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Articles Posted in Driver Safety

Driverless cars will likely be the main mode of transportation in the future, but that future may be a bit more distant than expected. A self-driving taxi pilot project in Las Vegas ended with less-than-desirable results last week. After only a few hours of shuttling people around the city, the driverless van collided with a delivery truck as it was backing into an alley to make a delivery. According to the initial investigation, the human driver did something that the robot car couldn’t have anticipated.

Last Wednesday, the pod-like shuttle was on day one of offering complimentary rides around a small loop in Vegas. No one was injured in the collision, but it is cause for concern. It also brings to light a glaring issue that designers of driverless vehicles have yet to figure out – how can self-driving vehicles effectively interact with those driven by humans?

“This is exactly the kind of real-world scenario that this pilot is attempting to learn from,” said John Moreno, AAA spokesman. “This is one of the most advanced pieces of technology on the planet, and it’s just now learning how to interact with humans and human driving.”

Robots Don’t Understand Nonverbal Communication

The reality is, humans use nonverbal communication signals when driving every day. The truck, which was backing up when it shouldn’t have been, collided into the driverless pod stopped behind it. Had a human been driving the pod, he or she would have likely given in to the truck’s nonverbal request to “get out of my way,” by backing up. Had there not been another vehicle behind the pod, it may have done the same. However, the pod appeared to freeze in place, unable to determine how to react – can’t move forward, can’t back up.

According to a reporter who was on board at the time of the incident, a human would have probably responded differently. “We had about 20 feet of empty street behind us (I looked) and most human drivers would have thrown the car into reverse and used some of that space to get away from the truck,” wrote Jeff Zurschmeide, a reporter for Digitaltrends.com. “Or at least leaned on the horn and made our presence harder to miss. The shuttle didn’t have those responses in its program.”

Police arrived at the scene, issuing a ticket to the truck driver.

The purpose the the AAA-sponsored pilot program is to expose riders to driverless technology and determine how these vehicles perform in real-world situations. There is a human operator on board during the pilot rides, but the incident simply happened too quickly for the operator to react. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

The Las Vegas pilot project incident isn’t the first crash involving a driverless car. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized Tesla Inc.’s semi-autonomous systems in September, referencing a fatal 2016 accident involving the Tesla Model S. The Model S allows the driver to go “hands-free” for an extended period. Basically, it can steer itself. Unfortunately, a driver in Florida was killed when his Model S, which was steering itself at the time, crashed into a truck. NTSB ruled that, although the human drivers were the main cause of the accident, the autopilot design was a contributing factor.

This recent self-driving accident in Las Vegas shows the difficulties that driverless vehicles have when it comes to nonverbal communication. This type of communication occurs with great frequency between human drivers every day. The truck driver may not have seen the pod, but it’s more likely that he expected it to move.

“He probably had an expectation that the shuttle would back off and allow him to do his thing,” said Duke University robotics professor Missy Cummings. “Obviously that doesn’t work. There wasn’t the logic inside this little shuttle to anticipate this.” A MA auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Harsh winters and less-than-ideal driving conditions are a fact of life in New England. If we could all avoid driving when roadways are covered with snow and ice, winterizing our vehicles wouldn’t be so important. But the reality is, most of us can’t avoid driving when the weather outside is frightful. The need to commute to work, shuttle the kids to and from school and sports practices, and run errands doesn’t go away during the winter months. Read on for more information about how to dramatically reduce your risk of being involved in a winter weather-related motor vehicle accident.

Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold

Follow the tips below to ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter driving conditions.

