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A 45-year old Dennisport woman was struck and killed earlier this week when she stopped to check on a flat tire. The woman was traveling westbound on Route 6 when she pulled onto the shoulder of the Cape Cod highway. According to police, this area of the highway does not have a breakdown lane. As the woman exited her vehicle, she was struck by a pickup truck driven by a 22-year old Dennis man. The victim, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Safety Tips for Roadside Breakdowns

This tragedy is a stark reminder of the dangers of roadside breakdowns, especially when they occur at night, and on highways or other busy stretches of road. Obviously, if a tire blows or your vehicle breaks down, you have little choice about when and where to pull over. If the area isn’t safe, what do you do? According to the National Safety Council, the tips below can help prevent serious injury and death in the event of a roadside breakdown.

  • The moment you notice a problem, gently remove your foot from the gas pedal. Avoid braking hard or fast. Slowly and carefully move your vehicle to the breakdown lane (if available) or to the side of the road. If you are on a highway and believe you can make it to an exit, try to reach the nearest exit before pulling off the road. Don’t forget to signal your turns to the drivers behind you.
  • Once you have pulled off the road, it’s important to make your car highly visible to other drivers. Preemptively stashing reflective triangles in your trunk is a good idea. If you have these, place them behind your vehicle. Turn on your car’s emergency flashers, and turn on the interior light if it’s dark outside.
  • If you must change a flat tire, make sure that you can do it away from traffic. If this is possible, proceed with changing the tire. If it is not, however, call for professional help. Even if the added delay will create schedule conflicts or other problems, don’t attempt to change a tire yourself in a dangerous location. A MA injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.
  • If the car is beyond repair or you are stopped on a dangerous stretch of roadway, get professional help. Do not attempt to wave down other motorists. If you have a cellphone, call for help. If you don’t, raise your hood and tie something – preferably white – to the antennae to signal that you need help. Stand far away from the vehicle and wait for help.
  • If your car is beyond repair and stopped in a safe location, you can remain in the vehicle. Keep your doors locked and use your cell phone to call for help. If someone stops to offer help, crack the window slightly and politely ask the person to contact the police. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Interstate highways and busy roadways are patrolled frequently by police and other emergency personnel. Many highways also have “call for help” phones; if you can reach one safely, use it. However, walking along a stretch of highway is rarely a good idea. Unless you are sure that you can safely reach a call box or other source of help, do not walk. If you do walk, use the right side of the roadway and never attempt to cross a multi-lane highway.

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Eight months after new high-tech traffic signals were installed in Quincy Center, there have been no pedestrian accidents. That’s a significant achievement, considering that there were 88 accidents involving pedestrians in this area between 2004 and 2013. Of those accidents, 58 resulted in injury and one pedestrian was killed. Despite this success, not everyone loves the new, odd-looking traffic signals.

How to Read the New Signals

The new signals in Quincy Center are known as “high-intensity activated crosswalks”. They are more conveniently referred to as HAWK beacons. Unfortunately, some people find the strange new lights more confusing than helpful. Below are some tips to help you safely navigate HAWK beacon signals when you come across them.

  • Drive through normally if no lights are on.
  • A steady or blinking yellow light means that, while vehicles still have the right-of-way, the light will soon turn red.
  • When both lights are on, the signal should be treated as a red light. Even if no one is using the crosswalk, you must still stop and wait.
  • You should treat the signal like a train crossing when the two red lights are blinking alternatively. Stop, check for people in the crosswalk, then proceed when it is safe to do so.

As you can see from the above instructions, HAWK beacons are not as straightforward as standard traffic signals, at least not until we get used to them. But it’s hard to argue with the fact that since their installation, there have been zero pedestrian accidents in what was once considered one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Massachusetts.  According to Chris Walker, a spokesman for the city’s Mayor Thomas Koch, the new signals are helping drivers and pedestrians alike use the busy intersections in a safer, more responsible manner.

“You can see the benefit of the dedicated signal,” he said. “It’s slowing traffic down through the area.” In addition to the complete absence of pedestrian accidents in the area, there has been a significant drop in motor vehicle accidents since the installation of the signals. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been involved in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.

