TAM Testimony – In support of S.1759 & H.2517, relative to the taxation of rolling stock

On May 7, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of Senate Bill 1759 and House Bill 2517, relative to the taxation of rolling stock. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable Mark Cusack, House Chairman
Honorable Adam Hinds, Senate Chairman
Joint Committee on Revenue
State House Room 34
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Hinds, Chairman Cusack and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 member companies of the Transportation Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing to urge your strong support for Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517, relative to the taxation of rolling stock. This legislation, which received a favorable from this Committee last session, will create an exemption from the Massachusetts sales and use tax as applied to rolling stock.  The legislation will also encourage trucking companies, which provide numerous jobs with competitive salaries, to remain in the Commonwealth while upgrading their fleets to cleaner and safer trucks. Accordingly, I respectfully urge you to issue a favorable report to Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517.

As you know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, we represent a wide variety of companies ranging from small, family owned trucking companies with a single truck to large national trucking companies with thousands of trucks.  The trucking industry within the Commonwealth is responsible for transporting 87%-93% of all goods and products found in our homes and workplaces.  In addition to being a key facilitator for the growth of other industries, the trucking industry is a significant creator of jobs within the Commonwealth.  As a recent study by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research & Policy at Northeastern University stated “[t]he overall trucking industry (including private and for-hire tucking) represent about one in 12 jobs or about 300,000 jobs in Massachusetts in 2017. And, trucking companies meet all Massachusetts freight movement needs.” (“The Importance of the Trucking Industry to the Massachusetts Economy”, Pritchard, R. & Scott, A., p.3 (May 2018)).

The commercial trucking industry within the Commonwealth has seen the as decline as many trucking companies have moved to other states.  Part of the reason that trucking companies have left the state is due to the Commonwealth’s tax policies.  In particular, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has begun collecting sales and use tax for rolling stock purchased in other states which have an exemption in place for rolling stock. As a result, any company with a substantial nexus with the Commonwealth is being charged sales and use tax by the Commonwealth even though the rolling stock was purchased in other states.  Accordingly, various truck companies, who may be domiciled in Massachusetts or have repair facilities in Massachusetts, are now seeking to locate them outside of the state to reduce the substantial nexus necessary to collect such tax.

Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517 seeks to bring Massachusetts in line with a majority of other states (37) within which an exemption from sales and use tax for rolling stock already exists.  As drafted, this legislation amends Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64H (i.e. sales tax) and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64I (i.e. use tax) to specifically exempt rolling stock from the sales and use tax.  “Rolling stock” is defined as “trucks, tractors, and trailers, used to transport goods in interstate commerce”.  The legislation does not allow a motor carrier to avoid paying the multitude of fees otherwise required under federal, state and local law.  According to a study conducted by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research & Policy, the elimination of the sales and use tax on rolling stock will, following national trends, create “2,768 more employees and 2,076 more power units … operating and generating an additional $15.9 million in tax revenue per year; while not estimable, … the impact on private fleets may be just as large.” (“The Importance of the Trucking Industry to the Massachusetts Economy”, Pritchard, R. & Scott, A., p.14 (May 2018)).

The need for this change to the law cannot be overstated.  First, Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517 will create a more attractive environment for trucking companies to remain in the Commonwealth. Trucking companies rely on constantly maintaining and upgrading their equipment.  This means purchasing new rolling stock on a regular basis.  On the other hand, if they know that their out-of-state purchases will incur an in-state tax, the companies will work to reduce their nexus to the taxing state. As it stands, Massachusetts trucking companies are put at a competitive disadvantage when competing against carriers located in the neighboring states.

Second, by keeping trucking companies in the Commonwealth, the good jobs and competitive salaries that these companies offer will remain within the state.  According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts has the fourth highest annual mean wage for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers within the country.  (See http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm).  If more trucking companies find Massachusetts tax policy less favorable than neighboring states, it is likely the decrease in Massachusetts trucking companies will become even more significant.