  • Check your windshield wipers. The life cycle of a wiper blade is not particularly long; they generally need replaced every year. Get new wipers if you’re due, and make sure that your wiper fluid is full while you’re at it.
  • Get an oil change and ensure that you use the right type of oil for the season. Oil thickens when the temperatures drop, so you may need a thinner oil than you would use during summer months.
  • Keep your gas tank as close to full as possible during winter months. If you get stranded, you can’t run the heat if your car runs out of gas. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a car accident.
  • Take your vehicle in for a check up. Winter weather can take a toll on batteries, belts, and hoses. To give your car a chance, it’s a good idea to ensure that these parts are in solid, working order at the start of the season. Repair shops can determine if your battery is strong enough to hold a charge, and that your belts and hoses don’t have excessive wear and tear. If you have four-wheel drive, your mechanic can also make sure that it’s working properly.
  • Good tires are essential during winter months. Poor inflation and / or tread can result in poor traction, a situation which is only made worse when roads are covered in snow, slush, or ice. Tire pressure generally drops with outside temps. Consult your owner’s manual to determine what your tire pressure should be, and fill it to that level. Keep in mind that over-inflated tires can be just as dangerous as under-inflated tires. Also ensure that your tires have adequate tread. “Bald” tires can be deadly any time of year, but especially in winter. If it’s time to invest in new tires, consider getting snow tires.
  • Put an “emergency kit” in your truck. If you have an accident or break down on a less-traveled roadway or late at night, you may be stranded for a few hours or more. Keep yourself safe and comfortable by storing the following items in your car during winter months:
  • Blankets
  • Boots, gloves, and scarf
  • Set of warm clothes, including socks
  • Bottles of water and non-perishable snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Snow shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Flares
  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • Tools to change a tire
  • First-aid kit
  • A bag of sand or kitty litter for traction if stuck in snow
  • If you do get stranded, stay with your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are and how to quickly walk to safety. If you have cell reception, call for help. Light your flares and place at both ends of your vehicle. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a car accident.

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The dangers of driving drunk are well known. But what about driving tired? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigued or drowsy driving leads to more than 100,000 reported accidents annually in the United States.

When it comes to driving, fatigue is an impairment, much like alcohol. One major difference between fatigued driving and drunk driving, however, is that fatigue cannot be easily measured with a breath or blood test. If you think a fatigued driver is responsible for your injuries, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages.

Symptoms of Fatigued Driving

If you think you are too tired to drive safely, don’t get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, people often don’t realize they are fatigued until it’s too late. Below are some common symptoms of driver fatigue. If you notice yourself doing any of these things, pull over.

  • Repeated yawning
  • Difficulty focusing, both visually and cognitively
  • Head nodding
  • Daydreaming
  • Drifting in and out of your lane
  • Rubbing your eyes
  • Frequent blinking
  • Hallucinating

Risk Factors for Fatigued Driving

Most of us have had at least one or two experiences with fatigued driving, but some people drive while drowsy on a daily basis. This is of special concern for long-haul truck drivers, late shift workers, and medical professionals who put in 12 and 14-hour shifts. Driver fatigue is also common among people with obesity, certain health problems, and those who smoke. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs are also notorious for causing driver fatigue. Talk to your health care provider about these risks if you are currently taking any type of medication. You may have a high risk of driver fatigue if you:

  • are between the ages of 16 and 29.
  • are a shift worker who works irregular hours, or at night.
  • have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, such as narcolepsy.

Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. In both scenarios, our reaction time is slower, our judgment is impaired, and our overall awareness is significantly decreased. We may also develop aggressive behaviors and become moody or irritable when fatigued, none of which support safe driving practices. When we are unfocused and agitated, the chance for a collision increases dramatically. Not to mention, fatigued driving can lead to falling asleep behind the wheel, which rarely ends well.

Fatigued Driving Statistics

The statistics below provide a deeper look into the problem of fatigued driving, and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.

  • Approximately one in 25 adults say they have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the previous 30 days.
  • Individuals who snore are more likely to fall asleep while driving.
  • More than 6,000 traffic fatalities annually are caused by fatigued or drowsy driving.
  • Men are nearly twice as likely as women to fall asleep behind the wheel.
  • Fatigued driving is more common among adults with young children in the household.
  • An Australian study revealed that being awake for 24 hours produces a level of impairment equal to that of an intoxicated person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .10, which is well above the legal limit.
  • A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) revealed that only about one in five drivers pulls over to nap when fatigued.
  • Younger adults are less likely to pull over when tired than their older counterparts.

If you feel fatigue coming on while driving, protect yourself and anyone with whom you share the road. Pull over. A 20-minute nap may just save your life. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence. 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.

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Motor vehicle accidents can be traumatizing, even minor ones. When you’re in such an emotional state, it can be difficult to think clearly. But the moments following an auto accident are crucial to the outcome of your case if you choose to file a personal injury claim. Read on for more information about what to do immediately following a car accident.

 

  • Remain at the scene: This is important for many reasons. For starters, if someone else was injured or property was damaged, you could face criminal charges as a hit-and-run driver. Secondly, never assume that you weren’t injured or that no damage occurred to your vehicle. Injuries and damages can appear hours, days, or even weeks after an accident. If you didn’t stick around to get the other driver’s information, you’ll be out of luck when it comes to recovering damages.

