Bill would let cops fine phone-using jaywalkers up to $200

A Dracut state rep says it's time to crack down on people who blithely walk in between and not at the green while looking at their phones - or listening to their Beats - and wants to see fines increased from the current $1 to up to $200 (for repeat offenders; the first fine would be $50).

Ed. questions: Dracut? This is a problem in Dracut? Do they even have sidewalks or traffic lights there?



    Free tagging: 


    MarkKK got elected!

    If they just banned pedestrians and widened the streets we could eliminate all driving laws entirely. Isn't that what they really want?

    I'd be all in favor of this law if they increased the fine for speeding or not stopping for people in crosswalks to $1000 and the officer gets to keep 1/2 the fine. (So they'd actually enforce it.)

    I'm OK with that! Throw in

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    I'm OK with that! Throw in red light runners in there as well and people who drive in the oncoming lane for a 1/4 mile to make a left turn because they are too important to wait. Make our streets safer for all.

    That's cute

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    Solving inefficacy with third world corruption.

    How do you feel about bringing back the death penalty? Instead of messy legal proceedings, we could have summary executions if you look at someone funny.

    I used to be against it

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    But if MBTA bus drivers petition to have rocket launchers installed so they can vaporize cars that cut them off trying to pull out of stops, I'm willing to listen

    And also...

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    They could use those same vaporizers to take care of idiots who block the bus stops, also with their cars.

    Better yet:

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    Put cameras on the front of MBTA buses and authorize bus drivers to issue civil infraction tickets to drivers who block bus stops. It would work like this: bus pulls up to stop, driver sees a car/truck, etc. blocking the stop, the driver presses a button, it takes a photo of the offending vehicle, and voila, a ticket is mailed to the registered owner.

    Ed. questions: Dracut? This

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    Ed. questions: Dracut? This is a problem in Dracut? Do they even have sidewalks or traffic lights there?

    No, but the Dracut rep just MUST drive his personal car, with just him in it, into the city, and BY GOD he won't be delayed by these city dwelling PEASANTS who WALK a single moment more!! The city exists for suburban drivers and this man is doing the lord's work by returning us to that!


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    Also pretty sure the representative is a woman.


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    Her name is Colleen Garry.

    Too little. Make it $400,

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    Too little. Make it $400, that's what it is in California and I haven't seen any red light runners

    People driving recklessly get away with murder

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    but let's go after jaywalkers! Wow. What was the punishment for a person driving a car on Beacon Street in Boston and striking and killing two innocent pedestrians in 2014? Only 18 months. Not only that but he and the passenger LIED to try to get away with it by saying each of them was driving at the time. Disgusting. This man should NEVER BE DRIVING EVER AGAIN. However, let's go after people walking and hit them with a $200 fine if they're texting and jaywalking! When was the last time any of us who live and/or work in the city of Boston saw a car get pulled over for blowing through a stop sign, red light, or a crosswalk with pedestrians crossing legally! I've lived here for nearly 20 years and my answer is: NEVER!

    Man gets 18 months in prison for Back Bay crash that killed couple

    Patricia Lanzillotti cried in court where Mohamed Alfageeh pleaded guilty to charges that he killed her son, John, and his girlfriend, Jessica Campbell.

    Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

    Patricia Lanzillotti cried in court where Mohamed Alfageeh pleaded guilty to charges that he killed her son, John, and his girlfriend, Jessica Campbell.
    By Peter Schworm and John R. Ellement Globe Staff January 03, 2015

    The death of her daughter Jessica, who was hit crossing a Back Bay street by a car that had barreled through a red light, did not fill her with rage, Ronnie Campbell said. The depths of her sorrow, the overwhelming sadness that left her family shattered, left little space for bitterness.

    “My sense of grief and loss supersedes any sense of anger,” she told a hushed Boston courtroom on Friday, where the driver who killed Jessica Campbell, 27, and her boyfriend, John Lanzillotti Jr., 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of motor vehicle homicide.

    “Nothing is going to bring Jess or Jack back to us. I just hope that people just remember them for what they were — two honest, really good people,” she said.
    Mohamed Alfageeh wa sentenced to 18 months behind bars.

    Mohamed Alfageeh wa sentenced to 18 months behind bars.

