We have found a fairly new regulation endorsed by the Massachusetts DOT (Department of Transportation) regarding commercial vehicles. 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.

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 (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), there would be added requirements including the need for a  CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), pre-employment, post-accident and scientifically-based random substance and alcohol testing.
These changes and issues are out of our area of expertise and the best advice we can provide to our clients is to seek the advice from an expert on these compliance issues, either through a trade group they belong to or a consultant on these issues.

There are two consultants in Massachusetts:

Fleet Safety Services, Inc.                                                 The Transportation Advisor, Inc.
12 Harvard Street                                                                P.O. Box 558
Worcester, MA 01609                                                        Palmer, MA 01069
Phone: 800-215-2490                                                        Phone: 800-608-8890
Fax: 508-831-7611                                                               Fax: 413-284-0022

We highly recommend that if you own a business or have commercial plates that you should contact one of the above compliance specialists to find out if you or your business is affected by these changes.