Massachusetts Motorcycle Laws and Safety Tips


By Zac Pingle, Staff Writer

There is something very special about riding a motorcycle. Riding while out in the elements can be very rewarding, although, it is important to know what laws you must follow to ride your motorcycle. The following article is intended to inform you about Massachusetts motorcycle laws and regulations, and to provide some general safety tips.

Motorcycle Laws

  • All riders, including passengers, must wear a US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet.

  • You can only carry a passenger on your motorcycle if your motorcycle has a fixed passenger seat and passenger footrests.

  • Your motorcycle must have a muffler, and cannot be louder than 82 dBA if traveling under 45 mph, or cannot be louder than 86 dBA if travelling faster than 45 mph.

  • Your motorcycle must have a headlamp, taillight, brake light, license plate light, turn signals, and at least one mirror.

  • You must pass an annual safety inspection of your motorcycle in order to ride it.

  • Your helmet is not allowed to have speakers, unless they are used for communication only.

  • Your motorcycle’s handlebars cannot be higher than your shoulders when you ride.

  • You have eye protection when you ride, unless your motorcycle has a windshield.

  • You must have a class M license of a motorcycle endorsement on order to ride a motorcycle.

  • You must first obtain a motorcycle permit, and be at least 16 and a half years old, and pass a riding test (or motorcycle education course) in order to obtain a class M license.

  • Permit riders are only allowed to ride during daylight hours and cannot carry passengers.

  • The minimum insurance requirements for a motorcycle in Massachusetts is $20,000 of bodily damage or death coverage per person and $40,000 per accident. You must also have $5,000 of property damage coverage.

Safety Tips

  1. Prepare for a crash ahead of time.
    Even the most seasoned riders crash every once in awhile. However, an excellent way to prevent serious injury and unnecessary complications when you do crash, is to know what you will do in a crash ahead of time. Make sure that you are familiar with your insurance policy, and keep relevant medical information of your person when you ride. Also, it would be a good idea to keep a first aid kit on your motorcycle if possible. The most important thing to remember if you are in a crash, is to stay calm and be focused.

  2. Dress appropriately.
    You will be exposed to all that the road has to offer when you ride. So it would be smart to wear clothing that will help protect you from the elements. Wear durable clothing that will keep you warm and prevent damage if you slide off of your motorcycle (jeans and a leather jacket would do well). Wear heavy boots that come up above your ankles, this will help you shift gears and could prevent a broken foot bone if you crash. Make sure that your helmet fits snuggly on your head and that your chin strap is secured tightly. Your helmet won’t be any use if it falls off when you crash. You may also want to wear some gloves, this is more for comfort but hands get cold easily when riding.

  3. Invest in more than just the minimum insurance.
    Only having the minimum insurance requirements can be a bad idea, especially on long trips. There is a likely an insurance policy available to cover any form of damage you can think of, but their are only a few that you really need. These include:

    1. Liability insurance. This will cover damages in case you are found liable for a crash, and is a complete necessity.

    2. Uninsured motorist insurance. This will cover you if you crash into a motorist that does not have insurance, or whose insurance will not cover all of your damages.

    3. Comprehensive insurance. This will cover you for any damages to your motorcycle that weren’t caused by another vehicle (like weather damage or theft). Think of it as your “just in case” policy.

    4. Roadside assistance. This will allow a tow truck to pick you up and get your motorcycle repaired if you breakdown on the side of the road. Trying to fix a motorcycle on your own with limited tools and no garage isn’t much fun, which is why this coverage is a good idea.

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