Anyone can be injured and lose their lives in an auto accident in Massachusetts. However, there is little debate that some are more vulnerable than others. Specifically, that centers on pedestrians and bicyclists.
Because they are accorded no protection, the aftermath for pedestrians and bicyclists can be far worse than it would be for a person who is inside a vehicle. The landscape is also making it riskier for these individuals. Drivers are increasingly distracted, reckless and drive at excessive speeds. Adding these potential catalysts for a crash to the prevalence of drivers who are under the influence and drowsy makes it a challenge to remain safe.
State and federal entities are seeking workable solutions to reduce the number of injuries and deaths that are happening to those who are walking or riding in Massachusetts and throughout the nation. Some strategies have already been implemented. Still, as their effectiveness is assessed and there is hope that there will be a reduction in accidents, people must consider their rights when they or a loved one has been in this kind of collision.
State and federal government try to address bicycle and pedestrian safety
A new Massachusetts law has recently gone into effect to make drivers more attentive to riders and pedestrians. It regulates the amount of room drivers must give bicyclists and pedestrians. It focuses on “vulnerable” users.
Those categorized as vulnerable are bicyclists; pedestrians; people working on the side of the road; those who are roller skating, riding skateboards and scooters; those in wheelchairs and others. The law requires motor vehicle drivers grant vulnerable people a minimum of four feet of room when passing.
There will not be strict enforcement of this new law making it questionable as to whether drivers will follow it. It will give drivers the right to cross a double-yellow line when passing, provided it is safe.
This new law goes into effect in Massachusetts just as a bicycle infrastructure bill is being proposed by lawmakers in Washington D.C. The Sarah Debbink Langenkamp Active Transportation Act would let states use federal money for bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements.
It strives to close what some congress members see as gaps between infrastructure and how it is designed for pedestrians and bicyclists. The name of the bill is in honor of a late diplomat who died while she was bicycling and was hit by a truck in Maryland.
This comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the latest numbers for 2022 – through September – showed an 8% spike in bicyclist fatalities and a 2% rise in pedestrian fatalities in the U.S.
Accident victims and their families need to know what options are available
While these attempts to make the roads safer are notable, there is a constant risk for riders and walkers. A bicycle or pedestrian accident can have long-term ramifications regardless of who is involved. Whether it is a child, a teen, an elderly person or anyone else, there can be broken bones, brain trauma, spinal cord damage, lost limbs and a radically changed future. That is if the person is fortunate enough to survive the accident.
Among the obstacles people face after bicycle and pedestrian accidents are enormous medical bills, rehabilitation costs, the need for an adapted home, having caregivers and facing a reduced ability to earn a living. These challenges may need to be addressed by pursuing a legal claim.
People in this situation could be unsure of whom to trust. Evidence needs to be gathered, medical costs assessed and a full analysis of what a person will need in the short and long term can be critical to recovering sufficient compensation. For guidance and help, it is crucial to consult with those who specialize in these accidents, know the court system, are caring, aggressive and know the necessary steps to making a successful claim.