With the arrival of summer and temperatures beginning to heat up, car safety becomes a major concern for Massachusetts motorists. Even with temperatures in the 70s, your car’s interior can easily heat up to 90 degrees within 10-minutes, to 98 degrees in 20-minutes, and up to 112 degrees in just one hour. Sitting on a car seat with such elevated temperatures can easily burn you if not careful.
Every year, we read about the tragedy of a parent or caregiver who for some reason forgot that a child or dog had been left in a car or in a seat in a locked vehicle while the individual attended to an errand, or in some cases to a bar for a quick drink that became several. Within a short time, the child or animal experienced extreme heat that dehydrated the child or animal and increased their body temperature to a dangerous level. Unless someone noticed the child or animal suffering inside the vehicle within a short period of time, the inevitable tragedy occurred.
Warm temperatures also bring out more drivers and traffic congestion. This can lead to frustrated motorists who run traffic signals, swerve in and out of traffic, or who drive distracted or while impaired. Sudden rain and thunderstorms are not unusual as the humidity climbs, creating havoc on the roadways as drivers go too fast for the conditions, or decide to suddenly slow down and are violently rear-ended because the car following behind them is either too close or unprepared for the sudden slowdown. If the roadway is wet, this can cause motorists to easily lose control and panic as they swerve to avoid other vehicles or just to remain on the road.
Distracted Driving in the Summer
Distracted driving is any behavior that takes the driver’s focus and attention away from driving. This can be daydreaming, talking to passengers, grooming, eating, reading, and focusing on a smartphone. Distracted driving accidents and fatalities now rival drunk and drugged driving as a major factor in roadway accidents and deaths.
High school and college students, free from classes and homework, join other motorists in traveling to beaches, movies, bars, concerts, and other summer activities. Teens and young adults are notorious for using their smartphones while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 3,142 lives were lost in 2020 due to distracted driving.
In Massachusetts, drivers under 18 are not allowed any use of a cellphone in a car, hands-free or not. Adults can make calls only on hands-free devices. Regardless of the ban, nearly 40% of high school drivers admit to using a cellphone while driving. High School seniors are the worst offenders. Experts point to their increased confidence in driving as the reason. Around 9% of fatal accidents involving drivers from age 15 to 20 were distracted at the time of the crash.
With summer vacation, teen drivers will have their peers as passengers. Novice drivers for the first 6-months of licensing are not allowed any passenger under the age of 18. Adults must be licensed and be seated in the front seat with the teen driver. But once the 6-month period is over and their friends can now be passengers, distractions occur that can result in unsafe driving. Having one passenger with a teen driver doubles their risk of an accident. With 2 passengers, the risk is three times greater. More than 2 increases the risk by six times.
As a parent, you need to talk to your teen and emphasize how dangerous it is to use a cellphone in a car besides being illegal, and which can result in the teen losing his/her license for an extended period of time. If you are in a car with someone who is using their phone, call them out on it. If they need to make a call or to navigate, offer to do it for them. A parent’s influence is stronger than you think, so not only talk to your teen driver but set an example yourself.
Impaired Driving in the Summer
Who doesn’t want an ice-cold beer on a sweltering summer day in Boston or at the Cape? However, this increases the opportunity to drink and drive. And, with recreational marijuana legal, drugged driving is another added unsafe practice that only leads to tragic accidents.
In Massachusetts, the fatality rate is 1.8 per 100,000 residents for all ages. It goes up considerably to 3.3 per 100,000 residents for those aged 21 to 34, the age where drinking in bars, concerts, and at beaches is more prevalent.
Again, parents can help by reminding their teens to never drink and drive or get into a car with someone who has been drinking, regardless of what they say about their ability to drive. Tell them to get a cab or Uber to get home and that nothing will happen to them if they follow your advice.
Other Safety Suggestions
For summer driving, use commonsense to avoid accidents. Slow down and do not get frustrated when heavy traffic delays your trip or sojourn to the beach. If a major summer thunderstorm strikes, find a place to safely pull over and wait it out rather than risk not being able to see the road or to encounter some other driver who is traveling at an excessive speed.
Avoid alcohol and drugs if you plan on driving, and never get into a car with a driver who is impaired or who has been drinking any amount of alcohol.
Damages in a Car Accident Injury Claim
Damages in a typical accident injury claim include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income losses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Damages need to be substantiated and proved before you can expect to be adequately compensated. Your compensation also depends on the available insurance coverage that your car accident attorney can discuss with you.
Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain
Motor vehicle accident claims often involve issues of contested liability that an experienced car accident attorney from Burns and Jain can handle. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.