Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.
April 9, 2014

IIHS Crash Test Reveals SUV Safety Concerns


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released its findings on the newest crash test for mid-size sport utility vehicles, and the results may leave some drivers feeling a little uneasy. The IIHS is an independent research organization that submits vehicles to more demanding tests than the government standard, producing an annual list of “top safety picks” and exposing popular models that do not pass the especially strict crash tests. Of the nine major models analyzed in the “small overlap test,” only two passed with the highest rating of “good” while three popular models failed with the lowest possible rating of “poor.”

The small overlap test was introduced about a year and a half ago, and requires cars to travel 40 miles per hour into a rigid barrier. It differs from the government frontal crash test because the impact is concentrated to the left front corner of the car. According to the IIHS, “the small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole.” Because only 25 percent of the vehicle’s front end strikes the barrier, it is difficult for the car to redistribute energy away from the driver and the occupant compartment can collapse.

Continue reading "IIHS Crash Test Reveals SUV Safety Concerns" »

April 8, 2014

Charlestown Bicycle Accident Proves Need for Upped Safety Measures

The death of a bicyclist last Thursday near Sullivan Square in Charlestown has only fueled the urgency of the city of Boston’s efforts to enhance biker safety. City officials have made creating a safer environment for the hundreds of thousands of cyclists who regularly bike the roads a top priority, since Mayor Menino launched his biking initiative 7 years ago.

According to Boston Police, the cyclist was struck by a garbage truck. The driver of the truck left the scene because he “thought he hit a pothole;” a likely scenario according to officials because bicyclists can be hit by vehicles so big that the drivers never see or feel the impact.

Creating more bike-friendly roads and encouraging more people to ride bikes has been an important mission in the Hub. Most recently, Mayor Walsh announced the nation’s first program for doctors at Boston Medical Center to prescribe $5 Hubway bike-sharing memberships to low-income patients struggling with obesity. Already the city offers $5 Hubway memberships to nearly 900 low-income residents.

Boston was recently named a “Green Lane Project” city by PeopleForBikes, a national advocacy group for cyclists. And currently the city is working with the group to help lay the groundwork and prepare for major changes to roadways including a network of European-style cycle tracks that are protected from vehicle traffic for bicyclists and pedestrians. The goal is to have 10% of city commuters using bicycles by 2020.

Though many residents and Boston officials have shown serious enthusiasm for creating a more bike-friendly city (Cambridge was even named a Gold-level bike community last year), there is still a tremendous amount of work ahead for this goal to come to fruition. With more than three times the amount of bicycles on the road today in Cambridge and in Boston, than only a decade ago according to city officials more work needs to be done outside of infrastructural changes to enhance the safety of all cyclists.

Continue reading "Charlestown Bicycle Accident Proves Need for Upped Safety Measures" »

April 7, 2014

US DOT Aims New 'Don't Text and Drive' Commercial at Distracted Drivers

It can happen in a split second, with no warning. It can happen to anyone, and it could change your life. The new “Don’t Text and Drive” commercial put out by the United States Department of Transportation aims to shock drivers—especially teenagers—into putting their phones down and paying attention to the road. Distracted driving has become an epidemic in recent years as cell phones, tablets, and other devices have come on the market. Teenagers are especially susceptible to the effects of distracted driving because of their inexperience behind the wheel combined with an almost rabid attachment to their cell phones.

The commercial pinpoints the teenage and young adult audience with the slogan, "U drive. U text. U pay," with the hashtag #justdrive. It features a group of young women traveling in a car on a seemingly normal day. They are seen talking and laughing as the driver becomes distracted by her phone and misses a stop sign. In an instant, they are struck by an oncoming truck in the intersection. The extremely jarring scene unfolds as the car flips over multiple times before coming to rest.

In perhaps the most poignant scene, a police officer stands beside the wreckage and explains, “Nobody likes to be stopped by police, but if I’d seen her texting while driving and given her a ticket, it just might have saved her life.” The shocking images are meant to jolt teens into understanding the reality and consequences of texting while driving at point in their lives when they may feel invincible.

Continue reading "US DOT Aims New 'Don't Text and Drive' Commercial at Distracted Drivers" »

March 31, 2014

NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology in New Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that has issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018.

