New proposed legislation in MA would let cities, towns install red light cameras

BOSTON (AP) — Letting police stop drivers for not wearing a seat belt and giving Massachusetts cities and towns the option of placing red light cameras at intersections are two of the changes in state law being proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker with the aim of improving road safety.

The bill filed Monday would also increase penalties for individuals who cause personal injury while driving on a non-administratively suspended license in part by creating three new “aggravating factors” with the most serious resulting in a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for causing a death.

Current law only includes the penalty of driving while suspended.

The red light camera proposal would restrict municipalities to collecting photographs only when a violation has occurred and only of the vehicle license plates. Violations would include running a red light and making an illegal turn on a red light.

These proposals will make Massachusetts roadways and streets safer for all travelers and will help reduce roadway fatalities across the state,” the Republican said.

“This legislative package builds upon laws enacted in 2019 to prevent and enforce distracted driving,” Baker said.

The bill would also require motorists to maintain a 3-foot safe passing distance and drive at a reasonable speed when passing a bicyclist or pedestrian when there isn’t any physical separation like a bike lane. Thirty-six other states have similar “safe distance” requirements.

Another change aimed at protecting pedestrians and cyclists would require all state-owned and operated vehicles over 10,000 pounds to have side guards, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors. Side guards protect bicyclists and pedestrians from being swept under large vehicles, particularly when they are making turns at intersections.

Other elements of the bill would expand crash reporting requirements to mandate that drivers report all crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists, public works or public safety personnel working in the right of way, individuals on farm tractors, and users scooters and in-line skates

The bill would also create an advisory group to clarify the status in state law and local regulation of “micro-mobility” low-carbon transportation solutions like scooters and bikes.

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