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BOSTON — In advance of the Thanksgiving Holiday and travel period, Governor Charlie Baker today joined Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack to highlight a package of new and existing legislative proposals to promote safety on Massachusetts roadways, including support for pending legislation to reduce distracted and impaired driving and new legislation improving workplace safety in construction zones, while providing law enforcement the flexibility to keep impaired drivers off the roads.
“During the holiday season, millions of people will travel across the Commonwealth to be with loved ones, and we are making it a priority to keep the roads safe,” said Governor Baker. “We encourage everyone to travel safely and limit dangerous behaviors like distracted or impaired driving. To give law enforcement and officials the tools to increase enforcement, we are pleased to highlight a series of bills that could make a difference in road safety for all.”
According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 389 fatalities on Massachusetts roadways in 2016, an increase of 12.8% from the 345 fatalities in 2015. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities also increased 9.2% from 109 fatalities in 2015 to 119 fatalities in 2016.
Joined by Undersecretary for Law Enforcement at the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Jennifer Queally, MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver and Highway Safety Division Director Jeff Larason at MassDOT’s Highway Operations Center, Governor Baker and Secretary Pollack announced the filing of two new legislative proposals:
Governor Baker also stressed the need for passage of two items pending before the legislature:
“Our dedicated first responders and highway construction crews work every day to ensure public safety and improve the reliability of road conditions for the millions of people traveling between our communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This legislation encourages responsible and safe driving habits, while holding accountable those who put our work crews, law enforcement, school children and families in harm’s way.”
“The holiday travel season is an important time to talk about highway safety and these legislative proposals are important to reducing a rise in recent crashes,” said Secretary Pollack. “During the Thanksgiving travel period a year ago, there were six fatalities in Massachusetts due to automobile crashes. We look forward to seeing these initiatives take effect with the goal of slowing drivers down, encouraging them to keep eyes on the road and to not get behind the wheel when they are impaired.”
“Over the last several years we have seen an increase in fatal crashes in Massachusetts and around the nation,” said Daniel Bennett, Secretary of Public Safety and Security. “Stronger laws deter unsafe and impaired driving behaviors and help assure that police have the ability to keep our roads safe.”
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of everyone on our roadways, including drivers, passengers, law enforcement officers, and our work crews and contractors,” said Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We appreciate the support of Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito and thank them for their efforts to encourage safe travel and limit unsafe behaviors that place everyone on our roadways at risk.”