Hands-free mobile device law takes effect Feb. 23

Effective Feb. 23, Massachusetts law will prohibit operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device, including mobile phones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode. You can download a short overview to print here.

Drivers who are 18 and over

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
  • Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
  • Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
  • Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.
  • Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
  • Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Drivers who are under 18

  • Are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.

For more information, please visit the Mass.gov website.

ATG to open full-service dealership in Raynham

Trucking Association of Massachusetts member Advantage Truck Group (ATG) will expand and open a new full-service dealership positioned to service Boston through southeast Massachusetts. The 32,000 square-foot facility will be opened in Raynham. The full press release is included below.

Advantage Truck Group Continues to Expand Customer Support Network in Southeastern Massachusetts with Opening of New Full-Service Dealership in Raynham

Shrewsbury, MA (February 2020) —Advantage Truck Group (ATG), the largest Daimler Trucks North America dealer network in New England, announces its plans to open a new full-service dealership in Raynham, Massachusetts to ensure the highest level of service for its customers southeast of Boston and throughout Cape Cod and the Islands, Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to support its continued growth throughout the region. Groundbreaking for the 32,000-square-foot building will take place later this month and is expected to be completed in early 2021.

The Raynham facility will expand support for ATG’s customers in a region where demand is growing for access to high quality local service. The new location reflects ATG’s dedication to providing a superior customer support experience across central New England, and will become the seventh location in its network of dealers that specialize in sales, service and support of Western Star and Freightliner branded vehicles, adding to locations in Shrewsbury and Westfield Massachusetts, Lancaster, Manchester and Seabrook, New Hampshire, and Westminster, Vermont.

“Our new facility underscores our commitment to providing every customer with the premium service experience they expect from ATG and every employee with an exceptional workplace experience,” said Kevin Holmes, President and CEO of ATG. “In addition to bringing ATG closer to our existing customers, which includes those in the construction and other vocational industries as well as state and municipal agencies, our presence in Raynham creates an opportunity for us to expand the services we offer to meet the need in this region.”

The 32,000-square-foot facility will sit on over 7 acres and is being built with a focus on creating an exceptional service experience for customers and enhanced work environment for employees. Its expansive 18,000-square-foot service area will include 18 service bays, with two bays dedicated to express service. Service areas and bays will be climate controlled, featuring air conditioning and in-floor radiant heat. The location will be a certified warranty center for Freightliner and Western Star trucks, with full maintenance and repair services offered for all brands of heavy-duty commercial and vocational trucks. ATG’s new facility will offer a multi-million-dollar parts inventory, a retail parts showroom with counter service area, plus daily parts deliveries to customers. Support services will include on-call access for breakdown assistance and programs that bring factory-authorized technicians to customer sites to perform maintenance and warrantied repair work. The Raynham location will carry an inventory of new Freightliner and Western Star trucks and will be the only facility in Southeastern Massachusetts authorized for Freightliner and Western Star trucks sales, service and parts.

“We are thrilled to offer a convenient, expansive and modern facility that responds to the demand from Western Star and Freightliner customers in the region for access to high quality local service, support and technical expertise,” said Kevin McDevitt, Advantage Truck Group co-founder. “ATG’s Raynham location is an area that sees a significant amount of truck traffic and its easy access to all of the major highways allows us to support heavy-duty truck customers traveling across central New England.”

ATG’s new facility, located in the Raynham Woods Industrial Park at 501 Paramount Drive in Raynham, Massachusetts, offers customers convenient access to the major highways of Interstate 495, Route 24, Route 95, Route 3, Route 44 and Route 138 for service throughout Southeastern Massachusetts including the Southcoast, Rhode Island, as well as southeast of Boston along the Southshore and to Cape Cod and the Islands.

In addition to the growth of services and support offered to customers in the region, the ATG facility in Raynham will bring new jobs to the local community.

About Advantage Truck Group
Advantage Truck Group (ATG) is the largest Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) dealer network in New England, focused on providing a superior customer support and service experience. Headquartered in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the comprehensive sales and service network supports a wide range of commercial and municipal vehicle applications, fleets and owner-operators, and offers the largest on-highway truck parts network in New England. ATG has six locations, with dealers that specialize in both Western Star and Freightliner Trucks operating in Shrewsbury and Westfield Massachusetts and in Westminster, Vermont, and dealers focused on Western Star Trucks operating in Lancaster, Manchester and Seabrook, New Hampshire.