Third, if the Commonwealth discourages trucking companies from domiciling in the state, transportation expenses will rise — further impacting the high cost of living already experienced in the Commonwealth.  The costs associated with transporting goods are fairly straightforward.  (See http://www.atri-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ATRI-Operational-Costs-of-Trucking-2014-FINAL.pdf).  If the Commonwealth’s tax policies cause trucking companies to domicile elsewhere, the additional fuel, tolls and vehicle maintenance, among other costs, will be borne by Massachusetts residents and businesses that already rely on the industry for 87% of their goods.

Fourth, the passage of Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517 will encourage the purchase of new equipment with the latest technology available.  This is turn will support increased public safety and create additional environmental benefits.  In terms of public safety, new trucks include lane-departure, crash collision and speed regulator technology that improves road safety.  In terms of environmental benefits, newer trucks have more efficient engines and exhaust systems. This leads to greater fuel efficiency and reduces emissions of NOx and particulate matter to further support the Commonwealth’s fuel efficiency and clean air efforts.

This legislation is a matter of common sense.  If a company does not purchase a product within State (A), it is not fair for State (A) to tax the company for purchasing a product in State (B).  The purpose of taxes and fees is to support the mechanisms that help the taxpayer.  (i.e. road and bridges, police, fire, etc.).  In the case of the trucking industry, gas taxes, tolls, vehicle registrations and other license fees and taxes cover the expense of the trucking industry.  Collecting sales and use tax on rolling stock purchased in other jurisdictions creates a disincentive for companies to expand in the Commonwealth or bring new equipment to this state.  Given that neighboring states such as New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont (partial) exempt rolling stock from sales and use tax, Massachusetts’ current tax policy will simply lead to higher costs for Massachusetts residents and businesses while driving economic opportunity to neighboring states.

On behalf of the thousands of men and women in Massachusetts who rely on the good jobs and competitive salaries these Massachusetts companies provide, I respectfully urge you to adopt Senate Bill 1759 / House Bill 2517, relative to the taxation of rolling stock. I appreciate your consideration of this important matter.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

TAM Testimony – In support of H.1205, training of tomorrow’s truck drivers

On June 11, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support for House Bill 1205, relative to the training of tomorrow’s truck drivers. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable Jeffrey Roy, House Chairman
Honorable Anne Gobi, Senate Chairwoman
Joint Committee on Higher Education
State House, Room 472
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Roy, Chairwoman Gobi and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 member companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing to urge your strong support for House Bill 1205, relative to the training of tomorrow’s truck drivers. This bipartisan initiative, which creates a Truck Driver Training Fund, will encourage the training of students and transitioning career professionals to meet the growing workforce needs of the trucking industry. Accordingly, I respectfully urge you to report this legislation favorably from the Committee.

In Massachusetts, the trucking industry is a key driver of economic growth: it accounts for about 1 out every of 12 jobs in the Commonwealth, or approximately 300,000 jobs in total as of 2017. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers make upwards of $50,000 per year. These jobs don’t require a college degree, unlike many jobs in today’s market, making trucking an attractive profession for those looking to earn a steady income without first spending a lot of their own money and time to attend four or more years of school.

But despite the potential that truck driving offers, the industry is facing a driver shortage. According to the American Trucking Association, the industry will need to hire almost 900,000 new drivers nationally over the coming decade, with most of the demand resulting from retiring drivers and industry growth. At the same time, interest in the profession is waning, making it difficult for the industry to fill these vital positions. By 2026, the ATA forecasts that the industry could be facing a shortage of almost 175,000 drivers. When you consider that 93% of all goods transported into and within the Commonwealth are carried on a truck, it becomes clear that the driver shortage is a problem not just for the trucking industry, but the Commonwealth as a whole. Indeed, the driver shortage could cost Massachusetts to miss out on significant tax revenues: a study by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research and Policy at Northeastern University recently estimated that each local trucking employee generates about $3,396 per year in state and local payroll, income and property taxes.

House Bill 1205, an Act Relative to Training Tomorrow’s Truck Drivers, would create a mechanism for a wide variety of organizations and employers to train and hire truck drivers to fill the Commonwealth’s driver shortage. By establishing a Truck Driver Training Fund, the bill would provide a source of funding by which employers and employer associations, local workforce investment boards, institutions of higher education, vocational schools, and other organizations could finance programs, according to guidelines set by the Board of Higher Education, to support both the training of new student drivers and the retention and upgrading of existing trucking jobs.

In order to finance the Truck Driver Training Fund, the bill would create a $5 surcharge on all applications for licensure or renewal of a commercial driver’s license. This mechanism would ensure that the Training Fund would place no financial burden on most residents of the Commonwealth, and would distribute the cost evenly across the trucking industry. Organizations across the Commonwealth could then apply for grants, financed by the Truck Driver Training Fund, to operate training programs. This funding will be crucial in order to attract new drivers to fill the Commonwealth’s driver shortage, providing good careers to thousands of drivers in the process.

I appreciate your consideration of House Bill 1205, An Act Relative to Training Tomorrow’s Truck Drivers and I respectfully request that the Committee release the bill with a favorable report. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. I look forward to working with the legislature on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

TAM Testimony – Use of Alternative Fuel Heavy Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles

On June 1, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 2388, An Act Relative to Encourage the Use of Alternative Fuel Heavy Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable Mark Cusack, House Chairman
Honorable Adam Hinds, Senate Chairman
Joint Committee on Revenue
State House, Room 34
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Cusack, Chairman Hinds, and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 member companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (TAM), I am writing in strong support of House Bill 2388, An Act Relative to Encourage the Use of Alternative Fuel Heavy Duty and Medium Duty Vehicles. The enactment of this legislation would incentivize the transportation industry of Massachusetts to continue its long term emissions reduction through the use of green technologies in its day-to-day operations.

As you may know, this legislation seeks to provide tax credits under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 62, § 6 for the purchase of medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles that use alternative fuels, by Massachusetts Companies. “Alternative fuel” is defined in the proposed legislation as electricity, liquid petroleum gas, natural gas, or hydrogen fuels. These credits are applicable up to $250,000 per fiscal year per company with a tax credit of $20,000 for the purchase of heavy duty vehicles, and $12,000 for the purchase of medium duty vehicles. According to the United States Dept. of Energy, numerous states already offer these types of incentives. (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/)

The incentive structures of this bill will produce significant returns for both the industry and the Commonwealth. By providing a $20,000 tax credit for the purchase of an alternative fuel heavy-duty vehicle, and a credit of $12,000 for the purchase of an alternative fuel medium-duty vehicle, these vehicles will be purchased more frequently by Massachusetts companies. This will result in a more modern transportation fleet, continuing to make the State’s transportation sector more environmentally friendly and as fuel efficient as possible.

As alternative fuel vehicles replace existing vehicles, a further reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions will occur due to the increased number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road. While the current use of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) and 2010 EPA compliant engines have reduced emissions in vehicles significantly, this legislation will ensure that the progress we have seen over the last decade in emissions reduction continues in a positive direction. As well as reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the adoption of these technologies will result in the reduction of fuel consumption as well. Through the use of these fuel sources, companies can reduce operating costs and overall shipping costs, bringing increased profit to Massachusetts companies while reducing costs to those who rely on these companies’ services.

There exists ancillary benefits from this legislation as well. By making it more affordable to purchase vehicles that utilize alternative fuels, there will be an increased demand for vehicles and fuels of these types.

As a result of this increased demand, Massachusetts providers of alternative fuels and such vehicles will see an increase in revenue. These are industries that are necessary for the continuation of green energy initiatives in the Commonwealth, thereby allowing the State to organically promote business for these companies in the future. Further, the existing infrastructure to provide fuel for these types of alternative fuel vehicles is new and growing. The passage of this legislation would bring added industry interest to this type of infrastructure development, while this is by no means the only step necessary for the development of infrastructure of this nature, it lays the groundwork for future development.