Not Everyone’s Feeling the Love

So, why doesn’t everyone love the HAWK beacons in Quincy Center?  Shanayta Carmody would prefer that the city bring back signs instructing vehicles and pedestrians on how to safely deal with the crosswalk. ”It’s very confusing and chaotic since they put this new crosswalk in,” said Carmody. And the new signals may impede the flow of traffic. An observation of the intersection during busy traffic hours revealed backed up traffic from Hancock all the way to the Granite Street intersection. In one instance, cars blocked a crosswalk instead of leaving space for pedestrians. According to Rob Keyworth, who uses the crosswalk on his daily commute to Boston, people don’t know what to do with the new lights. “Nobody has ever seen a setup like that,” he said. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim following a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.

Quincy Center isn’t the only area in MA to install HAWK beacons. Several towns across the state have installed similar systems. The federal government considers the HAWK systems to be a “proven safety countermeasure,” and recommends their installation in busy pedestrian crossings. The design, which was developed in the 1990s in Tucson, resulted in a 69 percent decrease in pedestrian accidents following their installation in that city. Continue reading

A pedestrian was struck and fatally wounded by an SUV in a Trader Joe’s parking lot on Tuesday. According to police, a driver in his 20s was backing up in the parking lot of the Acton store when his SUV hit the victim. Although the victim’s name hasn’t been released, police say she was an employee of Trader Joe’s and was in her 60s.

The driver, who has not been charged, remained at the scene following the accident. Acton police Chief Richard Burrows said that investigators are questioning the man, but that the incident was most likely a “tragic accident.”

Parking Lots See 20 Percent of All Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots. Most of these accidents only result in property damage, but injuries and death do occur. Typically, the most serious injuries and deaths involve “backing-over” injuries, as in the tragedy above. Especially in this age of rapidly-advancing technology, backing-over accidents are often due to a distracted driver, distracted pedestrian, or both.

Most parking lot injuries are minor, such as cuts and bruises, whiplash, and strained muscles or ligaments. Parking lots can have a false sense of security. We tend to use more caution and focus when driving down the road. It’s not uncommon for drivers to start backing out of a parking space before they’ve put on their seat belt, adjusted the stereo, and stopped checking emails or text messages. Unfortunately, this level of distraction can be deadly.

Parking lots don’t have traffic signals because cars are usually traveling at relatively low speeds. And even if they did, enforcement would be difficult. Larger establishments sometimes hire security vehicles to keep an eye on the parking lot, but most go without. In addition, security guards don’t have the authority to hand out traffic tickets. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.

Distracted Driving and Parking Lots Are a Deadly Combination

Tuesday’s fatal accident will impact the lives of many people who were close to the victim. It will certainly impact the life of the young man who hit her, as well. We would be wise to use this tragedy as a reminder to pay attention at all times when behind the wheel, even in a parking lot.

What to Do if You’re in a Parking Lot Accident

For the most part, you should treat a parking lot accident like any other motor vehicle accident. Follow the tips below if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Don’t leave the scene without first exchanging information with the other driver, even if you’re at fault. Exchange insurance and contact information at the very least.
  • Do not offer or accept money for damages. If you’re at fault, the other person could accept your money and then still file a personal injury claim. If the other driver is at fault, accepting money could preclude you from collecting more money if you discover further damages.
  • Call the police if there are injuries, significant property damage, of if the accident is blocking traffic. They will write an accident report which can help immensely if you file a personal injury claim.
  • Take pictures of property damage and / or injuries from multiple angles.

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When passenger vehicles are involved in accidents with large trucks, the outcome is rarely good. Due to their sheer size and weight, collisions with tractor-trailers are often deadly. This is especially true when high speeds are involved. Unfortunately, truck drivers are often on the road for extended periods of time due to the time-sensitive nature of their loads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours-of-service regulations to prevent drivers from working excessive hours. However, it’s not uncommon for trucking companies to ignore these rules. And even when followed, the rules allow for 11 hours of driving time per day. If you’ve ever been behind the wheel for 11 hours, you know how tiring it can be.

