Boston Road Safety Overview

Boston Road Safety Overview

Road safety is a top priority for city officials in Boston. The City of Boston has made numerous improvements to road safety through its Vision Zero program. Improvements benefit everyone who travels the streets and roads in Boston, including motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The City’s goal is to eliminate serious and fatal traffic crashes by 2030. As part of its action plan, the City of Boston focuses on many different projects to improve road safety.

Some of those programs include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduce speeding on Boston streets
  • Improving the design of streets and roads
  • Create Safe Crossings programs to improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings
  • Increase the number of miles of high-quality bike facilities
  • Implement programs to reduce distracted and impaired driving

One major accomplishment that improved road safety in Boston was reducing the City’s default speed limit. Effective January 9, 2017, Boston’s default speed limit became 25 mph. Speeding is a common cause of traffic accidents.

You can view the 2017/2018 Vision Zero Update and the current projects on the Boston Vision Zero website.

Traffic Accident Statistics for Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is a busy city. Motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, taxis, rideshares, and city buses crowd the streets each day. With the high traffic throughout the City, traffic accidents are common.

Preliminary 2019 – 2020 traffic statistics for Boston include:

  • 7,552 total reported crashes
  • 37 fatal crashes
  • 1,934 non-fatal injury crashes

The Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition reported that 365 pedestrians died in Boston traffic accidents from 2016 through 2020. During the same period, 41 bicyclists died in traffic accidents in Boston.

According to MassDOT, Boston had two of the top 20 statewide intersections for crashes from 2015 through 2017:

  • Morton Street and Harvard Street (3rd on the list – 44 total crashes)
  • Gallivan Boulevard and Adams Street (13th on the list – 36 total crashes)

Boston ranked fifth for pedestrian crash clusters from 2008 through 2017. It ranked tenth for bicycle crash clusters during the same period.

The Vision Zero Dashboard provided by the City of Boston provides more details about Boston’s traffic accident statistics.

What Are the Common Causes of Traffic Accidents in Boston, MA?

Unfortunately, traffic accidents can occur even on the safest roads and streets. Many of the car accidents in Boston are avoidable. Accidents are often the result of carelessness or negligence by individuals.

Common factors that contribute to car crashes include, but are not limited to:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Distracted driving
  • Following too closely (tailgating)
  • Road rage and reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Improper lane changes
  • Drowsy or fatigued driving
  • Failing to follow traffic laws

Other factors can contribute to the cause of a traffic accident that might not be within the control of the driver. For example, defective tires or car parts could be a factor in the cause of a crash. Road conditions and weather conditions may also play a role in some traffic accidents.

Consequences of Boston Traffic Accidents

The immediate consequences of a traffic crash include:

  • Physical injuries
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Financial damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses
  • Emotional distress

The long-term consequences could include permanent impairments and disabilities. In the worst cases, a person may die as the result of a traffic accident.

Traffic accidents can also be costly to the City of Boston. These accidents can cause damage to city property. The City must also cover the cost of emergency services for traffic accidents.

Road Safety is a Concern for Everyone

The City of Boston is working to create safer streets for everyone. However, individuals need to play a part in road safety.

Drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and avoid dangerous driving behaviors. Likewise, bicyclists and pedestrians have a duty to obey traffic laws. Everyone who walks, cycles, or drives on Boston roads needs to take precautions to reduce the risk of traffic accidents.

Road safety tips that reduce accidents and injuries include:

  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Ensure that children are secured in a child safety device based on their weight and height
  • Avoid distractions when walking, driving, or cycling
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Do not text and drive
  • Slow down when approaching a school or work zone
  • Do not drive when you are drowsy or tired
  • Always obey the speed limit
  • Slow down during inclement weather, traffic jams, and other adverse road conditions

If you are involved in a traffic accident, call 911 for help. The emergency operator dispatches police officers and emergency medical services to the accident scene. Remain calm and wait for help.

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