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.
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).
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.
Many of us are looking forward to the ghosts, goblins and treats of Halloween this weekend. But while a lot of fun, Halloween is also one of the most dangerous days of the year for pedestrians, particularly children. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) routinely reports that traffic accidents involving drunk drivers and pedestrians increase on Halloween.
For children, the risk of being hit by a car and killed more than doubles on Halloween, according to Safe Routes Worldwide.
We want you to have fun and to be safe on Halloween. Please read our safety tips before trick-or-treating:
1) Stay Visible to Cars. Buy neon reflective clothing for your child and yourself. This can be a vest, an arm band or reflective tape. Also carry flashlights, one per person.
2) Costume Check. Make sure your child can safely walk without tripping in their costume and see through any masks.
3) Stay With Your Child. Go trick-or-treating with your child and really pay attention as they walk from house to house. Tag along if they go with friends.
4) Remind Your Child To Stay Off The Street. You probably already tell your child this daily, but really impress this upon them again for Halloween and reward them for doing it.
5) Plan Your Halloween. Many trick-or-treaters travel between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday night, so activity may extend later and there may be more gatherings. Find out what will be happening in your community through social media or ask your local town office or neighbors. You want to know what to expect, whether you are trick-or-treating or going out to a party or weekend job.
6) Remember the Cyclists. Watch out for cyclists as you drive or take your children trick-or-treating. Pedestrians should stay on the sidewalk, even if it gets crowded, and save the side of the road for the cyclists.
7) Familiarize Yourself with the Halloween Route. If you are trick-or-treating in another neighborhood, take a drive through at night with your child beforehand, even if you are familiar with the area. Take note of where the roads are well-lit, the location of crosswalks, and how long the roads stretch.
8) Look for Crosswalks. Always cross the street at crosswalks, when available.
Reminder for Drivers. Try to get home early if you can, before the trick-or-treaters arrive or stay out until after they finish. Commit to travel slowly, put your cell phone away and do not drive under the influence of alcohol. If you plan to drink, find a designated driver or bring cab fare.