World Day of Remembrance

A crowd of people, many of whom are wearing yellow scarves or flourescent yellow vests, stand crowded around the steps of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. A woman with curly brown hair and a black jacket stands at the top of the steps and reads from something she is holding. Directly in front of the camera is the back of someone wearing a down coat and a yellow safety vest and holding a yellow bike helmet behind their back.

World Day of Remembrance is an annual international event during which we gather as a community to reflect upon those we've lost and commit ourselves to improving our roads. 

This year, World Day of Remembrance is on Sunday, November 21st, 2021, and the MA Vision Zero Coalition is turning our attention to the State House. 

On Sunday morning, members of the Coalition will lay down over 4,000 yellow blossoms on the steps of the State House -- one blossom to represent each life impacted by a fatal or serious traffic crash in 2020 and 2021. The memorial will be there throughout the day for people to lay down their own flowers.  

The Coalition is also encouraging our legislators to take action that could save lives, and sent a letter to members of the legislature demanding action on legislation that could drastically improve traffic safety.

Though we aren't hosting our usual gathering and vigil this year, we hope you will join with us in one of the following actions: 

  1. Stop by our memorial display at the State House on Sunday, November 21st.
  2. Look up at any of the following structures on Sunday night that will be lit up in yellow: Zakim Bridge, Longfellow Bridge, Burns Memorial Bridge, Fore River Bridge, Boston City Hall, and Government Center MBTA Station.
  3. If you live in Springfield, advocates are organizing a vigil to honor members of the community who have been lost to traffic violence this year. There will also be a vigil in Brookline on Sunday 11/21 for Patricia "Patty" Arellano at 11:23 AM at the intersection of Downing Road and Washington Street. You can hold your own small vigil in your town or city to honor those who have been lost to traffic violence.
  4. Send a letter to the MA Legislature calling on them to take action on important road safety legislation using our letter template below. 

We hope you will join us in honoring those injured or killed on roads across Massachusetts, and in calling for action from our elected officials.

Have you been impacted by traffic violence? View our resources, and hear other’s stories and consider sharing your own. 



Co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security: Senator Walter Timilty ([email protected]); Representative Carlos González ([email protected])

Chair/Vice chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation: Representative William Straus ([email protected]); Senator John Keenan ([email protected])

CC: [email protected]

Recommended email subject: Written Testimony on Traffic Safety Legislation

Sample script:

Dear Representatives Straus and González, Senators Keenan and Timilty, and members of the legislature:

I am writing to express support for two bills the MA Vision Zero Coalition is advocating for that would make our roads safer and prevent traffic deaths. Since 2015, there have been 910,149 crashes in Massachusetts—2,463 of which resulted in tragic fatalities, and 15,700 of which resulted in serious injuries. This is a public health crisis that requires urgent action from the legislature. 

As we hold the memories of those lost to traffic violence in our hearts and minds around World Day of Remembrance, I am asking you to take action and advance bills that will measurably reduce traffic fatalities across Massachusetts. 

The following two bills will save lives and reduce crashes while reducing opportunities for inequitable and dangerous interactions between people and police -- please pass them into law this session:

  1. “An Act to reduce traffic fatalities” (H.3549): an omnibus bill that would require additional mirrors, side guards, and backup cameras for certain trucks and other large vehicles; define vulnerable road users and set a safe passing distance at certain speeds; allow the default speed limit on state-owned roads to be lowered to 25 mph; and create a standardized crash report form for people walking and biking. Defining “vulnerable road users” is pertinent to the safety of all road users, including construction workers at job sites and tow-truck drivers, in addition to those on foot and bike. This preferred House version of the bill includes important truck safety regulations. It also maintains the current law requiring a person biking to use either a rear red light or reflector, instead of adding a requirement to use both a rear red light and a rear reflector; minor bike violations like this one have been proven to lead to racial profiling and inequitable enforcement in other states.
  2. “An Act relative to automated enforcement” (H.2426, H.2541, S.1545):  would allow municipalities to opt in to installing cameras that would issue tickets for speeding, failure to stop at a red light, failure to stop at a school bus stop arm, blocking the box, and parking or driving in a dedicated bus lane. Automated enforcement would be an important addition to municipalities’ toolkits to effectively manage speeding and reduce serious crashes, while removing direct policing and traffic stops from the equation.

I believe that both bills would create demonstrable increases in traffic safety by reducing speeding and creating safety improvements for vulnerable road users. 

<Insert any personal story or reason for your support>

For too long, traffic deaths and severe injuries have been treated as inevitable. While often referred to as “accidents,” these tragedies are preventable if we take a proactive, preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety and speed management as a public health issue. Please advance these bills in your respective committees and work in collaboration with your colleagues to pass these bills into law this session. 

This year alone, more than 350 additional Massachusetts families have an empty seat at their table because their loved one was killed in a traffic crash. I implore you to use your legislative powers to save lives and eliminate tragic and preventable deaths on our roads.


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