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Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Massachusetts, United States

Motorcycle Laws & Licensing for Massachusetts, United States

1. Introduction

Whether you are a novice or experienced motorcyclist who frequently travels through Massachusetts, it would benefit you to review the latest Massachusetts motorcycle laws. To better ensure personal safety, you need to become familiar with the type of motorcycle helmet you need and how to maintain the condition of your vehicle. It would also be beneficial for the well-being of others if you knew the correct way to carry passengers and whether it is safe to attempt lane splitting. If you are considering becoming a motorcyclist, you would have to know the procedure for how to obtain a Massachusetts motorcycle license.

This post will provide an overview of the essential motorcycle laws and a step-by-step explanation of the licensing process in the state of Massachusetts.

2. Massachusetts Motorcycle Insurance

Introduction - Massachusetts Motorcycle Insurance

To be allowed to operate a motorcycle in Massachusetts, you must own motorcycle insurance that meets this state’s minimum requirements regarding bodily injury and property damage. Whenever you are riding your motorcycle, you must carry proof of ownership on your person or secured somewhere on your motorcycle. You must be able to produce the relevant documents when requested by local law enforcement or affected parties following an accident.

Your Massachusetts liability insurance coverage must be able to cover the minimum costs for the following accident-related fees:

  • $20,000 for bodily injury to a person per accident
  • $40,000 for bodily injuries to multiple people per accident
  • $5,000 for property damages sustained per accident

If you wish to protect your health and property, you will need to acquire optional forms of motorcycle insurance coverage. As these are not mandatory, only purchase what you can afford and what will be useful under specific circumstance during an accident:

  • Uninsured coverage
  • Underinsured coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Bodily injury coverage
  • Medical payment coverage
  • Personal injury protection

3. Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Laws

Introduction - Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Laws

As Massachusetts follows a universal motorcycle helmet policy, all motorcyclists regardless of age are required to wear protective headgear when they are operating their vehicles in this state.

When browsing for an approved motorcycle helmet, you should pick out one that was manufactured by the Snell Memorial Foundation. It should also meet or exceed the safety standards provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The two types of motorcycle helmets that provide the best protection and visibility are the three-quarter and full-face helmets.

When acquiring an approved motorcycle helmet, look for the features listed in the table below when searching so you can find one that offers the most protection for your head and eyes:

Massachusetts Motorcycle Helmet Laws

4. Massachusetts Motorcycle License Laws

Massachusetts Motorcycle License Laws - Motorcycle Laws & Licensing

4.1. Massachusetts Class M Learner’s Permit

You can begin applying for a Massachusetts Class M learner’s permit if you are at least 16 ½ sup>years old or older.

You will have to pay a fee of $30 to be issued a Massachusetts Class M learner’s permit that is valid for two years.

To be given the permit, you must complete the following tasks and fulfill all of the listed criteria:

  • If you are under 18 years old:

       ○Have signature and consent from parent or legal guardian

  • Present identification documents
  • Provide proof of Massachusetts residency
  • Provide proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Provide your Social Security Number
  • Take a photo
  • Pass the knowledge exam
  • Pass the vision exam
  • Meet minimum Class M driver’s license medical standards
  • Pay the required fees

When you are operating with a Massachusetts Class M learner’s permit, you will have to comply with the following restrictions as you practice:

  • You must be supervised by a 21-year-old driver who has been licensed for at least one year
  • You can only operate within Massachusetts
  • You cannot transport passengers
  • You can only operate during daylight hours between sunrise and sunset
  • If you are under 18 years old:

       ○Have signature and consent from parent or legal guardian

4.2. Massachusetts Class M License

You are eligible to receive a Massachusetts Class M license if you are at least 16 ½ years old or older.

You will have to pay a fee of $50 to be issued a Massachusetts Class M license that is valid for five years.

