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.

Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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

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

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

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

We all know that distracted driving is a problem, and that smart phones and other electronic devices only make it worse. But what about other types of distraction, such as eating and daydreaming? According to a recent report, nearly 3,500 people die annually in distraction-related auto accidents, and another 400,000 are seriously injured. Although many of these accidents involve a hand-held electronic device, some do not. What other forms of distraction are taking lives on U.S. roadways each year? Read on to find out.

Types of Distraction

When it comes to driving in Boston,  there are three types of distractions. These are visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. manual distractions take your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take your mind off driving. Texting and using social media are so dangerous because they involve all three. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents

  • Daydreaming: If you are mentally focused on something other than the road, your risk of a crash increases dramatically. For this reason, it is important to avoid getting behind the wheel if you are not in a state of mind to focus on the road. If a serious life event is causing you distress, you may want to take a break from driving until you feel better.
  • Talking, texting, and using social media: Basically, this refers to any use of an electronic device. Although hand-held devices are most distracting, even hands-free devices can take your mind and vision from the road. If you have to make or receive a call or text, pull over in a safe location before doing so. To resist the temptation to glance at a text, put your smart phone on drive mode before you hit the road.
  • Rubber-necking: Allowing yourself to be distracted by accidents, police stops, construction sites, or nearby drivers can be deadly.
  • Passengers: Interacting with passengers causes about five percent of annual distracted driving-related accidents. This is especially true when young children are involved. To reduce the risk of this type of accident, make sure that children are safely buckled, do not turn around while driving, avoid reaching in the backseat to give them a toy, and do not allow them to eat while you are driving.
  • Adjusting vehicle controls: You can become manually, visually and cognitively distracted when you change the radio station, adjust the vehicle’s temperature, put on or take off your seat belt, and adjust your mirrors.
  • Eating and drinking: Consuming food and drinks contributes to two percent of distracted driving-related accidents each year. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.
  • Reaching: When we take our eyes off the road to reach for a map, food, an electronic device or a child’s toy, we can become dangerously distracted.
  • Smoking: Lighting, smoking, putting out and accidentally dropping a cigarette are all forms of distraction.

Continue reading

It should be obvious, shouldn’t it? Using Facebook or Instagram while driving is a bad idea. But knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, statistics show that although we may know the dangers of using social media while driving, we’re still doing it. A recent survey sponsored by the National Safety Council revealed that 74% of those surveyed use Facebook while driving, and 37% use Twitter. YouTube and Instagram came in close behind. People are even playing video games while driving. Last year, a Maryland man crashed into a parked police car while playing “Pokemon Go.”

In 2008, Jennifer Smith’s mother was killed when a 20-year-old who was using her cell phone drove through a red light. “As I’m talking to new families, more and more of them are telling me, ‘It’s Snapchat,’ ” said Smith. “It’s Snapchat today, but then what is it tomorrow? You know, we’ve got the ‘Pokemon Go’ coming, and then it’s the next thing.” Smith works full time to lobby for legislation that will prevent accidents like the one that killed her mother. “Social networking while driving is not necessary and should not be done by anyone, in any way, who’s driving. Period. And somehow we’ve got to make the whole country understand that.” A MA auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Distracted Driving Likely a Factor in One-Quarter of all Crashes in Massachusetts and Around the Country

Unfortunately, it looks like we have a long way to go before drivers – especially young drivers – change their distracted-driving habits. In a recent survey of 2,500 teens, nearly 70 percent admitted to using apps while they drive. Only six percent of those surveyed said they think that social media is the most distracting behavior while driving. But distracted driving kills an average of eight people every day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And that is likely a massive underestimation. Proving that an accident was caused by distracted driving isn’t an easy thing to do. The National Safety Council estimates that distracted driving is actually responsible for about 25 percent of all crashes.

Social Media Slows Reaction Time More than Alcohol

In fact, according to a study conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the reaction time for a driver who has been drinking is reduced by 12 percent; for someone on their smart phone, it’s a 38 percent reduction. And the use of social media is making things even worse. Kids are growing up in a society where it’s socially acceptable to post a picture of the congested traffic they’re sitting in on their drive home. Distracted driving is never ok. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver. Continue reading

Poor driving habits and inexperience are the main factors involved in teen driving accidents. Parents often look forward to the moment when their teenage children can drive themselves to school and sports practices, but this momentous occasion can also result in parental anxiety and fear. Considering that auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, parents have a reason to feel anxious. Fortunately, most of these accidents are preventable. This back to school season, teach your teen driver how to avoid being seriously injured or killed in a preventable auto accident.

Teens have a tendency to feel invincible. This “Superman Complex,” coupled with a lack of experience behind the wheel, can be extremely dangerous. Poor driving habits such as speeding, and reckless and distracted driving, are common factors in teen driving accidents. As a parent, the first step in combating these behaviors is to provide a good example. Practice what you preach; don’t text or talk on your cell phone when behind the wheel. If you must take a call, find a safe spot to pull over before doing so. Keep your phone in the glove box or stashed away in your purse while driving. Our children pay attention to our behaviors more than we think. A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Safety Starts with the Vehicle

In addition to setting a good example, it’s important to set your teen driver up for success. This means providing your young one with a safe vehicle to drive. It doesn’t mean you have to spend $30,000 on a trendy, brand new car. Older cars can be just as safe if they are well-maintained. Check tires to ensure they are properly inflated and have sufficient tread. Bad tires are more prone to hydroplaning on wet roads and blowing out at high speeds. A young, inexperienced driver is less likely to respond appropriately in either of those situations.

