BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)–From 2017 through 2021, Massachusetts has averaged around 70 pedestrian fatalities a year. 22 News State House reporter Ellen Fleming has more on a bill designed to keep vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists safe.

The governor may be leaving office this week, but there are still bills on his desk. One dealing with road safety is awaiting his signature.

Last week, lawmakers sent a revised bill back to the governor’s desk. The bill, An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, was returned by the governor in September with amendments. Versions of this legislation have been floating around the State House for more than a decade. Its goal is to protect “vulnerable road users” like pedestrians, bicyclists, construction workers and emergency responders.

Originally in the bill it stated that motorists must leave a safe distance, defined as three feet, plus one foot for every 10 miles per hour over 30 miles per hour, when passing vulnerable road users. That has since been scrapped and now sets a standard four-foot requirement when passing vulnerable users.

“I do want everybody who’s driving a car, driving a truck, driving a bus out there to know that anybody who’s not in a protected cage of steel, and airbags and seatbelts, they are vulnerable and it is the responsibility of those drivers out there to do what they can to make sure those vulnerable users stay safe,” said Galen Mook, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition.

To help reduce fatalities, the bill also requires trucks and large vehicles owned or leased by the state to have a range of new safety equipment like crossover mirrors and side guards.

To track accidents involving vulnerable road users, the bill mandates that the state create a system for reporting those crashes. Also, in the final bill, cyclists are required to use a rear reflector and red rear lights at night.

The governor will need to sign this bill by mid-week, before he leaves office, for it to become law.