During our long winters, a common sight is that of snowplows on our highways, clearing off the snow usually during the late night or early morning hours to prepare for the morning commute. Plows can also be seen in parking lots and on suburban streets in the twilight or evening. These vehicles are large and of necessity slow-moving, and can present a hazard to other motorists wherever they operate.
If you live in rural areas, or even in many suburbs, the risk of encountering a deer or other large animal like a moose suddenly in your headlights is very real. In Massachusetts, the chances are 1 in 469 that you will come upon a deer on a suburban or rural roadway. According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, there are between 7,000 and 10,000 car accidents in our state each year involving deer, though it is rare for anyone to be killed in such accidents. There is no reporting requirement if you do have a deer accident so exact numbers are unavailable.
There are numerous hazards on roadways that motorists need to be cautious of and to take reasonable and commonsense steps to avoid by driving defensively. For instance, be aware of weather conditions to avoid losing control on a slippery surface, do not tailgate, share the road with bicyclists, stop for pedestrians, and be wary of slow-moving vehicles or malfunctioning traffic signals. But there are hazards that you cannot plan for such as debris in the roadway.
Storms can be dangerous for driving and motorists are often warned to either be especially cautious or to avoid driving at all in severe weather. Most accidents in a storm occur because of visibility problems, travelling too fast for conditions or losing control. For an unfortunate Plympton man, a storm cost him his life when a large tree fell and crushed his truck on his way home.
It seems that most cities and towns of significant size have problem streets or intersections where more accidents occur than in other parts of the community. In Peabody, Massachusetts, car accidents have been occurring at a level that has concerned city officials at the intersection of Wilson Square and Tremont Street. In a 4-year stretch between 2012 and 2016, 100 accidents occurred in Wilson Square alone. A traffic study conducted by WorldTech found that cars traveling through this intersection were prone to accidents on Central Street. About 27,000 cars can be expected on Central Street each day!
ATVs are a class of motor vehicles designed principally for off-road use by farmers and other types of businesses as well as for racing and recreational purposes. Some can travel up to 65 miles per hour. Although they can be fun to operate, there are about 700 fatalities per year attributable to ATV use and 135,000 injuries with about one-third of these involving individuals 16 years of age or younger.
Every winter we hear about tragic fires in residences, apartment buildings or other locations set by careless adults or children who were playing with lighters or matches left by parents. Some of these fires are the result of Christmas lights that got too hot or from a heater left next to flammable material. But many are set by children who were too young to appreciate the seriousness of what they were doing.
On a recent bright Fall day in Worcester, a 28-year old man was attempting to cross Franklin and Grafton Streets when he was struck by a motorist driving a Toyota Sienna south on Grafton while coming from Washington Square. The only reports available were that the young man was stable but with serious injuries. There was no explanation as to why the motorist failed to see the man who was apparently lawfully crossing the intersection. As it turns out, a Worcester pedestrian accident is unfortunately not uncommon for this central Massachusetts city.
In September 2017, a horrific accident in Methuen took the life of an 11-year old girl when she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing at an intersection. The girl’s stepfather who was with her at the time had looked before crossing but the vehicle failed to stop and hit the young girl who was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Fortunately, diligent efforts by police who distributed news of the tragedy to the community led to the arrest of a 22-year old Lawrence man within 48-hours after someone recognized the vehicle from photos and videos that police made available. Apparently, cameras either overhanging or adjacent to the intersection, recorded the event.
Truck accidents are not uncommon since there are over 3 million truck drivers in the US and approximately 15.5 million trucks in operation. Statistics indicate there are about 500,000 accidents yearly involving 13trucks with 5,000 fatalities.