After an extended leave, many Massachusetts families are now getting ready for back to school and a return to the workplace – at least part time to start. If you are going back and plan to commute on foot, we have some safety tips to share.
First, walking has so many benefits, including fresh air and exercise. We hope you can relax and enjoy this time and decompress. Transitioning back to work and school will be a challenge at times.
But still, it is important to remember the risk for pedestrian accidents and observe traffic conditions as you walk. If you normally drive or use public transportation, your commute will be much different on foot.
Before COVID-19, pedestrian accidents accounted 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in Massachusetts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year, as students head back to school, there is a lot of talk about pedestrian safety. This year, attention to safety is even more critical because traffic will be unpredictable for a while. You can also expect more pedestrians as well.
Drivers, especially truck drivers and bus drivers, must be vigilant in watching out for pedestrians and cyclists. But pedestrians should also be vigilant and take precautions.
Our pedestrian safety tips:
Be Visible. Dress to stand out to traffic. Think bright – a vest, jacket, shirt or baseball cap with neon-reflective material. You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can find neon-reflective on all types of products in all price ranges.
If you are a parent, encourage your children to wear bright colors. Remember, your child’s backpack doesn’t just carry books; you can purchase one with neon-reflective material and make it a tool for safety.
Use Sidewalks and Crosswalks. Always look for sidewalks and walk on them. If there are no sidewalks, walk as far as you can left, facing traffic. Use crosswalks with pedestrian traffic signals.
Learn Your Route. Take some time to plan a good route for yourself or your children. You can use online map tools, but try to memorize your path – and a backup route. Locate pedestrian crosswalks and traffic signals. Wait for the walk signal before crossing. Look for streets which have fewer lanes of traffic to walk across. Also watch for bike lanes.
Remember School Safety. School bus drivers are responsible for getting children to and from school safely. This is the most critical commute on Massachusetts roads.
Whether you are a parent, driver or pedestrian, you can support school bus safety. When a school bus flashes its yellow lights, it is slowing down. When it stops, extends its arm and flashes red, the bus has stopped to allow children to cross. Drivers must stay 100 feet back.
As a pedestrian, you may keep walking if you are on the sidewalk and don’t interfere with the school bus. But there are times when you should stop if you are walking on the road. Allow the school bus driver to safely stop so children can board safely. Also allow vehicle to safely depart.
Watch for Large Trucks. We urge pedestrians to keep your distance from trucks. Each year, truck crashes injure and kill pedestrians in Massachusetts. The larger the truck, the greater the blindspot and the greater the risk to you.
Trucks can strike pedestrians head-on, but they can also hit them from behind or from the side. Pedestrians can be swept under a truck and dragged. This can happen when pedestrians are walking alongside the road or as they wait to cross a road and a truck approaches.
Because large trucks are everywhere in the Boston area, your best defense is to watch for them, stay on sidewalks as much as possible and find crosswalks with pedestrian safety signals. Truck drivers may not always check for pedestrians. They are more likely to tune into traffic signals in front of them.
Remember, trucks can also be deadly to cyclists. Right hook accidents occur when a driver fails to give a cyclist enough room when turning right at an intersection. What you can do to prevent a serious bicycle accident: Stay on the sidewalk as much as possible. Leave the bike lanes and outer traffic lanes to bicyclists so they have room to adjust to traffic conditions.
Check for Traffic Updates. Before leaving for work or school, check local traffic updates and police department websites. After the COVID-19 closures, some Boston area communities have made changes to accommodate more pedestrians or allowed restaurants to set up outdoor dining in streets and sidewalks. This may impact your commute to work or school. Again, this is another reason to tuck a lightweight neon vest in your bag. Be visible so drivers have a warning that they should stop for you.
Stop and Report Pedestrian Accidents: If you are negligent and hit a driver, you have a responsibility under Massachusetts law to stop and report the crash to police. As stressful as this situation may be, you have to stop, call 911 and make sure the person receives immediate medical attention.
But often, other pedestrians and other drivers witness pedestrian accidents. Stop and report the crash to 911, even if you were not involved. Never assume another witness will. About 1 in 5 pedestrian crashes involve hit and run drivers, according to AAA research. In these cases, pedestrian accident victims are left without access to the driver and their auto insurance policy, which should provide compensation for their medical bills and other financial losses.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those injured by negligent and reckless driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. Our attorneys are highly experienced in advocating for victims and families after pedestrian accidents and crosswalk crashes. We have secured compensation from negligent drivers as well as major bus operators, such as the MBTA. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Read about some of our awards:
Our attorneys secured a $7.1 million verdict for our client who was hit by an MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk.
Our attorneys negotiated a $2.15 million settlement after our client was struck by a vehicle as he left a strip mall.
Our attorneys reached a $1.375 million settlement after our client was struck by an MBTA bus in Roxbury and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Our attorneys negotiated a $1.25 million settlement for family members of a pedestrian struck and killed in a crosswalk.