Boston Mayor Tom Menino says the statewide travel ban instituted at 4 pm yesterday was a "success". Speaking at a noontime news conference, Menino credited the ban with allowing emergency vehicles to reach people in need, and for plows to begin clearing two feet of heavy snow.
Massachusetts was the first New England state to declare a total ban on travel yesterday. By late last night, the other five states followed suit.
There was some confusion about the consequences of ignoring the ban, with reporters questioning if violators would be arrested and fined if caught behind the wheel. WCVB-TV relayed the concerns of a Boston priest who worried if he would be jailed for administering care to home bound parishioners.
Authorities confirmed that anyone with a "critical public or private function" would be exempt from the travel prohibition. This includes emergency management staff, convenience store operators, hospital workers, law enforcement and the media.
While some criticized the move, Governor Deval Patrick made the right call. Historically, many injuries and deaths in severe weather occur when sightseers are hit with fallen trees, they are swept away in coastal surf, or they are involved in auto accidents. By remaining indoors, residents were safer in their homes than out in the elements and rescuers were spared dangerous conditions as well.
The travel ban also allows road crews to do their work. "Tomorrow will be a big day for snow removal", said Menino. With streets cleared of parked cars, Boston will escape the paralysis that famously struck New York City two years ago. Garbage trucks outfitted with plows could not get past cars parked on both sides of narrow city streets.
As of this writing the travel ban has not yet been lifted. No doubt, this decision by the Governor saved lives.