    Mohamed Alfageeh, 30, of Allston, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars and three years of probation for crashing into the Brookline couple in June as they crossed Beacon Street hand in hand during a walk.

    Millons of Dollars?

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    As someone who walks every day in Boston and Cambridge, I can count on one hand how many cars go through red lights. And most of the time, say 99% of the time, I am not even counting. This is a falsehood by many who think every other car out there is running a red light. Most drivers are responsible and do not run red lights.


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    Go stand by the Museum of Science between 8 and 9 and count how many drivers start going through the intersection at Museum Way when the light's yellow and about to turn red, and are halfway through when the light turns red and pedestrians have started crossing. Every one of those drivers has run the red light. (If you're stopped when the light's yellow because there's no room ahead and you start as the light turns red, congrats, you've run the red light.)

    Whoa there partner.

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    Let me clarify. I do not see many drivers running red lights, where the light is red and has been for more than a few seconds, in the course of my day, as I walk in Boston and Cambridge. That also means at intersections. I never said anything about yellow lights, which means that you can proceed, as a driver, with caution. If you get caught in the middle when the light changes, you can stop (depending on how safe it is for you to do so) or proceed (which means you may run a red light).

    In regards to your last statement, if you are stopped or stuck in an intersection and light turns red, your choices are to remain in the intersection and block traffic or proceed through the red light. I think most of us would proceed.

    I'm talking about drivers who

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    I'm talking about drivers who are stopped before the intersection on the yellow, and then proceed through the light as it turns red, even though there's likely no space on the other side. Happens all the time at Museum Way.

    actually it is illegal to enter an intersection

    if you can't pass through the entire intersection green or not.

    Steady Yellow
    A steady yellow light means the traffic signal is changing from green to red. You
    must stop if it is safe. If you are already stopped at an intersection or a stop line, you may not proceed.

    However, your explaination of yellow lights shows what kind bad driver you are.

    more anecdata

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    I was almost hit by a dude going through a red this morning, on the corner of the Common.
    I also drive from cambridge to everett a few times a week, at rush hour, and see folks run a red more or less every time. More anecdata - I live at a 3 way stop intersection, and it's scary how many folks blast right through without stopping at all.

    Well, Peter,

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    I did mean most drivers but not all. Of course, some folks will go through red lights. LOL.

    If you near an intersection where folks are regularly blasting through red lights, you should call your local police.

    And the local police will do nothing

    Almost all local police in all Boston area cities and towns don't consider minor traffic infractions to be worth their time. On the rare cases they do a "sting" at any intersection they have no shortage of violators.

    It's surprising as the amount the towns would earn from the tickets would cover the officer OT.

    I don't know.

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    One may try, however.

    This sounds like more than minor traffic infraction. If you have an intersection where cars are regularly running red lights (according to the original post), I would at least give the local police a try.

    Need a shovel?

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    It might help you dig that hole you are working so furiously to enlarge.

    PRO TIP: lots of people here spend a lot more time in the city than you do and we are all seeing a hell of a lot more red light running and box blocking than you describe. Your opinion of what constitutes "running a red light" is not a valid discriminator here. The facts are in evidence, and you aren't paying attention.

    That's a lot

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    "Millions of dollars" is of course too high, but... every day, without even trying, you see 1-5 cars run red lights? Let's do a Fermi estimation! My assumptions:

    • You walk 1 hour and pass 20 controlled intersections in doing so.
    • You observe 1 minute of traffic at each intersection.
    • There are 10,000 intersections in Boston and maybe 1000 are controlled. (Conservative estimate from eyeballing maps. High uncertainty.)
    • You spot 3 on average per walk without even trying; if you were trying, you might notice 6.
    • Your walking hours are representative of the daily average traffic volume and behavior.

    6 infractions/(20 intersections * 1 minute) * 1440 minutes/day * 1000 intersections = 432,000 infractions per day ($86M).

    It's a Fermi estimation, so it might be off by an order of magnitude or so, especially given the sloppy inputs. (Also, my math could be wrong! Please check it.) But that still makes a million dollars a day plausible if all the red light runners were caught and punished.


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    I walk a total of 125 minutes (walking to Charles street in the am (around 7:15-8:00am); walking to South Station in the PM (5:45-6:30pm) and pass five controlled intersections (not sure where you are walking to see 20). If I am stopped at a light, I will spend more than 1 minute observing. I mostly see no infractions.

