Speak Up for Traffic Safety Legislation (Wednesday hearings)

Speak Up for Traffic Safety Legislation (Wednesday hearings)

Wednesday, October 13th at 11am, the Massachusetts Legislature is holding a hearing on multiple traffic safety bills. WalkBoston alongside our partners in the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition will be testifying in support of and in opposition to various bills—and we need your help emphasizing to lawmakers which bills will positively impact street safety, and which could do unintended harm. (WalkBoston’s testimony as prepared can be found here.)

Read more below about the bills we support/oppose. Then send your comments to the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, which is holding the hearing, using our simple script below.

Can we count on you to contact the committee and speak up for safe streets?

Bills we support:

The MA Vision Zero Coalition has long been a supporter of using automated cameras to enforce speed and red-light violations. It’s a win-win tool to reduce dangerous driving and reducing direct police interactions. The following are the specific bills we support, as they have key equity provisions necessary to properly regulate this technology, including capped fines and data protections:

  1. An Act relative to automated enforcement |S1545, Brownsberger, William N. (SEN)
  2. An Act relative to automated enforcement | H2426, Ciccolo, Michelle L. (HOU)

Bills we oppose:

The MA Vision Zero Coalition supports wearing seatbelts. However, we do not support changing the seat belt law from a secondary to primary offense. With the additional legislation, not wearing a seat belt could be the sole reason for a police officer to initiate a traffic stop. This law has been shown to contribute to pretextual stops and racial profiling in other states. Instead, we propose education and awareness campaigns to encourage greater seatbelt usage. These are the following bills we oppose:

  1. An Act establishing a primary seat belt law | H2515, Roy, Jeffrey N. (HOU)
  2. An act relative to primary enforcement of seatbelt violations | H2543, Whelan, Timothy R. (HOU)
  3. An Act establishing a primary seat belt law | S1591, Feeney, Paul R. (SEN)

Traffic safety is immensely important, and it’s equally important that it’s done right. The MA Vision Zero Coalition feels strongly about our approach and recommendations to the MA Legislature. Please speak up for legislation done right, and use our sample comment letter below to share your thoughts with the committee. 

Thank you for your support!


To submit written testimony, please email it to Dave McNeill (david.mcneill@mahouse.gov) and Cara Libman (cara.libman@masenate.gov). Consider adding your elected officials as well.

To: Dave McNeill (david.mcneill@mahouse.gov); Cara Libman (cara.libman@masenate.gov)

CC: info@visionzerocoalition.org

Recommended email subject: Written Testimony on Traffic Safety Legislation

Sample script:

Dear Chairman González, Chairman Timilty, and members of the committee,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide written testimony regarding the bills being heard in this Committee. I am writing to express support for two bills the MA Vision Zero Coalition is advocating for that would make our roads safer and prevent traffic deaths, as well as to express my opposition to Primary Seat Belt legislation.

An Act relative to automated enforcement (S1545/H2426), which the Senate came very close to passing last session, would allow municipalities to opt in to installing cameras that would issue tickets for violations for speeding, failure to stop at a red light, failure to stop at a school bus stop arm, blocking the box, and parking or driving in a dedicated bus lane. When enacted in other states, automated enforcement has reduced speeding and serious crashes. More than 400 communities in the U.S. use red light cameras, and more than 130 use cameras to enforce speed laws.

This legislation is key for managing speeding, while removing direct policing and traffic stops from the equation. I ask that the committee report out favorably on this legislation.

In addition to supporting the above Automated Enforcement legislation, I request that this Committee not move forward any primary seat belt legislation, including H2515H2543, and S1591. While wearing seat belts saves lives in car crashes, the legislation as written relies on police officer-initiated enforcement on our roads, which increases the potential for profiling, harassment, and abuse of Black people and other marginalized groups. In Florida, Black drivers were twice as likely to be pulled over and ticketed for failure to wear a seat belt, according to a 2016 ACLU report.

In Massachusetts, we’re already seeing a racial disparity in how the state enforces a new law against distracted driving. In traffic stops for using a phone while driving between April and December last year, Black, Hispanic, and Asian people were more likely to be issued citations than white people for the same infraction.

I support the MA Vision Zero Coalition’s prioritization of a “safe systems” approach to traffic safety rooted in prevention, not punitive measures. Instead of direct policing, education and awareness campaigns around seat belt usage should be the primary focus for increasing safety.

[Talk about why this issue matters to you: how you get around the city, how you or someone you know has been impacted by a crash, etc]

Traffic safety is immensely important, and it’s equally important that it’s done right. I encourage you to take this into consideration as you consider all the bills before you.

Thank you,

[full name

street address

city/town, state, zip


email: ]

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