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Baker signs duck boat safety bill into law

A woman was killed in a accident with a Duck Boat on Beacon and Charles Street in Boston last spring.
A woman was killed in a accident with a Duck Boat on Beacon and Charles Street in Boston last spring. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Governor Charlie Baker has approved a bill to increase the safety of amphibious tour vehicles, after a 28-year-old woman was fatally struck by a duck boat last spring near Boston Common.

The bill, which Baker signed Thursday, requires duck boats and similar vehicles to have safety equipment including blind spot cameras and proximity sensors, according to the state legislative website.

Billy Pitman, a spokesman for Baker, said in an email that the governor “was pleased to see Boston Duck Tours’ enhance their safety protocols over the past several months and to sign further protections into statute.”

The law takes effect in April and also bars drivers from providing “guide services,” such as identifying landmarks and narrating local history, while operating the popular sight-seeing vehicles on a public way.

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Lawmakers pushed for rule changes after the tragic death in April of Allison Warmuth, who was riding a moped near her Beacon Hill residence when a duck boat carrying passengers crashed into her.

Boston Duck Tours, the company that operates duck boats, announced in July that it was adding a second employee to all vehicles in its fleet. The company did not say at the time what the second worker’s duties would be, but drivers had previously performed the tour guide functions as they guided the vessels across the city on land and water.

In a statement released Tuesday night, the Boston Cyclists Union, an advocacy group, welcomed the news of the law’s passage.

“The Boston Cyclists Union has been very invested in these safety measures,” said Becca Wolfson, the group’s executive director. “Cyclists have an identical vulnerability to being killed by these large vehicles that Allison Warmuth had, especially when starting from a stop as Allison was. We know that this type of crash could have been prevented if these measures were already in place, and now we have the chance to prevent this type of tragic crash from happening again.”

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Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.