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The Law of the Road in Massachusetts: 5 Things You Should Know While On the Road

The Law of the Road in Massachusetts: 5 Things You Should Know While On the Road

It’s your responsibility as a motorist to know the traffic laws in your state. If you’re driving in Massachusetts, being aware of the law is your legal obligation, and claiming ignorance of the law will not be a valid excuse if you break it. While the law is vast and complex, there are a few things that pertain to nearly every driver at some point. Knowing these five laws can help you drive responsibly and avoid a ticket while driving in Massachusetts.

The Seatbelt Requirement

In the state of Massachusetts, anyone 13 years of age of older must be wearing a seatbelt at all times whether you’re a passenger or the driver. There are some exceptions to the seatbelt requirement, however, including but not limited to the following circumstances.

  • On-duty postal workers are not required to wear a seatbelt.
  • If you’re the driver of or passenger in a vehicle that was manufactured before July of 1966, you don’t have to wear a seatbelt.
  • If your doctor can attest and write a note stating that wearing a seatbelt would worsen your condition or that your medical condition or disability makes it dangerous or impossible to wear a seatbelt, you’ll be excused.
  • If you’re a passenger in an emergency vehicle or the driver of a fire truck or police car, you don’t have to wear a seatbelt.

Cell Phones and Driving

Anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device of any kind while driving. If you’re under 18 and you absolutely have to use your phone, you have to pull over and turn your car off in order to do so. All drivers, regardless of age, are banned from texting while driving. Doing so can cost you hefty fines and, if injuries result, can even lead to jail time.


here are certain situations in which you must have your headlights on when driving in Massachusetts. Here are the most common situations in which you’re required by law to use your headlights.

  • Poor weather conditions such as fog, rain, or snow.
  • If it’s raining hard enough that your windshield wipers are on, you have to turn your headlights on. Any time you’re using your windshield wipers, even if it’s for fog or a reason other than rain, you must also have your headlights on.
  • If you can’t see the person or vehicle in front of you clearly, turn the headlights on.
  • Regardless of any other circumstances, headlights are required to be on from 30 minutes before sundown all the way to 30 minutes before sunrise.

There aren’t any situations in which you can be ticketed for using your regular headlights, so it’s always best to be safe and use them if you’re in doubt.


The requirements regarding the use of helmets depends on what you’re driving and, in some cases, how old you are. If you’re driving a motorcycle, moped, or motorized scooter, every rider is required by law to wear a helmet. The helmet you wear has to provide the minimum protection as required by law. Check with the Department of Transportation for the current requirements.

For those operating an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), every rider must wear an approved helmet. You can check with the Department of Transportation for ATV helmet requirements, as well.

If you’re riding a bicycle and you’re 16 years of age or younger, the law requires that you wear helmets when on public ways, bicycle paths, and public rights-of-way. However, all bicyclists should wear helmets at all times as a matter of safety, even if there is no law dictating that you do so.

Child Car Seats

The Massachusetts Child Passenger Restraint Law includes the following criteria.

  • All children are required to ride in child safety seats approved by the federal government until they reach eight years of age or 57 inches in height.
  • Children older than eight years old or taller than 57 inches must wear a seatbelt at all times.

These are the basic laws as set out by the Massachusetts Child Passenger Restraint Law. However, nuances may exist for toddlers, infants, and other ages. Some weight requirements exist, as well. Check with Chapter 3: Safety First section of the Massachusetts law to make sure you’re in compliance in order to keep your child passengers safe.

As you can see, there are multiple areas of the law you need to be aware of as you’re driving in Massachusetts. Make sure to consult the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual to ensure you’re in compliance when out on the road. Of course, accidents happen and everyone makes mistakes. If you need legal representation due to a ticket, charge, or accident, make sure to contact a qualified traffic attorney in Massachusetts. Only an experienced attorney will be able to help you obtain the best possible outcome.


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