By Jim Hand
The Legislature has been trying to deal with weighty issues, such as getting the MBTA to run on time,
Now, another issue has surfaced — jaywalking.
State Sen. Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, has filed a bill to greatly increase fines for crossing a street outside of crosswalks.
The fine is currently $1 for the first offense and $2 for subsequent offenses.
Chandler said that isn’t enough of a deterrent.
She testified at a recent Joint Transportation Committee hearing that elderly residents in her district have been killed trying to crossing the street.
The senator also said 80 percent of pedestrian fatalities come while the victim is jaywalking.
The violation is commonplace, and something should be done, she said.
Offenders will keep jaywalking if the fine is only $1, she said.
Chandler would increase the fine for a first offense to $25, second offense to $50, and third and subsequent violations to $75.
Not everyone is convinced, however.
State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, said the issue should be left to cities and towns.
He said traffic situations can vary greatly in places like Boston, for example, compared with Wrentham.
“I’m not a fan of the jaywalking bill because I believe that should be a town-by-town decision,” he said.
“I might be biased, but I honestly feel that the people who live in each town are the best-suited to determine if a fine needs to be increased because there is an actual problem that needs to be addressed.”