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All drivers and passengers who are 12 years old and older must wear seat belts. Exceptions include:
- Drivers and passengers who have proof from a physician that a disability or medical condition makes wearing a seat belt dangerous or impossible.
- Drivers and passengers of vehicles made before July 1966.
- Taxi, livery, tractor, bus, and truck drivers (the truck must have a gross weight of at least 18,000 pounds).
- Emergency vehicle passengers and police and fire vehicle drivers.
- Postal workers on duty.
Chapter 3: Safety First also covers the Child Passenger Restraint Law in Massachusetts. Important points include:
- Children must ride in federally approved child safety seats until they are at least until they are at least eight years old or over 57 inches tall.
- Children older than eight or taller than 57 inches must wear safety belts.
If you're in the market for one, you can shop online for a child car seat at any time. Before ordering, be sure to read our articles on How To Buy a Child Safety Seat and How To Install a Child Safety Seat.
Cell phone restrictions:
- Drivers under 18 are banned from all cell phone usage.
- All drivers, regardless of age or license status, are banned from texting while behind the wheel.
All motorcycle riders, regardless of age, must wear a helmet that meets the minimum safety standards as defined by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The same rules apply to moped and motorized scooter riders.
The Massachusetts Recreation Vehicle Safety Laws clearly state that all recreational vehicle riders must wear approved helmets.
Bicycle riders who are 16 years old or younger must wear helmets when they are riding on bicycle paths, public ways, and public right-of-ways.
Chapter 85: Section 11B of the General Laws of Massachusetts further outlines other bicycle-related laws.
You must use your headlights:
- A half an hour before sunset and a half an hour after sunrise.
- When adverse weather conditions make it difficult to see, including rain, snow, and fog.
- When you can't clearly see other people and vehicles in front of you.
Too, you're allowed to use your headlights to flash other drivers who aren't using theirs when they should be. For more tips on using your headlights in MA, check out Chapter 3: Safety First of the Massachusetts Driver's Manual.
When you leave your motor vehicle unattended for any period of time, it's safest to:
- Turn off the engine.
- Lock the ignition.
- Set the brakes.
- Remove the key.
You may also be interested in Chapter 90: Section 16A of the General Laws of Massachusetts, which covers when and for how long you're allowed to leave your vehicle's motor running when it's stationary.
Aside from the fact that it may be illegal in your municipality, you risk:
- Injury and death (especially in hot or cold weather).
- Kidnapping or petnapping.
- Curious children or rambunctious pets pushing pedals or turning keys.
For more information about laws concerning unattended children and pets in your area, contact your local State Police Troop. You may also want to brush up on the laws regarding traveling with animals.
To report a driver whose medical condition or disability makes his or her driving ability potentially dangerous, you file a report with the RMV using a Request for Medical Evaluation. You can fax the form to (617) 351-9223 or mail it to:
- Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
- Medical Affairs
- P.O. Box 55889
- Boston, MA 02205
However, because the report asks for personal information (Social Security number, driver's license number, and current address), you may not be able to use it to report an unsafe driver whom you don't know well. In this case, it's best to contact the RMV or your local State Police Troop.
To report a drunk driver, call 911.
Safety laws can change without notice. The following resources can help you stay current:Other Topics in This Section
- Traffic Alerts
- 511 Traffic Systems
- Tire Recalls
- Safety Laws
- How Emotions Affect Driving
- Driving in Hazardous Conditions
- Teen Drivers: A Beginner's Guide
- Seniors: When To Turn Over The Car Keys
- Packing Your First-Aid Kit
- Seven Senior Safety Suggestions
- Wildlife on the Road
- When to Call Wildlife Rescue
- Taking A Mature Driver Course
- Medications & Driving
- Night Driving
- Hallucinations on the Road
- How To Drive Distraction Free
- Treating Motion Sickness
- Road Rage: How To Deal With It
- Werner Herzog’s Texting-and-Driving Documentary Slated to Hit Hard
- Say Hello to Tougher Texting-While-Driving Penalties, New York!
- New Study: Voice Texting and Traditional Texting Equally Distracting
- California Bans Use of Cell Phone GPS While Driving
- Teen Driver Safety: Seat Belt Use
- Headlight Laws Vary Little Throughout the Nation