Are Massachusetts drivers notorious for bad behavior on our roadways? Getting honked at, yelled at, or being shown a middle digit while trying to navigate a busy intersection or traffic congested highway may be a common occurrence for many state drivers, but a state-wide campaign has been launched to hopefully change drivers’ behavior in the interest of public safety.
Sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Fundacion MAPFRE, a non-profit safety advocate organization, the public service announcement is an effort designed to reduce road-related injuries and fatalities by encouraging drivers to be “aggressively nice.”
While no guidelines have been issued on what “aggressively nice” entails, we can be assured that it likely means to go out of our way to be nice to pedestrians, bicyclists, dogs, and anyone else using our roads. This is part of a decades long global initiative called Vision Zero that seeks to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries worldwide to zero. A major part of this campaign is changing driving behavior, which includes road rage, intolerance for others who may not be totally adhering to the traffic laws, and an inability to accept that parties other than motor vehicles are entitled to be on the roadway, or at least given the courtesy of their existence.
Fundacion MAPFRE is an organization active in 30 countries that focuses on road safety and accident prevention including home mishaps, fires, drownings, and social protection. Changing motorists’ perspectives and having empathy for others are viewed as steps the organization is advocating to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
Fundacion MAPFRE is promoting a road tour to high schools, colleges and public events that includes an interactive video game called React Challenge that measures the time you take to react to a road hazard. There is also an art installation by Jason Tetlak, that expresses the need to change people’s behavior while on the road. We can easily and substantially reduce pedestrian accidents by simply looking both ways before entering a crosswalk or crossing the street as a pedestrian or bike rider, or before entering an intersection if driving, as well as being courteous to others.
Drivers also should be mindful of and respect bicyclists who have every right to be on most roadways. By being patient, respecting the feelings of others, and understanding that we all have a right to arrive safely at our destinations, we can substantially reduce all car accidents.
Since the pandemic, roadways have seen far less traffic than in past years, though traffic congestion is slowly returning despite new cases of the Delta Variant threatening our health and way of health once again. Also, more people have been walking or riding bicycles as remote employment has become more acceptable.
However, pedestrian deaths increased in 2020 by 4.8% over 2019 with 6,721 fatalities. A report from the State Highway Safety Offices blamed reckless driving, unsafe road crossings due to poor lighting or other visibility issues, and the increased sales of SUV vehicles that make it harder for drivers to see pedestrians and whose design causes more severe injuries and fatalities.
With fewer cars on the highways and other roads and less traffic enforcement, motorists took advantage by speeding, which resulted in more accidents and fatalities, and driving up the number of citations for motorists who exceeded 100 miles per hour.
Driving at night is particularly hazardous for pedestrians with 76% of all accidents occurring after sunset. Weekend nights are even more dangerous. Curiously, most pedestrian fatalities occur on the open road than at intersections since cars are going much faster and drivers are not accustomed to seeing persons and bicycles on these roadways.
In any event, motorists need to take the following precautions to avoid pedestrian accidents:
- Do not enter a bike path unless you are making a right turn, have signaled, and made sure no bicyclists are approaching
- Drive defensively and cautiously in suburban and urban areas—constantly look for people crossing the street, or suddenly entering the roadway without looking such as people on smartphones
- Slow down when approaching an intersection and look both ways before entering
- Do not speed through lights that are changing
- Try to make eye contact with pedestrians
- Do not pass a car in front of you that is stopped unless you are sure it will not be proceeding and drive slowly and safely by it in case a pedestrian is crossing the roadway
- Refrain from angrily expressing yourself even if a pedestrian or other motorist was not paying attention—you never know how people will react
Damages in Pedestrian Injury Accidents
Pedestrians have a right to claim damages from motorists whose negligence caused them injuries. This includes collecting PIP benefits from the responsible driver that can cover medical expenses and lost earnings up to $8,000 regardless of fault. If the motorist was uninsured, the pedestrian can recover PIP benefits from their own auto liability carrier or from that of a household member.
If medical expenses exceed $2,000, or your injuries include either permanent scarring, a bone fracture, brain injury, or substantial loss of hearing or sight, then you can proceed with a claim against the other driver for pain and suffering and other economic losses. If that driver was uninsured, then you can proceed to file an uninsured claim under your own auto liability policy.
Liability or fault for a pedestrian accident often includes contested issues as does proving damages. In any serious injury accident case, retain an experienced personal injury attorney from the Law Office of Burns and Jain.
Damages in pedestrian accidents include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future loss of earnings
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal Claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Personal Injury Attorney from Burns and Jain
If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries in a car or pedestrian accident, then you need the services of a veteran personal injury attorney from Burns and Jain. Our attorneys have been representing the interests of injured clients and their families for decades. Call our office at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.