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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.

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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.

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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

According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017. If these numbers are accurate, 2017 is the second year in a row with over 40,000 crash-related deaths. These high figures have prompted officials to call our nation’s vehicle death toll a public health crisis.

Even so, authorities and policymakers have an uphill battle to climb if they want to create laws that will actually improve the current situation. With ever-advancing vehicle technology and an increase in new laws aimed at keeping our roadways safe, one would think that vehicle fatalities would drop. However, reckless driving is at the core of many of these fatalities. Unfortunately, reckless driving is hard to solve with laws and technology alone. A Boston car crash attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What is Considered Reckless Driving?

The term reckless driving doesn’t only apply to speeding down the road in the wrong direction with no lights on. Even not wearing a seatbelt is a form of reckless driving. The most common examples include:

  • Distracted driving: About 64 percent of all traffic accidents in the U.S. involve a cell phone, and 421,000 people are injured in distracted driving-related accidents annually. Shockingly, texting and driving is six times more likely to result in an accident than drunk driving.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed is involved in one-third of all crashes and about 33 percent of all fatal crashes. Approximately 13,000 die annually because of speeding.
  • Drowsy driving: According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 64 percent of drivers admit to driving while drowsy in the past year, and 37 percent say they’ve actually fallen asleep behind the wheel.

What’s the Solution?

Designers of self-driving vehicles are under an increased sense of urgency with the rise in traffic deaths. But self-driving cars are a long-term solution. What can be done today to stop this deadly problem? A MA motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a crash.

Until self-driving cars are as common as cell phones, we need to utilize safe driving practices at all times if we want to avoid becoming a statistic. To protect yourself, your family and everyone with whom you share the road, follow the safety tips below:

  • Never use your cell phone or any other hand-held device when behind the wheel. If your smart phone has a driving mode, use it when you are en route to avoid getting texts and other alerts. If you absolutely must make a call or send a text, pull over in a safe location before doing so.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ever.
  • If you feel tired, pull over and take a power nap. Avoid driving for long stretches – especially late at night – if possible. Check any medications you are taking to see if they cause drowsiness.
  • Avoid driving in inclement weather if possible.
  • Allow ample space between you and the car ahead of you, and avoid driving aggressively.

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According to a recently released report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsiness is a factor in about 9.5 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. When serious property damage is involved, that figure rises to 10.8 percent. This is a significant increase from government statistics that previously estimated drowsy driving to be a factor in only 1 to 2 percent of crashes.

To conduct the study, researchers viewed footage from in-car cameras, showing drivers’ faces, actions and behaviors at approximately three minutes before the crash occurred. The federally-funded study reviewed more than 700 motor vehicle crashes. With 3,593 volunteers, it was the largest study of its kind.

The study cited CDC figures showing that about 35 percent of drivers in the U.S. get less than the recommended seven hours of daily sleep. The CDC also suggested that government statistics were underestimated, and that annual drowsy driving-related accidents may be as high as 6,000.

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

William Van Tassel, a driver training manager for AAA, wants the public to know that sleep is the only real solution to the drowsy driving problem.

“Short term tactics like drinking coffee, singing, rolling down the window will not work. Your body’s need for sleep will eventually override your brain’s attempts to stay awake,” said Van Tassel. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Safety Tips

By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of drowsy driving, or falling asleep behind the wheel.

  • Drink lots of water. This may mean more bathroom stops, but frequent stops are also helpful at keeping you awake and alert.
  • Avoid heavy foods before or during your drive.
  • Whenever possible, travel with a passenger. In addition to providing conversation and engagement, the other person can drive if you become too tired.
  • Be aware of the side effects of any prescription or over-the-counter meds you may be taking. If they cause drowsiness, you may have to temporarily stop the medication, only drive when the drowsy effects are least likely to occur, take an alert passenger along to share driving time, or stop for power naps whenever you feel sleepy.
  • When all else fails, pull over in a safe location and sleep.

Is Technology the Answer?

With technological advancements taking over the world – cars included – is technology the answer? Multiple new model cars now have a driver alertness monitor. This monitor sets off an alarm if it detects that the driver is sleepy. The feature is not intended to keep you awake, just to alert you that your level of fatigue is becoming dangerous. Some vehicles, including certain Mercedes-Benz models, will actually bring the car to a complete stop and turn on the hazards if the driver becomes unresponsive. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a car accident. Continue reading

The City of Boston is making its streets smart with technology – such as cameras and sensors – to learn how people interact on, and with, Boston’s streets. The Vision Zero initiative, which is being implemented in multiple cities across the country – aims to put an end to serious motor vehicle crashes. Through the data collected via camera and sensor technology, Boston can re-imagine its streets, improving design and overall safety.

 

Working with Verizon, the City of Boston is gathering data at city intersections, including the one at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. This data will be used to determine what, if any, changes need to be made. To gather necessary data, this pilot program is using video cameras, LED lights, and sensors placed under the road. Possible changes may include:

  • increased enforcement of traffic rules,
  • better public education about traffic rules,
  • improved sidewalks, streets, and signage.

Once acquired, the data is uploaded into a web-based platform for analysis and reporting. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What Type of Data is Being Gathered?

  • How different types of vehicles – including bicycles – move during green, yellow, and red traffic signals
  • Whether vehicles tend to remain in the intersection for an extended period of time
  • Where pedestrians are using crosswalks
  • How pedestrians respond to “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” traffic signals
  • The frequency with which motor vehicles and cyclists yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Use of bike lanes by cyclists
  • Situations that result in cyclists riding outside those lanes

What About Privacy?

There has been some concern about privacy as records of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are collected, and video data is analyzed. According to the City of Boston, the data is anonymous. No specific personal information is attached to any records. Additionally, the City will not have access to any video footage. Rather, Verizon – who owns the data – provides basic information to the City, such as the number of pedestrians on a given day. Neither Verizon nor the City will use biometric software to read license plates or perform facial recognition analysis. Further, the video will not track specific individuals or issue traffic tickets.

Smart Streets, Smart City

Vision Zero’s “Smart Streets” are just one part of the overall “Smart City” technology, with which the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is experimenting. Other smart city technology includes self-driving vehicles and smart parking sensors, “Internet of all Things” devices, and interactive public art. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Considering that there are more than five million car accidents annually, and about 80 people die in car accidents every day, Boston’s initiative to reduce serious and fatal accidents to zero is both encouraging and challenging. As technology continues to advance, however, the rate of fatal accidents is likely to drop. This is good news for all. In the meantime, always wear your seat belt, don’t speed, don’t text and drive, and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Continue reading

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