The belief that self-driving cars will eventually make our roadways safer is widely held, but the recent surge of autonomous vehicle (AV) crashes is causing serious concern. Is it too early for AVs to be on the roads? And what is causing all of these crashes? Although most accidents have been minor, there are exceptions, including the self-driving Uber that hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The less “sensational” crashes may not make national news, but reports showing all AV crashes—even minor fender benders—are particularly alarming. They are happening with relative frequency…and most involve rear-end collisions. Take the state of California, for example. In the month of September alone, three AVs were rear-ended and three were sideswiped. Most AV developers do their road testing in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan, but California is the only state that requires AV companies to report detailed information about their testing. Since 2014, California has recorded at least 104 collisions involving AVs. Of those, a whopping 49 occurred in 2018.

Critics warn that getting to a point where AVs can basically eliminate the country’s annual 40,000 roadway fatalities may take decades, and current testing programs are akin to a public experiment in AI to which public participants haven’t willingly signed on. Considering that possible outcomes include serious injury or death, concern is understandable. According to research into recent accident patterns, experts have concluded that AVs drive in ways that may be unexpected by the human drivers with whom they share the road. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Rear-End Collisions and AVs—Who’s at Fault?

Analyzing the data found in nationwide reports, researchers have concluded that rear-end accidents account for approximately two-thirds of all AV accidents. Why all the rear-end collisions? And doesn’t that mean they’re the fault of the human driver who hits the AV from behind? Although most states hold that rear-end accidents are the fault of the driver who hits the other vehicle from behind (and there is no denying that today’s human drivers are more distracted than ever), many experts believe that the AVs are at least partially to blame.

Of the 28 rear-end accidents reported involving self-driving cars in California last year, 22 occurred when the vehicle was in full autonomous mode. Such statistics lead experts to believe that AVs simply must be doing something that increases the likelihood of being involved in a rear-end collision. Although autonomous vehicles may make take the “path of least resistance” (i.e. make an illegal left-turn to avoid mowing down a pedestrian), they don’t always drive in a way that human drivers expect. Which may be the biggest problem faced by AV developers, and the general public.

People Expect People to Break Rules

Kyle Vogt, cofounder and CEO at Cruise believes the reports coming out of California paint a very clear picture—humans expect other humans to break traffic rules when behind the wheel (i.e. speeding up at a yellow light or driving over the speed limit), but AVs don’t bend the rules.

“We’re not going to make vehicles that break laws just to do things like a human would,” says Vogt. “If drivers are aware of the fact that AVs are being lawful, and that’s fundamentally a good thing because it’s going to lead to safer roads, then I think there may be a better interaction between humans and AVs.” A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

It’s going to be a long time until AVs are universally safe on American roadways. In the meantime, awareness is key. The public would benefit immensely from knowing how self-driving technology works, how—and where—it is being tested, and how AVs behave. Labeling AVs in similar fashion to driver’s education vehicles could be one way to help human drivers adapt to their artificially-intelligent counterparts. Continue reading

The number of bicyclists in Massachusetts and across the country increases each year. As more cyclists take to the roads, more accidents occur, including those involving a hit and run. When one of the parties involved in an accident leaves the scene—without rendering assistance to injured parties, exchanging insurance information, or reporting the accident to police—this is known as a hit and run.

Approximately 700,000 hit and run accidents occur every year in the United States, and these numbers increase each year. That’s nearly 2,000 hit and run accidents per day. A large percentage of these accidents involve automobiles and bicyclists. Studies have shown that motor vehicle-bicycle accidents occur most frequently in urban environments, but can happen anywhere, especially after dark. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Motor vehicle and bicycle collisions can cause serious property damage, physical injury, and even death. These accidents sometimes result in the victim needing prolonged medical treatment, and missing work for an extended period. If the driver of the motor vehicle leaves the scene of the accident, the victim may be stuck without a way to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, or pain and suffering.

Notably, wearing a bicycle helmet can decrease your risk of serious injury by almost 50%, and using a designated biking lane may decrease your risk of serious injury by almost 90%.