Backover crashes, according to the NHTSA are defined as crashes where non-occupants of vehicles (such as pedestrians or cyclists) are struck by vehicles that are moving in reverse. Each year an estimated 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries are caused by backover crashes in the United States. The NHTSA reported that 31% of those fatalities occur among children aged 5 and younger, and 26% occur among adults aged 70 and older.

The new rule seeks to enhance safety for both drivers and pedestrians, and help reduce the risk and number of backup accidents which often lead to serious and fatal injuries. In compliance with the rule, automakers will have to equip new vehicles with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver to detect areas behind the vehicle. The field of view, according to the NHTSA’s website, must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.

For years the agency has persuaded automakers to adopt the technology into newer vehicles as well as encouraged consumers to buy models with rear backup assistance. In fact, there is a great demand by consumers for cars with rearview cameras, that many automakers have already installed the technology into their vehicles.

Rear visibility systems meeting the requirements of the final rule are predicted to have an effectiveness of 28-33%, which is substantially higher than other systems (e.g., sensor-only systems) that are currently available. Including vehicles that already have systems installed, the NHTSA estimates that between 58 and 69 lives will be saved each year once the entire on-road vehicle fleet is equipped with rear visibility systems meeting the requirements of today's final rule.

The final rule complements action taken by the agency last year to incorporate rear visibility technology into the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). NHTSA's NCAP program, which is widely known for its 5-Star Safety Ratings, highlights for consumers the vehicle makes and models that are equipped with the agency's Recommended Advanced Technology Features that can help drivers avoid crashes and reduce other safety risks. Forward collision warning (FCW) and lane departure warning (LDW) systems are also highlighted under NCAP.

Continue reading "NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology in New Vehicles" »

March 31, 2014

State Police Report 19-Car Accident Inside O’Neill Tunnel

Massachusetts State Police confirmed four separate accidents involving a total of 19 cars on I-93 Monday morning. The accidents all took place in the left lane on the northbound side of the highway, right inside the Tip O’Neill tunnel. Traffic became a nightmare as “several miles of backups” were observed even after the crash site was cleared up. According to CBS Boston, the first accident was a chain-reaction involving nine cars. A few minutes later, four motor vehicles were involved in another, separate crash, followed closely by four more cars involved in yet another accident. The chaotic scene was capped off by a minor fender bender involving two vehicles.

State Trooper Todd Nolan said “one person was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with possible injuries.” CBS Boston reports that the injured person was involved in the initial nine-car crash. There were no injuries in the last three accidents. Luckily, at this time it appears there were no life-threatening injuries, but 19 vehicles are now damaged, some perhaps totaled.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known and is under investigation, according to authorities. Boston has been hit hard with heavy rain all weekend, flooding some roadways and forcing the closure of several tunnels and ramps, including the Prudential ramp off the Pike on Sunday. WCVB Meteorologist Danielle Vollmar explained that, "between 2 and 5 inches of rain have fallen in just a few hours.” The rainfall, combined with temperatures hovering slightly above freezing provided treacherous conditions for especially distracted drivers rushing in on their morning commute. Several factors could have led to the string of left-lane accidents in the same spot including speed, an unsafe stretch of road, or weather. State Police also reported several crashes along the Mass. Pike as well as in Palmer, Shrewsbury, and Chicopee due to ice.

Continue reading "State Police Report 19-Car Accident Inside O’Neill Tunnel" »

March 31, 2014

3 Pedestrians Injured at Logan Airport

Three individuals were struck by a car and injured in Logan Airport’s Terminal C drop-off and pick-up area last week.

According to Massachusetts State Police, the incident occurred around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon when a 1995 Lexus being driven by Erin Bringham, 53, jumped the curb. One of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries. No updates on the other victims have been provided, and the cause of the accident remains under investigation.

PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed each year in the United States; representing about 3% of all fatal auto-related incidents. A majority of these pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas where high volume automobile and pedestrian traffic is inevitable. In fact, nearly three-quarters of all pedestrian accidents occur in city settings; typically during nighttime hours.

