Pedestrian Fatalities Rising Across Massachusetts

A recent article in the Boston Globe revealed that pedestrian deaths are rising across the state. Not only did the number of deaths increase, but the number of cities and towns that experience fatal pedestrian accidents also increased.

The Globe reported, “Massachusetts had a 35 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in 2022, when 101 people were killed by vehicles, up from 75 people the prior year…. Boston surpassed all other cities in the state with 12 pedestrian deaths last year. Worcester had the second most pedestrian deaths with seven. Chicopee had the third most with five.”

These numbers are incredibly troubling, but unfortunately, they are not surprising. Our attorneys have handled multiple fatal pedestrian accidents, such as a case where a man drove his car over a sidewalk and immediately killed a pedestrian, and a case where a mother was killed as she crossed the street in a crosswalk. Even when the pedestrian survives, they often suffer life-altering injuries. One of our clients was hit by an MBTA bus and lost her right leg above the knee as a result; she lives with chronic pain. In each of these cases – and in the many more we have taken – we were able to secure justice for our clients.

Where are these pedestrian accidents happening in Massachusetts?

In most cases, these fatal pedestrian crashes are happening in lower-income areas, where people may not have access to their own vehicles. The Globe points to a recent study released by WalkBoston revealing:

…fatal pedestrian crashes in Massachusetts are up by 35% in 2022 compared to 2021, with 71% of crashes taking place in Environmental Justice Census Block Groups.

Fatal Pedestrian Crashes in MA (2022) also shows that of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, 60 had a fatal pedestrian crash in 2022, and older adults were hit and killed at a higher rate than those in other age groups.

Environmental Justice neighborhoods are those with lower household incomes, higher minority populations, and higher populations for whom English is a second language

Notes Brendan Kearney, Deputy Director of WalkBoston, “The sharp rise in fatal crashes is extremely troubling. Unsafe road design is creating fatal consequences for communities across the Commonwealth. Designing our streets to reduce illegal speeding — targeting the most dangerous locations first for fixes — will save lives.”

“Nearly everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day. Safer streets mean more people remain in their current homes or community as they age.” – Mike Festa, State Director of AARP Massachusetts

WalkBoston is calling on MassDOT, municipalities, and the legislature to take action and create safer streets for our community, including:

  • MassDOT must release an action plan based on their recently-released Strategic Highway Safety Plan, including sections on mitigating speeding and addressing high-risk populations and locations.
  • Identify how to implement and fund these recommendations within the legislature.
  • Ensure all municipalities that have experienced a fatal crash take steps to become an Age-Friendly Community. The AARP reports that by 2030, one of every five people in the US will be 65 or older.

Pedestrian fatalities are increasing throughout the country

It’s not just Boston, however. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes, in 2020, 6,516 pedestrians died in traffic accidents. This is “the highest since 1990 and a 3.9% increase from 2019. On average, a pedestrian died every 81 minutes in 2020 — accounting for 17% of all traffic fatalities.”

How can I stay safe as a Boston pedestrian?

Both pedestrians and drivers in Massachusetts can help keep everyone safe by keeping some simple safety tips in mind.

Pedestrians should remember:

  • Always use a marked crosswalk. Remember, you typically do not have right of way outside of a crosswalk (exceptions do apply regarding certain types of roadways).
  • If there’s no crosswalk, cross at a well-lit area and wait for a reasonable and safe gap in traffic.
  • Walk on the sidewalk or marked path. If you don’t have access to either, the NHTSA recommends walking facing traffic and as far away from the cars as possible.
  • Stay alert – especially while wearing headphones or earbuds. You may miss the sound of a truck or car horn, siren, or the sound of a traffic signal.
  • Avoid walking while impaired. The NHTSA reports approximately 47% of deadly pedestrian accidents in 2020 involved an intoxicated pedestrian.
  • Don’t assume a driver can see you – ensure you’re seen. Wear brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective clothing with a flashlight at night.

Similarly, drivers should remember:

  • Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Always slow down if you’re approaching a pedestrian, even if he or she isn’t in a crosswalk.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. They are likely stopped to allow someone to cross the street.
  • Be alert for pedestrians everywhere – even where you may least expect them. They are also hard to see in low visibility, like bad weather or low-lit areas.
  • Be extra cautious in areas where children may be present, like schools and neighborhoods.
  • Always adhere to posted speed limits, per the NHTSA, “particularly in urban and pedestrian-heavy areas. Lower speeds are one of the most important factors in pedestrian crash survivability.”

Call Breakstone, White & Gluck if you’re injured in a Boston pedestrian accident

If you suffer injury due to someone’s negligence, ensure you protect yourself and any potential legal action. Here are some things you can do immediately after an accident:

  • Move to a safe place if possible.
  • Call the police. They will notify emergency services and take a report.
  • Get the driver’s information, including their contact information and license plate number.
  • Gather evidence if you can, including taking photos of the scene, the vehicle that hit you, your injuries, and anything else you think may be relevant.
  • Seek medical attention. Visit a hospital or doctor as soon as possible after your accident, even if you don’t feel injured. Many injuries, especially internal ones, take time to develop symptoms. Further, the sooner you see a medical professional, the more documentation you have for your personal injury case.
  • Contact an experienced attorney from Breakstone, White & Gluck. We can help you navigate through the often-confusing insurance claim process and have the skills and resources to take your case before a jury if that’s what’s best for you. When you work with us, you get worry-free representation from the very beginning. You focus on your health and recovery; let us take care of the rest.

If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident, contact the Boston lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck. We have the record of success and the dedication to fight for the compensation to which you’re entitled for your losses. We offer free consultations and serve clients and families throughout the state. To schedule an appointment, call our office or complete our contact form today.