New Hampshire bill proposes warnings at Massachusetts border

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 19, 2011 4:04 PM
New Hampshire bill proposes warnings at Massachusetts border

By Jason McLure

LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing a law that would require warning signs on all roads leading to neighboring Massachusetts, which has more stringent laws governing driver safety and weapons possession.

Under the proposal, which would not apply to roads to Vermont or Maine, the state's other two neighbors, the New Hampshire Transportation Department would post signs reading "Warning: Massachusetts Border 500 Feet."

New Hampshire drivers who unwittingly cross the border now may find themselves breaking Massachusetts law, said Jennifer Coffey, a New Hampshire state representative from Andover, about 70 miles north of the state line.

Massachusetts requires motorcyclists to wear helmets and drivers to have automobile insurance, she said.

Massachusetts also has banned handheld cell phone use while driving and the private use of fireworks, and it has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country.

New Hampshire, whose state motto is "Live Free or Die," does not require motorcycle helmets nor require drivers to have car insurance, and it has less strict gun laws.

Motorists are free to talk on handheld cell phones on New Hampshire roads, although texting is illegal while driving. Fireworks can be legally sold in New Hampshire to anyone over 21 and to any member of the military over 18.

"Basically I had people come to me and tell me they had accidentally crossed the border and ended up on the wrong side of the law," said Coffey. "If they had seen a sign saying 'hey, you're about to go into Massachusetts,' they could have turned around."

While major highways have clearly posted border signs, many back roads do not.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)