legislation testimony

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

legislation testimony

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.

legislation testimony

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