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New Massachusetts Commercial Auto Marking Rules

Understand the Massachusetts State Marking Regulations for Your Commercial Vehicles Before You Get Pulled Over

More and more reports keep coming into our office that commercial auto drivers are being pulled over by Massachusetts state police for not registering their commercial vehicle with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Unfortunately, these drivers do not seem to be aware of the Massachusetts State Marking Regulations that require both putting a DOT number and the company’s name on many types of commercial vehicles.

The Gilbert team has pulled together some valuable information about these relatively new requirements, which were announced last summer, took effect on September 1, 2018, and are clearly now being readily enforced.

Gilbert Insurance Q & A on Massachusetts State Markings Regulations for Commercial Vehicles

Do I need a USDOT number?

Every motor vehicle engaged in intrastate commerce – meaning you perform trade, traffic or transportation exclusively in the state of Massachusetts – and having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, must be permanently marked with a USDOT number. To find out for certain if you have vehicles that are subject to this requirement, go to the FMCSA website and use their step-by-step interactive tool that will help you determine if you need to get a USDOT number.

What is the process for getting a USDOT number?

You can get a USDOT number by going to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. There is no cost to getting a USDOT number.

Are there additional state markings requirements that I should know about?

Yes, beyond the USDOT number requirement, commercial vehicles must also clearly display the legal name of the business. Or, if the company is a DBA, then the name of the registered owner of the vehicle must be visible. There are strict guidelines for how this information should be displayed, including that the company name and USDOT number must be:

  • Plainly visible from each side of the truck or from the front and rear of the vehicle
  • On the truck body, not on window glass
  • In permanent letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed
  • Readily legible during daylight hours from a distance of 50 feet while the vehicle is stationary

It’s also critical that you continue to maintain the legibility of these markings over time.

What types of vehicles are affected?

If you use heavy duty pickup trucks, panel trucks, walk-in vans, big box trucks, cargo vans, large utility vehicles, bucket trucks, or any other type of large commercial vehicle, for business purposes, then you are most likely subject to this new regulation and will need to display your company’s USDOT number and legal name on every single one of your commercial vehicles.

Other vehicles that are subject to this USDOT number requirement include motor vehicles used to transport:

  • Hazardous materials in a quantity requiring containers, tanks or drums
  • More than 15 passengers, including the driver, and are used in intrastate commerce, such as large vans or buses used by private transportation companies
Are there any consequences if my commercial vehicles are not in compliance with these regulations?

Any driver pulled over in a vehicle that is found to be subject to these requirements, but not yet meeting them, may face heavy fines and/or vehicle confiscation.

What are the reasons behind these Massachusetts State Marking regulations?

Massachusetts state authorities wanted to bring more transparency to business activities and improve the safety of our roadways. Specifically, both law enforcement officials and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation anticipate that these tougher requirements will help them:

  • Improve the current commercial vehicle tracking system
  • Increase visibility of vehicles used for business purposes
  • Quickly access information about the parties involved at the scene of an accident or any other traffic violation
  • Simplify the lookup process for a company’s safety rating data, which includes prior inspection violations, crash counts, and audit and compliance reviews
  • Improve overall safety performance of commercial motor vehicles
  • Reduce commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries
  • Remove high-risk commercial motor vehicle drives from our highways

These regulations are also based on current federal DOT regulations for interstate commercial vehicles. In other words, motor vehicles traveling across state lines to conduct business were previously required to display this same information.

Now, with these changes to Massachusetts intrastate marking requirements, our state will be aligned with the already established federal interstate marking requirements. In addition, a majority of other states across the U.S. have adopted these same requirements, including our neighbors, Maine, New York, and New Jersey.

What if I still need help determining if and how these Massachusetts State Marking Requirements may affect my business and my commercial vehicle(s)?

For further assistance and helpful and knowledgeable counsel on this issue, we highly recommend that you contact either one of these Massachusetts transportation compliance experts:

Or, call the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) directly at (800) 832-5660.

How will Gilbert Insurance continue to serve you?

Your Gilbert team is here to provide you with much more than insurance advice. As your local commercial insurance professional, Gilbert will continue to make every effort to stay on top of any rule changes, like these Massachusetts State Markings Requirements, that might impact you, your business, your vehicles, your employees and more. And we want to do everything we can to help you avoid any of the consequences of non-compliance. For the most up-to-date information on business trends and topics that could affect your company, please regularly check our blog posts and our facebook page. You can also call us anytime at (781) 942-2225 with questions about commercial auto insurance, to request a complimentary review of your current policies, or for help making an informed decision about protecting all aspects of your business.