“The high fatality rate last month, underscores the importance of not exceeding the posted speed limit, wearing a seatbelt, driving sober, and obeying the hands-free law.”
In surprising new data from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the agency states that fatalities on Massachusetts roadways have actually doubled in number this past April, during the COVID-19 public health crisis. While a troubling trend, in and of itself, it is even more unexpected due to the fact that the same report found there was a 50% reduction in overall traffic numbers as compared to April 2019.
“Our traffic and safety engineers continuously monitor roadways across the Commonwealth and have identified a dangerous trend that has led to the doubling of the vehicular fatality rate in Massachusetts for the month of April,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “During the pandemic, everyone in the Commonwealth has sacrificed and used disciplined actions to keep themselves, their loved ones, and our community safe. We ask that all residents use this same dedication to safety and reduce their speeds when driving.”
“Reduced traffic volume is no excuse for excessive speed,” said Jeff Larason, Director of Highway Safety for the Executive Office of Safety and Security. “We’re reminding everyone to drive responsibly, wear a seat belt, and watch the road for cyclists and pedestrians.”
According to MassDOT, motor vehicle fatalities in April included three deaths in a 24-hour-period on April 18 and April 19: in Richmond, on Route 41 southbound, in Hopkinton, on I-495 southbound, and in Seekonk, on I-195 eastbound. The most recent road fatality reported to MassDOT was on Saturday, May 2, occurring in Andover on I-93 near exit 42.
“With the stay-at-home advisory still in place, everyone should expect to see more neighbors walking, rolling, or running in the street as they try to maintain six feet of physical distance on narrow sidewalks,” noted Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director of WalkBoston. “If you are driving, be prepared to yield to people walking and drive slowly. Empty streets are not a license to drive faster. Please consider every street a shared street and stay safe.”
Violations for the “Hands-Free” Law also went into effect on April 1st
In addition, in January 2019, the Baker-Polito Administration filed several proposed safety bills, including the hands-free law which became law in February 2020, with fines for violations taking effect April 1.
Interactive Massachusetts traffic map
For those who are interested, MassDOT keeps a real-time traffic map on its website complete with the ability to select a camera to view by location with the Commonwealth as well as lower New Hampshire and Maine. To view the map, click on the screenshot below: