Passenger Safety in Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Accidents
Safety is the number one consideration when traveling in a motor vehicle in Massachusetts, or anywhere, in fact. How can passengers help to make the ride safer? And how can drivers make passengers safer?
Drivers are the key to safety. They should insist that all passengers use seat belts; that is, the vehicle should not be moved until seat belts are all engaged. Drivers should assertively request that all passengers are reasonably quiet, so that the driver can pay full attention to the road and the nuances of the changing conditions on the road. Drivers should also request that passengers are attentive to the changing conditions of the road.
That is, when encountering a change in situation on the road, the driver should signal to the passenger that she or he needs to pay extra attention to the road and the conditions. A driver should insist that the passengers are not unnecessarily fidgety so as to create a distraction. Laptops, cell phones, electronic devices and the noise and lighting that they create can be a distraction to a driver. Regardless of the passengers’ “need” for one call, or a game, if it is creating a distraction, the driver should insist that the passenger cease the electronic activity. On the other hand, if the driver needs assistance with directions or information, the driver should ask the passenger to use his or her electronic resources, rather than the driver attempting to do so himself. Safety is first.
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Drivers need to supervise kids to maximize safety. First and foremost, all children must be buckled in a proper car seat; and the seat must be securely fastened to the vehicle. Knowing your child and his or her proclivities in a moving vehicle helps prevent an unexpected meltdown. Does the child need food? A toy? A window shade to keep the sun out of their eyes? Music or an audio book can be engaging for many children. All of this takes planning. No trip is too important to not properly prepare to keep a child engaged and thus the driver more attentive to the road.
What can passengers to? One theme we find over and over when interviewing clients, and when taking depositions of defendants and witnesses, is asking the driver if he or she is safe to drive. Did the driver have a drink? Is the driver tired? A serious discussion at the outset can save so much grief and suffering. Being out on the roads is dangerous; starting out with an impaired driver makes the trip perilous. Second, passengers should realize that they have a job, a duty, to help the driver pay attention. Even alert drivers can require help. Talking when the driver is passing or overtaking another vehicle can be a distraction. Turning up the music if it makes a driver uncomfortable or distracted can be dangerous. Focus on the driver; he is focusing on your safety 100% of the time, so help him out!
Passengers are almost never responsible for a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts. Full recovery, however, is not assured unless you have an experienced Massachusetts accident lawyer on your side. If you, or a loved one was injured in a Massachusetts, call Burns & Jain. He has been representing passengers in motor vehicle collisions in Massachusetts since 1985. A free consultation is only a call away: 617-227-7423.