Articles Posted in Driving Hazards

A 17-year-old was cited after she struck and seriously injured a couple and their infant child in the South End on Sunday afternoon.

According to witnesses and investigators, the teenager hit the couple and child as they were crossing the street near Columbus Avenue and Dartmouth Street. The teen’s car also hit a pole and the side of a brownstone at Lawrence and Dartmouth streets. The couple and their child were taken to Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for serious injuries. The child was not seriously injured and was released to family members. The father was admitted for a leg and head injury, and the mother suffered serious head and neck trauma.

4-25-13%20blog2.jpgThe driver was operating with a junior operator’s license, and had been driving with another 17-year-old in the car; a violation of J.O.L passenger restrictions. According to Massachusetts Law, junior operators may not operate a motor vehicle within the first six months of obtaining his or her license with an individual under the age of 18 years, unless accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old, has at least one year of driving experience, holds a valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state, and is occupying the passenger seat. Violations of this restriction may result in the driver having his or her license suspended for 60-days and paying a $100 license reinstatement fee for the first offense. Subsequent offenses result in a longer suspension period, taking a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course, as well as a reinstatement fee.

The teenager was most likely cited for the passenger violation, as well as operating to endanger, negligent operation, and reckless driving, which carries a license suspension of 180 days and a reinstatement fee of $500, for the first offense. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
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An inspection report by the Maine State Police found that the truck and trailer that caused a fatal accident on Interstate 93 last week had violated safety codes and should have been taken out of service.

Part of the wheel assembly detached from a trailer hauling a modular home traveling southbound in Hooksett, New Hampshire on September 18. According to police, a wheel flew off the trailer, struck a northbound police cruiser, and bounced back into the southbound lane, subsequently striking another car, and killing the driver. The trailer, which belongs to Crawford Homes, Inc. which manufactures modular homes, violated numerous safety protocols.

In the report, State Police found that the trailer’s brakes were “inadequate” for safe stopping, as they were contaminated with grease and oil. In addition, the brake hose on one of the truck’s axels had deteriorated and was scraping against another piece of the truck. State Police reports also showed an issue with the service brake, in that when applied, there was significant air loss from the canister. Finally, the trailer’s remaining wheels had improper emergency braking. Safety records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicate that prior to this incident neither the company’s trucks nor drivers had been involved in an accident in two years.

file000474832304.jpgTrucking companies have a lot at stake, as injuries from these types of accidents often tend to be serious or fatal, as, unfortunately was illustrated in the accident last week. Subsequent to any accident, trucking companies may hire a team of investigators in order to mitigate the liability as well as the legal costs associated with the accident. After an accident occurs, it is imperative for the victim and the victim’s family to seek legal counsel with an experienced attorney. Some of the major causes of these types of accidents include driver fatigue, equipment failure, negligent maintenance, overload or improper loading of truck, driver inattention, non-compliance with federal regulations, and speeding. While it is still under investigation, negligent maintenance and equipment failure seem to be the two most prominent factors in what caused last week’s fatal accident.
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A 12-year-old Waltham boy was seriously injured after he was struck by a dump truck while riding his bike this morning.

According to police reports, the young man was hit near Pine Street in Waltham by a 22-year-driver of a dump truck. The boy was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, and was conscious when rescue officials arrived at the scene. He was flown by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Boston to be treated for severe head and elbow lacerations.

With school back in session, it is important for drivers to be aware of the extra foot and bicycle traffic on the roads during the morning commute. This instance is an unfortunate example of how inattention can lead to a serious accident, injury, and sometimes death.

1059798_cyclist.jpgPedestrians and bicyclists are extremely vulnerable compared to passengers to a motor vehicle because they do not have any physical barriers to protect themselves if they are hit by a car, truck, or any other vehicle or object on the road. Boston and the surrounding Massachusetts communities, like Waltham, are filled with activity and traffic that pose serious threats to pedestrians’ and bicyclists’ safety. Broken bones, serious cuts and lacerations, bruises, skin burns, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and even death are common injuries of pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

Both pedestrians and bicyclists can do their part to increase their own safety by:
Always wearing a helmet while riding a bike. Helmets are the most practical way to prevent a serious head or brain injury in the event of an accident.
• Wearing bright or reflective clothing, carrying a flashlight or wearing a flashing headlamp when walking or riding at dusk and at night. Wearing dark clothing makes it harder for drivers to see, but wearing reflective clothing will ensure that you will be better seen by vehicle operators.
• Walk on sidewalks whenever possible or walk against traffic when there are no sidewalks.
• Ride in designated bike lanes, use proper hand-gestures to signal turns, and follow the rules of the road. Remember that bicyclists must follow the same rules as cars.
• Cross at designated crosswalks and avoid jaywalking whenever possible.
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It’s a statement that’s engrained in every driver’s head: “Don’t text and drive.” While Massachusetts and nearly every state across the nation have imposed laws against texting or using a cell phone while driving, one New Jersey state appeals court, has developed a new addendum for people who text drivers. Under this addendum, people who knowingly text a person who is driving, may be held liable if the driver causes an accident.

