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Large fines could result from failure to comply with Federal Regulations adopted by the MA DOT

We’ve heard that a number of Massachusetts-only businesses have been stopped and ticketed for non-compliance with regulations promulgated by the Mass. Department of Transportation (MA DOT) regarding commercial vehicles. Fines for non-compliance can be HUGE.

As your insurance provider, we CAN’T advise you regarding what specific regulations may or may not apply to you and your business, but we can keep you and our other customers with business policies informed so that you might investigate further. We highly recommend that you seek advice from an expert on these compliance issues, either through a trade group to which you belong or a consultant on these issues. There are two consultants in Massachusetts:

Fleet Safety Services, Inc.
12 Harvard Street
Worcester, MA 01609
T 800-215-2490  F 508-831-7611                  

The Transportation Advisor, Inc.
P.O. Box 558
Palmer, MA 01069
T 800-608-8890 F 413-284-0022

In essence, the Commonwealth has adopted the majority of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations as its own. Here is a description of what the MA DOT considers to be a “commercial vehicle:”

  1. A motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more used for the transportation of property, or
  2. A motor vehicle designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, or
  3. A motor vehicle used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding under the Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

The regulation goes on to say that it is the intent of the regulation that “commercial motor vehicle” under the state regulation shall have the same meaning as the federal regulation.

The specific portions of the federal regulations adopted by the MA DOT are:

  • Part 382—Controlled Substances and Alcohol Use and Testing
  • Part 390—General Applicability and Definitions/General Requirements and Information
  • Part 391—Driver Qualification
  • Part 392—Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles
  • Part 393—Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation
  • Part 395—Hours of Service of Drivers
  • Part 396—Inspection Repair, and Maintenance
  • Part 397 Transportation of Hazardous Materials; Driving/Parking Rules

As a result, businesses operating only in Massachusetts that never before had to comply with the federal regulations will now need to comply with virtually all of the federal regulations except the requirement for DOT numbers.

As an example, a contractor with a Ford F-350 (one-ton) pickup truck with a GVWR of 12,500 pounds and an E-350 cargo van with a GVWR of 11,000 pounds operating ONLY in Massachusetts will now be subject to many of the federal regulations including:

  • Vehicle Markings: The legal name of the business or, if a dba, the registered owner of the vehicle must be appear on both sides of the self-propelled CMV; be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed; be readily legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet (15.24 meters) while the CMV is stationary; and be kept and maintained in a manner that retains the legibility required by paragraph (c)(3) of this section.
  • Special Safety Equipment: All commercial motor vehicles operating exclusively in Massachusetts will be subject to the MA Commercial Vehicle Inspection, which is the equivalent of the Federal Motor Carrier inspection. A copy of the inspection report must be in the vehicle.
  • Medical Certificate & Valid Driver’s License: Required to be carried by the driver.
  • Hours of Service Regulation: Applies to all inter– and intra-state commercial motor vehicles.

For intrastate motor vehicles over 26,000 pounds GVWR, there would be added requirements including the need for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), pre-employment, post-accident and scientifically-based random substance and alcohol testing.

The Massachusetts Association of Independent Insurance Agents put together a chart of what provisions apply to interstate commercial motor vehicles. The provisions on the chart, with the exception of the DOT Registration requirements, also apply to intrastate vehicles. To access the chart, click here

Source: Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents

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