Finally, by enacting this legislation, the Legislature will reaffirm its support for the transportation industry’s environmental initiatives. TAM, which has supported tough idling laws, auxiliary power unit weight exemptions and cogent transportation rules to reduce delays, views this legislation as an opportunity to continue this successful partnership. A partnership that has reduced overall emissions and increased the effectiveness of the Commonwealth’s transportation industry.

This legislation is a reasonable method of continuing the reduction of the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint while aiding state businesses and consumers. On behalf of the over 250 member companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, I appreciate your consideration of this important matter. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

TAM Testimony – Act Relative to Truck Inspections

On May 14, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 3178, An Act Relative to Truck Inspections. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable William Straus, House Chair
Honorable Joseph Boncore, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Transportation
State House, Room 134
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Straus, Chairman Boncore and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 trucking company members of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”), I am writing in strong support of House Bill 3178, An Act Relative to Truck Inspections.  This legislation will lead to increased public safety oversight of truck inspections without having an adverse effect on the shipping of goods throughout the Commonwealth.

As you may know, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is required under 49 CFR 350.201(c) to work closely with one designated state agency to oversee the roadside inspection of commercial motor vehicles and commercial carrier facilities.  The roadside inspection program consists of roadside inspections performed by qualified safety inspectors following the guidelines of the North American Standard, which was developed by FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (“CVSA”), an association of state, provincial, and federal officials responsible for the administration and enforcement of motor carrier safety laws.  Accordingly, the Commonwealth designated the Massachusetts State Police (“MSP”) to work with the FMCSA. The MSP enforcement personnel are properly trained, certified and continually educated in commercial truck inspections and terminal reviews by FMCSA.

Under the current system, any municipality can ask the MSP to train their officers to conduct federally regulated roadside commercial carrier inspections. Once the MSP trains these municipal officers, however, it loses all ability to provide accountability and oversight in ensuring that inspections are actually conducted in compliance with federal regulations.  Put simply, municipal truck teams do not receive the extensive training the MSP Truck Team receives nor do they have the MSP’s commercial motor vehicle experience. Already in a number of municipalities, commercial motor vehicle operators have been improperly cited for alleged infractions that simply were not violations. (i.e. citation for having the wrong hazmat placard when, in fact, drivers have the correct ones; citation for existence of wet valves despite a requirement of federal regulations; etc.)

As a result, House Bill 3178 would formally establish a mechanism for the oversight and inspection of roadside commercial carrier inspections. In doing so, this legislation seeks to ensure that only appropriate and trained individuals conduct routine commercial carrier inspections.  Patterned after the model language created by the CVSA, this legislation gives the MSP specific authority to establish regulations and procedures for the certification of municipal police officers.

Specifically, this legislation requires the MSP to promulgate regulations relative to:

  • the delineation of roles and responsibilities within a local police department as it relates to coordinating efforts with the MSP;
  • the commercial motor safety data collection, management and distribution;
  • the fine and sanction structure for violations of commercial motor vehicle laws and regulations;
  • the collection and deposit of said fines;
  • the periodic review and submission of a commercial vehicle safety to ensure consistency with the statewide enforcement plan;

While the proposed legislation would provide that the MSP can decertify any municipal law enforcement official for violating the eventual regulations, the legislation expressly prohibits the MSP from unreasonably refusing to retrain any decertified official or department upon request.

It is important to note that this legislation does not mean that uncertified municipal law enforcement personnel will not be able to stop commercial motor vehicles.  By including the legal protections associated with “probable cause”, uncertified local law enforcement will still be able to stop trucks that present a danger to the local community.  Accordingly, an officer who has formed the basis for “probable cause” will not be prohibited from making a random stop and inspection.   No judicial officer will “throw out” a citation or stop on the basis that a local police officer stopped and cited a commercial motor vehicle because it leaked fuel; operated without working lights or potentially presented some other public safety hazard.

