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Articles Posted in Interstate Driving

Reuters reported in late October that Toyota had invested around $10 million in Getaround, a ride-sharing service based out of San Francisco that was founded in 2009. Getaround is different from services like Uber, as users of Getaround can search their local area for available privately-owned rental cars that they can rent and use personally for as little at $5.  Users have access to these rental vehicles for a certain amount of time, rather than simply being ferried from one location to the next like with Lyft or Uber. Automotive speculative analysts have reasoned that Toyota’s investment in a ride-sharing entity indicates they are stacking their chips for the upcoming industrial boom of driverless taxi services. Some project that the first fully-automated driving services will be enacted by 2020.

The potential benefits of driverless taxi services are multiple, and are enough for more than 18 large companies to invest resources into at least studying its practicality. In theory, they can create less traffic, lessen pollution, and increase the efficiency and safety of roads. Of course, on the other hand, a world filled with driverless taxis means millions of taxi drivers and drivers who work for companies like Uber will be out of a job.  While the technology is essentially ready for implementation, the legal framework surrounding driverless cars and taxis is a continuously-developing headache. There is no telling how legislation will translate between federal, state, and local lines, or if it will be possible to form any solid ground rules anytime soon.

After all, who is at fault when an accident inevitably occurs between a human driver and a driverless car? How about an accident that occurs between two autonomous vehicles? There are hundreds of possible factors in play and dozens of parties that could be at fault. Taking into consideration these uncertainties, most analysts don’t foresee driverless taxis making a significant impact on the world for at least a decade or two.  No matter how this industry, plucked straight from the pages of science fiction, pans out in the future, the fact that huge companies such as Toyota are entering the driverless car game proves that this is no fad or silly pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Driverless cars, and taxis, are coming sooner rather than later.

Nothing spells summer like days spent at the beach. As we enter the dog days of summer here in Boston, there are a number things you can do to prepare for a safe trip to the beach. You’ve packed up your gear and are ready to ride the waves and bask in the sun. But with lots of novice and distracted drivers on the road, summer is also prime time for motor vehicle accidents. Keep yourself and your family safe by following some basic summer driving tips.

Driving Vacation

Before heading out on a long trip, have your car serviced. Even if you consistently have the oil changed and tires rotated on schedule, it doesn’t hurt to have your mechanic check out the vehicle before embarking on a long-distance vacation. While you always want to avoid a breakdown, it is especially important when you are far from home.

If your vehicle does not pass muster for a long drive, consider renting a car for your beach vacation needs.

Make Sure the Air Conditioning Works

Many people don’t use the air conditioning in their car on a regular basis. If you’re heading out for a long trip in hot, muggy weather, a broken AC can be more than just uncomfortable. Check your air conditioning before taking the car in for service, so it can be repaired before the onset of your trip.

Do Not Leave Kids or Pets in a Hot Car

If you’re tempted to leave your children or dog in the car “for a minute or two” while you run into a store, avoid that temptation. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can soar to dangerous levels in short order. Not only are you putting your kids or pets at risk, you could face arrest if someone sees them unattended and calls police.

Watch Out for Trucks

Eighteen-wheelers take a long time to stop and have considerable blind spots. When traveling, avoid driving directly beside a semi. Either pass it when safe to do so, or stay behind it. Never cut off a truck. It could be the last thing you ever do.

Avoid Distractions

You know you should never text while driving. But what about when you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the beach. It is always dangerous to take your eyes off the road, and that is especially true in an unfamiliar area. Police officers are on the lookout for distracted drivers, and you could receive a ticket, or worse.

Seat Belts and Car Seats

Safety is critical, and you are a role model for your children. When leaving the beach, resist the urge to not buckle damp, sandy children into their cat seats. Small children are not sufficiently protected by seat belts, so car seats are a must no matter the circumstances. By the same token, always wear your seat belt.