Contact Advantage Truck Group
(888) 874-9120

DOT clarifies CBD compliance for employees

The Department of Transportation (DOT), Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy released a compliance notice on Feb. 18. The letter is related to the definition of marijuana no longer including hemp. Hemp contains a concentration of up to 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The DOT has learned some “Cannabidiol” (CBD) products contain more than 0.3 percent THC, qualifying as a Schedule 1 drug.

Employers, drivers and safety-sensitive employees should be aware some CBD products will test positive as a Schedule 1 drug. The notice from the DOT is included below.

DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance Notice

The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-334, (Farm Bill) removed hemp from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.  Under the Farm Bill, hemp-derived products containing a concentration of up to 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are not controlled substances.  THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.  Any product, including “Cannabidiol” (CBD) products, with a concentration of more than 0.3% THC remains classified as marijuana, a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

We have had inquiries about whether the Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees can use CBD products.  Safety-sensitive employees who are subject to drug testing specified under 49 CFR part 40 (Part 40) include:  pilots, school bus drivers, truck drivers, train engineers, transit vehicle operators, aircraft maintenance personnel, fire-armed transit security personnel, ship captains, and pipeline emergency response personnel, among others.

It is important for all employers and safety-sensitive employees to know:

  1. The Department of Transportation requires testing for marijuana and not CBD.
  2. The labeling of many CBD products may be misleading because the products could contain higher levels of THC than what the product label states. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently certify the levels of THC in CBD products, so there is no Federal oversight to ensure that the labels are accurate. The FDA has cautioned the public that: “Consumers should beware purchasing and using any [CBD] products.”  The FDA has stated: “It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement.”*  Also, the FDA has issued several warning letters to companies because their products contained more CBD than indicated on the product label. **[i]
  3. The Department of Transportation’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Regulation, Part 40, does not authorize the use of Schedule I drugs, including marijuana, for any reason. Furthermore, CBD use is not a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory-confirmed marijuana positive result. Therefore, Medical Review Officers will verify a drug test confirmed at the appropriate cutoffs as positive, even if an employee claims they only used a CBD product.

It remains unacceptable for any safety-sensitive employee subject to the Department of Transportation’s drug testing regulations to use marijuana.  Since the use of CBD products could lead to a positive drug test result, Department of Transportation-regulated safety-sensitive employees should exercise caution when considering whether to use CBD products.

The contents of this document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. This policy and compliance notice is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied upon by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement action or other administrative penalty.  Conformity with this policy and compliance notice is voluntary only and nonconformity will not affect rights and obligations under existing statutes and regulations.  Safety-sensitive employees must continue to comply with the underlying regulatory requirements for drug testing, specified at 49 CFR part 40.

[i]* What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD. The FDA is working to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD.”

** Warning letters and test results for CBD-related products

Massachusetts gas tax calculator

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has created an interactive gas tax calculator. You can find it online right here, and if you’re using a mobile device, you can click here.

From the Chamber…

How would a gas tax impact you? This interactive gas tax calculator is designed to help you calculate what a gas tax increase might mean for your monthly gas costs. A modest increase per driver could mean a major decrease in your commute times.

Regency Transportation acquires S&M Transport

Regency Transportation, Inc. of Franklin Mass. has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of S&M Transport, Edison, N.J.

S&M was founded 25 years ago by its owner Robert Stacer; it is a truck load carrier with 23 local drivers covering much of the same network that Regency does.

Regency stated, “This is a great opportunity for us as we’ve been trying to grow our footprint in New Jersey for some time.” Beyond its driver pool, S&M has a small but excellent office staff, all of whom are expected to remain with Regency including Bob Stacer who will stay on in his leadership role during the transition period.

The integration of S&M into Regency’s operating procedures is expected to be quite complex. For that reason, the S&M team will continue to have day-to day autonomy over their driver pool for the short-term. Over the next few months Regency will evaluate the best way to transition resources, systems and best-practices. 

