Road Safety Bill Hearing: An Act Relative to Sight-Seeing Vehicle Safety

On April 30th Allison Warmuth was killed when an amphibious sight-seeing vehicle ran over her motor scooter from behind at the corner of Charles Street and Beacon Street. 

Senator Brownsberger filed S.2354 “An Act Relative to Sight-Seeing Vehicle Safety” which seeks to remedy some of the dangers posed by these vehicles by: 1) prohibiting drivers of all sight-seeing vehicles from at the same time acting as a tour guide and 2) requiring blind spot cameras and proximity sensors on amphibious vehicles.  As drafted these regulations would apply statewide.

  • The bill was filed on 6/10/2016
  • The bill will be heard by the Joint Committee on Transportation on 7/7 at 10:00AM in Room B-2.  
  • There are currently 19 cosponsors of the bill, House Chair of Transportation Representative Straus, Senate Chair of Transportation Senator Tom McGee, Senators Barrett, Brownsberger, Boncore, Chang-Diaz, Donahue, Eldridge, Lewis Moore,  and O’Connor-Ives and Representatives Livingstone, Rogers, Cantwell, Hecht, Walsh, Khan, Lawn and Gentile
  • This bill would:
    • Prohibit drivers of all sight-seeing vehicles from simultaneously acting as tour guides.  This requirement would apply to all sight-seeing vehicles. [
    • Require the installation blind spot cameras and proximity sensors on amphibious vehicles.  This requirement would be subject to regulations promulgated by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
    • While Allison Warmuth’s death brought these concerns to our attention, this bill does not seek to remedy the cause of this crash in particular but rather fix objective safety hazards.  These are common sense measures that should have already been in place. 
  • At least one amphibious tour operator in Boston currently separates the duties of driver and guide. 
  • Multiple tour companies across the commonwealth separate the duties of driver and guide. 
  • “Ride the Ducks” sight-seeing vehicles in Seattle are currently equipped with blind spot cameras and separate the roles of driver and guide.  This comes in the wake of a nearly identical crash that severely injured a motorcyclist in 2011.  “Ride the Ducks” operations in Philadelphia, Cincinnati also separate the role of driver and guide. 
  • The state already regulates other forms of distracted driving, we feel this measure would be consistent with existing laws:
    • Ch. 90 §8M currently prohibits: all persons under 18 from using a cell phone in any way while driving.
    • Ch. 90 §12A currently prohibits: anyone operating any type of public transportation while using a cell phone in any way.
    • Ch. 90 §13B currently prohibits anyone from texting or emailing while driving.
  • The Senate passed a bill “S.2093, An Act to prohibit the use of mobile telephones while operating a motor vehicle” in January.  This bill would prohibit all drivers from using a cell phone while driving unless it was in a “hands free” mode.  It is currently awaiting action by the house.