The New York Times is reporting that a pedestrian was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber car in Arizona. This is believed to be the first known death of a pedestrian who was hit by an autonomous car. Uber is testing these types of autonomous cars in Boston too, and as more and more autonomous vehicles take to the streets we will undoubtedly see more crashes and injuries like this one in Arizona.
If you’ve been in a car crash, stay calm do not leave the scene of the crash until it is appropriate to do so, and you have had time to assess the situation. In a crash where someone has been injured or killed, you may face criminal penalties for leaving the scene before the proper authorities arrive. According to M.G.L. c. 90, § 24, “[W]hoever without stopping and making known his name, residence and the register number of his motor vehicle goes away after knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury to any other vehicle or property… shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty dollars nor more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not less than two weeks nor more than two years, or both.” If this crash resulted in the death of a person, the driver involved may be, “…punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two and one-half years nor more than ten years and by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than five thousand dollars….”
Follow these 6 steps after the car crash:
- Exchange information.
In 2014, 59 cyclists died after being struck by large trucks, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One of the most recent truck accidents involving a cyclist occurred in Porter Square, Cambridge on October 5, 2016. 60-year-old, Bernard Lavins was cycling when he was struck and killed by an 18 wheeler truck. In a WBUR article, a cyclist at the scene of the crash stated even though bikers follow the rules of the road they are still not noticed. Truckers not being able to see cyclist, because of their large “blind spots” is a common reason why truckers hit cyclist.
Crashes like this have encouraged the U.S. transportation safety board to urge regulators to make it mandatory that trucks be equipped with side guards. Side guards, which are currently required on all trucks in Canada and Japan, cover the gaps between the wheels of trucks. The initiative to require side guards on trucks was a result of two crashes that killed one cyclist and severely injured the other, in Montreal, occurring in the same week. Both crashes, reported in the Globe, occurred when the cyclist fell under side of the truck.
Crashes, like the ones in Montreal, have led New York City and Boston to implement ordinances hat require trucks to be equipped with side guards. In 2015, Mayor De Blasio of New York signed a bill making side guards mandatory on all trucks by 2024. This bill was signed in hopes that sideguards on trucks in New York will have the same effect they did when they were implemented in the UK. A study, conducted by The National Transportation Systems Center (“NTSC”), showed that in the UK accidents dropped 61% after side guards were installed on trucks. The NTSC study also stated that the cost to install side guards on current trucks could be as low as $600, which is cheaper than the UK price of $847. This cost could also decrease if trucks were built with side guards already installed.
In Massachusetts drivers are allowed right turn on red (“RTOR”). Under M.G.L.c 89 §8 “You must come to a complete stop at a red traffic light. You may turn right unless a NO TURN ON RED SIGN IS PRESENT.” The original purpose of RTOR was a fuel saving measure, which the federal government promoted during the oil crises in the 1970’s. The Federal Highway Administration found that allowing drivers to turn right on red would result in drivers spending 1 to 4.6 seconds less time stopped at red lights. RTOR was initially adopted in 1980 by all 50 states to try and maintain steady traffic flow with minimum risk of accidents, but RTOR has had serious unintended consequences. A 1981 Department of Transportation study (“DOT”) showed that only one year after RTOR was adopted, there was a significant increase in the amount of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. According to the above DOT study “[t]he majority of these RTOR crashes involved a driver looking left for a gap in traffic and striking a pedestrian or bicyclist coming from the driver’s right.” The fuel savings gained from RTOR are not worth the very real risk that RTOR poses to pedestrians. According to a 2009 U.S. National Household Transportation Survey car trips under a mile add up to about 10 billion miles per year: it is obvious that driving less and walking more would result in substantial fuel savings. In order to achieve greater fuel savings we would be better off making our streets safer for pedestrians to encourage folks to park their vehicles at home for short trips and walk instead. One way of making our streets safer would be to do away with right turns on red.
Right turns at red lights are not the only thing that makes Boston streets dangerous for pedestrians. Pedestrians put themselves at risk by jaywalking. Jaywalking is when someone on foot crosses the street outside of a crosswalk without regard for oncoming traffic. In Boston, jaywalking is an illegal offense fineable up to $2 according to M.G.L.c 90 §18A. A recent Boston Globe article reported that the number of motor vehicle accidents involving jaywalkers more than doubled since last year. When the Globe article asked Bostonians why they feel safe Jaywalking, they attributed it to “impatience, poorly timed lights, and stated that if Boston drivers could violate traffic rules why couldn’t they. Jaywalking could also be largely attributed to the fact that Police Officers do not fine Jaywalkers like they should according to Massachusetts law. When an officer was asked why he did not fine Jaywalkers he stated “no self-respecting cop would bother taking the time to book someone for such an offense.” The law to fine jaywalkers has been around since 1962, but is something that was not feared or imposed since the highest fine you could receive was $2. In February 2016, Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Hariette Chandler, proposed a bill that would increase the fine of jaywalking to $25 for a first offense, $50 for second offense, and $75 for any subsequent offenses. Ms. Chandler proposed this bill after there were numerous pedestrian deaths in Worcester because of Jaywalking. The proposed bill has failed to advance and therefore the fine for Jaywalking is still $1 for the first offense and $2 for any subsequent offenses.
If you, or someone you know, has been injured or killed while crossing the street in Boston, then please contact one of our experienced pedestrian accident attorneys at Mitcheson & Lee, so that we can get you the compensation you deserve.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that has ever driven in Boston that Bostonians are the worst drivers in America, so says a report by Allstate Insurance in 2016. For the past three years Boston has ranked #1 for the city with the worst drivers in America. Despite their ranking as the worst drivers for three years straight, Bostonians’ driving actually improved last year! In 2016, Bostonians had a new car crash every 7.1 years, which was a vast improvement from 2015, in which they recorded a new crash every 3.9 years. Sadly, Boston drivers are still reporting car crashes more frequently than the safest drivers in parts of Texas, who report a crash every 14.6 years.
There are various reason why Bostonians are the worst drivers in America, but the main reason is that Bostonians do not follow the rules of the road. First, turn signals are rarity in Boston. Turn signals are so rare a sighting in Boston that in 2014 the Massachusetts Police started a campaign to remind drivers to “Use Yah Blinkah.” The campaign actually lead to more drivers using their ‘blinkahs”, but it seems that that alone was not enough to boost Bostonians safe driver ranking.
Maybe we can lay some blame for Bostonians’ worst driver ranking on a driving move called the “Boston Left”. The “Boston Left” describes a driver stopped at a traffic light who doesn’t have a left-turn arrow, and who suddenly makes a left turn, cutting across the oncoming traffic before their light turns green, as seen in this Youtube video.