Based on an existing state motor vehicle law which prohibits drivers from entering an intersection when the vehicle will not be able to pass directly through it to the other side, a “Don’t Block the Box” campaign has been introduced in the City of Boston.
A collaboration between the City of Boston and MASCO the campaign is an educational and enforcement initiative designed to curb gridlock and increase vehicle and pedestrian safety at 18 busy intersections in the City. The fine for failing to obey this law is $150.
According to a prepared release, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said, “A combination of new initiatives and hard work has helped to keep our local streets from being clogged with bumper to bumper traffic every day of the week. A variety of programs have been implemented to help people to more easily get out of their cars and walk, bike and even ride scooters around Boston, and this has helped a great deal to keep traffic congestion at bay.”
He continued, “Don’t Block the Box” is yet another component to ensure safety and accessibility on Boston’s streets. Drivers who venture into an intersection when it is impossible to drive through it cause traffic gridlock and pose a threat to pedestrians and people in wheelchairs by blocking crosswalks and interrupting the “walk” cycles at traffic signals. This is in violation of existing state law and, in a busy city like Boston, it is imperative that this rule of the road is followed.”
“Don’t Block the Box” is mandated by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 89, Section 9, Designation of highways as through ways; traffic control signs and devices. It reads, in part, “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not cross or enter an intersection, which it is unable to proceed through, without stopping and thereby blocking vehicles from traveling in a free direction. A green light is no defense to blocking the intersection. The driver must wait another cycle of the signal light, if necessary.”
Signs reading “Do Not Block Intersection, State Law $150 Fine” have been posted at the locations included in the campaign to remind drivers of the law. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said, “We are giving the public fair warning, Police Officers will distribute informational literature about the campaign on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Enforcement action began on Thursday, August 23,2012, with the issuance of motor vehicle citations.”
The two intersections closest to the North End are: Atlantic Avenue and Congress Street and Atlantic Avenue and the Seaport Boulevard.
Additional locations will be added to the program as necessary, according to a city representative.
“BTD is happy to be working side by side with MASCO and the Boston Police Department on this important project,” said BTD Commissioner Thomas Tinlin. “The thought of an ambulance being delayed in the medical area due to gridlock is appalling. We are, optimistic that the campaign will change driver behavior and result in safer and more efficient local streets for all of us,” the release read.