If You Are a Bystander

A hit and run bicycle accident can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved, whether you are the victim or a bystander. Staying calm is critical. If you are a bystander, the very first thing you should do is to assist the victim. Be sure the victim is in a safe place and call 911. Stay with the victim until medical assistance arrives. Later, once the victim is being cared for, describe everything you saw to the police. A MA bicycle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

If You Are a Victim

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle-bicycle collision, call 911 for help if you’re able to. If not, ask a bystander for assistance. Even if you are not seriously injured, stay on the scene of the accident until police arrive; ask any witnesses or bystanders to stay with you. As soon as you are in a safe place, record everything you remember about the circumstances of the accident. An accurate and detailed police report will assist the police in finding the at-fault driver. These details should include:

  • Vehicle make, model and color
  • License plate or partial license plate, including what state the license plate is from
  • Any distinguishing characteristics of the car, including graphics, dents or other damage
  • Description of driver or passenger, if known
  • The vehicle’s direction of travel
  • The circumstances that led to the accident
  • The names and contact information for every bystander or eye witness
  • Photographs and/or videos of the scene of the accident, especially any skid marks, your injuries, and damage to your bicycle or other property

Once you have received initial medical attention and reported all relevant details to the police, call your insurance company and file a claim. A lawyer with expertise in these types of accidents can help guide you through the insurance and legal process. Continue reading

As research continues to confirm the link between car accidents and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), physicians are placing additional emphasis on the importance of monitoring for brain injuries following any high-impact accident. With car accidents being a leading cause of TBIs, it is wise to know the signs and symptoms of these serious, potentially life-threatening injuries if you’ve recently been involved in a car accident.

Traumatic brain injuries can range in severity from minor to severe, and symptoms may not develop for days, weeks, or even months after the injury occurs. In many cases, serious TBIs have long-term, and even permanent consequences, and are often progressive. The damage caused by a TBI can cause changes in behavior, movements, and even a person’s overall personality. In fact, certain TBI symptoms are often confused for emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, and they may worsen over time.

Signs of TBI Following a Motor Vehicle Collision

If you have been injured in an auto accident, an experienced MA car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. In the days, weeks, and months following a collision, it is imperative to look out for the signs and symptoms below. If you develop any of these problems, it is in your best interest to seek medical treatment without delay.

  • Loss of consciousness, even if only temporary
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems—especially blurred vision
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Motor problems
  • Personality or behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sleep problems

Keep in mind that you may be suffering a TBI without experiencing any of these symptoms. Even if no symptoms are present, you should visit your doctor if you’ve experienced any kind of head trauma, or violent shaking.

Do You Have a Concussion?

Concussions are the most common type of mild TBI. A concussion can begin with a brief loss of consciousness—generally, only a few moments—or no loss of consciousness, and symptoms will usually appear within a few days of the injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 14.3 percent of all concussions are caused by motor vehicle crashes. As such, crashes are the third most common cause of concussions. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Neuro-degeneration

According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, even a minor traumatic brain injury can initiate the neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s. This is true even when the injury occurs in young people. Neuro-degeneration is “the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons and is the cause of such diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington.” The researchers established a link between TBI and all three of these neuro-degenerative diseases. Continue reading

According to a recent national study, Massachusetts has the 10th highest distracted driving rate in the nation, and deadly crashes skyrocket at this time of year, specifically between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Distracted driving has been a problem since Henry Ford’s Model T first rambled down American roadways, but distracted driving-related crashes have spiked in recent years, as handheld and vehicle technologies compete for our already divided attention.

Distracted driving is especially prevalent among young people, who are more inclined to engage in texting while driving. In fact, teens are four times more likely to text or talk on a cell phone while driving than their adult counterparts. Considering that one out of every four U.S. car accidents is caused by texting and driving, and that 11 teens die—every day—due to texting and driving, something must be done. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence.

