Articles Posted in Distracted Driving

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

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?

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

Even just 10 years ago, smart phone technology at the complexity and availability that we have today was relegated to the pages of starry-eyed technology articles, optimistic tech companies, and futuristic television shows and movies. The first iPhone didn’t come out until mid-2007, and anybody who owned one of those clunkers can attest that we’ve come a long way since then.  Fast-forward back to the present, and we now live in a world where, literally, almost 100 percent of people under the age of 50 own a smart phone. Statistics from State Farm’s 2015 annual distracted driving survey showed that 99 percent of people aged 18-29 owned one, 97 percent of people aged 30-39 owned one, 92 percent of people aged 40-49 owned one, and a whopping 74 percent of people aged 50+ own one as well.

Age is no longer a factor in owning a smart phone, which could be described with no trace of hyperbole as “distraction machines” when you’re on the road. Texting, apps, on-demand video, social media and relentlessly-updating emails provide a buffet of content that we have never been more addicted to or reliant upon.  Some statistics indicate that more than 600,000 people are attempting to use their phones in some capacity while behind the wheel of a car at any given moment during the day. Although people admitting to sometimes talking on the phone while driving has decreased significantly from 65 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2015, the much more dangerous practice of texting and driving increased from 31 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2015.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic deaths have risen more than 10 percent in the first half of 2016 than during the first half of 2015, indicating a frightful trend. In 2014, 3,179 Americans died on the road as a result of distracted driving incidents.

Teens at higher risks than anybody

According to AAA, teens are involved in more driving accidents than any other age group of people. In 2013, about 963,000 drivers aged 16-19 were involved in police-reported accidents, resulting in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths. According to data from AAA and the NHTSA, about 58 percent of all teen accidents and 10 percent of teen driving fatalities involved some element of distracted driving.  A 2015 study utilized cameras to observe distracted driving incidents, and showed that distracted drivers had their eyes off the road for over four seconds. In rear-end incidents, half of the distracted teens observed were so distracted that they didn’t even attempt to stop before making impact. Although it’s hard to tell teenagers they aren’t invincible, these kinds of careless decisions can have much more dire consequences. Continue reading

We all know the dangers of texting and using Smartphones while driving, but what about smartwatches? If you aren’t yet familiar with the latest craze in internet gadgets, you will be soon. With the release of Apple’s updated smartwatch, the devices are spiking in popularity, leading many experts to question how their use impacts the risk of distracted driving.

The debate about whether or not smartwatches are considered hands-free devices has recently been decided for us, with a very definitive answer. Although smartwatch use doesn’t necessarily require you to use your hands in the same way you do when picking up and swiping the screen of a smartphone, your hands are still involved in the process. If, for example, both hands are placed on the wheel, you will have to remove the hand with the smartwatch, tilt your wrist to read the message, and momentarily take your eyes off the road. And smartwatches can be even more distracting than a smartphone, requiring you to focus on a tiny, brightly lit screen to view the desired information. Motor vehicle accidents are expected to increase as the use of smartwatches and smartphones increases.

Smartwatches – More Dangerous Than Smartphones?

According to UK-based road safety group, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), smartwatches have the potential to be more dangerous than smartphones. Smartphones can often be operated with one hand, while smartwatches always require the use of both hands. In addition, phones can easily be left in a pocket, handbag, center console, or glove box. Unfortunately, the location of a smartwatch will typically demand the attention of its wearer each time it sends notification of a message. Disciplining ourselves to keep our focus on the road has just become even more difficult. Contact a Boston Car Accident Attorney Today.

Hands-Free Laws

Many states, including Massachusetts, have “hands-free laws” requiring drivers to use only hands-free devices when driving. So, is it legal to use a smartwatch when behind the wheel? If it is not legal to use a hand-held device while driving, smartwatch device isn’t legal either. Of course, proving that a driver was actually using the watch affixed to his or her wrist will likely be difficult.