Emergency Kits

Carry two types of emergency kits – one for first-aid and another for roadside assistance. You also want to ensure that your cell phone is always charged, and that you have phone numbers and membership information for your roadside assistance plan. Continue reading

 

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report emphasizing the importance of properly maintaining guardrails and other hardware to road safety.  Roadside safety “hardware” most often refers to guardrails and median barriers, but the GAO report also includes several other groups of road safety hardware, such as:

  1. “Longitudinal barriers, which include items such as guardrails and cable barriers and are intended to reduce the probability of a vehicle’s striking an object or terrain feature off the roadway that is less forgiving than the barrier;
  2. bridge barriers, which function as longitudinal barriers but are specific to bridge design;
  3. barrier terminals/crash cushions, which include items like guardrail end terminals that are intended to absorb or divert the energy of a crash into the end of a longitudinal barrier;
  4. support structures, such as sign supports, which are designed to break or yield when struck by a vehicle;
  5. work zone devices, which include a variety of items used in a work zone that are temporary in nature.”

In the report, the GAO explicitly states the objective of all kinds of roadside safety hardware, that goal being “when the hardware contains, redirects, or decelerates the vehicle to a safe stop without causing serious injury to the vehicle’s occupants or other people.”  The GAO report also noted the discrepancies shown in a state by state survey.  The survey demonstrated the inconsistencies in the crash testing results of such road safety equipment across different states.  This is likely due to the lack of a monitoring program by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a program that the GAO insists should be implemented to provide additional support on scheduled safety upgrades.  Continue reading

Commercial insurance is a complicated business, essential to businesses, but often branded by complex coverages, assorted exposures and risk and independently negotiated and priced agreements.  While prices stabilize and new insurers break into the commercial lines industry, it will be vital for companies to focus their efforts on technology in order to conquer new clients, retain existing clients, and successfully serve them all.

Commercial lines insurers are now seeking to leverage data from a broader network of sources with the help of technology investments.  Novarica, a research and advisory firm focused on insurance technology strategy, has recently published a report that shows how predictive analytics, third-party data and multidimensional data are being leveraged by carriers to enhance claims handling and underwriting discipline.  Martina Conlon, senior vice president of Research and Consulting and lead author of the report says, “Drones, loT (Internet of Things), third party data providers and telematics are changing the landscape of underwriting in commercial lines.”  She goes on, “Insurers have the opportunity to use the data from these sources to improve risk assessment and pricing and boost underwriting results.”  Chuck Ruzicka, vice president of Research and Consulting and co-author of the report, builds upon Conlon’s remarks, saying, “The right capabilities are necessary in order to truly take advantage of these emerging technologies and the data available from them.”  Ruzicka adds, “To this end, commercial lines carriers are investing in core systems, advanced analytics, and self-service portals.” Continue reading

As a Boston Law Firm that handles all types of accident cases, we follow how technology can help provide safer roadways, and how technology can help identify causes of accidents. The Highway Loss Data Institute conducted a safety analysis of crash avoidance technology to determine its effectiveness in preventing car accidents. Examples of crash-avoidance technology include park assist and autonomous braking features, lane departure warnings, and blind-spot detection. The study revealed that certain forms of this technology are quite effective, while others can actually contribute to accidents. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

While the study revealed that park assist features and blind-spot detection haven’t yet proven to be helpful or harmful, other features were actually associated with an increase in accidents. Lane departure warnings, for example, appear to cause an uptick in collisions. In addition to lane departure warnings, the study, which looked at Mercedes, Acura, and Volvo vehicles, examined various crash-avoidance features, including forward-collision warning systems, and adaptive headlights.

Features that Work

Forward collision warning systems alert drivers if they are moving toward other traffic too quickly. In addition to a warning signal, this feature may also automatically decrease the vehicle’s speed through the use of autonomous brakes. According to the report, there was a 14% crash reduction in the Mercedes and Acura vehicles with this feature. Volvos with this feature also experienced a lesser incidence of crashes, with a 10% reduction compared to vehicles without the system.