This legislation will do more than improve the enforcement of commercial motor vehicle.  It will create a cogent system of enforcement that recognizes a uniform cause – protecting the general public while recognizing the importance and necessity of commercial transportation.  As reported by the Federal Highway Administration, 87% of all manufactured goods in Massachusetts were transported by truck.  In 2013, the trucking industry in Massachusetts provided 120,340 jobs, or 4% of the state’s overall employment. Total trucking industry wages paid in Massachusetts in 2013 exceeded $6 billion, with an average annual trucking industry salary of $49,879.  A disjointed and inconsistent enforcement system will not only threaten the affect the Commonwealth’s residents’ ability to receive affordable and available goods, but it will affect the livelihood of the many individuals working in the trucking industry.

With this in mind, HB 3178 will create one unified mechanism for the oversight and accountability of roadside truck inspections.  The MSP Truck Team receives federal training and has extensive, specialized experience in the enforcement of the laws and regulations governing the operation of commercial motor vehicles.  The MSP is the law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth that has the appropriate training, experience and, most importantly, an ongoing relationship with federal transportation agencies necessary to coordinate roadside commercial vehicle inspections.  By coordinating its efforts with the MSP Truck Team, local municipalities will still be able to insure that commercial motor vehicles are operating in accordance with federal laws and regulations.  HB 3178, modeled after draft legislation from national and international experts in commercial carrier enforcement, is a sensible and responsible step in the Commonwealth’s best interests.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request that the Committee release HB 3178 with a favorable report.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

Support Testimony: Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle

On May 14, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in support of House Bill 3145, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable William Straus, House Chair
Honorable Joseph Boncore, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Transportation
State House, Room 134
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Chairman Straus, Chairman Boncore and Members of the Committee:

On behalf of the over 250 trucking company members of the Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association (“MMTA”), I am writing in strong support of Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145, An Act Relative to Carriers of Property by Motor Vehicle. This bill seeks to allow for a single permit to be issued to an entire fleet of delivery vehicles for the transportation of alcohol.  This measure will reduce the cost of doing business within the Commonwealth, leading to reduced costs for consumers without sacrificing the licensing protections offered by this permitting process.

As you know, Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 138, §22 regulates the transportation of alcoholic beverages. Specifically, this section requires that every truck have an individual permit for the transportation of alcohol if it operates within the Commonwealth. This requirement creates significant administrative burdens and increased costs for doing business within the Commonwealth.  In turn, the current process creates a barrier to competition in the Commonwealth, and increased costs for consumers.  Accordingly, Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145 will alleviate these problems by allowing fleet owners to purchase a “fleet permit” for use by their entire fleet. The legislation still requires that every vehicle carry a certified copy of the permit.

Under the current system, trucking companies must choose between three undesirable and costly options. First, a trucking company may choose to purchase permits for every truck in its fleet, recognizing that it is not realistically predictable as to which of its vehicles will be transporting alcohol at any given time.  This option, which can be quite costly given the size of one’s fleet, requires extra administrative costs to ensure every truck has a certified copy of the permit and to ensure that every permit in every truck is the correct permit for that truck.[1]

Alternatively, a truck company fleet may choose to only permit a select few of their vehicles, requiring the company to ensure that shipments of alcohol are only handled by those MMTA –permitted vehicles.[2]

Finally, some trucking companies choose to simply not ship alcohol and forgo acquiring a permit altogether, limiting business opportunities to those companies that can afford the permitting costs. In every option, consumers suffer from the effects of increased shipping costs or reduced competition.