file000739321417.jpgThe idea may seem farfetched to some, but in fact, a couple from New Jersey used the notion as grounds for a lawsuit they filed against two teenagers. In 2009, the couple Mr. and Mrs. Kubert, were struck head-on while riding a motorcycle by then-18-year-old Kyle Best. Best was behind the wheel of his pickup truck while travelling down a rural highway road, when his friend Shannon Colonna, sent him a text message. Upon opening the message, Best’s truck crossed the center line and hit the Kuberts causing, in what court documents described as, a gruesome accident.

Both the Kuberts lost their legs in the accident. According to police and court documents, immediately following the incident, Best called 911, hung up, and then continued to receive at least two more messages from Colonna.

The Kuberts sued Best, but they also included Colonna in the lawsuit. To the Kuberts, had it not been for Shannon Colonna’s texts, Kyle Best would not have been distracted. They concluded that she was also responsible for their pain and loss. Though the Kubert’s initially lost against Colonna, they appealed the court’s decision. Their attorney, Stephen Weinstein argued that Colonna was “electronically in the car with the driver” and could essentially be treated like someone sitting next to Best, willfully distracting him. Despite the argument’s being unlikely to work, three New Jersey judges agreed with it – in theory.
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A woman was seriously injured during a hit-and-run accident in Marion yesterday afternoon.

Marion police officers responded to a call of a pedestrian who was struck on County Road just after 4 p.m. on Sunday. The woman, aged 40, sustained severe injuries and one of her dogs was killed during the accident. She was taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and then transported by helicopter to Rhode Island Hospital.

Police were able to track down the driver, David R. Pajunen, 22 of Wareham late last night. Pajunen was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, causing injury, and a marked lanes violation.

Police in Plymouth have cited texting while driving as the cause of a crash that left two teens injured early Tuesday morning.

677683_ambulance__ecnalubma.jpgA 19-year-old Manomet woman and her 18-year-old brother were struck head on by another vehicle while they were traveling on State Road shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The other driver, identified as a 19-year old man from Plymouth, strayed into the other lane and caused the crash near Melix Avenue. Police said that the 19-year-old male had been texting before the accident, and he was cited on charges of driving to endanger, committing a marked-lane violation, and texting while driving.

The brother and sister were taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. The male driver was not injured in the accident.

Texting and driving has become a serious epidemic in the United States, not just with teenage drivers but with seasoned drivers as well. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, about 20% of all car accidents are caused by distracted driving. In 2011 alone, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 were injured as the result of distracted driving.

Massachusetts has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to texting and driving. Though individuals over 18 are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, all drivers, no matter what age or what type of license they carry, are banned from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Drivers speaking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to cause an accident. A person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not distracted. According to the Ad Council, 5 seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are taken off the road while texting. At 55mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.

Texting is not the only type of distraction drivers can engage in while driving. Rather there are three types of distractions:

• Visual: taking eyes off of the road • Manual: taking hands off of the wheel • Cognitive: taking mind off of driving
Some common examples of distracted driving include:

• Cellphone or smartphone use • Eating or drinking • Talking to passengers • Daydreaming • Grooming • Reading, including maps • Using a navigation system • Watching a video • Adjusting the radio Continue reading

Worcester police are investigating a fatal pedestrian accident that left a 67-year old man dead last Friday night.

The victim’s neighbor, Christopher Maider, found the man lying face down in the road around 9:30 p.m. Friday. Police said the victim was crossing the road when he was struck by a 63-year-old female driver. He did not cross at a crosswalk, however. The female driver did stop, and no charges have been filed since the incident.

According to Maider, the street where the incident took place is especially busy, and he said he doesn’t feel safe walking down that street.

“If I went to this crosswalk and stood there, nobody would stop, which is the motor vehicle law. You see somebody in the crosswalk, you are required to stop; that’s the law. That’ll never happen here,” Maider said.

1369363617t5gfv.jpgSadly, this incident marks the third pedestrian fatality in the city of Worcester, alone, and it serves as a grave reminder to both pedestrians and drivers to be vigilant and safe on the roadways.