    What does Fermi say about that?

    Better numbers!

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    OK, let's plug those in! Sorry I misunderstood the number of infractions you see; it sounded like you usually saw at least one. Call it an average of 1 observed every other walk, then, and double it for total? Still one minute average per intersection. Total time walking is actually a bit of a red herring; I was just using that to extrapolate from my own walking (which goes along a larger road, I suspect.) I'll also throw in a factor of 0.2 to say that red-light running and overall traffic volume are higher during your rush-hour walks.

    2 infractions/(5 intersections * 1 minute) * 1440 minutes/day * 1000 intersections * 0.2 = 2 / 5 * 1440 * 1000 * 0.2 = 115,200 infractions per day ($23M).

    Still seems like a really high number of red-light runners, but I'm not sure where the give is in the numbers.

    (I actually don't have a particular agenda here; I do see a lot of red-light runners, but I don't have a good sense of how frequently since my memory is pretty bad these days. I mostly notice the ones that nearly run me down as I cross.)

    Thomas Bayes

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    Smiles upon you for rerunning that with a new prior distribution based on new information.


    Crossing the street while looking at your phone - in a crosswalk or otherwise - is surely not safe, but perhaps there's another mode of transit for which this is a bigger, more dangerous problem.

    What are the odds?

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    What are the odds that said Dracut state rep has either already or will shortly receive a ticket for texting while driving?

    Can't wait for that bike officer to nail him.

    roughly zero?

    The odds that she does, in fact, text while driving are quite high. The odds that she'll be punished for this are extremely low. She's not special in this regard.

    This is one of the worst

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    This is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. Drivers can blast music and talk on their cellphone while operating a deadly weapon but pedestrians can't have headphones on?! Screw that.

    Dracut Rep Colleen Garry is a terrible and dumb person. She is the perfect example of an entitled driver who puts their convenience above the safety of others. She doesn't care about pedestrians because, as a morbidly obese person, she probably never walks. She is jealous and angry at the healthy and happy people she sees running, biking etc so she is trying to make them as miserable as she is. She called Black Lives Matter members "terrorists" and claimed that structural racism doesn't exist. She sucks at being a human.

    Go after the maniac drivers who killed 36,000 people in this country last year. This is akin to charging a sexual assault victim for the cost of the rape kit while giving the rapist 4 star meals during lunch break at the trial.

    Ew Gross

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    What a horrible bigot she is. Thanks for the link illustrating her other memorable and far more disgusting bills.

    DINOs in our midst

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    Sadly enough, the least progressive faction in MA government is DINOs like Garry and Dinoto and others in the MA House who act like and vote like they are wackjobs or get their marching orders from religious crazies.

    The republican leadership in the statehouse and in the Senate is far more progressive.

    My God

    Wow, such horrible person with twisted views. From that article:

    In response to complaints about the aforementioned bill [Jail for protesters], Garry labeled the protesters “criminals and terrorists,” and claimed that structural racism is “a fraud.”

    Surprised she isn't driving around in pickup with a confederate flag strapped to the back.

    Should be part of an overall initiative

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    Jaywalking (regardless of mobile device use) at controlled intersections on major thoroughfares in Boston is a selfish act that causes problems for both vehicles and fellow pedestrians. Everyone rightfully would get upset if a vehicle drives through a red light causing a delay for everyone else using the intersection; however, jaywalkers which cause a vehicle to stop short and then get stuck in the box get a free pass?

    I welcome the increase in jaywalking fines, but the increase should be part of an overall initiative to improve the flow of pedestrians, bikes and vehicles through both education and improvement in intersection designs.

    - Someone that walks to the office everyday

    Not hypothetical

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    Everyone rightfully would get upset if a vehicle drives through a red light causing a delay for everyone else using the intersection;

    You should spend some time in Boston.

    This. Enforce ALL THE RULES!

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    This. Enforce ALL THE RULES! Hundreds of $$$ in fines! Improve safety for all and get more funding for departments (make 1/3rd go to education, 1/3rd to police, 1/3rd to fire dept)

    This is a very reasonable

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    This is a very reasonable suggestion. Especially in Boston, the walk signals are a total mess. Every time I visit another major US city, it becomes very obvious how they should be done, yet Boston can't seem to get it right. The walk signals should come on automatically concurrent with the green signal in the same direction, and should last as long as the green. I don't know why this is so difficult. It's like this in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, etc. The other difference I notice is that in these cities, the cycle length of the signals is much shorter, which means that you never wait more than about 30 seconds to get a walk signal (or a green signal as a driver). Not surprisingly, more people wait for the walk signal in these cities.