Listed below are the requirements you will need to fulfill to obtain a Massachusetts Class M license. Depending on your age when you approach the final step, the list of criteria may differ between motorcyclists:

Massachusetts Class M License

*The RMV will accept 30 hours of driving supervised by a parent or guardian if the applicant completes a driver skills development program

*A parent or guardian must participate in 2 hours of instruction on the driver’s education course

4.3. Massachusetts Motorcycle License Test

Written Portion:

  • Will be completed on touch-screen computers
  • Complete 25 multiple-choice questions
  • Questions will be based on content from Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual
  • Will be tested on understanding of road rules and safe riding practices
  • Requires a passing grade of 72% or higher

Road Skills Portion:

  • Will be conducted in a controlled, off-street area
  • Your motorcycle will be subjected to a pre-ride inspection to ensure it meets safety standards
  • Demonstrate basic understanding of motorcycle operation
  • You will be tested on your ability to stay within the speed limit, adjusting speed and position, maintaining visibility, operating under stress, accelerating, braking, turning, stopping, and swerving
  • The examiner will grade you based on how well you ride at safe speeds, stay within the lanes, and demonstrate riding maneuvers

You will fail the road skills portion of the Massachusetts motorcycle license test if you exhibit any of the following behavior:

  • You were at fault in an accident with another motor vehicle, pedestrian, or object
  • You were riding in an unsafe or reckless manner
  • You violated a motor vehicle law, rule, or regulation
  • You failed to follow or purposely ignored your examiner’s directions

5. Massachusetts Motorcycle Passenger Laws

Introduction - Massachusetts Motorcycle Passenger Laws

In Massachusetts, there is no minimum age requirement in regards to motorcycle passengers. But all motorcycle passengers of every age are required to wear an approved motorcycle helmet at all times. The passenger’s motorcycle helmet must satisfy the same requirements as the operator’s protective headgear.

If you wish to improve safety for the sake of your passenger, you will need to equip and adjust the current state of your motorcycle. The required equipment for carrying an additional person include a designated passenger seat and foot pegs.

Your passenger should never be seated in front of the driver’s seat. There must be space between the passenger and operator’s seats so that the passenger can fully extend their legs while the operator can drive without distractions. The designated passenger seat can only be positioned at the following places on your motorcycle:

  • At the back of a large driver’s seat
  • Towards the rear as a separate saddle
  • Fixed to the side as a sidecar

The lack of an age restriction means that there are other criteria to check when determining who can safely ride on your motorcycle. A popular rule of thumb is that a passenger must be able to reach and plant their feet against the footrests. Therefore, it is best to avoid transporting young children or elderly individuals. Other characteristics to look for in a motorcycle passenger include the following:

  • Your passenger must be able to reach the footrests
  • Your passenger must wear an approved motorcycle helmet
  • Your passenger cannot be carrying any packages
  • Your passenger must be able to understand and follow your directions

6. Massachusetts Lane Splitting Laws

Introduction - Massachusetts Lane Splitting Laws

It is illegal for motorcyclists to engage in lane splitting while in Massachusetts. Because lane splitting involves getting precariously close to larger vehicles and maneuvering in their blind spots, the chances of getting into a fatal accident become higher. To avoid collisions and trouble with local law enforcement, motorcyclists should avoid engaging in the following behavior:

  • Riding on top of the dividing lines between lanes
  • Riding in between adjacent rows of stopped vehicles
  • Overtaking a larger vehicle ahead in the same lane

However, thanks to the high maneuverability and compact design of motorcycles, riders are entitled to certain rights regarding how they can act when on the road. Motorcyclists are allowed to attempt the following behavior in Massachusetts:

  • You are allowed to make full use of the space within a single lane
  • You can only share a lane with another motorcycle if:

    ○Both parties stay apart at least two abreast
    ○Both parties consent beforehand

7. Massachusetts Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

Introduction - Massachusetts Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

In Massachusetts, a task every rider must complete yearly is bring their motorcycles to a state approved inspection station before June 1st. These are necessary to ensure your motorcycle’s primary components have not suffered significant damage and that they are still functioning properly. Your motorcycle runs a risk of suffering mechanical failure if even a single component becomes faulty. Do not delay to apply repairs with your tools or take your vehicle to a professional mechanic.

Listed below are the equipment your motorcycle must be fitted with to be considered street legal in Massachusetts. These components are essential to your motorcycle’s maneuverability, visibility, and overall functionality:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Fenders
  • Front & Rear Brakes
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake Light
  • Turn Signals
  • Exhaust system
  • Muffler
  • Rearview mirrors

8. Sources
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