There’s a particular rule of the road in Massachusetts you may not be aware of unless you’ve recently taken a peek at the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ driving manual, and you’ve probably broken it far too often.

In Chapter 4, entitled “Rules of the Road,” is a statement in a gray box, meant to stand out from the rest of the rules:

“If you drive 40 mph in a heavy rainstorm on a highway with a speed limit of 50 mph, you can get a ticket for driving too fast,” it reads.

If you extrapolate that out to a highway where it’s 65 mph, that means you should be driving 55 mph in heavy rain.

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Now, we’ve all seen vehicles fly by us on the highway during a downpour and wondered why they’d risk driving so fast in the rain like that – but I think most of us are probably traveling at or close to the speed limit in those moments.

Personally, I tend to drive much slower with heavy rain or heavy snow falling; I’ll even pull over if the visibility becomes an issue. Sadly, not everyone uses the same amount of caution (although I’ll admit I may be overly cautious sometimes).

According to the driver’s manual, the posted speed limit is one thing, but you must also base your speed on traffic conditions, road conditions, weather conditions and visibility.

“You must never travel so fast that it is not safe. That is the fundamental speed law,” the manual reads. “You must lower your speed if there are poor driving conditions or hazards. It does not matter if the posted speed limit is higher.”

Also of note: in 2015, a new law went into effect in Massachusetts that if you have your wipers on, your headlights must be on as well. Many drivers still haven’t gotten into this habit.

Hopefully this knowledge will keep you from getting a ticket during the next big rainstorm, and will help keep you and others on the road safe at the same time.

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