Rules of the Road
Rules. No matter where you go or what you do, you’ll find them lurking. Unless you’re living off the grid and/or like a hermit. Even then, there will still be rules, just ones that are different from what would be expected.
Broadly, most people will fall into one of two camps: “always stick to the rules” or “rules are meant to be broken”, though there is a great big gray area in-between. Many people will recognize the need for rules and will happily follow them to fall in line with what society expects and to stay out of trouble, others are more prepared to push the boundaries or see themselves as outside the realm of normal society.
Releasing your rebellious streak is all well and good when the rules don’t appear to make sense: keep off the grass, don’t sit so close to the television, don’t wear white after Labor Day. However, purposely flouting the rules or simply disregarding them is less justified when the rules serve an important purpose.
Nowhere is this more true than with the rules of the road and the right to drive. When it comes to the right to drive, you must maintain the mindset of “rules is rules” as breaking those related to driving can lead to serious consequences. Believe me, you don’t want any part of those consequences.
Whether you are planning to relocate to Massachusetts or you already live there, you need to be aware of the Massachusetts car insurance rules, as well as others. This will help ensure you do not fall foul of the law and that you have sufficient protection.
One of the first and most important aspects to consider in order to be able to drive legally in Massachusetts is ensuring you have a license. It might sound obvious, but many people will still chance it and get behind the wheel though they have never had a license or it has been suspended. Don’t even think about it! It’s just not worth it. Take the time to get a license and ensure it remains valid.
In Massachusetts, 16-year-olds are allowed to apply for a learner’s permit (“oh, the horror!” or “yay, can’t wait!” depending on how you feel.) However, the regulations dictate that they can only drive when accompanied by a 21-year old who has been driving for at least a year.
After having a permit for six months, a 16-year-old will be able to apply for a junior operator’s license, which makes it possible to drive with restrictions. This will only be issued after successful completion of a number of driver education requirements, including 30 hours of lessons in a classroom and 12 hours of practical driving experience, amongst other steps.
An 18-year-old who has held a junior operator’s license for at least a year will be able to apply for a full, unrestricted license. Every driver has to make sure that they have a license that is appropriate for the type of vehicle, which means someone who is permitted to drive a car cannot automatically start driving an articulated lorry.
If you want to drive in the state of Massachusetts, contact the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to get a license if you don’t already have one.
In most cases, you will require a valid driver’s license in order to get car insurance, though you will need to check the terms of each insurance company that you go to for a quote.
Motor insurance is not only important from the point of view of maintaining protection, but also from the point of view of registering the vehicle. This is because you are required to present proof of a valid insurance policy in order to register the vehicle.
It is necessary to have an interest in the insured vehicle, so you can’t just insure the car of some random stranger. If you aren’t named on the title of the car, you can’t ensure it – that’s the rules!
In respect of the type of car insurance that a driver must have, Massachusetts car insurance rules state that a driver must maintain coverage to certain limits:
- $20,000 - bodily injury or death to a third party, up to $40,000 per accident
- $8,000 – personal injury protection per person, per accident
- $20,000 – bodily injury by an uninsured driver, up to $40,000 per accident
- $5,000 – third party property damage, per accident
This only represents the minimum level of coverage that you require to drive in Massachusetts, but this does not mean that you cannot increase your limits if you desire. In addition to getting better protection on the compulsory types of coverage, you will also be able to include additional types of coverage.
As can be seen from the above, it is not necessary for a driver to maintain coverage for damage to or loss of their own vehicle, though this can be obtained.
The need for personal injury protection coverage stems from the fact that Massachusetts is one of 12 no-fault states in America and, in fact, it was the first state to institute this law. This ensures that if any medical treatment is necessary as a result of a car accident, it can be sought immediately rather than waiting for any litigation to be concluded.
The consequence of driving while failing to have sufficient car insurance is a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months. It is necessary to maintain proof of insurance coverage and present it when required, such as when requested by a police officer. It is essential to keep an insurance policy in place throughout the time that the car is on the road without any gaps. This means that if you choose to pay the premium in monthly installments, you cannot miss a payment as this creates the risk of the insurance company canceling the policy.
It used to be the case that car insurance was so heavily regulated in Massachusetts that all insurance companies operating in the state had to offer the same rates. However, this is no longer the case and insurers offer competitive rates, which makes it worthwhile to shop around for car insurance in Massachusetts. Econosurance customers will be lucky enough to have this done on their behalf, meaning they don’t have to worry about getting the best price on car insurance.
Not only is it necessary to make sure that there is sufficient insurance in place, but also that the car is roadworthy.
As in other states, the vehicle must be inspected regularly and must always have a valid inspection sticker. In the event that the vehicle is ever involved in an accident and suffers damage, it is essential for this to be repaired as soon as possible as this can cause issues. For example, a broken tail-light or license plates not showing.
There are a number of rules that are imposed by the state of Massachusetts when it comes to vehicle modifications. These cover a range of aspects, from the sound system (must not increase noise levels at property line by any more than 10 decibels) to the window tints (side, back, and rear windows must allow at least 35% of light through).
However, these are prone to amendments so it is necessary to check the current requirements. Getting your car pimped out may attract attention, but it may also attract a fine if you put illegal modifications in place.
On the Road
Much like keeping all your paperwork in shape when it comes to driving, it is also necessary to get the practical side right. This means recognizing how to be an effective and safe driver. Just because you obtain your license, you don’t have free reign to drive however you like.
Firstly – and most obviously – stay off drink and drugs when you intend to get behind the wheel. In Massachusetts, drivers found to have a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.08 will be slapped with a DUI (driving under the influence). Similarly, driving under the influence of controlled substances (illicit drugs) is illegal. Falling foul of these laws could result in a fine of up to $5,000, up to 2 ½ years in jail, and/or loss of license for up to a year for a first offense, and these punishments increase further for a second offense.
Though some young drivers may be banned from using cell phones while driving, Massachusetts does not impose a complete ban for all drivers. Some municipalities may ban them and texting while driving is banned.
Though it may seem like a hassle to follow rules, the state could never let anyone drive with no license or no insurance – can you imagine the chaos! It would be free for that doesn’t bear thinking about.
In the same way, Massachusetts car insurance rules are designed to provide protection. Besides, you no doubt have better things to do than spend your hard earned-money on fines, worry of having points on your license, or wasting time languishing in prison for up to 12 months. Whether you need some advice or you want a car insurance quote, give Econosurance a call at 800-335-0633 for the best service and the most competitive rates.