Adaptive headlights also appear to reduce the incidence of crashes, with accidents in these vehicles dropping by 10%. According to Matt Moore, the institute’s vice president, “These lights appear to help in more situations than we anticipated, though we don’t yet know why.”

Features that Hurt

As mentioned above, lane departure warnings are actually associated with a slight increase in accident claims. Although more research has to be conducted to determine the cause of this increase, there is some speculation that the problem can be blamed on the emerging, and as yet imperfect, technology. Warning signals may be inaccurate at times, resulting in an inappropriate reaction. “It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely,” said Moore. According to Consumer Reports, this inaccuracy can be especially problematic on windy, two-lane roads.

Moore believes that with further developments, the increase in accidents can see a turnaround. For example, a feature that autonomously forces the vehicle to remain in its lane could make the lane departure warning system more effective at crash prevention. In addition, warning signals can become so commonplace that drivers begin to ignore them. For instance, blind-spot monitoring detects large objects on the side of the car, including other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. As cars are constantly passing these objects, the warning signal – often a light – goes on frequently. Although many people find this feature helpful, it can also be easy to ignore. Continue reading

On Tuesday afternoon, a tire came off the rear axle of a Dodge RAM pickup truck while the driver was headed southbound on Route 128 in Lexington. According to David Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, the tire came loose, crossed the jersey barrier, and struck another vehicle in the northbound lane at approximately 1:15 p.m. Sadly, the driver of that vehicle, a Toyota Camry, was fatally wounded in the accident. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Flying Wheel Strikes Two Vehicles

The fatally injured operator of the Camry was 26-year-old Charles Hu of Lexington, MA. According to police, the left rear wheel of a 1997 Dodge RAM broke free from the rear axle of that vehicle. The preliminary investigation indicates that once the wheel came free, it crossed the median, struck and bounced off a Toyota Highlander, and then struck the victim’s Camry. The collision caused serious damage to the Camry’s roof and windshield and resulted in fatal injuries to the driver. According to police, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The 50-year-old Braintree man who was driving the Toyota Highlander escaped without injury.

Cause of the Accident Still Under Investigation

The driver of the Dodge RAM was a 19-year-old Amesbury woman. Currently, no charges have been brought against her. However, the Massachusetts State Police are continuing to investigate the fatal accident and will determine if she was at fault once the investigation has been completed. The State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section will assist Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police with the investigation. The Mass Department of Transportation and Lexington Fire and EMS also assisted at the scene. The name of the Amesbury woman will only be released if charges are filed against her. Continue reading

Fall in New England. It can be sunny and warm one day and bitter cold and snowing the next. It’s also the perfect time to begin preparing for snowy and icy roads. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in winter storms. There are steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a weather-related auto accident. Some of these steps involve specific behaviors, such as defensive driving, while others involve preparing the vehicle itself. Read on for tips to make your winter driving experiences safe and enjoyable. Contact a Boston injury lawyer for more information.

