Traffic Safety Laws in Massachusetts

Seat Belts Laws in Massachusetts

All drivers and passengers who are 13 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 lbs).
  • Emergency vehicle passengers and police and fire vehicle drivers.
  • Postal workers on duty.

Not obeying the seatbelt laws is a primary offense; this means that law enforcement can stop and ticket you for not wearing a seatbelt.

For more information, Chapter 3: Safety First of the Massachusetts Driver's Manual thoroughly details safety belt laws in MA.

What are the MA Child Car Seat Laws?

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 8 years old or over 57 in tall.
  • Children older than 8 years old or taller than 57 in tall must wear safety belts.

Be sure to read our articles on How To Buy a Child Safety Seat and How To Install a Child Safety Seat.

MA Electronic Devices and Texting While Driving Laws 

Cell phone restrictions:

  • Junior operators who are 16 and 17 years old are banned from using electronic devices even if the device is in hands-free mode.
  • All drivers are banned from using any mobile device for any reason while driving unless the device is in hands-free mode or is a single swipe or tap to activate, deactivate, or switch the device to hands-free mode.
  • All drivers are banned from viewing images or video unless it is for navigational purposes and the device is mounted in an appropriate location. 

Texting restrictions:

  • All drivers, regardless of age or license status, are banned from texting while behind the wheel.

Helmets Laws in Massachusetts

Motorcycle Riders

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.

ATV Riders

The Massachusetts Recreation Vehicle Safety Laws clearly state that all recreational vehicle riders must wear approved helmets.

Bicycle Riders

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.

MA Headlight Laws

You must use your headlights:

  • A 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
  • When adverse weather conditions make it difficult to see, including rain, snow, and fog.
  • Whenever you must use your windshield wipers.
  • 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.

Unattended Motor Vehicles

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.

Unattended Children and Pets

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.

Reporting Unsafe and/or Drunk Drivers

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 mail this form to the address on the form.

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.

For more information, visit the RMV's Reporting Requirements and For Families and Caregivers.

To report a drunk driver, call 911.

Massachusetts Safety Laws

Safety laws can change without notice. The following resources can help you stay current:

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review