With Last-Minute Legislating, Roadway Safety Bill Finally Becomes Law

A ghost bike memorial to Darryl Willis, who was killed by a truck driver in Harvard Square on August 18.
A ghost bike memorial to Darryl Willis, who was killed by a truck driver in Harvard Square on August 18.
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On Monday, Governor Baker signed into law a new roadway safety bill after legislators finally approved the bill in the House and Senate during the holiday week.

House bill 5103, “An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities,” would establish a suite of new regulations intended to improve safety on Massachusetts roadways, including:

  • Requiring drivers to maintain a four-foot buffer when they pass vulnerable users, including construction workers, emergency responders, and people walking or biking.
  • Requiring trucks owned by the state or its contractors to install life-saving equipment including side guards, intended to prevent people on foot or bikes from being run over in side-on collisions, and backup cameras and convex mirrors to reduce blind spots.
  • Establishing a process for municipalities to request lower speed limits on state-owned roadways.

Previous versions of the same legislation, which passed in the House and Senate in September, would have given municipalities more control over speed limits on state-owned roadways, but Governor Baker objected to those provisions and requested amendments to retain the state’s authority.

The amended bill, passed last Tuesday during the final House and Senate sessions of 2022, establishes a process by which city and town governments can “petition… to modify the speed limit on a state highway within their geographic boundaries,” and gives the state “90 days to approve or deny the petition.”

2022 Was Another Record-Breaking Year For Bloodshed on Massachusetts Roadways

This story was updated on Tue. Jan 3 to reflect the fact that Gov. Baker had signed the bill into law.

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