For motorists, pedestrians, and city officials, it is no secret that the majority of car accidents and those involving pedestrians happen during the summer months. Cape Code and the surrounding communities depend largely on tourism, and these popular sites are inundated each year. However, Massachusetts city officials need to be cognizant that the highest number of accidents occur during these and other times of the year and should take steps to reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries during these periods.
Cape Cod, the surrounding communities, and islands experience about 52% of all accidents from May to September when tourism is at its height. One town, Wellfleet, experienced 71% of crashes that occur within its borders during these months. It and Eastham have high numbers of retail businesses and residences situated right off the roadway that undoubtedly contributes to the high number of collisions.
The Outer Cape, though reporting a high number of car collisions during this period, had fewer speed-related accidents than did Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, and Nantucket.
Pedestrians apparently need to be especially wary in the months of June and August. Not surprisingly, fewer accidents occur during the winter months when residents are left to only watch out for themselves. However, distracted driving accidents were higher in April, November and December than at any other time of the year with Falmouth recording the most such accidents. Barnstable and Sandwich were close behind.
Driving fatalities are up by 46% overall in Massachusetts since 2013. The Boston Globe last year reported that our rate of fatal accidents surpassed the national average of an 8% increase over the past 5-years. This is a trend that must be addressed.
Factors in Car Accidents
Unfamiliarity with Roads
Obviously, the higher volume of traffic in the Cape during the summer months lends itself to more accidents. When you combine high numbers of motorists with those visiting the Cape and Outer Cape for the first time and being unfamiliar with the roads, you increase the risk.
Speed is always a major factor in accidents. Being frustrated with non-resident motorists who are looking at the sights or for a particular restaurant and just snaking along often contributes to drivers suddenly accelerating, making an unsafe lane change, or speeding through a red traffic signal. Trying to make up for time only increases the risk.
There are no studies we found as to why distracted driving accidents occur more frequently in the winter months, and April, but it is likely not because more drivers want to be texting or otherwise using their smartphones. Slower speeds in congested traffic means that drivers who want to text have more time to slow or to avoid an accident. But with less traffic and at higher speeds, you have much less perception/reaction time when confronted with a hazard such as a pedestrian or a suddenly stopped or a slowing vehicle in front of you. Moving out of your lane of traffic while texting at 40 miles per hour or higher is far more hazardous than if you are only going 10 or 20-miles per hour.
Many drivers, especially younger ones, need more education on the dangers and hazards of distracted driving. The number of distracted driving accidents in Massachusetts increased 170% between 2014 and 2016. School programs and public education combined with tougher law enforcement is needed before we begin to see a decrease in the rates of accident attributed to texting and driving.
Drunk and Drugged Driving
The warmer months and holidays bring out the drunk and drugged drivers in high numbers. Students on summer break are out in droves all over the Cape and Outer Cape. Beer parties and bar hopping are popular activities during this time as are outdoor barbeques and parties.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
More pedestrians and bicyclists are on our streets and roadways in the summer months. Towns and cities have installed bike lanes, and flashing lights at crosswalks, but more signs and increased illumination at night can reduce the risk to pedestrians.
Bicyclists can help themselves by obeying the traffic laws and staying in the designated bike lanes. At night, you are required to have lights on your bike or helmet. Making yourself as visible as possible to motorists at any time of the day is the key to not becoming a statistic. Also, bicyclists and motorists should practice defensive driving at all times.
Damages in Car Accident Claims
Car accidents are the most prevalent of personal injury claims. We experience thousands of accidents in our state each year with 399 persons having succumbed to fatal injuries in 2018. If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident as a motorist, passenger, pedestrian, or bicyclist, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your claim or you risk not being fully compensated.
Damages in most car accidents often include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Decreased income capacity
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Car Accident Lawyer from Burns & Jain
Being injured in a car accident by the fault or negligence of another person entitles you to compensation. But even in cases where liability is clear, other issues arise that can seriously jeopardize your right to fair compensation for your injuries. Be sure your rights are protected and that all avenues to compensation are exhausted by retaining a veteran car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain. Call us today at (617) 221-7971 for a free consultation about your injury claim.