    I would definitely be in favor of increased enforcement as well, in particular when someone (driver, bicyclist, pedestrian) does something dangerous that puts others at risk.

    Not a fan of concurrent signals,

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    as I was almost hit, in Cambridge, by a pickup truck last year. I had the walk signal and he had the green light. I was in the middle of the crosswalk, when the driver, who was not present at the intersection before I began to walk, came too fast and took a left turn not slowing down. I had to throw myself out of his way onto the pavement before I got smacked by his grill.

    So, yes, Cambridge has concurrent signals but, because of the above, I prefer when I cross, the drivers have the red.

    concurrent signals

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    Having the pedestrian signal be red in both directions at the same time means every pedestrian has to wait up to three cycles to cross, even if they don't want to cross diagonally, and means every driver has to also wait perhaps the same number of cycles, regardless of which directions pedestrians are crossing.

    Is a red light really going to protect you from a driver who can't care to look whether it's clear before turning?

    I'm the one that flew, not you.

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    Traffic used to stop more often when someone had the walk signal. I am old enough to remember that used to be the norm. Now, because of the traffic density, (per my conversation with a representative from the City of Cambridge Transportation Department, after my accident) the priority is to keep the traffic moving. Ok, a compromise: How about when I press the walk signal, the traffic stops?

    In regards to your last question, the majority of drivers stop for reds, so my answer is "yes". The driver that almost hit me was not running a red.

    The only reason I was not hit (his truck's grill was inches from me) is that I have, it appears, quick reflexes. If I did not, I would of been hit. If I was pushing a baby carriage, we would of been hit. And after suffering for months with an very painful, rather large bruise on my upper thigh (and I was quite lucky), never mind the pain of throwing my body down on concrete (and getting soaked as it was during a rainstorm), I prefer a red light that holds the traffic when I cross in a crosswalk.


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    I know you had one experience the exact opposite, but my experience with concurrent lights is that with the lead time you get with the walk signal before the green light, it makes it safer for pedestrians to cross, and that's been my experience. Which is odd that we're discussing "pedestrian" issues when it seems like we have a problem with...... drivers!

    One experience too many, my friend.

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    At this intersection and at the time of the accident there was not much lead time, which did not help. After my accident and my conversations with the transportation dept., I did notice that the lead time was changed (made longer) at that particular intersection.

    Mind sharing which interesction?

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    I've driven around Huron Village and between Inman and Central enough to see the lead times give pedestrians enough time to get a good start and be plenty visible, provided they're timing it well enough. Cambridge also isn't the only place I've seen this done, as even some areas around South Station moved to it (I remember Atlantic & Essex was a lot better as a pedestrian when it switched around 2013). Seemed to have worked this way up in Montreal for as far back as I've visited there over the past 15ish years.

    Otherwise I'd agree that it's smart to give pedestrian's a decent amount of lead time before the red turns to green for vehicle traffic.

    Concurrent signals are the standard pretty much everywhere

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    Except Boston.

    I was almost hit, in Cambridge, by a pickup truck last year. I had the walk signal and he had the green light.

    The complete lack of consistent standards and hodgepodge of settings when it comes to pedestrian lights in Boston encourages this sort of behavior: sometimes turning traffic is given priority over (pedestrian) traffic going straight (without a protected turn arrow, as is the case with most pedestrian crossings, which is something that should be required, if priority is going to be given to turning traffic over traffic that's not turning). Sometimes pushing a beg button is required, sometimes not, and usually people don't know whether or not the button should be pushed (or just don't see them, or can't easily access them), and then get impatient after waiting and just end up crossing with the green when there should be a walk signal anyway. Sometimes (and this is way too common) there's a completely unnecessary exclusive pedestrian phase that is activated by a beg button, sometimes (and this is usually even more unnecessary) an automatic exclusive pedestrian phase. There seems to be no rhyme or reason: lightly used crossings will have an exclusive automatic phase, while a similar crossing a block away will have beg button activated concurrent signals, and another block away it will be an automatic concurrent signal, and so on (to see this in action, walk down Harrison Ave in the South End and notice how every single intersection has a completely different setting). The standard, as it is in most places, should be a walk signal with the green, and drivers who are turning should be conditioned to expect to yield to oncoming traffic, whether it is auto traffic or pedestrian traffic, and light settings should assume there is a pedestrian waiting to cross. Exclusive phases should be more of an exception, like in very busy intersections. Beg buttons should only be allowed at lightly used mid-block pedestrian crossings. The current lack of standards make it into a free for all and discourage both safe walking and safe driving.

