When it comes to safety on Boston’s popular duck boats, lawmakers are taking things into their own hands.
The House and Senate agreed Thursday to new safety requirements on the city’s amphibious vehicles.
The bill, which would ban drivers from also serving as tour narrators and mandate all vehicles be outfitted with rear facing cameras and proximity sensors, gained momentum this summer after 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was killed by a Boston Duck Tours vehicle in April.
“The crash really hit close to home in the biking community,” Becca Wolfson, executive director of theBoston Cyclists Union, told Metro in March. The group, which also works with the city on its Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic crashes, lobbied for the legislation.
A second crash in July that injured a woman who was crossing the street at the intersection of Newbury and Clarendon streets further emboldened safe-streets advocates who pushed for stricter safety regulations.
Crashes like these aren’t isolated events, lawmakers said, underscoring the need for regulation.
In 2015, four people died when an amphibious tour vehicle collided with a city bus on the Aurora Bridge, CNN reported.
In Philadelphia, another of the World War II-era vehiclesstruck and killed a 69-year-old woman as she crossed the street.
Two others died in 2010 when a duck tour crashed into a city barge on the Delaware River.
Boston Duck Tours ferry as many as 4,600 passengers per day with their fleet of 28 duck boats during peak season, has already started taking steps to improve safety,CEO Cindy Brown said in a statement.
The company began hiring 40 to 50 additional staff members to serve as tour guides in July and was in the process of outfitting each vehicle with proximity sensors.
“Boston is our home.We recognize what a privilege it is to serve residents and visitors and it has always been our commitment to do so utilizing best-in-class safety practices,” Brown said. “This can only complement Boston Duck Tour’s current strong safety practices. This change will be in place for the opening of our 2017 season.”
The bill, which would take effect April 1 just in time for the start of the duck tour’s 2017 season,would assess fines of$500 for the first safety violation and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.
The bill will be sent to the governor, who has 10 days to take action on it.