Massachusetts drivers are back on the road, and Governor Charlie Baker wants to make driving safer. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with GBH News State House reporter Mike Deehan about some of the measures the governor is proposing, and how lawmakers are reacting. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: Massachusetts drivers have a reputation. We know that. Yes, we drive on sidewalks. But are the roads particularly unsafe here as opposed to anywhere else?

Mike Deehan: Baker says that actually [during] the pandemic, [data] does show that red light runners in particular are becoming more and more dangerous because speed is becoming a factor in these crashes where there are fewer people on the road. So, Baker said 334 people died in crashes this past year — only two more than died pre-pandemic — and that most of these are single car crashes where speed was a factor. So you can definitely see how that change in the roadway dynamic is leading people to maybe be a little more lead-footed, and that's causing some crashes.

Mathieu: What about the last big road safety law that passed a couple of years ago [in 2019]? It banned using electronic devices while behind the wheel. That was supposed to make us safer.

Deehan: Right, and we've been here before. Road safety is something that Baker and lawmakers, to their credit, have really been working on session after session. So that the handsfree bill that we called it, it's been in place for a while now, they've issued over 46,000 citations. That's including warnings, and that resulted in over 6,500 first offense tickets statewide in the timeframe that this law has been in effect. So police are using this new power to get people to put down their phones, either pulling them over for it or catching them with it out when they get pulled over. So, 104 second offense and four third offense tickets have been issued so far. So some people aren't breaking the habit.

Mathieu: Let's talk about what's inside this road safety package. There's one headline, and I don't know if it was realistic or not, but it got everybody freaked out just like it always does when you hear "red light cameras." That is part of this.

Deehan: Yeah. Red light cameras, or more specifically allowing municipalities to install cameras on red lights, capturing the plate number and then issuing tickets for if they run them. This would kind of happen at a municipal level, and Baker says that he's hearing that from a lot of municipalities who want that power to better enforce the speed limits and the red lights in their towns. So this is the hallmark of Baker's bill, and there's a lot of other stuff, though. Letting police pull over drivers for not wearing a seatbelt, which is an age-old issue in Massachusetts — It's been debated for decades here. The red light camera thing, we don't really know where lawmakers are going to go with that, [or] if they're going to entertain Baker's plan. The Senate did actually reject something very similar last session, so we'll have to see if there's any appetite there.

WATCH: Mike Deehan on Baker's proposed seatbelt law

Mathieu: How about the seatbelt law? What would change in the governor's plan?

Deehan: Yeah, it's something that road safety advocates have really been asking for for decades to give the police the power to pull over drivers they spot not wearing a seatbelt. It's called primary enforcement. We have secondary enforcement right now, meaning that if you are already stopped and you're not wearing a seatbelt, that results in an additional charge, an additional ticket. So this would give the police that primary function to spot somebody not wearing it, pull them over the way that you would for a broken taillight or something like that. It's come up time after time. Lawmakers have rejected it every time — it's failed in the process. One of the big reasons, especially now, that this doesn't seem to maybe have too much purchase, is that giving police any new powers, especially the power to pull over drivers, is just not politically popular right now with Democrats over fears of racial profiling. Obviously, that's a major concern.

Mathieu: So it sounds like the timing of this bill could make it impossible to pass, at least in its current form.

Deehan: Yeah, it's definitely going to be worked on. It's a laundry list of different things that Baker wants. There's a lot of stuff that he's filed before and some new things that he wants to get done. Will they eventually pass something? Probably, maybe. But those big things, the seatbelt part and the red light cameras, they're the most controversial parts here and we'll have to see how much Baker wants to fight for it, and how much lawmakers are going to stand against something like that.