Jaywalking is as common in Massachusetts as talking on your smartphone while driving or not coming to a full stop at a stop sign. All of these activities are illegal, but enforcement is somewhat random and generally does not come into play until an accident has occurred.
Even before the Covid era, bicycles were becoming more ubiquitous, especially in urban areas. Towns and cities have responded with more designated bike lanes, trails, and traffic signals for bicyclists so as to accommodate and encourage bike riding for all ages. So, as a Massachusetts motorist and/or bicyclist, you should be aware of the laws governing motor vehicles and cyclists and their interactions.
For years, portions of State Street in Springfield, Massachusetts have experienced numerous pedestrian accidents including a number of fatalities, the latest being in November 2021. One particular area of concern was near the site of the Springfield Public Library. According to studies made of this area, observers reported an average of 6 pedestrians per hour crossing mainly between the driveways east of the library with most persons having to wait several minutes before being able to cross safely. As a result of the study, the city plans to make several changes to ensure pedestrian safety.
On the evening of February 22, 2022, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst was walking on Massachusetts Avenue when she was struck and killed by a motorist, another UMass student. She was rushed to Baystate Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries. Her death has prompted the university to implement safety measures to prevent future tragedies.
Bills are pending in the state House and Senate that would allow electric or e-bikes to travel in bike lanes. Currently, Massachusetts is one of just 4 states that classifies electric bikes as mopeds since they are battery powered and bars their presence in bike lanes though opponents of the law acknowledge that the law is generally ignored and not enforced.
This past November 2021, a woman in Springfield, Massachusetts was struck by a motorist and killed on State Street near Chestnut Street that resulted in the city’s 20th fatal accident of the year and 5th fatality for the month of November alone. Just the previous week, a pedestrian was killed just 6 blocks away on State Street.
Covid-19 may have been a once-in-lifetime event, or so we hope, that led to business and office closures in Massachusetts and throughout the nation for most of 2020 and into the early part of 2021. As a result, there were far fewer vehicles on the road as those who were still working could do so at home or in areas outside of their normal offices. With traffic volumes drastically reduced in 2020, we would expect traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities to have fallen as well.
Residents of Brockton, Massachusetts have been aware of the dangers faced by pedestrians from motor vehicles in their city for a number of years without much response or action from city officials. Nationwide, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, pedestrian accidents and fatalities are on the increase. Between 2009 and 2018, the foundation reported a 55% increase in pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicle accidents.
In early August, a 55-year old woman in Brockton, Massachusetts was crossing Centre Street near the entrance to Brockton Hospital around 9:00 p.m. when she was struck and killed by a man driving a Chevy Tahoe. The suspect left the scene only to turn himself in to police about an hour later.