SENATE APPROVES ROAD SAFETY Bill

By Bob Katzen

The Senate 37-0, approved and sent to the House a bill designed to make roads safer and decrease the number of fatalities.

The proposal requires bicyclists at night to use both a red rear light and a red rear reflector. Current law requires only a red light or a red reflector. Current law and the new law both require a white light in the front.

The bill classifies several groups, including pedestrians, utility workers, first responders and cyclists, as “vulnerable road users.”

The measure requires the operator of a motor vehicle that is passing a vulnerable user to maintain a distance of at least three feet when traveling at 30 miles per hour or less and an additional foot of space for every ten miles per hour above 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires motor vehicle operators to pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.”

Another provision requires a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable user or other vehicle to use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, when it cannot pass at a safe distance in the same lane and only when it is safe to do so.

The legislation also requires certain large vehicles or trailers that are purchased or leased by the state after January 1, 2019 to be equipped with lateral protective devices, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors.

“We need to keep working year after year to achieve a future in which traffic fatalities get as close as possible to zero,” said Sen. Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont), lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate. “This bill will help us move in the right direction.”

“We have seen too many unnecessary and completely preventable fatalities on our roads,” said Galen Mook, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. “Though we have not yet finished our work, this bill goes a long way toward the goal of zero deaths on our streets.”

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