Are you a "vulnerable road user?" If so, you are part of a protected class of people in Massachusetts.

New laws took effect on April 1, 2023 protecting "vulnerable road users." Who are these people, these "vulnerable road users?"

They must be pretty special to warrant special protection from the rest of us.

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I recently received a letter from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles reminding me that my registration is due to be renewed again. Included in the mailing was a flier from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) informing me of the more-than-year-old laws passed as part of "An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities."

The Registry's flyer says the new laws are needed to "increase roadway safety across the Commonwealth."

So who are the "vulnerable road users" anyway?

Who Does Massachusetts Consider To Be A 'Vulnerable Road User?'
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

The Registry of Motor Vehicles says they include people walking and biking, roadside workers, people using wheelchairs or personal mobility devices, people using scooters, skateboards and roller skates, people on horses or in a horse-drawn carriage, and people operating farm equipment on the roadway.

MassDOT says, "The law requires motorists to pass a 'vulnerable road user' at a safe passing distance of at least 4 feet."

Sounds reasonable.

"When passing a 'vulnerable road user' or other vehicles, the motorist shall use all or part of an adjacent lane, crossing the centerline if necessary, when it is safe to do so and adhering to the roadway speed limit," according to MassDOT.

Many Massachusetts roadways now have designated bike lanes and separated bike paths, but where there are neither, "signs defining the required 4-foot safe passing distance will be posted."

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