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Massachusetts highway administrator says state's road safety at "crisis level"

Massachusetts road safety at "crisis level"
Massachusetts road safety at "crisis level" 03:16

BOSTON - MassDOT Administrator Jonathan Gulliver says road safety is at "crisis level" in Massachusetts. Now, a new task force has been sworn in - with the goal of recommending a financial plan for transportation statewide, including road safety funding.

"Treating roadways as speedways"  

"During the pandemic, people were treating our roadways as speedways, and I think a lot of them are having a very difficult time changing that behavior," Transportation Secretary Monica Tibbits-Nutt told WBZ. "And the other thing - anyone who drives on the roadways - constantly, they're looking down at their phones, and not paying any attention to the roadway."

According to state data, there were 134,269 total crashes in Massachusetts in 2023. That's an average of about a crash every four minutes. However, it's not the highest year in state history. Just a few years prior back in 2018, there were 142,272 crashes.   

So why now is this a "crisis?" 

It's because of the change in trends, according to AAA. "When we look at the big picture for decades, we had steady improvement year after year," explained AAA Northeast Spokesperson Mark Schieldrop. "Cars got safer, less people were dying in crashes, and we felt like we were making progress on folks crashing less often. But a few years ago, there began to be a shift, and we're starting to see the numbers go in the wrong direction."

That change in trend is sounding the alarm for leaders in the industry. Still, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Massachusetts ranks among the top three safest states when it comes to fatalities. "We just kind of accept traffic fatalities as a way of life, and for folks like me that's unacceptable," Schieldrop said.

The state is looking to fund a number of safety initiatives, including expansion of wrong-way driver technology to avoid wrong way crashes.

Safe driving tips  

But there are things you can do to keep yourself safe on the roads, too. Here are some tips from OnStar:  

  1. Stash away distractions
  2. Don't drive tired
  3. Check the weather
  4. Look for others
  5. Slow down
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