Massachusetts Rating: Caution

Massachusetts needs improvement because of gaps in Advocates’ recommended optimal laws, as reported in the 2019 Roadmap Report.

Highway Safety Laws Needed

  • Primary Enforcement Seatbelt Law (Front & Rear)
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
  • GDL- Stronger Supervised Driving Requirement
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction
  • GDL – Stronger Passenger Restriction
  • GDL- Age 18 for Unrestricted License
  • Ignition Interlock Law for All-Offenders

Current Optimal Highway Safety Laws

  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
Booster Seat Law
  • GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • GDL – Cell Phone Restriction
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction

*States are credited with having laws only if their laws meet Advocates’ optimal criteria

Hot Now: Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

In 2017, 42 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers in Massachusetts.

The current GDL law in Massachusetts includes the following components:

  • A three-stage licensing system beginning at age 16 for learner’s permit, age 16 years and 6 months for the intermediate stage, and age 18 for full licensure
  • A mandatory 6 month holding period for the learner’s permit stage
  • A minimum of 40 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage
  • A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the intermediate stage (secondary enforcement at some times of day)
  • A passenger restriction prohibiting passengers younger than age 18 for the first 6 months after licensure (secondary enforcement at some times of day)
  • A prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones for all drivers younger than age 18
  • A prohibition on texting while driving for all drivers

These changes are needed to improve Massachusetts’s GDL law and meet optimal GDL provisions:

  • Strengthen the passenger restriction to prohibit more than one non-familial passenger under the age of 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle, for the entire intermediate stage through age 17
  • Require a nighttime driving restriction for teen drivers
  • Strengthen the supervised driving requirement

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