7 Massachusetts Traffic Laws Drivers Commonly Ignore

When driving on Massachusetts roads, motorists often break traffic laws by tailgating or passing on the right.

Massachusetts drivers tend to ignore seven rules of the road more than other traffic laws. Each rule is in place to avoid accidents and keep everyone safe.

Continue reading to find out what laws you should try to remember when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle in Massachusetts.

Resources for further reading:

1. Massachusetts Slower Traffic Keep Right Law: The “Move Over” Rule

The Massachusetts traffic code requires you to keep to the right while driving unless you are passing or getting ready to turn left. Legally, you need to stay in the furthest right lane available.

The driver of a vehicle shall drive in the lane nearest the right side of the way when such lane is available for travel, except when overtaking another vehicle or when preparing for a left turn.

MA Code § 1-14-89-4B

2. Massachusetts Flow of Traffic Law: The “Minimum Speed” Rule

There is no statewide minimum speed on Massachusetts roads. However, you must not obstruct the normal flow of traffic on a highway, or you may get pulled over for driving too slowly.

No person shall drive in such a manner as to obstruct unnecessarily the normal movement of traffic upon any highway. Officers are authorized to require any driver who fails to comply to drive to the side of the roadway and wait until such traffic as has been delayed has passed.

720 CMR 9.06(6)

3. Massachusetts Driving in Left Lane Law: The “Passing on the Left” Rule

You generally cannot pass another car on the right in Massachusetts. When passing, you must overtake the slower vehicle on the left. You then cannot move back to the right until you have fully and safely passed the other car.

If another car signals that they plan to pass you on the left, you must stay to the right and cannot speed up until you have been completely passed.

The driver of a vehicle passing another vehicle shall drive a safe distance to the left of such other vehicle and shall not return to the right until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle; and, if the way is of sufficient width for the two vehicles to pass, the driver of the leading one shall not unnecessarily obstruct the other.

Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on visible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

MA Code § 1-14-89-2

4. Massachusetts Rear-End Collision Law: The “Following Too Closely” Rule

Under Massachusetts law, you must leave a reasonable and prudent space between you and the car in front of you. The distance will change based on road conditions, whether there is heavy traffic, and how fast the car in front of you is traveling.

The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon and condition of the highway.

720 CMR 9.06(7)

5. Massachusetts Mobile Phone Driving Law: The “Hands-Free Driving” Rule

In Massachusetts, it is against the law to have a cell phone in your hands while driving. You can only use mobile phones in ‘hands-free’ mode and cannot read texts or emails or view images. Also, if you are under 18, using a cell phone while operating a vehicle is illegal, even in hands-free mode.

The law allows you to use a cell phone during an emergency.

No person under 18 years of age shall hold in their hand or use a mobile telephone, hands-free mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on any public way.

MA Code § 1-14-90-8M

No operator of a motor vehicle shall hold a mobile electronic device. No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. No operator of a motor vehicle shall read or view text, images or video displayed on a mobile electronic device.

Evidence that the use of a mobile electronic device was in response to an emergency shall be an affirmative defense to an alleged violation of this section.

MA Code § 1-14-90-13B

6. Massachusetts Four-Way Intersection Law: The “4-Way Stop” Rule

When two vehicles reach an intersection simultaneously, Massachusetts law requires the driver on the left to yield the right-of-way. This means that the driver to the right can proceed first.

When two vehicles approach or enter an intersection at approximately the same instant, the operator of the vehicle on the left shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

MA Code § 1-14-89-8

7. Massachusetts Left Turn Intersection Law: The “Right of Way” Rule

Before you make a left turn, you must yield and allow any traffic in the opposite direction to clear. You can only proceed with the left turn across other lanes when it is reasonably safe.

Any operator intending to turn left, in an intersection, across the path or lane of vehicles approaching from the opposite direction shall, before turning, yield the right-of-way until such time as the left turn can be made with reasonable safety.

MA Code § 1-14-89-8

Complying with Massachusetts traffic laws helps motorists reach their destination without tickets or incidents. Next time you head out on the road, keep these seven rules of the road in mind. They will help you ensure you are a cautious, courteous, and safe driver.

Amy Grover is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, then passing the bar exam in 2014, Amy began her diverse career as a practicing attorney. Amy has a range of experience in the legal field, including work with the Department... Read More >>