Tag: victim blaming

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

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