Below are the bills that have been filed which MassBike supports for the 2019-2020 legislative session.

1. An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving - SIGNED INTO LAW ON 11/25/2019

Filed by: Representative Joseph Wagner and Representative Paul Donato, Senator Mark Montigny

Bill Numbers: S.2057/H.3149 and H.3179, now part of Mass General Law: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2019/Chapter122

This bill bans the use of handheld electronic devices while driving. Distracted driving is a public health epidemic on our roads that causes nine fatalities a day and injures nearly 400,000 people annually across the US (NHTSA). This bill would reduce overall phone use when people are behind the wheel, decreasing driver distraction. This bill would assist police officers in enforcing the ban on texting while driving, which is ineffective because police officers cannot easily tell whether a driver is texting or dialing a phone number.

What this legislation does:

  • Authorizes police officers to stop and issue citations to motorists using handheld mobile electronic devices
  • Determines a penalty of $100 for a first offense, by a fine of $250 for a second offense and by a fine of $500 for a third or subsequent offense.

Success in other states:

In Massachusetts, this law now brings the Commonwealth in line with 16 other states - including the neighboring states of NH, VT, NY, CT and RI. Recent data from Georgia shows a 22% decrease in driver distraction (“swiping and typing”) after they enacted their hands-free law (TrueMotion).

2. An Act Relative to automated enforcement - (Waiting to refile in 2021 for 192nd Session of MA Legislature)

Formerly Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger

Former Bill Number (191st Session): S.1376

This bill would allow red light cameras and speed cameras to be placed in certain locations by local option. Violations would include speeding, failure to stop at a red light, illegal turn on red, and failure to stop for a school bus.

What this legislation does:

  • Enables a municipality to determine where cameras should be placed, within certain density and safety parameters
  • Provides restrictions around use and dissemination of images in order to protect drivers’ and vehicle owners’ privacy
  • Determines a maximum penalty of $25 for each violation, which will not be counted as a criminal conviction and will not be made part of the operating record of the vehicle owner (will not add points to the owner’s license, affect insurance premiums, or result in license revocation).
  • Creates procedures for notifying the public about locations where cameras are in use

Success in other states:

When enacted in other states, automated enforcement has reduced speeding and serious crashes.
Over 400 U.S. communities use red light cameras and over 130 communities in the U.S. use cameras to enforce speed laws (NCSL). A review of 28 Automated Speed Enforcement studies found that cameras reduced crashes between 8-49% (NTSB’s report). In Maryland, a study showed that the proportion of drivers traveling more than 10 mph above the speed limit declined by about 70% for locations with warning signs and speed camera enforcement [Traffic Injury Prevention Journal].

3. An Act to reduce traffic fatalities - (Waiting to refile in 2021 for 192nd Session of MA Legislature)

Formerly Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger (SD847) and Representative William Straus, Representative Mike Moran

Former Bill Numbers (191st Session): S.2214 and H.3092

An Act to reduce traffic fatalities would ensure basic, but necessary traffic regulations to guarantee that everyone on our streets can expect to get from point A to point B safely. This bill would achieve several traffic safety goals including equipping state-contracted trucks with safety side guards, setting a safe passing distance of at least three feet, lowering speed limits on state roads, and more.

What this legislation does:

  • Lowers the default speed limit on state highways and parkways in thickly settled areas from 30 mph to 25 mph
  • Require state-contracted trucks to be equipped with safety side-guards and mirrors to reduce fatalities of people walking and biking
  • Defines ‘vulnerable road users’ to include people walking and biking; roadside workers; people using wheelchairs, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, etc.
  • Sets a safe passing distance of vulnerable road users of at least three feet
  • Develops a standardized analysis tool to be used to report crashes and incidents involving a person biking or walking

4. An Act authorizing municipalities to expend certain funds for the acquisition of land to be used for rail trails - (Waiting to refile in 2021 for 192nd Session of MA Legislature)

Formerly Filed By: Representative Carmine Gentile

Former Bill Numbers (191st Session): S.83 and H.1790

This bill would allow a legislative body of a city or town that votes to accept sections to expend monies from the fund for the purpose of acquiring land held for railroad purposes to be used by the city or town for recreational purposes as a rail trail. 

What this legislation does:

  • Clarifies that municipalities are allowed to use Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding to be used for acquiring federally rail banked right of ways for the development of rail trails

Status of Legislation: on 4/23/20, Bill reported favorably by committee and referred to the committee on Senate Rules, however the bill did not advance in the 191st Session