 

  • Make sure that passengers and other drivers are safe: Don’t proceed to the next steps until you are certain that everyone involved in the accident is safe. If anyone needs medical attention, call for help immediately. If someone is unconscious, or complaining of severe pain in the back or neck, avoid moving them until professionals arrive. If you are injured and conscious, ask someone to call for help.

 

  • Contact the police: Once you’ve determined that everyone is okay, it’s time to call the police. If there is property damage or injuries, this is of the utmost importance. If no injuries or property damage are apparent, go to the next step.

 

  • Exchange information with the other driver and any witnesses: It may be unnecessary to call the police if no damages or injuries exist, but it’s never a good idea to avoid exchanging information. Ask the other driver for his or her name, phone number, address, license plate number, and driver’s license number. Also get the names and numbers of any passengers and witnesses. Be polite, friendly, and cooperative. And willingly provide your information in exchange.

 

  • Don’t apologize or talk too much: Anything you say can be used against you. Don’t apologize, even if you think the accident was your fault. Simply ask if everyone is okay and offer to get help if needed. Certainly don’t admit liability. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.

 

  • Contact your insurance company: Immediately following the accident and exchange of information, inform your insurance carrier that you’ve been involved in an accident. Give straightforward, clear facts, and avoid lying as this could amount to big trouble down the road.

 

  • Photograph the accident: With today’s smart phones, we always have a camera on hand. Take as many pictures as possible. Photograph the accident scene, damage to your vehicle, any other property damage, and anything that may have contributed to the accident, such as a blocked stop sign. Also photograph your injuries. A dark blue bruise today may be completely faded by tomorrow. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.

 

  • Keep records of any medical treatment and automotive work following the accident: Make a note of any appointments with physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists, as well as a detailed account of any medications you are prescribed. In addition to your own notes, obtain copies of medical bills. These are invaluable if you decide to bring a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, make a note of how your injuries have negatively affected your life, from lost work time to activities you can no longer participate in.

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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

Motor vehicle insurance is intended to protect you from financial losses if you are involved in an accident. These losses can result from property damage to your vehicle, other vehicles, other property, and from personal injuries suffered by anyone involved in the accident. In addition to being important, auto insurance is required by law. But what if you are injured in a car accident and the at-fault person doesn’t have insurance? Will your policy cover your medical bills and damage to your car? What if the at-fault person just doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of your damages? Read on for more information about uninsured and underinsured coverage, and why it’s so important.

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM and UIM, respectively) is optional or “add-on” coverage that supplements a basic insurance policy. Don’t let the fact that UM and UIM are optional convince you that they’re unnecessary. If you are injured by a driver who doesn’t carry auto insurance, or whose coverage is inadequate, you may find yourself in serious financial trouble, unless you have UM and UIM coverage. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.

Can’t I Just Sue the At-Fault Driver?

Yes, in theory you can sue anyone you want to, but statistics show that the majority of uninsured and underinsured motorists are driving without coverage because they can’t afford it. If they can’t afford $30-a-month for basic auto insurance, how much do you think you’ll get from them in a personal injury lawsuit? That’s not to say that a lawsuit is pointless, but having UM and UIM coverage can protect you against a financial crisis if the at-fault driver is destitute.

Uninsured Driver Statistics

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, or you are injured in a hit-and-run, UM and UIM can save the day. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately one out of every seven U.S. drivers is uninsured. Further, 12.5 percent of accidents are caused by uninsured drivers, and $28,000,000,000 worth of auto damage is unpaid annually due to uninsured drivers. And there are even more drivers with inadequate insurance policies (UIM). Take the following scenario for example:

Mr. A is involved in an accident with Mr. B; it is Mr. B’s fault. Mr. A is rushed to the hospital, and weeks later the total damages (medical expenses and property damage) have amounted to just over $22,000. Unfortunately, while Mr. B’s insurance policy has bodily injury coverage, it caps at $10,000. If Mr. A has UIM in the amount of $100,000, his policy will kick in to pay the remaining $12,000 that Mr. B’s policy didn’t cover. If, however, Mr. A doesn’t carry UIM, he’ll be on the hook for that $12,000 himself. A MA car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by an underinsured driver. Continue reading

The start of summer can be an exciting time for everyone: warmer weather, the end of the school year, vacations, etc. But it also signals the beginning of a more disheartening season. According to research conducted by AAA, the 100 days after Memorial Day (until most school years begin again) are the “deadliest” for teen drivers. One sobering estimate, based on five years of research, is that approximately 1,000 people nationwide will die in automobile crashes involving teenage drivers (between the age of 16 and 19).