Use your head and avoid the dangers of distracted driving. Put your smartphone away while driving, and remove your smartwatch before you get behind the wheel. Your safety, and that of everyone you share the road with, depends on it. Continue reading

The dangers of distracted driving are well known. In fact, 46 states currently have laws against texting while driving. Most major highways are now equipped with “text stops”, designated pull-offs where drivers can safely, and easily, exit the road and read or send text messages. But despite the risks, millions of Americans still use their cell phones while driving every day. And texting is no longer the only phone-related concern. Apps, including Snapchat and Instagram – and even driving-related Apps, such as Waze – are taking our attention from the road.  Anyone driving in and around the Greater Boston area can see this problem on a daily basis – whether driving to or from work or just to the local market – if you look around you will see drivers  constantly looking down at their phones – and it’s very dangerous. Very dangerous. How dangerous you ask, look at the statistics below…

70% of Teens Report Using Apps While Behind the Wheel

All ages are guilty of talking, texting, or otherwise using cell phones while driving, but teens are the biggest offenders. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) recently partnered with Liberty Mutual Insurance to conduct a survey of 2,500 teen drivers. Of those surveyed, about 70 percent reported using apps while driving. This is a scary statistic, but it gets even worse. When 2,400 drivers of all ages were surveyed by the National Safety Council (NSC), 74 percent reported using Facebook while driving.

Distracted Driving May be to Blame for 25% of Auto Accidents

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of deadly auto accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than eight people are killed and 1,000 people are injured due to distracted driving, every single day. However, because distracted driving is rarely reported and hard to prove, these figures are likely much higher. The NSC estimates that approximately 25 percent of all auto accidents are a direct result of cell phone use while driving.

The average driver has traveled the length of a football field in the time it takes to read a single text. That is far too long to have your eyes off the road. If anything unexpected happens – an animal runs in front of your car, another car swerves, the car in front of you slams on its brakes – the results could be deadly. Continue reading

The risk of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is well known. But what about drowsy driving? Despite the significant difference in attitudes toward these forms of dangerous driving, drowsy driving poses a comparable risk to drunk driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 100,000 annual vehicle collisions are caused by drowsy drivers.

Of the 100,000 drowsy driving-related vehicle collisions that occur annually, more than 1,500 result in fatal injuries. Studies have shown that driving while tired presents similar cognitive and physical symptoms of impairment as found in drunk drivers. An Australian study revealed that the response time of a driver who hadn’t slept during the previous twenty-hour period was half that of a rested driver. Similar results occur in drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent. Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center discovered even more startling results. According to their research, a driver with only four hours of sleep has the cognitive and physical impairment of someone with a .19 percent BAC. That’s more than twice the legal limit!

Why are Drowsy Driving Cases So Challenging?

Driving while drowsy because of lack of sleep or sleep-inducing medications can make a person legally responsible for property damage and injuries. However, proving that the accident was caused due to driving drowsy is not an easy task. No good system exists to measure the level of a person’s drowsiness or whether they were, in fact, drowsy at all. By contrast, drunk driving is very easy to prove. If someone involved in an accident is suspected of being intoxicated, for example, a simple field sobriety test or breathalyzer test can measure that person’s level of intoxication. Not so for drowsiness.

In some instances, an at-fault driver will admit to the police that he or she was drowsy, tired, or fatigued at the time of the accident. However, this is uncommon. When an admission of guilt is not recorded, other techniques must be employed to prove drowsiness. Certain factors may help point to drowsiness as a cause, such as a prescription for a medication that promotes drowsiness. Witness statements can also be helpful when it comes to drowsy driving accidents. The bottom line – it is crucial to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience specific to this type of accident. Continue reading

Since the rise of the smartphone generation, distracted driving from cell phone use among teens has been a widely discussed concern among parents, especially.  Signs urging drivers, “Don’t Text and Drive” and “It Can Wait” can be found on highways, residential roads, and bumper stickers.  But there may be another hazard rooted in teenagers’ attachments to their smartphones other than the familiar texting problem.  Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) have recently released new research that provides evidence of the dangers mobile applications can pose to adolescent drivers.  The study found that while 27 percent of teens still report texting and driving, up to 68 percent of teens report using apps while they drive.  The teens were also asked to rank hazardous driving behaviors in regards to how dangerous they thought the behaviors were.  Researchers found that these teens perceived using social media apps while driving to be much less dangerous than texting and driving, or driving while intoxicated, for example.

In addition to the self-reported survey the teens completed, the study also included implicit association testing (IAT), a method that has been used for two decades to measure unconscious bias.  Through IAT, teens were given a variety of visual driving scenarios, including texting, using mobile apps, and receiving phone calls, and they were also given a series of words.  The test measured the speed with which the teens associated the different scenarios with the words, which then showed their instinctual feelings in regards to distracted and hazardous driving behaviors.  Examples of words that appeared in the test include, “distracting,” “safe,” and “fun”.  When researchers compared the results of the IAT with the responses the teens gave through the survey, they found several inconsistencies between what the teens said versus how they actually act when presented with the situation.  From the self-reported survey, 95 percent of teens conceded that using a mobile app while driving is dangerous.  Yet, when the same teens were given a virtual scenario of an app notification on their smartphone, a whopping 80 percent of participants linked app use while driving with the phrase, “not distracting.”  Dr. Gene Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and executive director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, emphasized the importance of the tests results in providing an insight to adolescent drivers.  “This research identifies teens’ underlying beliefs about key driving habits, providing insight into what teens really believe,” Beresin said.  “Teens as a whole are saying all the right things, but implicitly believe that using their phone while driving is safe and not a stressor or distraction behind the wheel.”

