The Senate Committee on Ways and Means has reported a new draft of An Act to reduce traffic fatalities, which will be debated later this week. This bill was developed by several members of the legislature in collaboration with a coalition of bicycle, pedestrian and transportation advocates. The bill was redrafted slightly from the version reported from the Transportation Committee.
This bill would:
Require anyone riding a bicycle at night to use both a red rear light and a red rear reflector. Currently law requires either a red light or red reflector. Current law also requires a front white light when riding at night.
Define several different types of road users as “vulnerable road users” including but not limited to pedestrians, road and utility workers, first responders, cyclists, persons using wheelchairs, persons operating farm equipment and persons on horseback. Define a safe passing distance between motor vehicles and vulnerable road users of at least 3 feet when traveling at 30 miles per hour or less and an additional foot of clearance for every 10 miles per hour about 30 miles per hour. Current law only requires that drivers pass at “a safe distance and at a reasonable and proper speed.” Require a vehicle that is overtaking a vulnerable road user to use all or part of the 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.
Require certain large vehicles or trailers that are purchased or leased by the Commonwealth after January 1, 2019 or operated pursuant to a contract with the Commonwealth after January 1, 2020 to be equipped with lateral protective devices, convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors. The high ground clearance of large trucks makes a cyclist or pedestrian involved in an accident vulnerable to slipping under and being crushed by the rear wheels. Lateral protective devices or side guards are barriers that extend between a truck’s wheels, eliminating the high clearance that poses a danger to cyclists and pedestrians. Convex mirrors and cross-over mirrors increase driver’s ability to see around their vehicle.
Require the EOPSS to develop a standardized analysis tool to report crashes and incidents involving a vulnerable road user and maintain a publicly accessible database of such reports. Better data will help inform further efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.
Establish a 25 mph speed limit on an unposted area of a state highway or parkway inside a thickly settled or business districting within a city or town that has accepted the 25 mph local option. Lower vehicle speeds reduce the severity of crashes. Lowering the speed limit on similar state roads will provide continuity in communities that have adopted the local option.
Chief of Staff
Office of Senator William N. Brownsberger