Tips for Avoiding a Large Truck-Passenger Vehicle Collision

Sometimes it’s the truck driver’s fault. Sometimes it’s the passenger vehicle driver’s fault. Sometimes the accident is a result of bad weather or a mechanical defect. Whatever the scenario, the tips below will help you avoid becoming a statistic in a collision with a large truck. And if you’ve been injured in a large truck accident, a skilled Boston truck accident lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

  • Avoid driving in the truck driver’s blind spot, located directly behind the truck and beside it, near the rear.
  • Never change lanes abruptly in front of, and in close proximity to, a truck.
  • If a truck is making a right turn, do not attempt to maneuver to its right side.
  • Avoid making a left turn in front of a rapidly approaching truck.
  • If you wish to pass a truck, make sure you have sufficient headway.
  • Air turbulence and cross-wind from a large truck can be dangerous, especially for smaller vehicles. If you are passing a truck, use caution.
  • Do not drive between large trucks.

Common Causes of Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Truck accidents can be caused by improperly trained, fatigued, or negligent truck drivers. The best line of defense against these types of accidents is to always be vigilant when driving near a large truck. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by a cell phone, the radio, or conversation with a passenger. A MA truck accident lawyer can help if you’ve been injured by a negligent truck driver or trucking company. Accidents caused by truck drivers and trucking companies are often due to:

  • Improper or inadequate training
  • Unrealistic delivery schedules that promote speeding
  • Driver fatigue
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Large Truck Accident Statistics

  • Nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2014.
  • Almost 35 percent of truck drivers who are fatally-injured in truck accidents tested positive for at least one type of illegal drug.
  • The most commonly used drugs among truck drivers involved in fatal accidents are alcohol and marijuana, followed by cocaine. Amphetamines, methamphetamines, and other stimulants were also present in the systems of many fatally-injured truck drivers.
  • Drug and alcohol use is the second biggest contributing factor for accidents involving large trucks.
  • More than 60 percent of fatal truck accidents occur in rural areas.
  • Most fatal truck accidents occur on the weekends.

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So you’ve been involved in a collision with someone who doesn’t have insurance, or who doesn’t have adequate insurance to cover your damages. What do you do? Even though MA requires motorists to carry a minimum collision policy, some drivers neglect to follow this rule. Fortunately, most insurance policies provide at least some coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers. Follow the steps below to protect yourself if you end up in  an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Step #1: Get the Other Driver’s Information

Even if he or she doesn’t have insurance, you need their information for your insurance company, as well as if you decide to file a lawsuit. In addition to name and phone number, get their plate number and driver’s license number.

Step #2: Document the Accident

Call the police. When the police are called to an auto accident scene, they have to file a police report. This serves as official documentation and can be invaluable when dealing with the insurance company, or if you decide to file a lawsuit. Take pictures of any vehicle damage, immediate injuries and contributing factors, such as icy roads, or a stop sign blocked by an overgrown tree. Since the advent of smartphones, most of us have a reliable camera on us at all times. Take lots of pictures from multiple angles. And ask any witnesses for their contact info in case you need to get in touch with them at a later date.

Step #3: Call Your Insurance Carrier and Call an Experienced Boston Car Accident Lawyer

As stated above, most policies provide some type of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in when the other driver has inadequate insurance coverage, or none at all. The level you have will depend on your insurance carrier and the policy options you chose when you purchased the policy. It may cover all damages, or it may only cover a portion of the damages you incur.

As with the filing of any insurance claim, it helps to consult with a skilled Boston motor vehicle accident attorney right away. Insurance carriers aren’t in the business of letting go of money easily. They will do everything possible to avoid paying out large sums of money, and car accident victims rarely understand the rules of the game unless they are insurance adjusters themselves. Avoid giving a recorded or written statement to your insurer without the advice of an attorney. And don’t accept the estimate of your losses without first obtaining a second opinion. Further, avoid signing releases or waivers without the advice of your attorney.

If the other driver is at fault, he or she will be liable for any damages incurred. Unfortunately, obtaining money from an uninsured or underinsured driver isn’t often an easy task. In most cases, a lack of funds was the reason they didn’t have insurance in the first place. Your best bet is to work with an experienced MA auto accident attorney and your insurance company to obtain the highest level of compensation possible for your insurer. It’s important to understand that many people have insurance coverage to cover damages that are caused by an uninsured motor vehicle.  It also serves as a cautionary reminder to upgrade your current insurance policy to one that includes adequate uninsured and underinsured coverage, if it isn’t already included. Continue reading

In the wake of a lawsuit against Apple for a fatal accident involving a FaceTime-ing driver, a new lawsuit has been filed against the tech giant. The class action lawsuit alleges that the company put profits before the safety of its customers and the general public. The FaceTime-ing accident resulted in the tragic death of five-year-old Moriah Modisette. The new lawsuit alleges that Julio Ceja was rear ended because a distracted driver was texting on an iPhone.