One Father’s Fight

In 2007, Jerry Cibley of Foxboro MA was on the phone with his son when Jordan crashed into a tree and died. The young man was only 18. Since the tragedy, the distraught father has campaigned endlessly to end distracted driving nationwide.

“I talk to children all of the time,” said Cibley. “I talk to teens. I talk to parents. I tell them my story and I say, ‘Look at me. I died on May 13, 2007, along with my child.”

A total of 16 states have already legislated a ban against texting or dialing while driving. Is Massachusetts one of them? Although the Bay State has one of the highest incidences of distracted driving in the country, an official ban on hand-held devices has not yet taken effect. And the reason has nothing to do with public opposition. In fact, a recent poll revealed that a whopping 80 percent of those registered to vote in MA support a ban on hand-held mobile devices when behind the wheel.

Concerns About Racial Profiling

The MA Senate is in agreement with voters. Although the Senate passed a ban about a year ago, the bill hasn’t yet made it out of the Massachusetts House. State Rep. Byron Rushing is the biggest critic of the bill, saying he refuses to support it without an official provision that ensures it won’t lead to an increase in traffic stops involving persons of color. Although this is an important issue to consider, the Senate bill already addresses this potential problem; data must be collected on all traffic stops related to the use of hand-held devices to measure whether racial profiling is occurring. A MA car accident attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence.

Obviously, the best way to reduce the growing risk of distracted driving-related fatalities is for drivers to take the issue into their own hands. In addition to teaching our children (and reminding them every day) that texting or talking while driving is deadly, we should practice what we preach. Adults are far from innocent when it comes to texting and driving. We can also utilize any of a number of apps that specifically address the issue of distracted driving. For example, iPhones can self-lock when the user is driving, and send notification text messages to anyone trying to contact the driver. Continue reading

Distracted driving affects all of us from time to time. And anything can distract a driver, not just texting or talking on the phone. It is actually quite common for people to multitask when behind the wheel. Understanding how these distractions – even the smallest among them –  may affect our driving can dramatically reduce our risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Since cars were invented, people have engaged in behind-the-wheel distractions, including eating sandwiches, drinking hot drinks, talking on cell phones, and applying make-up. But one of the greatest distractions, ABC News reports, might be something parents do every day: driving with kids in the backseat. Kate Hollcraft, a spokesperson for Allstate Insurance, says that distracted driving is thought to be the cause of about 80 percent of all crashes, and parents of young children are especially vulnerable to this risk. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Statistics on “Driving Distracted by Children”

Studies show that driving with children in the car increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, child passengers in motor vehicles are four times as likely to cause distractions for drivers as their adult counterparts. Furthermore, babies are eight times more distracting to a parent-driver!

More than 130,000 children under the age of 13 are treated in U.S. emergency departments after motor-vehicle collision-related injuries annually, more than 130,000 children younger than 13 are treated in U.S. emergency departments after motor vehicle collision-related injuries.

Other findings indicate that during an average 16-minute car trip, drivers are distracted by their children for an average of three minutes and 22 seconds. In other words, because of their kids, parents are not paying attention to the road more than 20 percent of the time. One in five parents say they have had, or almost had, a car accident with kids in the car. About 43 percent of parents admit to feeling anxious, irritable, or simply angry when traveling with their children. And in one study, 76.4 percent of drivers turned around to look at their kids or viewed them in the rear-view mirror.

The Most Common Ways Children Contribute to Distracted Driving Accidents

There are many different ways that children can distract their parents while driving, but these are some of the most common:

Unsettling behaviors:

  • Screaming and fighting in the vehicle
  • Spilling drinks in the vehicle
  • Asking for snacks
  • Children throwing objects into the front seat

Trying to calm a child who is upset over losing a toy in the car, and helping a child get the toy by reaching to the back of the car are also common distractions. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Measures to Enhance Safety

If you have experienced similar anxieties while driving with children, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to improve safety while driving with children. When possible, we can reduce child-related distractions by having another adult present in the car. This person can respond to the child’s needs so that we may focus on the road with minimal distractions. Another good tip is to prevent small children from eating solids while you drive. This dramatically increases the chance of choking, which would – of course – be a major distraction. Continue reading

If you have a newer model car or truck, it is likely that your vehicle is equipped with a lane departure warning system. A recent study conducted by the insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that this technology significantly reduces the rate of serious injuries and deaths in a motor vehicle accident. Auto manufacturers introduce new vehicle safety features every year, but not all are as effective as planned. This is not the case, however, with lane departure warning systems.