Pedestrian accidents account for more than 13% of all traffic fatalities. Pedestrians also make up 3% of all persons injured in motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes and one pedestrian dies every two hours as the result of a traffic accident in the United States.
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If you are under the assumption that hands-free texting is safer than manual texting, think again. A recent study published by AAA found that using voice-to-text devices are extremely dangerous and mentally distracting despite the fact that they are hands free.

The study comes in wake of a new projected five-fold increase of vehicles with elaborate infotainment systems, by 2018. With more and more cars with “smart” technology joining the road today, AAA is requesting its research be taken into consideration by car and tech manufacturers.
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“It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common misperception that hands-free means risk-free,” Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs said.

AAA’s study, which was conducted at the University of Utah, found that as these mental distractions increase:

• Reaction time slows • Brain function is compromised • Drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, which may result in drivers missing objects in front of them such as pedestrians, or running stop signs and traffic signals.

Dr. David Strayer, a cognitive distraction expert at the University of Utah, and his research team, measured brainwaves and eye movements of drivers to evaluate the effects of multitasking and using devices while driving on mental workloads. The team conducted a series of tests and used cameras inside an instrumented car to track drivers’ eye movements, detection-response-task (DRT) devices to record driver responses, as well as a special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap to measure brain activity so that researchers could determine drivers’ mental workloads.

Subjects performed a series of tasks while driving including, listening to the radio, talking on the cell phone (both handheld and hands-free) and listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features, and researchers rated these tasks on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest level of distraction). Researchers concluded that listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level distraction or minimal risk. Talking on a cell-phone or passenger in a car ranked in category “2” and posed moderate risks.
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The three Boston University students killed last May when their minivan flipped on a rural New Zealand road, could have survived had they been wearing seatbelts, officials said.

Rotorua, New Zealand Constable Tina Mitchell-Ellis, said that the three students who died, and a fourth who suffered severe brain trauma, were not wearing seatbelts and were thrown from the van. The four other passengers in the van who were wearing seatbelts survived and sustained only minor injuries.

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The students had all been a part of a study-abroad program in New Zealand and were driving in a rural part New Zealand to begin a scenic hike. According to reports, the driver of the van, Stephen Houseman, became distracted while driving and drove onto the side of the road before over-correcting and flipping the van four times.

Neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the accident, and police did not suspect Houseman was speeding before the accident. Officials believe that inexperience with driving a van and being unfamiliar with the roads contributed to the accident. Houseman pled guilty to careless driving and had his license suspended for six months.

This tragic accident involving Massachusetts college students is a stark reminder of the dangers of operating a motor vehicle or being a passenger in a motor vehicle, and not wearing a seatbelt. According to both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council, seatbelts are the most effective safety device for preventing serious injury or death in the event of a car accident. In fact, wearing a safety belt can reduce the risk of serious injury during an accident by more than 50%.

In a study done by the NHTSA, 42% of motor vehicle passengers who were killed in accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. Under Massachusetts law, seatbelt violations fall under secondary enforcement laws; meaning that a driver can be ticketed by an officer for not wearing a seatbelt only if he or she has committed another traffic violation. The seatbelt usage rate in Massachusetts is estimated to be around 74%, which is lower than the National average (88%). However, the NHTSA estimates that over 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented each year if seatbelt usage was at 90% in every state.
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A motorcyclist was flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital yesterday after being critically injured in a crash in Holliston, Massachusetts.

The male motorcyclist was the only person involved in the single-vehicle accident which occurred on Brook Street around 2:30 p.m. Monday. Police are still investigating the cause of the crash.1301095_motorcycle_stunter_tyre_burnout_.jpg

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated approximately 81,000 people were injured and 4,612 were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2011 in the United States; a 2% increase from the number in 2010 and a 41% increase from 2002. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 14% of the total number of motor-vehicle crashes in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that per every vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in an accident, and 5 times more likely to be injured during an accident.

The NHTSA stated that 49% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved collisions with other motor vehicles; 75% occurred with the motor vehicle in front of the motorcycle. Fatal motorcycle accidents were most likely to occur with fixed objects, rather than collisions with other motor vehicles.

Speeding, rider inexperience, and alcohol use are the three main factors that contribute to the high risk of accident on a motorcycle. According to the NHTSA, 35% of all motorcyclists involved in accidents in 2011 had been speeding before the crash. Inexperienced and un-licensed individuals made up 14% of those injured or killed in motorcycle accidents, and individuals who had had their licensed suspended previously were 1.4 times more likely to get into an accident compared to those with a passenger vehicle license revocation. Alcohol use is also a risk factor for fatal motor cycle accidents. The NHTSA estimated that about 29% of all motorcyclists were impaired by alcohol at the time of an accident. Riders aged 40-44 made up 38% of that group, respectively, followed by individuals ages 45-49 and 35-39 at 37%.
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