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Massachusetts Motorcyclist Laws

motorcycle in sunlightAs a new motorcyclist myself, and with spring looking further and further every day here in New England, I know fellow motorcyclists are getting eager for the start of the new “riding season.” In all of the anticipation for spring and the hope for a miracle of a short winter, don’t forget to take some time to review and become familiar with the Massachusetts motorcyclist laws. It can help make this year’s riding experience safer and as a result more enjoyable.

Helmet Law

In the State of Massachusetts, every motorcyclist must wear a DOT (Department of Transportation) certified helmet. This law applies to riders of every age and operators of low-powered cycles such as mopeds and scooters as well. Despite the law, and the hundreds of tests and studies that prove that a helmet can strongly diminish deaths and serious injuries, too many motorcyclists still choose to ride unprotected. Some argue that wearing a helmet impairs vision and hearing while riding. Even though I can see how this concern materialized, it has been proven that it is simply not the case. Helmets provide a field of vision of more than 210 degrees which is substantially above the 140 degrees standard that is used by licensing agencies to identify vision problems. When it comes to helmets impacting hearing, it is simply not true. On the contrary, a helmet allows the rider to be able to hear his/her surroundings in a more equally proportioned way. The overwhelming fact is that helmets save lives, so use your head and wear a helmet.

Lane Splitting

If you’re a motorcyclist, you know the temptation is there. You’re sitting in a line of traffic, bumper to bumper, on a hot summer day (with some protective gear I hope) and you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I could just sneak on by in between the lanes of cars; no harm, no foul.’ Truth is, there may very well be harm and it is a foul.  The foul being that in the state of Massachusetts it is illegal for a motorcyclist to participate in lane splitting. The fact is that lane splitting is illegal pretty much EVERYWHERE except in California. The number one reason being the level of risk of getting injured is very high. Motorcyclists are already in potential danger due to the lack of visibility on the road. When you add the lack of visibility and the notorious driving of Massachusetts drivers you should very well be thankful for this law.

Besides these established laws in Massachusetts, there are several other ways to help you remain safe on the road while riding. Take a quick moment to look over the Motorcycle Manual which is available online at www.massrmv.com/rmv/mcmanual. This will help you refresh your memory on the rules of the road, and will remind you of important things to look out for in order to remain safe. Whatever steps you take to remain safe while riding, enjoy yourself. Fingers crossed for an early end to what seems to be a cruel joke by Mother Nature on New England.

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