Often these types of accidents are caused when pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals. In fact, only 60% of pedestrians said they expected drivers to stop when they were in crosswalks, even though they have the right-of-way. Additionally, both pedestrians and drivers frequently use cell phones and music players; a major distraction while walking or driving.
Pedestrian car accidents are entirely preventable, if both pedestrians and drivers obey the laws of the road. Here are a few safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians to stay safe:

Pedestrians:

- Wear lightly colored or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight while walking at night.
- Use crosswalks when crossing the street. If a crosswalk is unavailable, be sure to find a well-lit spot on the road to cross and wait for a long enough gap in traffic to make it safely across the street.
- If possible, make eye contact with the driver in a stopped vehicle to ensure that they have seen you before you cross in front of them.
- Stay on sidewalks whenever possible. If a sidewalk is not available, but sure to walk on the far side of the road that is facing traffic. This will help increase your visibility to the drivers on the road.
- Avoid distractions such as looking down at your cell phone or playing music too loud while wearing headphones. Remember that your eyes and ears are the best tools you have to keep yourself safe.
- Know and follow all traffic rules, signs and signals, and anticipate what drivers may do.
- NEVER assume a driver will give you the right of way.
- Avoid walking along highways or other roadway where pedestrians are prohibited.
- Avoid alcohol consumption


Drivers:

- Be alert while operating your vehicle and avoid distractions such as electronic devices.
- Be constantly vigilant of pedestrians
- Follow posted speed limits at all times, especially in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
- Be extra cautions while driving in poor visibility, such as a night, during heavy rainfall, fog, and snow. Remember, that it will be equally as difficult for pedestrians to see drivers, too.
- Be mindful of pedestrians when pulling out of, into, and backing out of driveways. Pedestrians can easily enter your path without your knowledge while you are backing up.
- Be vigilant near crosswalks, and always yield to pedestrians standing in a crosswalk—It’s the law.
- If you approach a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, do not try to pass them.
- DO NOT drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Continue reading "3 Pedestrians Injured at Logan Airport" »

March 19, 2014

Women Team Up to End Distracted Driving After Death of Father

After losing her father in a distracted driving incident, a Massachusetts woman is now making it her mission to put an end to the selfish and costly choices drivers make behind the wheel.

The public service announcement brings to light the victims of both sides of this tragic story, beginning with a testimony by the driver of the vehicle Kate McGuire, 17, who killed Howard Stein while using her car’s GPS. Stein was pulled over on the side of the road checking a load of materials in his truck when McGuire veered into the breakdown lane and struck him. Stein was a father, husband, and soon to be grandfather.

“I wasn’t texting. I wasn’t using my cellphone, but I killed someone,” McGuire said in the PSA.

Stein’s daughter is also seen in the PSA, calling the death of her father and distracted driving incidents in general “silly and so simply unnecessary.” Stein’s story is part of a National End Distracted Driving campaign which is led by Joel Feldman who lost his daughter in a distracted driving incident in 2009. The campaign calls for education of drivers and action by lawmakers to stiffen enforcement to ultimately help change drivers’ behavior.

DISTRACTED DRIVING STATISTICS

With the integration of technology into vehicles, seemingly more and more people are driving distracted. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving accidents account for 20% of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States. In 2012, more than 420,000 people were injured in accidents where a driver was distracted—a 9% increase from 2011. Additionally, 11% of drivers under age 20 who were victims of fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the accident. The NHTSA also reports that at any given moment, 660,000 drivers in America are using cell phones or an electronic device. Engaging in a visual distraction, such as texting, emailing, or manipulating a GPS increases the likelihood of a car accident by 3 times!

Continue reading "Women Team Up to End Distracted Driving After Death of Father" »

March 12, 2014

Drowsy Driving Proving To Be A Serious Issue on Roadways

Drowsy driving is a serious problem, and one that continues to be on the rise in the United States. To demonstrate this problem, Clayton Morris from Fox and Friends acted as the test subject in a controlled driving experiment conducted at Virginia Tech last week.

During the experiment Morris was asked to drive with a team of researchers after he had stayed awake for a full 24 hours. The car Morris drove was specially designed to track his eye movements and head positioning. After less than 20 minutes driving on the road, Morris showed trouble keeping his speed above 35 mph, and over the course of about 1 hour, the research team recorded 24 instances when Morris showed decreased driving ability. The test serves as a prime example of how dangerous drowsy driving is and how greatly driving fatigued can impact driving ability.

There are a multitude of risk factors that cause drowsiness, including chronic sleepiness caused by frequent lack of sleep, acute sleep loss, and work shifts. A variety of circumstances can account for acute sleep loss like taking care of children, vacations, short-term work demands, and social events. Irregular work schedules, late night or overtime shifts may throw off a person’s internal clock and lead to increased sleepiness. The amount of time a person spends behind the wheel can also contribute to their level of fatigued. Tractor-trailer drivers, for example, often experience fatigue because of the many hours they spend on the road. But a lack of sleep is not the only reason for drowsiness. Potent medications like sedatives, antidepressants or antihistamines used to treat allergies and colds, and even alcohol consumption can influence levels of tiredness.