According to the IIHS, “if all U.S. passenger vehicles were equipped in 2015 with a lane departure warning system, nearly 85,000 crashes and more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented that year.“ A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Why are Lane Departure Warning Systems So Effective?

According to the vice president for research for IIHS, Jessica Cicchino, a significant percentage of fatal highway accidents involve a car or truck that drifts from its lane. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol are often factors in lane drift accidents. Although the best advice would be to never drive drowsy, distracted, or impaired, it is impractical to believe that every driver will heed that advice. As such, The use of lane departure warning systems may be the next best solution.

The IIHS study, which was recently published in Consumer Reports, claims that lane departure warning technology could prevent thousands of deaths annually in the United States, and even more injuries. The institute also reported that injuries suffered in single vehicle accidents, head on collisions, and side swipes may be reduced by up to 21 percent with the use of a lane departure warning system. A Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a vehicle crash by always wearing your seatbelt, never driving while impaired, always driving the appropriate speed limit, and never talking or texting when behind the wheel. The statistics below provide additional information about the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes.

  • In 2016, there were a total of 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., in which 37,461 people died.
  • Across the nation, about 55 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities involved single-vehicle crashes.
  • Alcohol was involved in about 61 percent of all fatal car crashes in 2016.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016.
  • It is estimated that about 481,000 drivers are talking on cell phones or texting during daylight hours, every day.
  • In a NHTSA study, approximately one in 25 adults reported falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous month.

Continue reading

In MA, as in every state in the nation, drivers are required by law to insure their vehicles. Much of your insurance rate is determined by the coverage options you choose, but there are several other factors that go into calculating annual premium.

Rate Factors

Most people know that black marks on your driving record, such as OUI convictions and speeding tickets, can increase your insurance premiums, but what else factors into your rate?

  • Age: Due to a simple lack of experience, young people—from teens to early twenties—pay the highest rates for insurance. These rates can be decreased in a variety of ways, from driver’s education courses to completing a year of incident-free driving.
  • Gender: Because males have more moving violations than females—from a statistical standpoint—teen males pay more in insurance premiums than their female counterparts.
  • Overall experience: If you are older when you first get your license, you will pay higher rates than if you’d been driving for 10 years or more. Statistically speaking, inexperience leads to more accidents.
  • Driving record: Whenever you get a moving violation—whether for speeding, running a red light, or operating under the influence—points will be added to your driving record. Points are bad. They translate to higher insurance premiums and, if you get too many of them, you may lose your license.
  • Mileage: If you work close to home and don’t put many miles on your vehicle, you will likely pay less than if you have a long commute.
  • Location: Where you live factors heavily into your auto insurance rates. If you live in a highly-populated area, such as a city, your premiums will be higher because of the risk of vandalism and theft.
  • The vehicle: Cars that are more expensive to fix or replace will cost more, but helpful features—such as anti-theft devices—may reduce the rate. A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.
  • Where you park: If you park in a locked garage, your rates will be lower than if you park on a city street, for example.
  • Credit score: Most insurance companies use credit scores as an indicator of the likelihood that drivers will file claims. Even if your driving record is perfect, you will probably pay more for insurance if your credit score is poor.

Continue reading

According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), failing to properly use turn signals contributes to nearly two million car accidents annually. To further emphasize the severity of this problem, the SAE study compared improper turn signal use to distracted driving, which receives significantly more attention. Only 950,000 crashes are caused by distracted driving each year; that’s less than half of those involving turn signal errors.