Much of this has been attributed to the increased number of teenage drivers on the road – when they are out of school, they are more likely to be driving around – however, this is also compounded by several other factors. For example, distracted driving is an issue for drivers of all ages, but especially for teenagers who are notorious for being “connected” at all times. It is estimated that distracted driving – including both talking and texting on cell phones – is behind almost 60% of crashes that occur over the summer. According to a study done by the University of Iowa which analyzed the final six seconds before a crash (by looking at over 2,000 dash-camera videos of moderate to severe crashes from August 2007 to April 2015) “15% involved talking to others in the car, 12% involved a cell phone (talking, texting, or otherwise operating), and 11% involved looking at or attending to something inside the car.” Additionally, according to Virginia Tech, using a cell phone or other device while driving, makes a crash more than 23 times more likely.

In order to work towards lessening these statistics of close to 10 teen driver-related deaths per day over the summer, it is important to take several different steps as parents, friends, and fellow drivers. If you are the parent of a teen driver, whether or not they recently acquired their license, it is crucial to both be aware of the increased danger of driving over the summer, as well as to communicate and discuss this with your child. Make sure that they understand how texting while driving (or even using their phone in another way) can dramatically increase the risk of crashing – and injuring themselves or others, or even causing a fatality.

With its beautiful coast, diverse mix of big cities and quaint, New England towns, and plenty of scenic backroads, Massachusetts is a popular state for motorcycle enthusiasts. Riding a motorcycle is cheaper than driving a car, allows a rider to maneuver through congested traffic more easily than drivers of passenger vehicles, and it’s fun. But riding a motorcycle is also inherently more dangerous than driving a car or truck. Read on for more information about risks associated with motorcycle riding, and how to avoid becoming a statistic.

Due a motorcycle’s small size and lack of protection, motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injury and death than those involving only cars and trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 more times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2014 crash data.” In fact, a motorcycle rider is six times more likely to suffer injuries in a crash than her car and truck driving counterparts. A Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a crash.

How to Avoid a Deadly Motorcycle Crash

But it’s not all bad news. Most motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities are preventable. There are multiple ways to protect yourself if you choose to ride. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death.

  • Always wear a helmet: According to the NHTSA, helmets are 37 percent effective at preventing rider fatalities.
  • Make yourself visible: Most motorcycle accidents involving a passenger vehicle are caused by drivers who did not see the motorcyclist. According to the NHTSA, “The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes generally are caused when other drivers simply didn’t see the motorcyclist.” To reduce this risk, avoid riding in vehicle blind spots, and wear bright colored clothing.
  • Ride defensively
  • Obey traffic laws
  • Enroll in a rider education course: Whether you’re new to riding or you’ve been riding for decades; it’s always good to have a refresher.
  • When possible, avoid riding in adverse weather conditions.
  • Do not speed: A 2013 study found that approximately 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were using excessive speed, compared to only 21 percent for drivers of passenger vehicles.
  • Never ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: A study of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2013 revealed that riders involved in fatal crashes had higher blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) than drivers of any other type of motor vehicle.

The unfortunate reality is, motorcycle riders have a reputation for being disrespectful of the rules of the road, and even the law in general. Of course, that’s not true of the vast majority of motorcyclists…but inaccurate perceptions continue to prevail. And this negative attitude toward motorcyclists actually contributes to the high rate of accidents. Drivers are less likely to “double check” for motorcyclists before switching lanes or making turns, just as they are less likely to give ample space between their vehicle and a motorcycle ahead of, or beside them. When drivers believe that riders are impolite, unlawful road hogs, they are inclined to give them a “taste of their own medicine.” Not only is this behavior unfair, it can be deadly. If driver negligence has caused you harm, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. Continue reading

On March 1, 2017, the Safety Institute released its quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List to identify those vehicles with a higher-than-average risk of dangerous defects. The report uses statistics from Early Warning Reports, including injury and death claims. Although the list does not include automobile defects that have already been made official, it does take into account consumer reports that warn of potential dangers. Nearly half of the vehicles on the list are GM vehicles.

The March 2017 Vehicle Safety Watch List identifies 15 vehicles that may have dangerous defects. These include:

  • 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 – Powertrain
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