    Are cops exempt?

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    Because every cop in the city while performing traffic details is on their phone or texting.

    I get nearly hit, almost

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    I get nearly hit, almost weekly, not looking at my phone, trying to cross a crosswalk by people who do not bother to signal. A lot more dangerous to the general public than jaywalking. For fuck's sake, drivers are the ones who survive 100% of the time in these incidents. How about drivers stop hitting pedestrians, no matter where they are on the road, crosswalk, sidewalk, in the air after being hit by a different car... I know that occasionally people will run into the street and not have time to react, but non-distracted drivers should be able to stop 99 times out of 100 to avoid any accidents with pedestrians, but they are all too frequent.

    There's a main crosswalk in a high-foot trafficked area in my neighborhood which has a three-way stop. Half of the drivers I see doing a California rolling stop there are focused on their phones, and in this person's world it's the pedestrian's fault if they're hit by a distracted driver.

    Uhh, no.

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    This legislator is like the man with the hammer who sees every problem as a nail.

    We don't need cops harassing pedestrians. Get this fool out of the legislature, now.

    Resist Dracut, anyone?

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    This woman calls herself a Democrat? Is there anyone up there in Dracut interested in a primary challenge?

    Oh wouldn't it be a beautiful thing?

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    It would be sooo sweet to see this DINO get taken out by an American woman of Black or Hispanic or Braziallian or Hmong ancestry.

    Finally, a new idea for Vision Zero

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    which up to now has been showing Zero results for many thousands of dollars in construction work for Walsh's union buddies.

    Instead of spending thousands of dollars to restyle road by road, intersection by intersection, an inexpensive, systemic change is offered, much like a default 25 mph speed limit. Fair is fair, so pedestrians should suffer their share too for safety. What a concept for those who think driving must be punished! They never learned sharing, turn taking, and fairness in kindergarten.

    Currently, non-existent enforcement of jaywalking and next to no enforcement on cyclists isn't working (only Cambridge has cyclist fines that must be paid) has produced their current bad behavior. That would change quickly if their car insurance went up hundreds of dollars like it does for drivers over the seven years of surcharge history.


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    You suffer from having to drive like a sane person?

    You poor little bunny.

    The point isn't to "share suffering". The point is to stop murderous hurry machines and their lunatic drivers from killing people.

    Because pedestrians aren't killing people. Motorists are killing people. Repeat as needed. It is the simple truth.

    I'd like to fine people who text and walk

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    walking down corridors and on sidewalks. I'm tired of having to take evasive action every time I try to get from my office to the cafeteria, 2 buildings away!

    Quelle horreur!

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    Mg, do avoid downtown Boston then. Because, with or without people texting, you will have to (gasp!) dodge people who may be turning to walk into a store, parents with baby strollers, students and their oversized backpacks, people in wheelchairs, tourists who may slow down because they are lost. If it that's troublesome to you, then perhaps you aren't cut out for city living.

    I know how to deal with crowds

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    I spent years dealing with mid-town Manhattan streets. But I don't particularly enjoy it, so I avoid downtown Boston and gatherings that attract huge crowds.

    But there's no reason I should have someone walking right at me in a narrow corridor where there isn't a crowd of people. I shouldn't need to dodge and weave to keep from being hit by a student who can't be bothered to look up from their phone and is walking straight down the middle with no room to pass on either side. Some of us have physical conditions that (a) make it hard to take evasive action, and (b) make us more likely to sustain damage if someone runs into us. The elderly and disabled shouldn't have to worry about being bowled over in an uncrowded indoor passageway.

    Shoulder check

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    Just brace yourself and lead with your shoulder.

    The phones just fly!


    Literally, while waiting for the train at Haymarket....on my phone.

