Skip to Content

Session Law

2008

Jump to:

Chapter 523 AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE OPERATION OF LOW-SPEED MOTOR VEHICLES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1. Chapter 85 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 2E, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 2E. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18 of chapter 90, the department for purposes of public safety and convenience may from time to time by regulations exclude persons and vehicles from state highways or portions thereof for such periods as it may deem necessary. The department may by regulation permanently prohibit or limit the operation of a low-speed vehicle, as defined in section 1 of chapter 90, on a state highway or a portion of a state highway, regardless of posted speeds, in the interest of public safety and convenience where it finds that use of the state highway or a particular portion of the state highway by a low-speed motor vehicle would represent an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to occupants of low-speed vehicles because of general traffic conditions which shall include, but not be limited to, excessive speed of other vehicles, traffic volumes, use of the state highway by heavy trucks or other large vehicles or if the established speed limit on the way increases above 30 miles per hour beyond the point where a low-speed vehicle could safely exit the state highway. The commissioner of highways shall post signs where necessary to provide notice to the public of such prohibited or limited access to low-speed vehicles. Regulations promulgated under this section may provide for a penalty of a fine not more than $75 for a particular violation.

SECTION 2. Section 1 of chapter 90 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition “Low-boy boat transporter” the following definition:-

“Low-speed motor vehicle” or “low-speed vehicle”, a motor vehicle as defined in 49 C.F.R. § 571.3 as a vehicle that is 4-wheeled, whose speed attainable in 1 mile is more than 20 miles per hour and not more than 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface and whose gross vehicle weight rating is less than 3,000 pounds. All low-speed motor vehicles shall comply with the standards established in 49 C.F.R. § 571.500, as amended, and pursuant thereto, shall be equipped with headlamps, front and rear turn signal lamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, an exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side of the vehicle and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger's side of the vehicle or an interior mirror, a parking brake, a windshield that conforms to the federal standards on glazing materials, a vehicle identification number that conforms to the requirements of 49 C.F.R. pt 565 for such numbers, a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly conforming to 49 C.F.R. § 571.209, installed at each designated seating position and reflex reflectors; provided, that 1 reflector is red on each side as far to the rear as practicable and 1 reflector is red on the rear. A low speed motor vehicle that meets the requirements of 49 C.F.R. § 571.500, as amended, and is equipped as herein provided, may be registered in the commonwealth, subject to inspection and insurance requirements.

SECTION 3. Said chapter 90 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 1E the following 4 sections:-
Section 1F. Every person lawfully operating a low-speed motor vehicle shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways or any public way with a speed limit of more than 30 miles per hour, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the provisions of this section. This shall not prohibit a low-speed motor vehicle from crossing a public way at an intersection where the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit between 30 and 45 miles per hour, provided the public way the low-speed vehicle is traveling on and the public way the low-speed vehicle is crossing the intersection to both have a speed limit no higher than 30 miles per hour and the intersection is controlled by traffic signals or stop signs. A municipality may, by ordinance, prohibit the operation of low-speed vehicles on a way or a portion of a way within its jurisdiction and under its control, regardless of posted speeds, where it finds that use of the way or a particular portion of the way by low-speed motor vehicles would represent an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to occupants of low-speed vehicles because of general traffic conditions which shall include, but not be limited to, excessive speeds of other vehicles, traffic volumes, use of the way by heavy trucks or other large vehicles or if the established speed limit on the way increases above 30 miles per hour beyond the point where a low-speed vehicle could safely exit the way. The municipality shall post signs where necessary to provide notice to the public of such prohibited access. A low-speed vehicle shall not be operated by a person under 16 years of age nor by any person not possessing a valid driver's license, except that a person who is at least 16 years of age who possesses a valid learner's permit may operate a low-speed vehicle on those ways, or portions of ways, where such operation is lawful, if accompanied by an operator duly licensed by his state of residence who is 21 years of age or over, who has had at least 1 year of driving experience and who is occupying a seat beside the driver. The holder of a junior operator's license shall be subject to the same license restrictions applicable to that license classification in the operation of a low-speed vehicle as if the license holder were operating any other motor vehicle. A low-speed vehicle shall not be operated upon any public way unless such vehicle is registered in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, displays the registration number as provided in section 6, displays a slow moving vehicle emblem on the rear of the vehicle as required by section 7 and by 540 C.M.R. § 22.11, is equipped as required by 49 C.F.R. § 571.500, as amended, and as required by this chapter, meets the insurance certificate requirements of section 34B and is titled under chapter 90D. Low-speed vehicles shall be subject to annual inspection as required by section 7A, except that low-speed vehicles whose sole source of power is generated electrically shall not be subject to the test for emissions. The registrar may issue registration plates displaying the International Symbol of Access for a low-speed vehicle upon the same terms and conditions applicable to registrants of other motor vehicles and may issue a special parking identification placard bearing the same designation upon the same terms and conditions applicable to persons seeking a placard for a motor vehicle. A person convicted of a violation of this section, the penalty for which is not otherwise provided by this chapter, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $75 for the first offense, not less than $75 nor more than $150 for a second and each subsequent offense.
Section 1G. Every licensed motor vehicle dealer and every person engaged in the business of leasing or renting low-speed vehicles to the public shall, upon the sale, lease or rental of such low-speed vehicle to a customer provide a notice of disclosure printed in at least 10-point type. Such original notice shall be signed by the person purchasing, leasing or renting the low-speed vehicle and shall be retained by the merchant and a copy of the signed notice shall be provided to the customer. The merchant shall maintain such original signed disclosure notices for at least 2 years and such signed notices shall be made available for review during normal business hours by the registrar or the registrar’s agents, agents of the attorney general and local and state police. The notice shall be substantially as follows:

