Road-safety advocates push Massachusetts lawmakers to pass road safety bills as fatalities pile up

Road safety advocates remembered the 2,500 lives lost in fatal roadway crashes since 2015 blanketing the State House steps yellow roses and asking lawmakers to act to on a slate of bills designed reduce the “human toll of traffic crashes.”

“This is the sixth year the Vision Zero Coalition has called on the Legislature to pass life-saving legislation on World Day of Remembrance. Every moment of delay adds to the devastating statewide toll of preventable traffic crashes,” said Emily Stein of Safe Roads Alliance, one of a handful of safe-streets organizations that make up the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition.

In the last seven years, 910,149 car and pedestrian crashes in Massachusetts have killed 2,463 people and seriously injured 15,700, the coalition said.

The 4,000 yellow blossoms laid Sunday were a solemn reminder of each life impacted by a fatal or serious traffic crash in Massachusetts during 2020 and 2021.

Rep. Mike Moran, D-Boston, a lead sponsor for a bill that would require side-guards, convex mirrors, back-up cameras and other prevention measures on trucks to prevent drivers from rolling over people spoke of the “heart-wrenching” process of mourning lives lost to traffic accidents.

“One of the hardest parts of our jobs is attending a ghost bike dedication at the site of a recent crash where someone was killed, and bearing witness to the collective sadness,” Moran wrote in an op-ed column with MassBike Executive Director Galen Mook published in Commonwealth Magazine.

It also requires the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to standardize bicyclist and pedestrian crash data collection and maintain a publicly accessible database in an effort to inform policy.

Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union said, “large trucks continue to disproportionately kill people on bikes.”

“These preventable crashes forever alter the lives of people and families across the commonwealth. It’s time for the Legislature to act and pass these legislative solutions that we know will work.” she said.

Moran’s is one of a handful of bills that attempts to address what advocates are calling a public health crisis on local roads. During a rose-laying ceremony on the steps of the State House on World Day of Remembrance on Sunday, they drew attention to the “human toll of traffic crashes suffered across Massachusetts and the world,” according to a statement from the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition.

Other legislation would pave the way for so-called “red light cameras” and automatically fine drivers for infractions. Two dozen states have already green-lit automated traffic monitoring.

Gov. Charlie Baker filed a similar proposal earlier this year as part of his broader roadway safety bill that lawmakers have yet to act on, but critics say it would give private third-party companies that run the cameras incentive to dig into drivers’ pockets.

“Legislators heard again at hearings in October how these bills will save lives and reduce crashes while reducing opportunities for inequitable and dangerous interactions between people and police,” said Stacey Beuttell of WalkBoston. “Now is the time to advance these traffic safety efforts.”