After a snow storm that buried Massachusetts with record-setting strength, many of us are slowly making our way back to our daily routines.
Massive snow banks, narrow roads and giant icicles are now the challenge. Governor Deval Patrick has lifted the weekend’s driving ban, but the State of Emergency remained in effect this morning. Many schools cancelled classes for another day and Boston Mayor Tom Menino encouraged businesses to let their employees work from home today.
Our tips for staying safe and avoiding injuries as you travel:
Community Websites. Check your community website for information about snow plowing and closed streets, as well as power outages and school closures.
Public Transportation. Use the MBTA if you are traveling into Boston. Mayor Menino is urging the public to stay off the roads to make room for cleanup.
Store and Pharmacy. Choose merchants close to home if you are heading out to restock up on food, medications and other supplies. Travel in daylight if possible.
Pedestrians Use Caution. Stay indoors today. Over the next few weeks, limit outdoor walks until the snow melts. If you must walk, wear a neon-colored vest.
Drivers. If you do drive, beware of the tall snowbanks and avoid roads which may not be fully cleared. Remember some roads may not have enough space for two-lane traffic.
Parking. Call ahead to ask about parking, even to your employer. Parking may not be available or be limited. Looking for spaces can lead to frustration among drivers and car accidents.
Gasoline and Vehicle Supplies. Keep your gas tank full over the next few days and equip your car with supplies such as a first aid kit, snow brush, small shovel, blanket and an extra hat and pair of mittens.
Take a Minute. Driving in these conditions can be stressful and accidents can occur. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, pull over at your earliest opportunity. Take a minute to think about your options and if necessary, call the local police or fire department on their non-emergency line and ask for their direction.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency App.
Pedestrian accidents at crosswalks cause some of the most serious personal injuries, including spinal cord injury, and wrongful death. In 2006, pedestrian accidents accounted for 14% of roadway fatalities in Massachusetts. Public education campaigns and strict traffic laws have not prevented the death toll from climbing. However, new technology may be the solution for preventing many pedestrian accidents.
Communities across the country, including some in Massachusetts, have started installing “in roadway warning light systems” or IRWLs, at dangerous crosswalks. Flashing beacons are installed on the side of the road, in the crosswalk pavement, or in an overhead mast. When a pedestrian activates the system, either by automatic detection or manually, lights flash outwards toward the approaching vehicle. As an intentional design factor intended to prevent a feeling of false security, pedestrians cannot see the flashing lights. Studies have shown these IRWL enhanced crosswalk systems are effective in reducing pedestrian accidents.
Pedestrians can protect themselves further by being aware of whether they or motorists have the right-of-way. Massachusetts laws and regulations set forth the rights-of-way of pedestrians and motorists where traffic control signals are not present. Where a pedestrian is crossing at a crosswalk where no traffic control signals are in operation, Massachusetts law requires that motorists must yield to the pedestrian. Pedestrians crossing at a point in a road that does not have a crosswalk must yield to the right-of-way of motorists. Further, once they being to cross, pedestrians should continue to look in the direction of on-coming or turning traffic. Pedestrians should always face the on-coming traffic when walking or running in the road.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has additional information on pedestrian and bicycle safety.
A Suffolk Superior Court jury today awarded $3.98 million to a South End woman who was run over by an MBTA bus on September 13, 2005. The verdict, with interest, will result in a judgment over $5.4 million for Rita Traybman, who lost her right leg when it was crushed by the bus. She was run over while crossing the street in a crosswalk.
The verdict is believed to be one of the largest ever in Massachusetts for an injury of this kind.
Ms. Traybman’s lawyer, Boston attorney Marc L. Breakstone, who has handled several bus accident and train accident cases against the MBTA, said, “This verdict will help Ms. Traybman cope with the terrible injuries she sustained. She will be able to obtain appropriate housing and medical care for her life-long disability.” Mr. Breakstone is a member of the personal injury law firm Breakstone, White & Gluck, PC, in Boston, MA.
The incident occurred when Ms. Traybman was struck from behind in the crosswalk at the corner of Washington Street and East Newton Street in Boston. The 58-year-old woman was crossing the street with the “Walk” signal when she was struck.
Mr. Breakstone explained, “Ms. Traybman suffered the loss of her right leg and she continues to suffer daily from extreme pain known as phantom limb pain. Her disabilities make her dependent on others for much of her basic care.”
Plaintiff presented evidence at trial that the bus driver failed to check for pedestrians in the crosswalk, and that he made an improper turn in violation of MBTA guidelines. The jury found that the bus driver was 100% at fault for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
Plaintiff also presented evidence that she would need continuing care to make her apartment more wheelchair accessible, and to provide for the care she needs around the clock. Ms. Traybman suffers not only from the phantom limb pain, but from pain in her shoulders and elbows which further impair her mobility.
Prior to trial the MBTA made no offer of settlement, despite the fact that its driver admitted the accident was his fault; despite the fact that the MBTA police and internal investigations also confirmed the accident was the driver’s fault; and despite the severe injuries sustained by the plaintiff. Instead, the MBTA forced the case to trial.
Ms. Traybman immigrated to the United States from Ukraine and lived independently prior to the accident.
Mr. Breakstone had previously thanked the Suffolk County jury, which heard nine days of testimony and deliberated for two days.
Listen to the WBZ 1030 podcast interview with Marc Breakstone.
The law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck, PC, specializes in the representation of injured persons, including pedestrians who have suffered personal injuries.
There are about 6.5 million residents of Massachusetts, and about 4.6 million drivers. The number of miles driven each year for the last three years has been in the range of roughly 55 million miles per year. And despite efforts to improve vehicle safety, enforce traffic laws, and improve highway design, death rates have dropped only slightly, primarily as a result of fewer pedestrian accidents.
Here is a summary of some of the statistics. The statistics for 2007 are not yet available.
Fatal Accidents in
Statistics for the same period are not completely available concerning disabling injuries. However, for 2004 and 2005 the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security reports over 5,000 people suffered incapacitating injuries from some sort of motor vehicle crash. In the same two years, 138,465 and 158,802 motor vehicle crashes were reported.
Drunk driving continues to play a major role in fatal car accidents, though the last three years have seen a slight drop in the role of alcohol in fatal accidents.
These data include not just deaths to the drunk drivers, but to passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. It also includes deaths related to alcohol consumed by pedestrians and bicyclists.
In addition to the wrongful deaths of so many individuals caused by drunk drivers, there are also thousands of personal injuries caused by drunk driving accidents.
If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or if a loved one has suffered wrongful death as a result of a drunk driving accident or other motor vehicle accident, please contact the lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 800-379-1244. Learn more about Hiring an Attorney for a Car Accident Case.
Massachusetts Drunk Driving Statistics Center for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Center-Impaired Driving