New legislation to improve road traffic safety in Massachusetts

April 27, 2021

Legislation part of state's goal to reduce the number of deaths on roadways

The Baker-Polito Administration in Massachusetts this week filed legislation to improve road safety, entitled, “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.”

The legislation includes provisions previously filed by the Administration in 2019 and several new proposals, including increasing penalties for individuals who cause personal injury while driving on a non-administratively suspended license.

“The new laws are first and foremost in keeping with our goal to reduce the number of deaths on our roads,” Acting Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jamey Tesler said in a statement. “Crashes due to distracted driving, speeding, and other unsafe driving behaviors continue to occur on Massachusetts roadways despite reduced driving levels during the pandemic, and these proposals will help refocus and change current driving habits and behaviors to ensure that individuals remain safe.”  

An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth, includes proposals on the following new and previously filed topics:

  • Primary Seatbelt, which allows law enforcement to stop motorists for not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Haley’s Law, which increases penalties for individuals who cause personal injury while driving on a non-administratively suspended license. New provisions would create three levels of new “aggravating factors” to driving while suspended.
  • Traffic Camera Enforcement Local Option, which allows localities to place red light cameras at intersections.
  • Bicycle Safe Passing, which requires a driver to maintain a 3-ft “safe passing distance” and to travel at a speed that is reasonable and proper when passing a bicyclist or pedestrian when there isn’t any physical separation. 
  • Crash Data Reporting, which proposes adding to reporting requirements crash information involving “a vulnerable user.”
  • Side Guards and Additional Mirrors, which requires all Commonwealth-owned and operated vehicles over 10,000 lb to have side guards, convex mirrors, and cross-over mirrors. 
  • Low-Speed Mobility Device Advisory Working Group, which calls for MassDOT to convene an advisory group to recommend a new statutory framework to ensure safe use while encouraging low-carbon transportation alternatives.

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SOURCE: Commonwealth of Massachusetts