___________________________________________________
Operation of Low-Speed Vehicle In Massachusetts

“Low-Speed Vehicle is a “Motor Vehicle:” This is a “low speed motor vehicle” and like any other motor vehicle under Massachusetts law, it is required to be registered, titled and insured before it can be operated on a public way. It must be inspected within 7 days of registration.
License/Permit Required: You must have a valid driver's license or learner's permit to operate this motor vehicle. The holder of a learner's permit or Junior Operator's license is subject to the restrictions applicable to his license/permit. This vehicle must display the distinctive slow moving vehicle emblem on the rear of the vehicle required by General Law Chapter 90, Section 7.
Maximum Operating Speed: You cannot legally operate this vehicle at a speed greater than 25 miles per hour.
Operation Prohibited on Limited Access or Express State Highways: You cannot legally operate this vehicle on or across limited access or express state highways and ways where signs specifically prohibiting low-speed vehicles have been posted.
No Operation Where Speed Limit Exceeds 30 Miles Per Hour: You cannot legally operate this vehicle on any portion of a public way if the speed limit on that portion of the public way is greater than 30 miles per hour. If the speed limit increases above 30 miles per hour on the portion of the public way immediately ahead, you must get off the public way, if it is safe to do so, after making the appropriate turn signal. If it is not safe to do so, you must move the vehicle as far as possible off of the road surface and wait until a police officer or other public safety officer can be summoned to direct the safe movement of the vehicle.
Crossing Public Ways with a Speed Limit Less than 30 Miles Per Hour: Unless otherwise prohibited, you may cross a public way at an intersection where the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit of less than 30 miles per hour, if it is safe to do so.
Crossing Public Ways with a Speed Limit Between 30 – 45 Miles Per Hour: You may cross a public way at an intersection where the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit of 30 miles an hour or more, up to 45 miles per hour, if the crossing begins and ends on a public way with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less and the intersection is controlled by traffic signals or stop signs.
No Crossing of Public Ways where Speed Limit Exceeds 45 Miles Per Hour or Sign Posted: You may not cross a public way in a low-speed vehicle if the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit higher than 45 miles per hour or where signs have been posted prohibiting crossing of the highway by low-speed vehicles.
Operator is Subject to All Traffic Laws: You are subject to all traffic laws and regulations of Massachusetts when operating this vehicle.
Use of Passenger Restraints Required: All occupants of this low speed motor vehicle must be secured by a properly adjusted safety belt (Chapter 90, Section 13A). Any child under the age of 8 shall be properly fastened and secured by a “child passenger restraint,” according to the instructions of the manufacturer, unless such passenger measures more than 57 inches in height. Unless required to be secured by a child passenger restraint, a passenger that is under the age of 13 shall wear a safety belt which is properly adjusted and fastened according to the manufacturer’s instructions (Chapter 90, Section 7AA, as amended).
Out-of State Operation: It may be illegal to operate this vehicle in other states so check with each state before you do.”

