UPS recently announced that it was honoring 25 of its Massachusetts drivers for having at least 25-years of driving without an accident. The honor means that their names will be inscribed in the company’s Circle of Honor that lists the names of its drivers for similar safe driving records worldwide. Massachusetts has 193 drivers in this UPS hall of fame with one driver boasting 39-years of service without an accident. This is remarkable given the long hours many drivers are on the road, and in all kinds of weather and traffic conditions. To date, UPS has around 2,310 drivers on Massachusetts roads.
Motorcycle riders came together recently in Medford to promote April as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke met with safety advocates, riders, and motorcycle policemen in a Motorcycle Safety Proclamation ceremony outside City Hall to emphasize that the warmer weather will be bringing out more riders to the streets and that motorists need to be aware of their presence. Medford has 806 registered riders while the state has a reported 165,000 registered bikes.
Route 24 is a 40-mile stretch of highway in eastern Massachusetts that runs north-south between Randolph and Fall River. Because of the high incidence of collisions and fatal accidents on this roadway, it has been dubbed one of the deadliest highways in the state. Some travelers call it the “Death Highway.” One person who was interviewed by a news reporter after a MassDot report was released regarding the dangers of Route 24, compared the roadway to the German Autobahn where there are no speed limits, or to Nascar, the racing forum. He said he feared that any time he was on that roadway that it might be his last. He also noted that people texting and driving was a common sight as were cars greatly exceeding the speed limit. Others interviewed wondered why highway patrol cars were seldom seen or not stopping more speeders.
Driving drunk or while otherwise impaired from drugs, legal or not, is not only exhibiting extremely poor judgement, but is a criminal offense as well. All motorists are, or should be, aware that driving with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.08% or more is unlawful, but it is also a legal presumption that you were under the influence. But anyone driving while impaired with young children in the vehicle are displaying outrageously poor judgement since children have no appreciation for the risk they are facing and have no understanding or opportunity to refuse to be a passenger.
Despite years of public service announcements and increased awareness of the problem, pedestrian accidents in the Commonwealth have been on the rise over the past 10 years. While there are no definitive reasons for the increase, we can surmise that many of the accidents are the result of distracted motorists, poorly lit or designed intersections, and some fault by pedestrians who are imprudent when crossing the street.
Distracted driving and the tragic accidents that it causes have been on the public radar for some time now. The phrase is a catch-all for any behavior that takes the driver’s focus off of driving for any amount of time. This can include activities such as eating, rubber-necking, day-dreaming, looking out the side window, grooming, changing the radio dial, looking for your sunglasses in the glove apartment, or conversing with passengers. However, safety advocates are generally aiming at hand-held cell phone use as the main non-driving activity whenever distracted driving is discussed since it has been an issue in many serious and fatal car accidents. And Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is taking steps to emphasize that danger by urging lawmakers to prohibit all use of hand-held phones while driving on our highways.
As long as there are humans driving cars and in vehicles equipped to travel at high speeds, there will be speed-related accidents. One-third of all traffic deaths in the US are caused by excessive speeding with Massachusetts hovering at 28%. This includes not only cars traveling well above the default or posted speed limit but those that travel too fast for the road or weather conditions.
A report issued by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that reducing roadway speed was a low priority among policymakers and others. The GHSA and the Institute of Highways Safety are planning a forum to discuss the challenge of making law and policymakers aware of the problem and suggesting ways to make speed reduction a high priority.
Ever wonder about our state’s laws on texting and driving or using hand-held phones while driving? All states except Arizona and Missouri ban texting and driving by all drivers. However, not all states ban any and all use of handheld phones while driving, which includes Massachusetts. That may change as the state house is considering a bill passed by the senate in January that does just that.
Recently, an accident involving two Brockton motorists resulted in an unrestrained driver being ejected from his vehicle. When the driver of an Audi attempted to pass another vehicle, an Infiniti, the two vehicles collided and spun out on a yard near the intersection of Sheridan and Benham Streets, Brockton. The Audi driver was ejected from his vehicle, though he did not sustain life-threatening injuries. The owner of the Infiniti fled the scene and was later determined to have been driving without a license.
Buses are ubiquitous on our roadways and include school buses, public transportation vehicles, and private transports. They are a common sight and in many urban areas, there are now special bus lanes that allow them and regular passenger vehicles to move more freely so as to relieve congestion on our increasingly crowded roadways.