The SAE study, which observed 12,000 cars, revealed that 48 percent of drivers failed to properly use their turn signal when changing lanes, or to turn the signal off after the lane change had been completed. In addition, about 25 percent of the drivers observed didn’t use a signal at all when making a right or left-hand turn. Based on this research, the SAE estimates that signal errors occur approximately two billion times every day—750 billion times each year—and that these errors significantly contribute to multi-vehicle accidents.

In addition to warning to drivers to be certain that they are using their turn signals properly, the SAE report also recommends that law enforcement officials put more resources into penalizing drivers who neglect to use turn signals, and to equip new vehicles with a system that warns drivers when turns signals are being used improperly. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Why are Turn Signals So Important?

Turn signals are one of the most important, and basic, types of vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Proper use of turn signals is an extremely effective way to reduce collisions, as turn signals give other drivers ample time to decrease their speed so that you can safely turn or change lanes.

“[A]ll drivers have an ongoing duty to use [their turn signal], just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light,” said Richard Ponziani, one of the SAE report’s authors.

Effective Turn Signal Use

It may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone knows the correct way to use turn signals. Follow the tips below to help reduce the risk of collisions, and to ensure that you don’t get stopped by police for improper turn signal use.

  • Approximately 100-200 feet before your intended turn or lane change, use your turn signal to warn other drivers.
  • Before making a maneuver, first check for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. Don’t just expect that everyone sees your signal.
  • Once your maneuver is complete, turn off your signal. A signal that remains on after a turn or lane change can be confusing to other drivers.

With proper turn signal use, we can reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents on our roadways, while simultaneously protecting our selves and our families. A MA car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence. Continue reading

Ride-hailing app Uber has recently launched a testing program for autonomous vehicles in Arizona, Pittsburgh and Toronto, among other areas. But the company pulled its fleet of self-driving cars immediately following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night. Although a 2016 accident involving a partially-autonomous Tesla resulted in a man’s death, this most recent tragedy was the first to involve a fully-autonomous vehicle. If approved, Uber’s fleet is intended to fully replace human drivers.

As 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg walked her bike across a Tempe street on Sunday night, she was struck and killed by an autonomous Uber SUV. Although 44-year-old Uber test driver Rafael Vasquez was in the driver seat at the time of the crash, the vehicle was in self-driving mode.

“The vehicle involved is one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles,” said Tempe police in a statement earlier this week. “It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel.” A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

A recall affecting about 656,800 Toyota and Lexus vehicles was recently announced, involving vehicles manufactured between May 2015 and March 2016. According to Toyota, a defect in an open electrical circuit could prevent the air bag from inflating during a crash. As air bags are intended to prevent serious injuries and death in a motor vehicle collision, a non-deploying airbag could be fatal.

Toyota has announced that it will send recall letters to owners of affected models in March 2018. In the meantime, you may wish to contact Toyota if you own one of the defective models, which include:

  • Alphard
  • Corolla
  • Esquire
  • Highlander
  • Hilux
  • Levin
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus NX SUVs
  • Noah
  • Prius
  • Probox
  • Sienta
  • Succeed
  • Vellfire
  • Voxy

As if the airbag issue wasn’t enough, one of Toyota’s most popular models, the 2018 Camry, is involved in a second recall. This time the defect involves an improper connection of fuel pipes and hoses, resulting in a potential fire hazard. Other vehicles involved in this recall are the Lexus TC-F, GS F and LC 500 vehicles manufactured in 2015 and after. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective product.

Takata Airbags

The largest auto recall of 2017 involved vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. About 34 million vehicles have been affected by the recall, and more are expected. Takata airbags have exploded during deployment, causing serious injuries to vehicle occupants. According to the NHTSA, anyone with a vehicle model equipped with a Takata airbag should avoid driving the vehicle, except directly to the manufacturer to have the dangerous defect fixed. Several Honda and Acura models are involved, as are various Toyota, Lexus and BMW models. Continue reading

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