Safe Driving Tips for Winter

  • Prepare your vehicle for winter travel. Make sure headlights are working, and that brakes and tires are in good working order.
  • Stock your trunk with emergency supplies, such as a flashlight, bottled water, blankets, and flares.
  • Before leaving on any trip, whether your destination is eight hours away or just around the corner, familiarize yourself with weather conditions. Listen to the radio for announcements about road closings, accidents, and weather advisories.
  • Plan your route before you leave, and tell someone the route you are taking. This way, if you become stranded, your family or friends can tell authorities where you are most likely to be.
  • Refrain from slamming on the brakes, taking sharp turns, and making sudden movements. Drive slowly enough that you can brake carefully and anticipate turns, lane changes, and stops.
  • On the other hand, don’t drive too If there is heavy snow on the roadways, you will need to keep up the momentum in order to push through and avoid becoming stuck.
  • Always remember that bridges freeze first. Before reaching any bridge, slow down and avoid sudden lane changes, slamming on the brakes, or accelerating too quickly.
  • Avoid large trucks as much as possible. Trucks are significantly heavier than cars and they need ample room for coming to stops. Additionally, truck tires often spray snow and rain, which can further reduce visibility.
  • Although four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles are the safest option in adverse weather conditions, don’t get overly confident. These types of vehicles are actually heavier than their two-wheel drive counterparts. While the increased traction helps your car get going again after a stop, it does not increase your ability to brake.
  • When rain, snow, and fog are present, always keep your headlights on. This allows you to see more clearly and makes your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
  • Driving in adverse weather conditions is inherently risky. The best way to avoid weather-related accidents is to avoid driving when conditions are bad. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If, however, you utilize safe driving practices and have taken the necessary steps to prepare your vehicle, you can substantially reduce your risk of serious injury or death.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reporting a decline in both the number of Massachusetts motor vehicle crash fatalities as well as how many occurred in total in the U.S. According to the figures for 2013, there were 326 traffic deaths in the state last year, which is a decline from the 383 fatalities in 2012. Alcohol was a factor in 118 of the Massachusetts traffic deaths in 2013.

Nationally, the country lost 32,719 people in roadway crashes in 2013. This is also a decrease from the 33,782 traffic deaths from the year previous.

Overall, between 2012 and 2013, the U.S. saw a reduction in deaths and injuries of truck occupants, passenger car occupants, pedestrians, and young drivers, as well as in accidents where alcohol was a factor.

A tragedy occurred in the early hours of the morning on Marathon Monday. Debra Sarno, a 54-year-old taxi driver from Chelsea was killed when a tractor trailer slammed into her cab on the right travel lane on Route 93, and burst into flames. The accident occurred on the Zakim Bridge, a towering monument in the shadow of a city getting ready to run the most meaningful marathon to date in just a few short hours. Flames and plumes of smoke could be seen billowing high into the air as both the taxi and the truck were completely engulfed.

According to WCVB, “Firefighters rushed to help, but the fire proved too intense. By the time the vehicles were towed away, neither were recognizable. Both burned down to the metal.”

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear at this time, but investigators are particularly focused on why Sarno was stopped in the right travel line in the middle of early morning traffic. It is thought that her 2006 Ford Crown Victoria could have stalled, leaving her in an extremely dangerous spot. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office says it is still trying to figure out how the tractor trailer carrying a full load of produce hit her. The investigation will prove to be difficult as there was little left of the car and truck when the fire was finally put out, around 7 am.
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Massachusetts State Police confirmed four separate accidents involving a total of 19 cars on I-93 Monday morning. The accidents all took place in the left lane on the northbound side of the highway, right inside the Tip O’Neill tunnel. Traffic became a nightmare as “several miles of backups” were observed even after the crash site was cleared up. According to CBS Boston, the first accident was a chain-reaction involving nine cars. A few minutes later, four motor vehicles were involved in another, separate crash, followed closely by four more cars involved in yet another accident. The chaotic scene was capped off by a minor fender bender involving two vehicles.

State Trooper Todd Nolan said “one person was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with possible injuries.” CBS Boston reports that the injured person was involved in the initial nine-car crash. There were no injuries in the last three accidents. Luckily, at this time it appears there were no life-threatening injuries, but 19 vehicles are now damaged, some perhaps totaled.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known and is under investigation, according to authorities. Boston has been hit hard with heavy rain all weekend, flooding some roadways and forcing the closure of several tunnels and ramps, including the Prudential ramp off the Pike on Sunday. WCVB Meteorologist Danielle Vollmar explained that, “between 2 and 5 inches of rain have fallen in just a few hours.” The rainfall, combined with temperatures hovering slightly above freezing provided treacherous conditions for especially distracted drivers rushing in on their morning commute. Several factors could have led to the string of left-lane accidents in the same spot including speed, an unsafe stretch of road, or weather. State Police also reported several crashes along the Mass. Pike as well as in Palmer, Shrewsbury, and Chicopee due to ice.
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