Texting while driving has caused too many collisions. Since 2010, Massachusetts has outlawed texting while driving. This law, however, did not ban using your cellphone for making calls or scrolling through your email unless you are a driver under the age of 21. In the past few years, lawmakers have introduced legislation banning any hand-held use of cellphones for all drivers but the measures either stalled or died quietly in the House. Governor Baker did not endorse a full ban either, feeling it was unfair to drivers in older vehicles that lacked the technology that permitted hands-free use.
In previous blogs on my website, we have discussed the mind-boggling fact that Massachusetts drivers rank among the worst users of seat belts! As of 2017, we moved to 45th in the nation from a low of 48th, but our usage dropped. Just last year, our drivers were restrained an average of 78.2% of the time while driving. Current statistics have our drivers buckling up at only 74 %. Our sister state, New Hampshire, is dead last at just over 70%.
Periodically, we get reports of Uber drivers assaulting passengers. A number of cases have been filed across the nation alleging that passengers or riders were sexually assaulted by their Uber driver. This begs the question of what kind of background checks Uber is conducting of its drivers so as to protect the public?
Are rotaries safe? Traffic engineers who designed these traffic flow systems seemed to think so, but sentiments are changing. Rotaries, also called roundabouts, are a common feature in many European countries. The difference between a roundabout and a rotary is that the former has one lane for traffic to circle and the later has multiple lanes. The theory behind these systems is that they facilitate the smooth movement of vehicles into a constantly moving circle at reduced speeds.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are required in all residences in Massachusetts. Owners of rental units must ensure that smoke alarms are in good working condition and comply with state law. Homes that were built before 1975 and are sold must have smoke alarms with a 10-year life span. No residential property can exchange owners without its smoke alarms being certified by the local Fire Marshall. If people are injured or killed because a smoke alarm in their residence was missing or failed to operate, you may have a injury or wrongful death lawsuit. We represented a family in which a malfunctioning smoke detector was the cause of a mother of a two-year old’s death.
Have you ever been on a pub crawl in Massachusetts? This is just another name for bar-hopping where you and friends travel from pub to pub having a drink or two at each one. Usually, there is either a designated driver or, more frequently given their ubiquity, an Uber or Lyft so that the crawlers need not worry about being stopped and arrested for drunk driving. Unfortunately, one of these pub crawls resulted in a tragic accident in McHenry County, Illinois.
Workplace accident deaths are on the rise in Massachusetts. Recent reports indicate that deaths are at a 10-year high. For example, in 2012, there were 32 workplace-related deaths while in 2016, the figure reached 70. The deaths include firefighters who died from work-related factors that resulted in cancer, heart attacks and leukemia.
California has long been a bellwether state for new trends and laws. It is the most populous state and considered more progressive in protecting citizens from corporate safety violations. Home to the tech industry, its residents embrace innovation and tolerance and has some of the strictest regulations in the country when it comes to environmental and consumer safety. Accordingly, it should be no surprise that the state has passed a law restricting any hand-held use of a cellphone while driving so as to cut down on distracted driving fatalities. But will this have any effect on toughening Massachusetts laws regarding cell phone use while driving?
Bus transportation is an important and inexpensive mode of commuting and traveling for millions of people. Buses help minimize traffic congestion and are able to take large groups to work, sporting and entertainment events. Bus accidents are not as common as other motor vehicle crashes but often lead to numerous victims when crashes do occur.
Seat belts in passenger vehicles first became mandatory for car manufacturers in 1968 though it was not compulsory for occupants to use them until New York became the first state, in 1984, to require all occupants to be buckled up. Over the years, seat belt use has definitively shown to save lives and now every state, except Vermont, requires that passengers be secured in cars, pickups and commercial vehicles except for buses.