To address this situation, Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145will allow for the issuance of a single fleet permit that maintains accountability and transparency in the shipment of alcohol.   In doing so, the legislation will reduce the cost of shipping alcohol in the Commonwealth while allowing more businesses to be able to engage in the delivery of alcohol. The increased competition between transportation businesses will further lead to lower shipping costs for retailers and consumers. In no case does this legislation reduce public safety or accountability.  In addition to the numerous existing laws governing the heavily regulated trucking industry, law enforcement and the state’s alcohol control officers will still be able to see the “fleet permit” and hold transporters of alcohol accountable for compliance with the appropriate laws and regulations.  Simply put, this legislation will benefit trucking companies and residents and businesses within the Commonwealth – without undermining the purpose served by these permits.

I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and respectfully request that the committee release Senate Bill 2031 / House Bill 3145 with a favorable report.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director

[1] Consider the following example: An international shipping company, with the reasonable anticipation that of any of its trucks, at one point or another, may carry a load of alcohol into the Commonwealth, must permit slightly over 2,000 trucks.  In permitting each truck, the company will spend over $100,000 in permit fees.

[2] Under this scenario, reduced efficiency actually leads to higher costs as, logistically, the trucks must then be prioritized for alcohol shipments, whereby they are considered less efficient due to an inability to release said trucks for other shipments at any time.

TAM Testimony – In opposition to Senate Bill 2204, Amendment 3, An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

On April 24, Kevin Weeks, the executive director of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts, submitted written testimony in opposition to Amendment #3 to Senate Bill 2204, An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities. The testimony is provided below, and a PDF is available for download.

For additional information, contact the Trucking Association of Massachusetts.

Honorable Karen Spilka, Senate President
Office of the Senate President
State House, Room 332
Boston, Massachusetts 02133

Dear Senate President Spilka,

On behalf of the over 250 trucking companies of the Trucking Association of Massachusetts (“TAM”) and the thousands of trucking company employees who transport goods throughout the Commonwealth, I am writing in opposition to Amendment #3 to Senate Bill 2204, An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities.  The inclusion of back-up cameras on certain types of trucks and trailers is not necessarily shown to improve safety, notwithstanding the unknown cost and practical difficulties of implementing this technology on entire truck fleets that may be contracted with the Commonwealth.

As you know, TAM has been the voice of the trucking industry in Massachusetts since 1919. One of the oldest transportation associations within the Commonwealth, we represent a wide variety of companies ranging from small, family owned trucking companies with a single truck to large national trucking companies with thousands of trucks.  The trucking industry within the Commonwealth is responsible for transporting 87%-93% of all goods and products found in our homes and workplaces.  In addition to being a key facilitator for the growth of other industries, the trucking industry is a significant creator of jobs within the Commonwealth.  As a recent study by the Dukakis Center for Urban Research & Policy at Northeastern University stated “[t]he overall trucking industry (including private and for-hire tucking) represent about one in 12 jobs or about 300,000 jobs in Massachusetts in 2017. And, trucking companies meet all Massachusetts freight movement needs.” (“The Importance of the Trucking Industry to the Massachusetts Economy”, Pritchard, R. & Scott, A., (May 2018)).

TAM’s membership is focused on safety first and foremost.  Reducing traffic fatalities involves education and enforcement of the laws for all parties who share the road.  Amendment #3, while well-intentioned, will cause additional burden on the industry, without the demonstrated benefits of its implementation.  The creation of a back-up camera system was mandated on all vehicles under 10,000 lbs. by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  In doing so, NHTSA noted that a significant percentage of “back-up” injuries or fatalities were caused by vehicles of all types under the 10,000 lb. threshold.  NHTSA nor Congress specifically sought to regulate vehicles over 10,000 lbs. at this time for a wide variety of reasons – whether based on cost, practical considerations or necessity.  The proposed mechanisms already included in Senate Bill 2204 provide additional means for protecting the vulnerable road users.  The additional requirement for back-up cameras, at this time, will not necessarily make the operation of vehicles over 10,000 lbs. safer.  Accordingly, I respectfully request that Amendment #3 not be adopted.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,

Kevin Weeks
Executive Director