Legislation

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

1. An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving

Filed by: Representative Joseph Wagner and Representative Paul Donato (HD1534) Senator Mark Montigny (SD1383)

Docket Numbers: HD1534 and SD1383

This bill would ban 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:

If passed in Massachusetts, this law would bring 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

Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger (SD1461)

Docket Numbers: SD1461

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

Filed by: Senator William Brownsberger (SD847) and Representative Jonathan Hecht, Representative Mike Rogers (HD1653)

Docket Numbers: SD847 and HD 1653

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

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