Should the irresponsible behavior of a driver be Apple’s fault? Well, the class action is not seeking damages for Ceja’s back injury. Rather, it wants to hold the tech company accountable for failure to implement a “lock-out” feature for drivers. Apparently, the company holds a patent for this feature. Both lawsuits claim that implementing the feature would prevent iPhone-related distractions. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident due to a distracted driver, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

What is Driver Lock Out?

The hypothetical scenario is frightening. You’re enjoying a relaxing ride in your automated car. Windows down, soft rock on the radio, chowing on a cheeseburger without a care in the world. Your smart car has safely navigated you to and from work a thousand times, and you trust it implicitly.

But one day, something in the car’s CPU goes haywire, and it doesn’t recognize a detoured area until it’s far too late. The car suddenly computes that it will have to sharply turn left or right since braking hard would cause a rear-end accident. The only problem is that to the left is a crowd of tourists taking pictures of a statue, and to the right is a single mother carrying her child.

What does the car do? How can a car choose between endangering the lives of people behind you, or choosing to veer into the path of pedestrians? When there is no avoiding a potentially-deadly accident, what implications does that have for an automated vehicles?

A child’s sixteenth birthday can be both exhilarating and anxiety-inducing for parents. On one hand, mom and dad get a much-needed break from driving to soccer practices. On the other hand, parents become understandably concerned about car accidents, drunk driving, and other dangerous behaviors. And that’s not all; parents are often shocked when they find out how much their auto insurance rates are going to increase. It may seem unfair, but teen accident statistics support high rate increases. Read on for more information about how to keep your kids safe and your insurance costs low.

The average insurance increase when a teen driver is added to a married couple’s policy is a whopping 79 percent. If the teen is a boy, it’s even higher at an average of 92 percent. Although these rate increases seem high, they are actually down from previous years. In 2013, for example, the average rate increase was 85 percent. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Tips to Keep Insurance Costs Down

If it’s time to add your teen driver to your insurance policy, there’s no way to avoid a rate increase. But there are some steps you can take to reduce the damage to your wallet. The following advice may help keep your costs down:

  • Have your teen driver take a driver safety training course. Most insurance carriers provide discounts for young people who have completed these programs. If you’re not sure, call your insurance company beforehand to determine what discounts apply and how to ensure you receive them.
  • Encourage your teen driver to keep his or her grades in good standing. Some policies provide up to a 15 percent discount for students who maintain a B average or better. Similarly, if your child is on the dean’s list or has received comparable honors, this may equate to money in your pocket.
  • The car matters. High performance vehicles, such as sports cars, will typically result in a greater increase than a basic, four-door sedan. Insurance companies like safe, family vehicles (warning: your teen driver will likely disagree with this logic).
  • Shop around. The best insurance company for your family when it was just mom and dad may not be the best insurance company when it’s mom, dad, and a teenage son.
  • Consider your deductible. If your low premiums encouraged you to get a low deductible, it might make sense to increase your deductible with your rate increase. By increasing your comprehensive and / or collision deductibles by even $500, you may see a significant drop in your overall rate.
  • Teach your teen the importance of utilizing safe driving practices at all times. Make sure he or she gets plenty of practice with you in the car, and on back roads, before driving alone or on highways. Model good behavior; put your cellphone in the glove box when you’re driving, obey the speed limit, pay attention to the road, and buckle up. Once your teen driver develops a history of good driving habits, the rates will begin to drop.

The reality is, there’s a very good chance your teen driver will be involved in a fender bender at some point. Accidents happen. But teaching and modeling good driving behaviors can dramatically reduce your child’s chances of being seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision. If you’ve been injured in any type of auto accident, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents can be a physically, emotionally, and financially stressful experience. In addition to injuries and property damage, the need to deal with insurance companies can be equally stressful and intimidating. Most of us don’t talk to our insurance agents on a very frequent basis, which can make post-accident discussions impersonal and confusing. Further, there’s a common misconception that an accident drives up insurance rates. That’s simply not always the case. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, contact a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer.

So, what does impact your insurance rates? Following an accident, the insurance company will consider multiple factors to determine whether to increase rates and if so, by how much. The following factors will likely impact whether or not your insurance rates will rise.

