Massachusetts governor pursues tougher truck driver rules

July 23, 2019

Keith Goble

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The Massachusetts governor has introduced legislation to raise state standards for commercial driver’s licenses above the minimum requirements of federal law.

The legislation introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker 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.

Baker said that while the Registry of Motor Vehicles failed to act prior to that last month’s incident, more can be done to prevent other incidents.

“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 the bill 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. The minimum suspension period would be raised from 120 to 240 days for drivers who commit three serious violations during the same time 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 stated.

The bill, H3980, has been sent to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.

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