8 Danger Zones

According to the CDC, at least one of the eight scenarios below is a factor in most teen car accidents.

  • Inexperience
  • Driving with teen passengers
  • Driving at night
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
    Reckless driving
  • Impaired driving

Safety Tips From the Insurance Information Institute

If you have teen drivers in your household, educating them about good driving behaviors can help reduce their chances of becoming a statistic:

  • Before purchasing a car for your teen, do your research. Check to make sure the vehicle has performed well in crash tests and ranks highly for safety.
  • If your area or school offers a driver education or “safe driver” class, enroll your child in the program immediately.
  • Talk to your children frequently about the dangers of impaired driving, distracted and reckless driving, speeding, and other bad driving behaviors. Even if they roll their eyes, they are
  • Teen drivers should avoid having teen passengers for at least six months to a year after they get their license.
  • Always model good driving behaviors for your teen.

Continue reading

We are in the midst of what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls “the 100 deadliest days of summer,” during which teen driving fatalities rise every year. In fact, according to AAA, “new teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash.” Fatal teen accidents are a growing problem, but there are steps we can take to protect our children from becoming a statistic. Read on for more information about how to avoid serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident this summer.

Why Summer?

First, it’s important to understand why teen driving fatalities increase in summer months. There are numerous factors, including:

  • Teens are not in school.
  • Teens are on the road more in summer than during the school year.
  • Teens have significantly less driving experience than their adult counterparts.

So what should parents do?

Be a Role Model for Your Teen Driver

Parents are the number one role model for teen drivers. Spend as much time as possible driving with your children to ensure that they have ample time to get acclimated to different driving conditions and situations. It’s also crucial to model good driving behaviors for your children. That means no speeding or texting while driving, and always wearing your safety belt. And talk to your kids about dangers, especially distracted and aggressive driving. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed due to a distracted or aggressive driver.

Teen Driving Dangers – Statistics

The following statistics are provided by the AAA Foundation:

  • When teens are driving with one other teen passenger, their risk of a fatal accident increases by 44 percent.
  • When three or more teen passengers are in the car, the risk of a fatal accident quadruples.
  • When an adult passenger age 35 or older is present, the risk of a fatal accident decreases by 62 percent.
  • About 70 percent of teens admit that they they’ve used a cell phone while driving in the past month.
  • More than 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving in the past month.
  • Approximately 80 percent of teens underestimate the dangers of their own distracted driving habits.
  • About 94 percent of teens admit to keeping their cell phones turned on while driving.

A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

How to Prevent Teen Driving Fatalities in Summer, and All the Time

The death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Considering that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for young people, it’s essential to educate teens on safe driving behaviors. The following tips can help you protect your teen this summer, and all the time.

  • Tell teens to never text or talk on their cell phone while driving. Teach them to put their phone in the glove box while driving, and pull over to a safe location if they need to send a text or make a call.
  • Speeding is always dangerous, but it’s especially risky for inexperienced teen drivers. Teach your kids to always follow the posted speed limit.
  • If possible, new teen drivers should avoid driving at night or in inclement weather until they have more experience. Evening hours and weekends are the worst time for teen accidents, year round.
  • Remind teens that summer is the deadliest month for teen auto accidents. They may roll their eyes at your constant reminders, but they will

Continue reading

In many ways, millennials have had an uphill battle; they inherited a struggling economy, lackluster job market, and even a reputation for being lazy and selfish. Stereotypes of millennials living in their parents’ basement, taking selfies and binge watching Netflix all day are just that – stereotypes. But there may be some merit to the claims that millennials are not the best drivers. In fact, a new AAA Foundation study says that young millennials are among the worst drivers on the road.

It’s no surprise that novice teen drivers have a greater risk of being involved in an auto accident than their older, more experienced counterparts. In addition to lack of experience, teens are more inclined to practice dangerous driving behaviors, such as distraction, speeding, and reckless driving. However, teens are not the biggest concern. In fact, young millennials – people between the ages of 19 and 24 – are the drivers with the most dangerous behaviors.

The AAA study reports that ““88% of young millennials engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days, earning the top spot of worst behaved U.S. drivers.” A MA auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been harmed by another driver’s negligence.

What Dangerous Driving Behaviors Do Millennials Engage in the Most?

Any behavior that takes your focus from the road or limits your ability to safely control your vehicle can be deadly. The AAA study linked the following behaviors to young millennial drivers:

  • Driving and texting
  • Speeding
  • Running red lights

In 2015, traffic fatalities increased by approximately seven percent, making it “the largest single-year increase in five decades.” So why such a rise in roadway deaths? Careless driving may be the culprit.

Young People Underestimate Dangers

According to the AAA Foundation’s executive director Dr. David Yang, many people in this age group simply don’t understand the severity of their driving behaviors. “Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” said Yang. “It is critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads.”

Young Millennials – Dangerous Driving Statistics

Studies continue to prove that careless driving is a problem with young millennials. But what constitutes “careless driving”? See below for a few examples.

This age group:

  • Reads text messages six times more frequently than other age groups.
  • Is nearly twice as likely to send a text while driving.
  • Is four times as likely to speed.

And about 14 percent of young millennials think it is acceptable to run a red light just as it’s about to turn red, even if it’s still possible to come to a complete stop. A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you determine how to recover damages if you’ve been injured in an auto accident. 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.

Continue reading

Contact Information