Traffic Signals Under Scrutiny After Serious Pedestrian Crashes in Boston and Somerville

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.

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After Fatal Pedestrian Crash, City of Somerville Looks at Traffic Calming Measures

People walking in a crosswalk
People walking in a crosswalk

Somerville residents are asking for new traffic calming measures after a fatal pedestrian crash last weekend on Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene.

The Somerville community is wrestling with the horrific crash that killed a teacher in a crosswalk last Friday night.

Somerville Police are still searching for the driver in the Somerville pedestrian crash. The driver struck Allison Donovan, an educator in the Watertown public school system, shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, then fled the scene. Another woman in the crosswalk suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

As police investigate, city officials say a community meeting will be held to discuss accelerating traffic calming measures for the area. The pedestrian accident happened on Powder House Boulevard, at the intersection of Hardan Road, near the West Somerville Neighborhood School. In response to the crash, the city began setting up flex posts with neon reflectors Monday.

For the short term, Somerville Police will be there to assist students who are dropped off and picked up at the West Somerville Neighborhood School. Message boards are also being deployed in the area along with the flexposts.

But residents are now calling for more, including speed bumps to force drivers to slow down.

Traffic Measures to Change Driver Behavior

Communities can implement traffic calming measures to change driver behavior and improve safety conditions for non-motorized street users. Speed bumps and raised intersections are two examples of traffic calming measures. Other examples may include protected bike lanes and cycletracks which allow cyclists to travel inside curbing and away from cars, trucks and rideshare vehicles.

Different areas may require different traffic calming measures. Some communities may address a single intersection or street. But often, communities are working on larger areas.

Slower speed limits are another traffic calming measure. Boston, Cambridge and Somerville were among the first communities to reduce speeds to 25 mph a few years ago, when the state gave communities this authority.

In Somerville, city officials have already implemented many traffic calming measures, including on Powder House Boulevard, which has received physical and painted sidewalk bumpouts, improved crosswalk markings and flashing stop and crosswalk signs and vertical reflective crosswalk markers. In the City of Somerville’s online update, it also noted there is a flashing pedestrian activated crosswalk sign at the intersection near Hardan St. This is where the pedestrian crash happened.

But this spring, Somerville city officials had planned additional traffic calming measures on Powder House Boulevard, between Curtis Avenue and North Street (the fatal pedestrian accident happened in this area). Speed bumps and traffic tables were already on the schedule to be considered after the completion of bike lanes and sidewalk bumpouts. Now, city officials say they are seeking options to bring in speed bumps and traffic tables sooner.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Free Legal Consultation
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured by pedestrian accidents and other car accidents. Over the past three decades, our attorneys have helped pedestrians and their loved ones understand their legal rights and obtain the full compensation they need for their injuries. When a loved one is lost, a surviving spouse or the decedent’s children may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against those who were negligent. Our attorneys are experienced in representing families in wrongful death claims in Massachusetts.

For a free legal consultation, call Breakstone, White & Gluck: 800-379-1244, 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.