_________________________________

Every licensed motor vehicle dealer and every person engaged in the business of leasing or renting low-speed vehicles to the public who fails to provide a customer with the notice required by this section upon the sale, lease or rental of a low-speed vehicle, shall be fined $25 for each such occurrence.
Section 1H. In addition to the types of vehicles that may be registered under chapter 90, the registrar of motor vehicles may issue a registration for a motor vehicle meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for that particular class of vehicle, other than a low-speed motor vehicle, if the vehicle is designed by its manufacturer to be operated on public ways and its speed on a paved level surface can exceed 30 miles per hour but is not capable of exceeding 40 miles per hour, as may be determined by the registrar. The registrar may adopt reasonable rules and regulations concerning requirements for registration, equipment, inspections and insurance for such vehicles. Every person authorized and registered to operate such a vehicle upon a way shall not operate the vehicle in excess of 40 miles per hour and shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibit bicycles, mopeds or low-speed vehicles have been posted and shall not operate the vehicle on a portion of a way where the speed limit increases beyond 40 miles per hour. This shall not prohibit a vehicle described in this section from crossing a public way at an intersection where the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit between 40 and 55 miles per hour, provided the public way the vehicle is traveling on and the public way the vehicle is crossing the intersection to, both have a speed limit no higher than 40 miles per hour and the intersection is controlled by traffic signals or stop signs. Such limitations as to the vehicle’s limited use of public ways may be conspicuously printed on the registration certificate of the vehicle by the registrar. The registrar may issue a distinctive registration plate for such vehicle indicating its speed restrictions.
Section 1I. Notwithstanding the definition of “Motorcycle” in section 1, the registrar of motor vehicles may register a 3-wheeled motor vehicle as a motorcycle on which the operator and passenger ride within an enclosed cab, if the vehicle’s manufacturer has issued a certificate of origin indicating the vehicle meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a motorcycle and if the vehicle is designed by the manufacturer to be operated on public ways. If the registrar determines that the vehicle can attain a speed of at least 30 miles per hour but cannot exceed 40 miles per hour, he may restrict its use on public ways. If the vehicle was previously registered, the registrar may register the vehicle as a motorcycle if the owner provides documentation, satisfactory to the registrar, that the vehicle was previously registered in this or another state as a motorcycle. The registrar may adopt reasonable rules and regulations concerning requirements for registration, equipment, inspections and insurance. Every person authorized and registered to operate such a vehicle upon a way shall not operate the vehicle in excess of 40 miles per hour and shall have the right to use all public ways except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles, mopeds or low-speed vehicles have been posted and shall not operate the vehicle on a portion of a way where the speed limit increases beyond 40 miles per hour. This shall not prohibit a vehicle described in this section from crossing a public way at an intersection where the public way to be crossed has a posted speed limit between 40 and 55 miles per hour, provided the public way the low-speed vehicle is traveling on and the public way the low-speed vehicle is crossing the intersection to, both have a speed limit no higher than 40 miles per hour and the intersection is controlled by traffic signals or stop signs. Such limitations as to the use of public ways may be conspicuously printed on the registration certificate of the vehicle by the registrar. The registrar may issue a distinctive registration plate for such vehicle indicating its speed restrictions.

SECTION 4.
Said chapter 90 is hereby further amended by inserting after section 2F the following section:-
Section 2G. The registrar of motor vehicles shall issue passenger plates of suitable design for low-speed motor vehicles as defined in section 1. The fee for the registration of a low-speed motor vehicle shall be as set in clause 2 of section 33.

SECTION 5.
Section 7 of said chapter 90, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “machinery”, in line 208, the following words:- and every low-speed motor vehicle.

SECTION 6.
The first paragraph of section 7A of said chapter 90, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following 2 sentences:- The registrar shall establish rules and regulations to govern the annual safety and emissions inspections of low-speed motor vehicles which shall ensure that the safety standards established by 49 C.F.R. § 571.500 are being complied with, that all required equipment is in good working order, that the slow moving vehicle emblem is properly displayed and that the vehicle meets the required emissions standards, as applicable, under state law. The registrar may adopt additional standards pursuant to section 7 to ensure that other parts or components of the vehicle, as equipped, are in good working order and that the vehicle is safe to operate.

SECTION 7. This act shall take effect July 31, 2009.

Approved January 15, 2009


Error