Important Massachusetts Car Safety Information

I found this over at the Massachusetts DMV website and wanted to pass it along to my readers:  

Seat Belts

All drivers and passengers who are 12 years old and older must wear seat belts. Exceptions include:

  • 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.

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

Child Car Seat Laws

Chapter 3: Safety First also covers the Child Passenger Restraint Law in Massachusetts. Important points include:

  • Children older than five but younger than 12, who weigh more than 40 pounds, must ride in booster seats or use safety belts.

It's crucial to note that it's not age that determines when a child no longer has to ride in a child safety seat, it's weight.

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.

Cellular Phones

You are still allowed to use cell phones while driving in Massachusetts, as long as you always keep one hand on your steering wheel.

Helmets

Motorcycle Riders

Per Chapter 90: Section 1B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, all motorcycle riders must wear federally approved protective head gear.

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.

Headlights

You must use your headlights:

  • A half an hour after sunset and a half an hour before 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.

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 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.

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: