon jackets, vests, hats and gloves to stand out.
Our Safety Tips for Drivers During Winter
Stop at Crosswalks. Make eye contact with pedestrians at crosswalks. Stop as they cross.
Other Drivers. Stop if you are approaching a driver who has stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. Allow the pedestrian to completely cross the street.
Avoid Night Driving At Times. If you are overtired or are having trouble seeing at night, don’t drive. Make an appointment to have a doctor check your vision. Wear your eyeglasses as prescribed when you drive.
Limit Alcohol Consumption. Never drive while intoxicated. Use the designated driver system.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
With over 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized for our results in personal injury cases in Massachusetts, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and U.S. News Best Law Firms. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone’s negligence, it is in your best interests to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
New federal data shows a 2.4 percent reduction in overall traffic deaths last year. But that’s not the full story. The roads were not any safer for pedestrians and bicyclists last year. These groups saw an increase in deaths, now making up nearly 20 percent of all traffic deaths. Many say it’s time to accelerate the conversation on safe road design.
The Washington Post recently reported on the new data, which comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
It shows nearly 36,600 people died in traffic accidents in 2018, a 2.4 percent decrease from 2017, according to The Washington Post. Traffic experts cite several areas of progress. There were fewer deaths caused by speeding and drinking and driving, and a 10 percent reduction in children’s fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities also declined about 5 percent.
What remains troublesome is bicyclists and pedestrians are at high risk. Bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents are claiming more lives than ever – about 20 percent of all traffic deaths combined. This is a sharp rise, particularly in pedestrian deaths. Just 10 years ago, pedestrians made up 12 percent of all traffic deaths. They now represent 17 percent of all traffic fatalities.
The data shows that 6,283 pedestrians were killed in 2018, a 3.4 percent increase. Another 857 people were killed on bikes or similar non-motorized vehicles, a 6.3 percent increase.
With this new data, many are considering our nation’s antiquated roads, which the Governors Highway Safety Association says were not designed to accommodate so many pedestrians and bicyclists. Over the past decade, cities have encouraged walking and biking as a way to beat the traffic congestion. But use has far exceeded the visions of planners, especially when you considered developments, such as bike-shares, e-scooters and self-driving cars.
The Governors Highways Safety Association further stated that a combination of initiatives would be necessary to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, from road engineering to educational approaches.
Pedestrian and Bike Safety in the Late Fall in Massachusetts
This is a challenging time of the year for bike commuters and pedestrians in Massachusetts. The days are getting shorter and darker. And you have to be aware of the statistics. According to the NHTSA data, about 76 percent of pedestrian traffic fatalities occur after dark.
If you walk, consider keeping a neon safety vest in your work bag. Wear it when you go to work and as you leave work. Continue to use crosswalks with traffic signal buttons. Cross with other people.
If you ride your bike, wear your bike helmet and use bike lights. Bike lights are required under Massachusetts law. You must have a white light in front of your bike and a red light in back. Read our article, Facts About Massachusetts Bicycle Laws, to learn more.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is a leading personal injury law firm in Boston. Our attorneys specialize in representing those injured in motor vehicle accidents, including pedestrians and bicyclists, in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. For a free legal consultation, contact us 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.
Pedestrians are facing a crisis on the roads, here in Boston and across the country. From 2009 to 2015, there was a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths across the U.S. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).