  • Your driving history: This is a big one. If you’ve previously been involved in multiple accidents, the likelihood of a rate increase is much greater than if this is your first fender bender. In addition to previous accidents, insurance companies will consider traffic citations and speeding tickets. If you have a clean driving history, the chances of a rate increase are low.
  • How serious was the accident? A fender bender is less likely to result in a rate increase than an accident involving multiple vehicles, serious injuries, and extensive property damage. In most cases, the greater the claim, the higher the rate increase.
  • Who’s to blame? If the accident wasn’t your fault, your rates probably won’t see an increase. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely pay the claim, so if the accident isn’t your fault, your insurance company should be off the hook. Even if you have to make an uninsured or underinsured claim against your policy, your low insurance rates may be safe. In these more complicated cases, having an accident report can be immensely beneficial to the outcome of your case. Alternatively, if you are the at-fault driver, you are almost guaranteed to see a rate increase. If fault is due to reckless driving or OUI, your insurer may actually drop your policy.
  • Accident forgiveness. Your insurance policy may have an add-on called accident forgiveness which allows you to file small claims without the fear of a rate increase. But buyer beware. Most of these products are subject to certain conditions, so review your policy thoroughly to determine if an accident forgiveness add-on is worth it. If you need help reviewing this product or any other type of auto insurance policy or add-on, contact a skilled Boston injury lawyer today.

The bottom line is this – an auto accident does not guarantee an insurance rate increase. Don’t let your fear of a rate increase keep you from pursuing a claim. If you’ve been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident, you should seek legal representation immediately. Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents resulting in serious injuries and death have been declining in recent years. Much of this decline is directly related to improved vehicle safety features. From back-up cameras and sensors to lane-keep assist, advanced safety technologies have had a positive impact on American roadways. Toyota recently patented one of the newest technologies, an “augmented-reality windshield”. The smart windshield has the potential to alert drivers to road hazards and provide enhanced information throughout the driving process.

Vehicle Safety Features

Although Toyota’s new windshield is still in planning stages, it is just one many emerging technologies aimed at improving road safety. Other popular safety features include:

  • Lane-keep assist: When a vehicle drifts out of its intended lane, this feature will gently steer the vehicle back into the original lane.
  • Collision warning system: If a collision seems imminent, this feature will alert the driver.
  • Advanced park assist: This system allows a driver to parallel park without touching the steering wheel.
  • Adaptive headlights: Instead of relying on a fixed setting, advanced headlights adapt to changing road conditions.
  • Adaptive cruise control: This feature maintains the driver-set speed but adjusts based on changing distance of the vehicle ahead.
  • Drowsiness alert: Using a combination of driver and vehicle data, this system alerts the driver when he or she needs to pull over and rest.

Does Eliminating Human Error = Safer Roads?

Most of the above features were born out of a trend toward self-driving vehicles.  “The movement toward autonomous vehicles — self-driving cars — has brought high-tech safety features to today’s cars, too,” says the vice president of property and casualty loss prevention and safety programs for USAA, Jim Salek. “Many of the groundbreaking advances in the area of car safety have come from these efforts.” Human error is almost always involved in motor vehicle accidents, so it stands to reason that autonomous – or at least partially-autonomous cars would be safer.

Toyota’s smart windshield has multiple features aimed at improving the driving experience and reducing serious injuries and death. For example, information such as navigation and speed are displayed on the windshield, preventing the driver from having to take his or her eyes off the road at regular intervals. If you have been injured, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Displaying information on the windshield is not particularly new. However, in addition to simply displaying the info, it is placed in the best spot for the driver’s viewing needs.  “An [engine control module] analyzes the steering angle and speed, a front-mounted camera identifies the lane markings, and an interior camera finds the driver’s viewpoint,” claims a report on the Autoblog website. “By combining this data, the system moves the information around the windshield to be in the best location.” For example, when speeds increase, the display will move up on the windshield and the information will get smaller as the driver’s gaze moves up. The Autoblog report went on to say, “Toyota’s patent seems both incredibly useful and quite realistic.The individual components for this tech already exist, but [Toyota’s] idea employs them in new ways. We hope the company licenses the idea out for other HUDs because the applications could be a lot of fun.” Continue reading

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