Deadly crash triggers push for stricter truck driver rules
An initiative led by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker would raise state standards for commercial driver’s licenses above the minimum requirements of federal law.
The statehouse action follows a deadly crash in June that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire. The motorcyclists were struck by a truck driven by a Massachusetts CDL holder.
Connecticut officials reportedly alerted Massachusetts twice about a May 11 drunken driving arrest against Volodymyr Zhukovskyy of West Springfield, Mass. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles failed to suspend the 23-year-old’s license in the month leading up to the June 21 crash.
“My administration’s review has revealed a broader need to strengthen the Commonwealth’s laws regulating commercial driver’s licenses to ensure that only safe and qualified drivers are authorized to operate the largest vehicles on our roads,” Baker said in a letter to Massachusetts House and Senate lawmakers.
Among the provisions in legislation introduced by Gov. Baker is a requirement of applicants for a CDL to demonstrate “a history of good driving.” Applicants would also be ineligible for licensure if they have been suspended or disqualified from driving at any time in the past three years.
Additionally, suspension periods would be raised for CDL operators who commit multiple serious traffic violations. The minimum suspension period would be raised from 60 to 120 days for drivers who commit two serious traffic violations during a three-year period.
Drivers would also be required to provide next-day notification to employers and the Registry of Motor Vehicles if they are convicted of violating any state or local traffic law or if their right to operate a vehicle is revoked or suspended by any state.
Employers hiring commercial drivers would be required to sign up for the state’s driver verification system. The system is a free service that provides automatic notification to employers when an employee’s CDL status changes.
“This bill will enhance roadway safety by improving the tools the Commonwealth has to ensure that only qualified, responsible, and safe drivers are operating commercial motor vehicles on the roads,” Baker said in the letter. LL