The Honorable Walter F. Timilty, Senate Chair
The Honorable Carlos González, House Chair
Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security
State House, Boston

Delivered electronically

Dear Chair Timilty, Chair González, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

On behalf of cities and towns across the Commonwealth, we write today to express our support for S. 1589, An Act relative to the use of green lights for municipal emergency management vehicles.

S. 1589 would provide an option for municipal public works and other municipal emergency management vehicles to use green strobe lights on their vehicles without additional permission from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV).

As you know, the necessary work of local departments of public works (DPWs) present many risks, especially when working on roads and bridges. Whether it be road maintenance, snow plowing, or responding to emergency situations, DPW workers must take precautions to ensure the safety of residents as well as themselves. The use of green strobe lights is an extension of good safety practice.

The human eye is more sensitive to green lights than other colors. This means that the use of green strobes can increase visibility of vehicles using these lights and improve safety for DPW crews on site or while driving. Legislation similar to S. 1589 has already been enacted in Maine, Ohio and Michigan with successful outcomes.

Right here in Massachusetts, Norfolk Public Works has been testing the use of green strobe lights through a two-year pilot program approved by the RMV. Over the past year, the data collected have shown that motorists reduced speed by between 11 and 23 miles per hour, depending on location. Further, 97% of all traffic slowed or stopped when green strobe lights were in use, while only 58% of traffic did so with amber strobe lights.

It is clear that the use of green lights by DPW vehicles engaged with road repair, snow plowing, responding to emergencies, and high-risk scenarios will be a helpful public safety tool for workers as well as municipal departments. By providing this choice to cities and towns, while limiting the use to municipal DPW and emergency management vehicles, the Legislature will support efficient and proven safety practices that could save lives, reduce injury, and reduce the administrative burden through the RMV.

We appreciate the opportunity to submit testimony on this important issue and encourage the Committee to provide S. 1589 with a favorable report. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Adrienne Núñez at at any time.


Adam Chapdelaine
MMA Executive Director & CEO