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Motorcycle safety

Learn more about riding safely and driving safety around motorcycles

Overview of motorcycle safety

The popularity of motorcycling continues to grow as vehicle miles traveled by motorcyclists across the nation has doubled since 2004. In 2015, motorcycle-related fatalities accounted for 17% of total motor vehicle-related fatalities in Massachusetts, up from 13% in 2014. Despite the slight increase, motorcycle-related fatalities have dropped 23% since 2010. 

Data from 2015 has shown that 88% of the motorcycle drivers involved in a fatal crash on the roadways of Massachusetts were wearing helmets, compared to 53% nationwide. Massachusetts has a mandatory helmet law and research by NHTSA has found that the use of motorcycle helmets in 2014 saved an estimated 1,669 lives and also saved nearly $3 billion in economic costs and more than $18 billion in comprehensive costs.

Motorcycle safety requires both the motorcyclist and driver of motor vehicles to share the road responsibly. Here are some tips for safely sharing the roadways of the Commonwealth:

  • Allow motorcycles the full width of a lane at all times.
  • Whether in a car, truck, or on a motorcycle - ALWAYS signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful. Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
  • Allow more follow distance - three to four seconds - when behind a motorcycle. This gives the rider more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
  • Never drive distracted or impaired. 
  • Motorcycle riders should wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
  • Motorcycle riders should use both hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
  • Motorcyclists should ride in the middle of the lane where they are more visible to drivers of motor vehicles. 

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Motorcycle education in Massachusetts

To help minimize the risk and maximize the fun of motorcycling, the Registry of Motor Vehicles sponsors the Massachusetts Rider Education Program (MREP). The mission of this program is to reduce the number of motorcycle related fatalities and injuries in the Commonwealth by increasing the statewide availability of approved motorcycle training courses for motorcycle riders and to increase awareness and education for both riders and drivers.

Since 1990, more than 158,000 students have taken a motorcycle safety course. There are currently 12 Motorcycle Safety Schools operating at 27 different sites located throughout Massachusetts. MREP currently offers 3 license waiver courses and 5 additional courses to improve riding skills.

The benefits of taking a motorcycle safety course are:

  • Professional introduction to motorcycling through the Basic Rider Course
  • Sharpen riding skills through the Experienced Rider Course
  • Get your motorcycle license / endorsement
  • Save 10% (limited) on your motorcycle insurance

If you have a specific question concerning the motorcycle safety training please contact one of the Motorcycle Safety Schools nearest you. If you have any other questions or if you would like a brochure mailed to you, please contact the MREP Program Coordinator.

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