Thanksgiving Weekend Driving: Motor Vehicle Accidents Spike, So Be Careful

First, I hope that my readers and friends have had a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day. Given the fact that this is one of, if not the most, high motor vehicle traffic days in the year, staying safe on the roads can be a challenge.

Right now, I’m vacationing with my wife Debbi on Maui, Hawaii (Note: If you’re a current or prospective client, don’t worry: All my cases are being covered by my colleagues!) When most people get away on vacation, they usually don’t think of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. You’re on vacation, right? What can go wrong? The answer: Plenty. In fact, more than you think – and the reasons are obvious: Problem #1 – “How Do You Work This Thing?”: When traveling a long way from home (vs. locally,) most people are driving a rental car. Rental car drivers are not familiar with the vehicle they’re renting, so the risk of operator error increases substantially. Problem # 2 – “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” – The layout of the roads, the terrain, directions, are all strange and unfamiliar – and this increases the risk of a motor vehicle accident even more. Problem #3 – “I need some sleep”: Travelers driving rental cars are probably quite tired from the stress of travel – and this too, increases the risk of a car accident. Problem #4 – “Get Outta My Way:This is probably the worst one: Our impatient and often insensitive, inconsiderate culture. So many people these days just don’t care about consideration and civility toward other drivers. So many people will cut you off in a heartbeat, just to get a couple of car lengths ahead of you; just to ‘beat the light” ahead of you. This behavior is, of course, what earned Massachusetts drivers the nickname “Massholes” – and unfortunately, as a Boston Massachusetts motor vehicle accident lawyer, I can regrettably attest to the truth of this term.

But sadly – and disturbingly – dangerous drivers aren’t limited to Massachusetts. Here in Hawaii, twice in the past week my wife and I were almost involved in what could have been terrible, even fatal car accidents. And while this may sound defensive, we truly weren’t operating in any kind of an unsafe manner – none of the above four risk factors, or others – were present. On one occasion, a pedestrian was walking into oncoming traffic in the middle of the night, wearing all black clothing without any reflective gear at all, walking on black asphalt on an unlit, very dark road, in a rainstorm. He was walking about 12” from the travel lane we were in, and we missed hitting this person by about that much space. We were traveling under the speed limit, but if he had been walking any closer to the travel lane, any collision with him might have been fatal.

On another occasion, we were driving in the center lane of a 3-lane highway. Needing to enter the left lane in order to make a left hand turn about a mile up the road, we signaled left with our turn-signal flashers for about 15 seconds before gradually beginning to enter the left lane. Suddenly, a pickup truck came barreling up from behind us, sped ahead of us into the left lane, cut us off, then – even worse – swerved suddenly right to get ahead of us. I can only ascribe a miracle to the fact that we weren’t killed.

These types of experiences only serve to make me even more empathetic to my motor vehicle accident injury clients.   Being in a motor vehicle accident – even if you’re not injured – can be an extremely traumatic event. Truly, the psychological scars that can remain from these accidents and injuries, can sometimes be worse than the physical injuries.

Even more important than watching your own driving, watch the “Other Driver” – because you never know what he or she is like behind the wheel.  Distracted driving and cell phone use while driving are major problems out there.

If you’re injured in a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident back home, seek out a very experienced Massachusetts motor vehicle accident attorney. Don’t choose a law firm or lawyer that handles these cases only occasionally; retain a specialist.