It is incredibly important to be vigilant of dangerous drivers and be aware of your own driving habits, especially in Massachusetts where traffic is now at an all-time high and Boston is surrounded by major roadways. According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving accounts for more than 100,000 motor vehicle accidents per year; which translates to 40,000 injuries and 10,000 deaths annually. Unlike drunk driving accidents, where a driver’s blood alcohol content can be measured, there is no objective way to measure how tired a person is.

Drowsy driving has been deemed just as dangerous as drunk driving, as serious fatigue has been shown to affect a person’s judgment, reaction time, awareness, and their alertness. Common indicators of drowsiness are frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, missing an exit, drifting between lanes, and driving over the rumble strip.

Continue reading "Drowsy Driving Proving To Be A Serious Issue on Roadways" »

March 5, 2014

Jury Awards $1M South Hadley, MA Wrongful Death Award to Family of Man Killed in 2011 Drunk Driving Accident

A jury has awarded the family of 22-year-old Joe Kareta over $1 million in their South Hadley wrongful death case. Kareta died in 2011 when he was struck in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident. At the time, he was getting mail from the house of his aunt.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Kareta, Attorney Craig Barton, 46, was reportedly traveling approximately 80 mph in a 30 mph area. His vehicle hit Kareta hard enough that he was yanked from his sneakers as his body flew over 100 feet, striking numerous mailboxes, striking another vehicle, and a traffic sign.

Barton has already pleaded guilty to criminal motor vehicle homicide while operating under alcohol’s influence, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and another offense of operating under the influence in Kareta’s Massachusetts drunk driving death. He is serving 5 to 7 years behind bars. He did, however, leave jail so he could represent himself in Hampshire Superior Court during the Kareta family’s civil case.

During his closing statement, Barton admitted to taking Kareta’s life. He said he was “eternally sorrowful” for what he had done.

As our Boston injury law firm has mentioned in previous blog posts, even if there is a criminal case against the person that you believe caused your Massachusetts personal injury accident or a loved one’s wrongful death, you may also be able to pursue a civil case to sue for damages. You should contact a Boston injury lawyer right away to find out whether to proceed with this route.

Boston Car Accident Cases
Car crashes continue to be a leading cause of fatalities in the US. Many of these could have been avoided if only a motorist had been more careful. Drunk driving, drugged driving, distracted driving, careless driving, and reckless driving are all examples of negligent driving. Our Boston car accident lawyers would like to offer you a free case assessment today.

Victim’s sister gives emotional testimony in South Hadley wrongful death case, Gzettenet.com, March 5, 2014

Family Awarded Over $1M in 2011 Death of Son in South Hadley, WGGP, March 5, 2014

Impaired Driving, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


More Blog Posts:

Your Car May Soon Know You’re Drunk: NHTSA Extends Agreement with Auto Companies to Develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, Febuary 25, 2014

Massachusetts Car Crash Involving Mattress Leaves Woman Dead, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, January 31, 2014

Massachusetts Office Accidents Can Cause Serious Boston Work Injuries, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 28, 2014

February 25, 2014

Your Car May Soon Know You’re Drunk: NHTSA Extends Agreement with Auto Companies to Develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety

Though it may be years before it comes into effect, your car may eventually be “smart” enough to know when you’re intoxicated, and whether you’re sober enough to get behind the wheel. Researchers in the auto industry are currently working to develop two different technologies that could automatically detect blood-alcohol content (BAC) either through touch or through breath. Researchers and executives at traffic safety research institutes see this new technology as a positive approach to preventing drunk driving, and alcohol-related accidents.

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has extended its agreement with automobile manufacturers to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS). When installed, the system will detect if your BAC is above the legal limit (0.08%) and prevent you from driving if it is over that limit. Unlike current alcohol-detection technology, which requires a driver to blow into a tube and engages an ignition interlock system for impaired drivers (usually outfitted in vehicles of drivers who’ve been convicted of a DUI), the DADSS technology will be less obtrusive.

Senior Vice President for communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Russ Rader, referred to current devices as “clunky” and “unreliable,” and said that this new developing technology aims to “stop a drunk driver from getting on the road in the first place, rather than arresting them after the fact, or worse yet, after a crash.”

