When in Doubt, Don’t Cross

Posted by Stacey L. Pietrowicz

Meet Stacey

Stacey brings meticulous attention to detail to every type of case, with consistently outstanding results. Although the youngest partner at SUGARMAN, Stacey routinely handles some of the firm's most sophisticated cases and has been recognized in Massachusetts Super Lawyers every year since 2013. Meet Stacey


Who has the highest risk to be seriously hurt or killed in a car crash? Pedestrians.

As the New England snow melts and the weather warms, an increasing number of people will be out and about. After all, it’s that almost-spring time of year! Although the fresh air is great, the 2015 NHTSA Traffic Safety reported that a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes.

Just in the month of February, there were several tragic pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts.

On February 8, 2018, an elderly man was killed after being struck by a car. The crash occurred at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street in Boston. The driver of the car fled the scene but was detained by the police soon after.

On February 10, 2018, Ralph Hawking, a Canton resident, was fatally injured after being struck by a truck while standing on his friend’s driveway on High Street. Responding emergency personnel found Mr. Hawking trapped under the pickup truck.

Also on February 10, 2018, two close friends, Talia Newfield and Adrienne Garrido, were killed after being struck by a car while crossing the intersection at Webster and Holland Streets in Needham.

On February 12, 2018, a man was seriously injured when he was struck by a car at Derby and Lafayette Streets in Salem. The driver fled the scene, and emergency personnel found the victim on the ground unresponsive with a clear head injury.

On February 13, 2018, two teenagers were struck by a car while crossing Columbus Avenue in Roxbury. Both victims sustained serious injuries. The operator of the vehicle lost control, struck the two teenagers, and collided into a utility pole.

As you can see from just a few recent examples, people are struck in intersections, crossing the roadway and even standing in driveways. Drivers and pedestrians alike share the responsibility for safety of themselves and others.

In the summer of 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation launched the safety campaign, “Scan the Street for Wheels and Feet.” This effort is aimed at “highlighting the importance of having motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists be cognizant of each other while sharing the road,” stated Bonnie Polin, MassDOT Highway Division Manager of Highway Safety, in a news release.

How does someone “come out of nowhere”?

One of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to be mindful drivers is inattentional blindness, which is also referred to as perceptual blindness. It explains (but does not justify) those moments where “they came out of nowhere!”

Inattentional blindness occurs when:

  1. The observer fails to notice a visual object or event;
  2. The object or event is fully visible;
  3. Observers could easily identify the object, if they were consciously perceiving it; and
  4. The object is unexpected and the failure to see the object is due to paying attention to other aspects of the scene. (Not due to aspects of the visual stimulus itself.)

Staying safe as a pedestrian or a driver

As a pedestrian, we empower you to take charge of your own safety. Here are some ways you can do so:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb when waiting to cross
  • Use the designated walkways and walk signals
  • Make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street
  • Look both ways twice before crossing any street
  • Avoid using headphones or your cellphone as a pedestrian
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing when walking at night
  • Use particular caution when crossing driveways or alleys where drivers may not expect you
  • When in doubt, don't cross
  • Stay alert and focused, and be ready for the unexpected

As a driver, you’re responsible for both your own safety and that of those around you. Here are a few ways to avoid hurting:

  • Scan the street for wheels and feet
  • Be careful when approaching a crosswalk 
  • Check your mirrors before opening your car door 
  • Actively search for people, pets, bicycles, scooters and motorcycles 
  • When in doubt, slow down!

SUGARMAN's attorneys have extensive experience litigating motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians who have been injured. If you have been injured and you need the guidance of a lawyer, call us at (617) 542-1000, email info@sugarman.com or fill out a Contact Form.