• 'If it doesn't get done, we're going to lose people': A fight for hands-free law

    By: Kathryn Burcham


    BOSTON - Richard Levitan knows loss in a way no parent should.

    His daughter Merritt, an 18-year-old Milton Academy graduate, was killed by a distracted driver five years ago this month as she was biking cross country.

    In the years since, Richard and his wife have pushed for a hands-free driving law, but with little success.

    “A young man, 21 years old, was texting, hit 7 of the 12 cyclists and we lost our daughter,” Richard Levitan said. “If it doesn’t get done, we’re going to lose more people.”

    The Levitans and others rallied at the Statehouse Wednesday, demanding lawmakers pass a bill before the session ends.

    It’s been passed by the senate, but has languished in the house ways and means committee.

    In a statement, a spokesperson for committee chair Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D - Boston) said, “Bill S2103 is currently under review by members of the House Ways and Means Committee and there is no other response at this time.”

    “Something he doesn’t understand is what it’s like to lose a family member,” Emily Stein, with Safe Roadways Alliance, said. 

    Her father was struck and killed in Acton in 2011 by a woman who was entering an address in her GPS.

    Stein and so many others hope that by sharing their stories again and again, someone will finally listen.

    Advocates did say that several representatives are indicating with an amendment, they would finally be willing to pass the bill by the end of this month -- a moment they’ve waited a long time for.

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