If you have been injured in a car, truck or other type of vehicle crash or if you have been injured as a pedestrian in or near Northampton or Hampshire County you’re probably suffering physically, emotionally and monetarily. You know that a careless, rushing, drunk or distracted driver in the Northampton area has caused your harm but you don’t know what to do about it. Attorney Shute understands from many years of helping people in similar situations what you are going through.
Regaining your health, of course, is your number one priority so getting checked out medically and having your injuries thoroughly diagnosed and treated in a timely manner is crucial to increase the likelihood of your full recovery. Just as you need sound medical advice, you also need sound legal advice. If you’ve lost salary or wages and you’re in pain or you struggle with your daily activities, let Northampton Atty. Robert Shute take the stress of the insurance and legal battles that lie ahead off you. The laws of who is responsible to pay for your injuries can be complicated and unfortunately many careless drivers will not admit to their errors and poor decision-making. Attorney Shute will develop a legal strategy tailored to your specific circumstances to help you receive financial compensation for what the careless driver has cost you and put you through.
Some of the many reasons are: proving the crash was not your fault when the other driver is lying; making sure you do not have medical bills to pay out-of–pocket, making sure that any insurance agreements you sign protect your interests, and maximizing the financial compensation you receive for your harms.
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Stop, Trains Can’t is a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration program to raise awareness of driver safety issues at railroad crossings. Never go around the crossing gates to “beat” a train and never stop on the tracks. A train going 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop. The NHTSA has a stark warning: “If you think a train will stop because it sees you on the tracks, it will- about a mile after it hits you.”
Seat Belts Save Lives. The NHTSA reports that seat belts cut the risk of death in a crash by almost half. Seat belts also prevent crashes by keeping drivers within reach of the steering wheel and brake pedal when their vehicle is swerving.
VEHICLE COLLISIONS IN AND NEAR NORTHAMPTON AND HAMPSHIRE COUNTY
Vehicle crashes are the result of many kinds of bad decision-making: driving while talking on the phone, driving after partying and drinking with friends, trying and failing to make it through a yellow light before it turns red- the list goes on. These kinds of bad decisions are especially dangerous in areas where the road design and traffic patterns are naturally complicated and require well-honed driving skills under the best of conditions. The Northampton area is home to some of these trouble spots. Atty. Shute knows these areas and he knows his way around the legal problems that arise from collisions that occur there.
THE NUMBER 4 MOST DANGEROUS PIONEER VALLEY INTERSECTION
Drivers and pedestrians who frequent Northampton will not be surprised to learn that the intersection of King St. (Route 5) and Damon Road and Bridge Road is near the top of the local most dangerous intersection list. Atty. Shute has represented multiple clients who have been injured there. This intersection presents several driver awareness challenges. All four approaches to the intersection are three lanes wide and include left turning lanes. Traffic gets backed up, especially at the rush hours and it can take several cycles of the traffic lights to get through. This can lead impatient drivers to hurry in an (often unsuccessful) effort to make it through a yellow light before it turns red. Drivers trying to make it through a yellow light can create another type of hazard when there is traffic stopped ahead and the driver has to stop, blocking the intersection for traffic that now has a green light. There are vehicles entering and exiting gas station and restaurant driveway curb-cuts very close to the intersection that create additional congestion, very often surprising drivers who have just gone through a green light and are thinking they are free to accelerate.
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Drivers on Damon Road Northampton approaching the intersection with King Street should be aware of a less obvious, but potentially fatal hazard: trains. Traffic often backs up on Damon Road for a quarter mile or more which creates stop-and-go traffic as the intersection traffic lights go through their cycle. Approximately 100 yards before the intersection there is a railroad crossing protected by an offset gate system which is designed to allow motorists who manage to pass the entrance gate just before it descends to leave the crossing area. In other words, a motorist who passes the entrance gate onto the tracks will not get trapped between gates because there is no exit gate. The remaining danger, though, is that if a driver is following another vehicle in “bumper-to-bumper” traffic, the following vehicle might pass the railway crossing entrance gate just before it comes down and then get boxed-in on the railroad tracks between the car in front and the gate behind. Don’t let this be you!
Downtown Northampton- one of the great places to be in Western Massachusetts, is known for its dining, its multi-genre music scene and for being one of the most “walkable” downtowns in the area. It has a reputation for being pedestrian-friendly but neither drivers nor pedestrians can afford to let their guard down.
In 2020 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation conducted a Road Safety Audit of the Downtown Northampton corridor (Route 9/ Main St./Bridge St.) from Smith College on one end to Market St on the other end. The audit found that lack of lane lines within the wide roadway along with the overall road geometry contributes to vehicle weaving, last-minute position changes, vehicle turning movement issues, and pedestrian safety issues. As a result, many of the crashes along the corridor were side-swipe and angle crashes. The lack of flashing DON’T WALK countdown timers creates danger for pedestrians. The long wait times for the traffic signals to complete their cycles lead to lane-weaving and red light running by impatient drivers and diagonal intersection crossing by pedestrians.
The City of Northampton is developing plans and hopes to address these and other traffic-related issues with construction to begin in 2025. According to the city, the Main St. reconstruction project will be designed to improve safety at crosswalks and intersections, improve pedestrian facilities and bicycle accommodations, and rehabilitate the roadway and improve the functioning of the four signalized intersections.
ROTARIES AND ROUNDABOUTS
Massachusetts General Laws c.89 Sec.8: Any operator of a vehicle entering a rotary intersection shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle already in the intersection.
Rotaries and Roundabouts are intended to allow for smooth flow of traffic at intersections, without the need for traffic lights. They are similar to each other except Roundabouts are smaller than Rotaries and posted speed limits entering them usually are lower.
Northampton is home to some relatively new roundabouts, notably at the entrance to Look Memorial Park and at the intersection of Pleasant St. and Conz St. These roundabouts are only about 100 yards around so the sharp curve forces vehicles to slow down and traffic flows through them in a single lane, reducing the risk of side-swipe accidents from lane switching. A newer roundabout is underway at the Interstate-91 – Exit 19 / MA Route 9 interchange at Bridge Street, Damon Road and the Coolidge Bridge. This roundabout will have two side-by-side lanes which require extra driver alertness due to the increased danger from vehicles in the inner lane trying to cross the outer lane to exit the roundabout.
Large classic rotaries like the one in neighboring South Hadley at the intersection of Purple Heart Drive and the Muller Bridge create an additional challenge- speed. This rotary is oval shaped and is almost ½ mile around. The speed limit on the Muller Bridge is 50 mph. Even though the speed limit drops on the approach to the rotary, cars coming off the bridge barely have to turn to enter the “straightaway” part of the oval. The road geometry that has only a slight curve can deceive unfamiliar drivers into thinking they are not entering a rotary and into thinking they can maintain their speed from the Muller Bridge. Rotaries like this are the reason that a Massachusetts highway administrator called rotaries a “free-for-all” and are the reason that the Mass. DOT is planning to convert rotaries into roundabouts.
When you have been injured in a vehicle collision you need a lawyer who knows the intricacies of the rules of the road and knows how to maximize the financial compensation you receive. Atty. Robert Shute is your experienced vehicle collision lawyer. Call 413-437-7788 or 413-592-0999 now, day or evening for your free consultation with Atty. Shute.
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Knows the “rules of the road” and can sort out complicated and conflicting crash stories so that you get treated fairly and receive the compensation you need. Atty. Shute is available for your free consultation, day or evening, at your convenience.