Tag: distracted driving

Sampan News: “Gov. Baker signs legislation requiring hands-free use of electronic devices while driving”

Sampan News: “Gov. Baker signs legislation requiring hands-free use of electronic devices while driving”

Sampan News: “Gov. Baker signs legislation requiring hands-free use of electronic devices while driving

Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director of WalkBoston, added, “WalkBoston is pleased that this legislation has been signed; this law will encourage people driving to focus solely on that task, making streets safer for people walking & running in communities across Massachusetts. We’re hopeful that this long-awaited signing will kick off a focus on traffic safety for this next legislative session.”

Posted November 25, 2019

Hands Free Rally at the State House

Hands Free Rally at the State House


WalkBoston took part in the Rally for the Hands Free legislation that has passed the Senate and currently stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee – we’re hopeful it will come to a floor vote before the end of the session. Thank you to the Levitans from Text Less Live More & Emily Stein from Safe Roads Alliance for continuing share their stories to ensure our roads are safer. Find your legislator here – call and ask for the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote!

Comments on H1834 and distraction

Comments on H1834 and distraction

Senator Thomas McGee, Chair
Representative William Straus, Chair
Members of the Joint Committee on Transportation

24 Beacon Street, Room 134
Boston, MA 02133

November 14, 2017

Dear Senator McGee, Representative Strauss, and Members of the Joint Committee on Transportation:

My name is Brendan Kearney. I am the Communications Director for WalkBoston, a nonprofit pedestrian advocacy organization working to make Massachusetts more walkable. Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments against the passage of H1834.

Janette Sadik-Khan, former NYC Transportation Commissioner, spoke about distraction to the New York Times in October, and WalkBoston strongly agrees with her assessment:

“[JSK, the current]…transportation principal at Bloomberg Associates, which advises mayors around the world, said laws against texting and walking were not the answer. They have no basis in any research, are poorly conceived and distract from the road design and driver behavior issues that are responsible for most crashes, she said. She and others recommended focusing on proven strategies like vehicle speed reduction, which is one of the most effective ways to reduce deaths, as survival rates are higher in low-speed collisions.”

To Sadik-Khan’s point on proven strategies: Massachusetts passed the Municipal Modernization Bill last November. We wanted to thank this Committee, MassDOT, and the more than 25 communities that have lowered their prevailing speed limit from 30 to 25 mph to help create safer streets in cities and towns across the Commonwealth.

To her point on research: Toronto is considering a similar “distracted walking” bill, but The Globe and Mail published an editorial yesterday that stated electronic devices in the hands of walkers were a factor in just 25 of 23,240 pedestrian deaths in the US from 2010-14 (FARS = Fatality Analysis Reporting System). The editorial was titled, “All those pedestrian deaths? It’s the cars, stupid.”

It was not on the current hearing’s docket, but there is still a need for a distracted driving bill – a CommonWealth Magazine article over the weekend reminded us that the Senate passed a hands free bill more than four months ago, and we’re still waiting to hear more on it.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

New York Times: “Reading This While Walking? In Honolulu, It Could Cost You,” 10/23/2017

MassDOT list: http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/Departments/TrafficandSafetyEngineering/SpeedLimits/MGL9017C.aspx

Globe & Mail: “Globe editorial: All those pedestrian deaths? It’s the cars, stupid,” 11/9/2017

CommonWealth Magazine: “Tougher distracted driving law badly needed,” 11/11/2017

Join WalkBoston’s Mailing List to keep up to date on advocacy issues.

Like our work? Support WalkBoston – Donate Now!
Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook

Automated enforcement?

Automated enforcement?

Our streets are experiencing a rise of serious injuries
and fatalities. As the Boston Globe recently reported, all
traffic deaths in 2017 are up 46% over the same period
of 2013
. This unacceptable trend affects people walking,
biking, and driving. Drivers who are distracted by texting
and apps are a major cause of crashes.

An Act to reduce traffic fatalities (Senate Bill 1905 /
House Bill 2877) is intended to make our roads safer in
the face of troubling trends. Drafted with broad input,
it has 85 cosponsors led by Senator Will Brownsberger
and Representatives Jon Hecht and David Rogers.

Recognizing that cities and towns need tools to enforce
traffic rules, the legislation allows use of automated road
safety cameras to enforce speeding, red-light, and school
bus stop sign violations. While Massachusetts does not
currently enable this, 29 states have some form of camera
enforcement and it is common in other countries.

Research shows automated cameras are effective. In Montgomery County, Maryland, streets with speed
cameras experienced a 39% reduction in fatal and
serious injuries. A University of North Carolina
Highway Research Center study found installation of red-light cameras can
contribute to a slight rise in rear-end crashes, but almost always leads to
significant reductions in typically more severe side-impact crashes. The
National Transportation Safety Board has endorsed automated enforcement
as an effective way to reduce speed and crashes.

With the right regulations, automated enforcement can be a highly effective
safety tool, and one that doesn’t increase traffic stops—a concern by many in a
time of increased racial profiling, and immigration issues. The language In this
bill is designed to ensure the best system of enforcement:

• Location of cameras would be based on safety benefits, not targeting any
population or neighborhood.
Cameras would be at high-crash locations
where other interventions such as road redesign are not feasible.

• It would not be a money grab.
The best cameras act as deterrents and
not to trick people into fines—few violations are a sign of success. The
bill directs the majority of revenues into road improvements, not general
funds. Cameras would be well-marked. Revenue-sharing with private
camera installation or operating companies would be prohibited, avoiding
inappropriate incentives.

• Photographs would be of rear license plates, no faces or identifying
information, and only if a violation has occurred.
Photos would be
permanently deleted after ruling. Fines, assessed to the owner of the
vehicle, would not exceed $50, won’t increase with additional violations,
nor add to insurance points. Law enforcement would need a court-approved
warrant to access photos for purposes beyond traffic enforcement.

• There would be state oversight, an appeals process, and common-sense
emergency exemptions.

Charlie Ticotsky is the policy director of Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA). Sign up for their email list & follow T4MASS on Twitter.
This article was featured in WalkBoston’s October 2017 newsletter.

Join WalkBoston’s Mailing List to keep up to date on advocacy issues.

Like our work? Support WalkBoston – Donate Now!
Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook