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.
Pedestrian crosswalks are designed to offer protection to persons crossing the street. At many crosswalks there are traffic signals at the intersection. If there is no traffic signal, motorists are required to stop when the pedestrian enters the crosswalk or when the person is at least 10 feet from the midpoint of the crosswalk.
Go to most large urban areas and you will see various types of motor vehicles on the city streets, including passenger cars, motorcycles, trucks of all sizes, and scooters. Scooters, which can include mopeds, are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation for city dwellers and students. They are far less expensive than cars, are quick, easy to park, and can easily maneuver in and around traffic. However, these small vehicles pose significant risks to persons who ride them.
The good news is that the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. declined in 2017 after two years of increases. The bad news is that the number of fatalities involving tractor trailers rose 8% in 2017 over the previous year, according to the Department of Transportation. The statistics for 2018 will not be published for several months.