Statistically, alcohol plays a factor in more than 30% of fatal car crashes. In 2012, according to the NHTSA, fatal drunken driving crashes topped 10,000—a 5% increase from the year before.

J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the DADSS project stems from a five-year, $10 million cooperation agreement signed in 2008 between NHTSA and the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), made up of 15 auto manufacturers. Extended for five years at the end of last year, the program will benefit from $6.5 million is committed research from these manufacturers.

Continue reading "Your Car May Soon Know You’re Drunk: NHTSA Extends Agreement with Auto Companies to Develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety" »

February 20, 2014

Northbridge, MA Pedestrian Fatally Injured During Accident Involving Elderly Driver; NHTSA Launches Strategic Plan to Keep Elderly Drivers Safe

Northbridge, MA police reported that a pedestrian was fatally injured last week after being struck in a crosswalk by an elderly driver who did not stop.

Police located the car and driver nearly three miles away; ten minutes after the accident had occurred. Investigators called the incident a “low speed accident.” The accident remains under investigation, but the police have since suspended the driver’s license.

There is a nationwide stigma about elderly drivers and the risk they pose to others on the road. Just like teenage drivers, elderly drivers are especially vulnerable to motor vehicle accidents. In December of 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a five-year strategic plan to improve safety for elderly drivers and passengers.

Though the elderly demographic are statistically among the safest on the road, the number of older drivers (defined as age 65 and older), has increased by 20% and the number of licensed older drivers increased by 21% -- to 35 million in 2012 according to NHTSA. In 2012, NHTSA reported that more than 5,500 older drivers died and 214,000 were injured in car crashes; a 3% increase in fatalities and 16% increase in injuries as compared to 2011. That includes an increased risk of death and serious injury in even low-severity crashes, NHTSA said. According to a report by USA Today, elderly drivers are less likely than other drivers to be in crashes involving high speeds or alcohol, but they are more likely to crash at intersections where they miss a stop sign or turn left in front of oncoming traffic.

Responding to the data figures, NHTSA has launched a new five-year strategic plan that would increase the safety of elderly drivers and passengers. The plan will encompass three key areas:

1.) Vehicle safety, particularly with regard to advanced technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, collision avoidance and crashworthiness; that's in addition to upgrades to NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program, including the new "Silver" rating system for protection of older occupants.

2.) Data collection, for which NHTSA intends to refine its systems as it continues to examine crash rates and injuries, as well as clinical and naturalistic studies of physical, cognitive and perceptual changes associated with drivers' behavior as they age.

3.) Driver behavior, for which NHTSA will focus efforts on public education and identifying issues pertaining to at-risk drivers' functional changes such as vision, strength, flexibility and cognition. This effort includes the all-new Older Driver Highway Safety Program Guidelines.

Continue reading "Northbridge, MA Pedestrian Fatally Injured During Accident Involving Elderly Driver; NHTSA Launches Strategic Plan to Keep Elderly Drivers Safe " »

February 7, 2014

Boston Police Continue Search for Suspect in Fatal Hit-and-Run Incident

Boston police are searching for a suspect after a fatal hit-and-run accident in Dorchester this week.

In a statement to media, police said that a man was struck by a green, four-door Toyota along Dorchester Avenue Tuesday night. Anyone with any information about the accident is urged to call Boston Police.

This is the second pedestrian accident to occur in Boston over the course of one week. On Sunday, three Brandeis University students were struck by a car on South Street in Waltham, MA. The students were all taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and were listed in stable condition.

According to police, the students were walking in a crosswalk at the time of the incident. The driver involved in the crash did however remain at the scene until police and emergency responders arrived.

Each year more than 4,000 pedestrians are killed according to the National Highway Traffic Administration. In fact, pedestrian accidents represent 3% of all fatal auto-related incidents in the United States. Most hit-and-run accidents occur in urban areas where there is a high volume of both automobile and pedestrian traffic. 73% of all pedestrian accidents occur in city settings, and typically these types of accidents occur during nighttime hours. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding and reckless driving, and distracted driving by motor vehicle operators are the most common factors that cause pedestrian accidents. About 20% of drivers involved in pedestrian accidents flee the scene according to the NHTSA.

Continue reading "Boston Police Continue Search for Suspect in Fatal Hit-and-Run Incident" »