An inherent problem with some mobile apps is that they can be viewed as utilities.  Navigation and music playing apps may even be considered necessary by teens to get from point A to point B.  However, this perception confuses teens by disguising the hazards that are still prevalent in mobile apps.  Although 41 percent of teens surveyed thought that using navigation apps while driving is distracting, 58 percent still say they use them while driving.  Dr. William Horrey, Ph.D., principal research scientist at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Research Institute for Safety, emphasizes “It’s not the apps themselves that are dangerous, but how we, and our teens, interact with them while behind the wheel.”  If teens are constantly looking through playlists, searching for songs, changing the destination while navigating, etc, while using these apps, their driving can be significantly impaired.  However, picking one playlist and setting one destination at the beginning of a trip can allow for safe and undistracted driving. Continue reading

Aggressive driving and road rage has long been a problem on American roadways.  Screaming, obscene gestures, and sometimes violence are common on our nation’s streets.  Although many of us have succumbed to our emotions while driving and reacted poorly, there are some staggering statistics you should know before you put the pedal to the metal next time.  Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Auto Vantage auto club show that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are a result of aggressive driving.  They also report that 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.  The last statistic worth noting is over a seven-year period, there were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries that were attributed to road rage.  Clearly, aggressive driving can be dangerous.  However, did you also know you may be more prone to road rage depending on where you live?

New data published in the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that northeast drivers are more likely to shout at other motorists, aggressively honk, or make offensive hand gestures than drivers from other regions of the country.  This data was collected from 2,705 licensed drivers who drove a vehicle in the past month.  According to the study, almost 80 percent of U.S. drivers have experienced “significant” frustration while driving in the past year.  The study also found that an estimated 8 million U.S. drivers participate in some form of “extreme examples of road rage,” which include honking, yelling, making angry gestures, tailgating or deliberately blocking another vehicle from changing lanes.  AAA reports that drivers from the Northeast are up to 30 percent more likely to make an angry gesture than drivers from other areas of the U.S.  A small percentage of motorists reported engaging in extremely aggressive behaviors, such as tapping or hitting another vehicle or exiting their vehicle to challenge another driver.  “Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses or life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski who is the director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.” Continue reading

In the past five years, it has been reported that more than 5,000 people have been killed in automobile accidents involving teen drivers during the summer weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  AAA has gone so far as to dub this period the “100 Deadliest Days”.  Deaths during these months are at a higher rate than all other times of the year.  Mary Maguire of AAA Northeast attributes this spike to the increased hours of driving teens complete in the summer time.  Not only do teens spend more time driving, but they also drive greater distances and to places they may be less acquainted with, i.e. the beach or a summer internship.

The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months spikes 16 percent as compared to other days during the year.  Annually, this totals to more than 1,000 deaths making it the leading cause of death for American adolescents.  These crashes are not solely contributed to the inexperience of these young drivers.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that in 60 percent of these accidents involving teen drivers, the drivers were distracted.  By utilizing recorded video, audio, and accelerometer data from dashboard cameras of cars involved in crashes, AAA determined the top three driving distractions for teen drivers.  Talking to passengers accounted for 15 percent of distracted driving behaviors.  This is followed by texting or talking on the phone, which accounted for 12 percent of accidents.  Lastly, distractions inside the vehicle (radio or GPS) were present in 11 percent of crashes.

As cell phones have become an integral part of daily life, the dangers of texting and driving have become better known.  Parents and organizations acknowledge this fact and have coined phrases such as “It can wait” in order to spread awareness to teens of the dangers of driving while distracted by a cell phone.  Even so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a survey from 2007-2014 and found that the percentage of adolescent drivers found using an iPhone or similar hand-held device quadrupled, now totaling at 4.8%.  There is also a study that shows that although using a cell phone to make calls while driving is dangerous, averting one’s eyes to text or use social media while driving is significantly more dangerous.  Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states, “They went from a dangerous activity to an extremely dangerous activity”.  Continue reading

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