Tag: H2426

Testimony to Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security in support of Automated Enforcement

Testimony to Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security in support of Automated Enforcement

Testimony as prepared for the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security scheduled on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. conducted via Microsoft Teams. 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. For more talking points to consider from today’s hearing, take a look at this post from MA Vision Zero Coalition.

My name is Brendan Kearney, and I’m the Deputy Director of WalkBoston, Massachusetts’ statewide pedestrian advocacy organization, also speaking on behalf of the MA Vision Zero Coalition in support of these automated enforcement bills, S1545 and H2426 and H2532. Thank you for holding this hearing.

First: There has been an increase in speeding during COVID.

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, during 2020, when much of the country was under shelter-in-place restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the rate of overall traffic fatalities jumped 20% from 2019. Said another way, with a 16.5% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) nationwide, the rate of drivers striking and killing pedestrians jumped to 2.2 deaths per VMT – an increase from 1.8 deaths in 2019. 

Potential causes include speeding, distracted and impaired driving. With fewer drivers on the road, there was more space to speed. Here in Massachusetts, MassDOT and others recognized this trend: High driving speeds contributed to a doubled roadway fatality rate in the month of April 2020 in Massachusetts – and MassDOT began a communications campaign to remind people that times have changed, but speed limits haven’t. 

Second: There is a need for equitable enforcement. 

In June 2020, WGBH reported out data showing that black people in Boston accounted for 70% of police stops despite being 25% of the population. We believe that it is now time to pass an equitable automated enforcement law that would allow municipalities to install red light and speed cameras in high crash corridors with a robust community engagement plan. 

We hope that you will move automated enforcement bills forward and out of committee, and have a few recommendations to help improve them. 

  • Reconsider the population requirements to participate: since all the AE bills are municipal opt-in, it doesn’t seem that there should be a population requirement for communities to take part. A community of any size should be eligible for this program. Lots of rural roads in our state have huge speeding programs, and those places should be able to opt-in if they so choose. For example, as a statewide pedestrian organization, WalkBoston has worked with Rural communities that are also concerned about speeding including Williamsburg, Huntington, Blandford, Chesterfield, Cummington, and Goshen. There had been changes made during debate last February, so we just hope this can be clarified to ensure any community can opt-in. 
  • We support fines that are non-escalating. The primary intent is to change drivers’ behavior. New York recently issued a report that examined their speed camera program from a seven year period: 2014-2020. In 2020, 52% of drivers who received a speeding ticket from a camera never got another one that year, while 20% only got one more (see p.14 of report). This suggests that the system led almost three-quarters of speeding drivers to change their behavior. 

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. We hope that you can take these recommendations into consideration when consolidating the 3 automated enforcement bills into one bill that we hope will move forward and out of committee.