Articles Posted in Driving Hazards

The severe weather experienced throughout the Boston area last Tuesday has caused widespread damage on a variety of levels. Power lines and trees have fallen down and some people have suffered injuries due to the intense nature of the storm. Certain parts of the state experienced heavy rain and wind that reached over 75 MPH. Other areas of Massachusetts experienced an overwhelming hail storm that has left many vehicles damaged in the aftermath.

Reports have indicated that 2 inch hail crashed down in parts of Massachusetts during the intense storm that was brewing on Tuesday. The hail storm that took place that day is the largest hail storm that Boston has seen since about 1950, according to the weather related data that has been recorded since that time. If residents of these Massachusetts towns left their cars out in the open to brave the elements—they’ll be able to tell you just how extensive this storm was. Jackie Shelton, a resident from an undisclosed nearby town, said in a report that she believed that the windows of her car were going to give way during the heaviest part of the storm. Thankfully, her windows withstood the pummeling but the remainder of her car wasn’t as lucky. Ms. Shelton’s vehicle is now covered in dents as a result of the hail storm, and she’ll have to look into having the dents removed at an auto body now that the weather has returned to normal. Continue reading

More fatal car accidents occur in summer than during any other season. Multiple factors contribute to summer car accidents, including alcohol, heavy rain, and aggressive driving. However, work zone accidents account for a shocking number of serious injuries and deaths every year. Thousands of people are injured or killed within a relatively small window of time (mid-May through mid-October), therefore it is prudent to use extreme caution when driving through any type of work zone.

Approximately 85 percent of the time it is the driver or passenger, not a construction worker, who is injured or killed in road construction accidents. Unfortunately, road construction season typically coincides with vacation season. Roadways are clogged with an influx of beach-goers, college kids coming home for the summer, and people traveling for summer break. The delays caused by road construction combined with the surplus of drivers creates a dangerous scenario. Not surprisingly, aggressive driving is also most common in summer months. Continue reading

The residents of South Huntington Avenue in Jamaica Plain are becoming used to a familiar sound outside their apartment buildings on a busy stretch at the end of the Heath Street Green Line branch. Homeowners and tenants describe the screeching and loud, unmistakable bang of metal-on-metal as almost second nature now. The tiny stretch of South Huntington Avenue has seen an extraordinary amount of serious car accidents in the past few years. So much so that a neighbor explained, “I’m really afraid that someone is going to die in front of my building.”

Car accidents are naturally more common in the city, due to the large number of both vehicles and pedestrians crammed into the tight Boston streets. However, the number of accidents that have occurred on this very small stretch (less than one city block) is disproportionately large even by city standards. CBS Boston has done two investigative reports on the situation and the numbers they came up with are startling to say the least.
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According to a new study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway crashes cost the United States nearly $871 billion in economic loss and societal harm every year.

In a breakdown of this cost, the report found that all together, crashes cost $277 billion in economic loss or $900 per person living in the United States, and $594 billion in societal harm, from the loss of life and pain and the decreased quality of life because of crash-related injuries.

In a statement obtained by USA Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated, “No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes. While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, today’s report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events.”

According to an article by USA Today, in a similar study published by AAA in 2011, the popular auto club found that each fatal crash in 99 urban areas carries an economic toll of about $6 million. The estimate, according to USA Today, was based on Federal Highway Administration data that place dollar values on 11 components including property damage; lost earnings; loss of household activities; medical costs; emergency services; travel delays; vocational rehabilitation; lost time at work; administrative costs; legal costs; and pain and lost quality of life.

Similarly, NHTSA’s study, “The Economic and Society Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010,” centers on some of the behavioral factors that contributed to that year’s nearly 33,000 highway fatalities, 3.9 million injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles. Three driver behaviors according to the study-speeding, drunken driving and distracted driving-accounted for 56% of the economic loss to the nation and 62% of the societal harm.

The breakdown (obtained by USA Today):
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It can happen in a split second, with no warning. It can happen to anyone, and it could change your life. The new “Don’t Text and Drive” commercial put out by the United States Department of Transportation aims to shock drivers-especially teenagers-into putting their phones down and paying attention to the road. Distracted driving has become an epidemic in recent years as cell phones, tablets, and other devices have come on the market. Teenagers are especially susceptible to the effects of distracted driving because of their inexperience behind the wheel combined with an almost rabid attachment to their cell phones.

The commercial pinpoints the teenage and young adult audience with the slogan, “U drive. U text. U pay,” with the hashtag #justdrive. It features a group of young women traveling in a car on a seemingly normal day. They are seen talking and laughing as the driver becomes distracted by her phone and misses a stop sign. In an instant, they are struck by an oncoming truck in the intersection. The extremely jarring scene unfolds as the car flips over multiple times before coming to rest.

In perhaps the most poignant scene, a police officer stands beside the wreckage and explains, “Nobody likes to be stopped by police, but if I’d seen her texting while driving and given her a ticket, it just might have saved her life.” The shocking images are meant to jolt teens into understanding the reality and consequences of texting while driving at point in their lives when they may feel invincible.
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Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. If you are obeying the speed limit and traveling at 55 miles per hour, that means you covered the distance of a football field. 60% of drivers use cell phones while they drive and 39% of teenagers say that they have been involved in near-crash scenarios because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving. It is well known that texting while driving is dangerous and reckless; however, 78% of teens and young adults reported that they have read a text while driving.
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Distracted driving occurs when a driver takes his or her attention away from the task of driving. Although most people are familiar with texting while driving, there are many different forms of distracted driving.

Types of Distractions

Visual- Visual distractions occur when a driver takes his or her eyes away from the roadway.
Manual- Manual distractions occur when drivers take their hands of the wheel.
Cognitive- Cognitive distractions happen when a driver takes his or her mind off of the task of driving.

Some behaviors can fall into more than one of the distraction categories too. Texting can be a visual, cognitive and manual distraction. Eating can be a manual and visual distraction. It’s also important to understand that daydreaming while driving is a cognitive distraction.
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Microsoft’s newest Windows software update will now have a ‘Driving Mode’ feature that will automatically silence incoming text messages and phone calls while users are driving.

4-25-13%20blog2.jpgWhat’s appealing about this new software is that it is automatically activated when a phone is linked wirelessly with a car’s Bluetooth device. The application can also be configured by the user to automatically send out a reply text message that says “I’m driving.” Though the feature will minimize the amount of distractions by blocking calls and texts, it will not be able to block outgoing calls or text messages.

Still, Microsoft hopes that the new feature will encourage safer practice on the roadways and hopefully prevent cellphone-related accidents from occurring. The update, which is the third update to the Windows 8 software is accessible to all Microsoft devices and will be available within the next coming weeks.

While this new software is a proactive approach to preventing distracted driving incidents, what drivers must understand is that they are the only ones who can prevent an accident. More and more, people are using their smart phones while driving; to access the Internet, to send an e-mail, to check Facebook or Instagram. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has established a zero tolerance policy when it comes to texting and driving and does not permit the use of a smart phone for any purpose except for making a phone call. While individuals over 18 are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, all drivers, no matter what type of license they carry are banned from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Distracted driving accidents account for nearly 20% of all motor vehicle collisions in the United States. In 2011, 3,330 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in as the result of distracted driving. A person who is texting or using a smart phone while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not distracted. 5 seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are taken off the road while texting, according to the United States Ad Council, and at 55mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field blindfolded!
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Authorities in Middleborough have released new details in their search for the driver who struck and killed a local bicyclist last week.

Michael Dutra, 58, of Middleborough was the victim of the fatal hit-and-run accident, which occurred around 7 p.m. Friday evening. Authorities believe Dutra was either riding or walking his bicycle along Wood Street, where he resided.

Plymouth Country District Attorney Timothy Cruz, as well as Middleborough’s Chief of Police Bruce Gates, said that investigators of the accident had started to piece the scene together, and have collected debris from what they believe to be a light-colored model year 2005-2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Authorities think that the vehicle is possibly missing the front marker lens, may have a broken right headlight lens, as well as a damaged right front bumper. Investigators need your help. Anyone with any information regarding the case is encouraged to contact the Middleborough Police Department at (508) 947-1212.

While bike riding is a popular mode of transportation, it is also extremely dangerous, especially for individuals who choose ride at night. Unlike passengers in motor vehicles, bicyclists have no physical protective barriers against outside elements like cars, trees, guardrails, fences, and other large vehicles, and are at the mercy of others traveling on the road.

bike.jpgThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 500,000 people are treated for serious bicycle-related injuries each year, and more than 700 individuals die each year. A majority of these injuries are head injuries attributed to not wearing a helmet. Though many people dismiss the idea of wearing a helmet because of atheistic reasons, or because they feel their short commute does not warrant wearing one, wearing a helmet could make all the difference, and could even save a life. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in preventing severe head and brain injuries. Other types of injuries commonly sustained in bicycle accidents include concussions, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations, paralysis, and death.
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Prosecutors will not be pressing charges against the Amherst truck driver who struck and killed a bicyclist last May.

Livingston Pangburn, a Hampshire College student, was fatally injured when he collided with an Amherst College box truck. According to the Northwestern district attorney’s office, Pangburn was traveling in heavy traffic along College Street, and did not stop with the traffic to allow the westbound truck to make a left turn onto the college’s campus.

fast-379343-m.jpgPolice reports stated that the driver of the truck did not see the cyclist in time to stop, and Pangburn was not able to maneuver around the truck in time to avoid the crash. Prosecutors do not believe that any impairment, cell phone use, or mechanical defects with the vehicle played a role in the accident.

While this is undoubtedly a tragic story, it also puts into perspective the dangers cyclists face when riding their bikes. Because bicyclists are extremely vulnerable compared to passengers to a motor vehicles due to their lack of physical barriers to protect themselves, it is crucial for them to do their part to prevent a serious accident from occurring.

5 Tips to Stay Safe on Your Bike

1. Always, always, always wear a helmet. While it seems to be a phrase engrained in everyone’s head, so many individuals do not understand how important helmets are in preventing serious head injuries. Some people dismiss the idea of wearing a helmet because of atheistic reasons, or because they feel their short commute doesn’t warrant wearing one. But wearing a helmet could make all the difference, and could even save a life.

2. Travel with the traffic, not against it. Always ride on the right side of the road, and go with the flow of traffic. Remember that bicycles are considered vehicles too, and cyclists are responsible for adhering to the same rules of the road as drivers. If you come to a stop sign or red light, you are legally bound to stop. In addition, you are responsible for yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, just as motorists are.
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