MassDOT Congestion in the Commonwealth study

From Mass.gov.

In the summer of 2018, Governor Baker signed HB4833, which included language that directed MassDOT to conduct a study of vehicular congestion on Massachusetts roadways. Specifically, the mandate calls for MassDOT to “design and execute a study that provides a detailed analysis of practical pathways by which the Commonwealth could reduce motor vehicle congestion and make appropriate recommendations for further study or pilot programs, if warranted.” This report was released on August 8, 2019.

The analysis takes a layered and mixed-methods approach to identify and investigate where, when, and why congestion occurs in Massachusetts. This study relies on several different sources of information to be as thorough as possible and to reflect all of the different ways to understand and describe congestion and its sources.

The full study is available for download here.

Key Findings

To some extent the data and analysis presented in this report confirm what Massachusetts drivers already know: that congestion exists in pockets all across the Commonwealth, but is generally worst on the roadways in and around Greater Boston. As presented in Chapter 4 of this report, the report’s key findings are:

  1. Congestion is bad because the economy is good.
  2. The worst congestion in the Commonwealth occurs in Greater Boston.
  3. Congestion can and does occur at various times and locations throughout the Commonwealth.
  4. Many roadways are now congested outside of peak periods.
  5. Congestion worsened between 2013 and 2018.
  6. Changes in travel time on an average day do not capture the severity of the problem.
  7. Massachusetts has reached a tipping point with respect to congestion.
  8. Many commuting corridors have become unreliable, with lengthy trips on bad days.
  9. Congestion has worsened to the point where it reduces access to jobs.
  10. We should be worried about congestion on local roads, too.

MassDOT highway exit renumbering plan

While you have likely read about this initiative in the general media, We wanted to provide a link to MassDOT’s Exit Numbering Project website detailing its efforts to renumber the various federal highway exits.

In particular, MassDOT is converting all exit numbers on freeways to a milepost-based numbering system, per Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirement.

The Federal Highway Administration’s 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices mandated that all states establish a mile-based exit numbering system. The conversion to a mile-based exit numbering system will be implemented on a route-by-route basis, starting in Western Massachusetts and moving eastward, and is scheduled to be completed in spring 2021.

For individual routes, exit numbering conversion will take place east to west or north to south. During a transition period for motorists, “Old Exit” signs will be installed at each converted exit for a minimum of two years.

Installation of mile-based exit signs will begin in late summer, 2020. Signs will be installed during off-peak hours, with minimal traffic impact expected. Currently, interstates and freeways in Massachusetts utilize a sequential exit numbering method.

As reported, MassDOT has committed to the implementation of mile-based with construction scheduled to begin late in the Summer of 2020.

Interactive Map – New Exit Numbers

Program Video

Research on autonomous truck testing

From the American Transportation Research Institute.

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released new research that identifies both the positive and negative impacts associated with numerous government policies, programs and regulations that target autonomous truck development and testing. ATRI’s study proposes a framework by which autonomous truck standards could be developed.

This study was identified as the top research priority for the industry by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee in 2018.

You can download the report on the ATRI website.

Safety Seminars scheduled in 2020

These events are complementary to TAM members and open to non-members for a recommended $25 per person donation. If your company is interested in hosting a Safety Roundtable event, please contact us.

2020 Schedule

  • Jan. 31, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. | Regency Transportation, 5 Kenwood Circle, Franklin, Mass.
  • April 3, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. | UMASS Amherst, The Guinness Room in Marcus Hall
  • Sept. 18, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. | Location is TBD

Registration

Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse webinar available for playback

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse registration deadline is Monday, Jan. 6, 2020.

In response to frequent and numerous questions about various components of the new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, the Trucking Association of Massachusetts has partnered with the Maine Motor Transport Association (MMTA) to release a webinar to help guide members.

The webinar may not answer every question, it does guide viewers through the basics of the Clearinghouse, the sometimes-confusing registration process, and it answers many of the most frequently asked questions.

Special thanks to MMTA for allowing us to provide this information to members. Additional information including slide downloads are available at the MMTA website.

Webinar Video