    Jokes aside, this is ridiculous- oh who am I kidding! This proposal is a joke! Try enforcing that in Massachusetts. Laws on personal responsibility here are hardly enforacble. How about getting out of your comfy, warm car and trying the world for yourself. Or better yet- just stay in Dracut.

    a) Which part of STATE rep is mystifying you?

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    b) Love the predictability of everyone saying CARS ARE THE PROBLEM!!! Uh, hey, there are reckless drivers and there are reckless pedestrians and there are reckless cyclists, and the existence of one group does not let the others off the hook.

    c) I think fines are counterproductive. Let Darwin do the work -- if you're killed jaywalking while looking at your phone, there's no penalty for the driver. Sort of a "Death Race 2000" approach to the problem.

    d) This being the modern internet, I need to state unequivocally that (c) was not to be taken seriously.

    Come on

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    Love the predictability of everyone saying CARS ARE THE PROBLEM!!! Uh, hey, there are reckless drivers and there are reckless pedestrians and there are reckless cyclists, and the existence of one group does not let the others off the hook.

    Do we have to relitigate this every single time? Try doing the damage to a storefront like what happened in Somerville ( or Sweet Tomatoes in Newton as a cyclist or a pedestrian and then we can give them the same amount of scrutiny. Pedestrians and cyclists may be a nuisance, but vehicles are downright hazardous. It just comes with the nature of a multi-thousand pound object projecting itself around at 25+mph, and that's really not up for debate.

    And electricity can kill

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    Candles start fires. Hammers and nails cause ouchies.

    Let's just sit in the dark, in caves, because building shelters and lighting and heating them occasionally results in bad things happening, and we can't have that.

    I would happily never drive a car again in my life.

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    Unfortunately that's not how the world is currently configured. Change takes time.

    Telling pedestrians, "Hey, you go ahead and wander into traffic while watching that cat video" is not going to get rid of a single car.


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    I am not talking about total damage. I am talking about responsibility.

    A pedestrian that jaywalks is at fault. Saying that pedestrians should take their share of responsibility for their own safety is not obviated simply because a car does more damage.

    It's very weird: we are constantly told cyclist and pedestrians are in mortal danger, and yet we completely forgive them when they act oblivious to that danger. Shouldn't that danger lead us to be more cautious and aware? Yet there is always screeching when this simple logical point is made.

    In that case,

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    Lay your argument out in such a fashion. Im not one of those people who thinks that in all cases pedestrians or cyclists share no fault in accidents. But I think your argument in essence does nothing but assume all of the risk is on the pedestrian or cyclist, where pedestrians and cyclists should be aware of the danger that drivers, reckless or law abiding, present to them at any given time. It would seem that under that assumption, in all cases the car is given priority and automatic right of way, and the car owes no duty of care, either. And I think that's why you see the reactions to posts like yours, because it doesn't assume any bit of equity towards different modes of transportation for people in the city (and elsewhere, arguably).

    And, by the way...

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    I am TOTALLY in favor of MUCH stronger enforcement of driving laws. We're complete idiots behind the wheel here, and it's because nobody ever tells us to shape up.

    You know why we say CARS ARE THE PROBLEM?

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    Because ... CARS ARE THE PROBLEM.

    Did you read the testimony, above? MA and the US don't have a pedestrian problem - only 14 ped deaths in tens of thousands involved a phone.



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    So as long as driving deaths outnumber oblivious pedestrian deaths, we shouldn't do anything about oblivious pedestrians?

    I think that the point is,

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    If you're making pedestrians equal or higher priority in that regard, you're being disingenuous and or oblivious to what the data reflects the priority should be.

    For the record

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    Dracut is a suburb of Lowell, just to the north of the city. And it does have sidewalks, though most of them are asphalt.

    The more you know.

    No opinion on the actual issue or any issues raised in relation to this.

    Bill also bans crossing diagonally

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    This bill would also make it illegal to cross an intersection diagonally when there are walk signals in all directions and all the drivers have red lights. Because God forbid a pedestrian be able to get across an intersection in just one light cycle.

    A quick look at her legislative history tells me this bill is going nowhere. She introduces bills by the dozen, almost none of which have a single cosponsor or make it anywhere. It was probably good for getting all of the "war on cars" people riled up, at least.