Red light camera

Happening Today:

10 a.m. | Home Builders & Remodelers Association holds an in-person public legislative briefing and panel on research they commissioned which asserts that green building requirements. | Room 428

10 a.m. | House Speaker Ron Mariano's team convenes closed-door meeting with representatives to discuss a 140-page gun law reform bill crafted by Rep. Mike Day. | House Members' Lounge

10:30 a.m. | Gov. Maura Healey swears in new board members of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. | Governor's Ceremonial Office

1 p.m. | Gov. Maura Healey Meets with the Massachusetts House Asian Caucus. | State House

Red-light cameras are closer to getting a green light in Massachusetts — on a trial basis at least — amid a dramatic rise in road deaths.

Beacon Hill has been hesitant to move forward on automated traffic enforcement in the past but as safe streets advocates reluctantly warm to the policy, state Sen. William Brownsberger said he’s hopeful his colleagues will take action.

Massachusetts saw a shocking 33 percent uptick in pedestrian deaths last year with at least 101 fatalities — a trend that was mirrored across much of the country, where federal data revealed a 40-year high nationwide. 

When it comes to automated traffic enforcement, Stacy Thompson of Livable Streets says the state should “proceed with caution.” 

Concerns over equity and punitive big-brother-style policing have derailed earlier attempts to allow the technology even as 24 other states and the District of Columbia have put the cameras to use to help enforce traffic laws. Connecticut became the latest to greenlight the policy. Five more allow for cameras but don’t actually use them. Remaining states ban traffic cameras altogether.

Brownsberger said his bill lays out a pilot program that attempts to mitigate harms uncovered in early programs by capping fines at $25, empowering cities and towns to have a say in where cameras are placed and requiring robust data collection that would advise a later statewide rollout, if needed.

“I think it’s been a good time for this technology for a long time,” he said, citing the deadly consequences of returning to roads after the pandemic has only made it more necessary.

MassDOT’s latest Strategic Highway Safety Plan puts speed management as the No. 1 critical concern to be tackled to curb fatalities and work to achieve the state’s vision of zero roadway deaths and recommends red light cameras as one potential solution.

Brownsberger said the purpose of red-light cameras is to send a message to drivers to slow down as the death toll ticks up. Speed is the biggest factor in determining health outcomes in pedestrian crashes with motor vehicles, he said. Infractions would be tied to license plates under his plan — similar to parking tickets — and wouldn’t impact drivers’ insurance, he said.

Thompson said Brownsberger’s bill “does a good job of balancing the reality that this is not a perfect technology” but she called on the state to do more to address a growing crisis on Massachusetts streets. 

Thompson said the state is dragging its feet on identifying problem areas that could be targeted for road redesign to make them safer now — without any legislative action. But before that can happen, the state must publish an action plan. The last action plan, from 2018 is due for an update that appears likely to surpass the usual five-year cycle. A MassDOT spokeswoman told MASSterList to expect a revised report “within a year.”

It’s a timeline Thompson says is far too long.

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Keller @ Large

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The Boston Globe

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State House News Service

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The Boston Herald

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The Boston Globe

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The Boston Globe

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CommonWealth Magazine

Good news for those delayed by Sumner Tunnel closure

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The Daily Hampshire Gazette

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Cape Cod Times

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The Daily Hampshire Gazette

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The Berkshire Eagle

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Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList