Mass. USDOT Number Required for All CMVs

US DOT Number is required on all trucks.Enforcement Delayed until January 1, 2019

As of September 1, 2018, intrastate motor carriers in Massachusetts are required to obtain and display a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number per 540 CMR 2.22, the Commercial Marking section of the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) regulations. Strict enforcement of the new regulations has been delayed until January 1, 2019 to allow time to obtain and display the numbers.

Who must Register?

This applies to motor carriers operating the following commercial motor vehicles (CMVs):
  • Operating in intrastate commerce having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds.
  • Used in the transportation of hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding.
  • Designed to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, used in intrastate commerce in Massachusetts.

If a company operates a subject vehicle, it must be permanently marked with a USDOT number assigned in a manner conforming to the provisions of 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 390.21. Please note that the requirement for a USDOT number is based upon the definition above, regardless of how any individual vehicle may be registered with the Massachusetts RMV.

How do I Register?

To obtain a USDOT Number, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.  From there, follow the Registration link to obtain an intrastate USDOT number. The company will be issued a single USDOT number that must be displayed on all CMVs as defined above that the company operates, including leased vehicles. There is no charge to obtain this number from the USDOT-FMCSA.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Driving in Canada


Running Up North

Sometimes drivers are required to run into Canada. There are 13 provinces and territories in Canada and, unfortunately, 13 sets of driving rules.

Here are few highlights of some Canadian rules . . .

Speed Limiter Rules

Two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec – have speed limiter rules for heavy trucks. Any U.S. based truck traveling to or through Ontario and/or Quebec must have the governor set to 65 miles per hour or less. Yes, they check it . . .

HOS Reset

In hours of service, Canada allows a 36 hour reset, not the 34 hours required by the USDOT. Drivers in Canada are allowed 13 hours of driving within a 14-hour workday, with 10 hours off. Drivers must again follow DOT rules while traveling south of the border.

Clean Background Checks

A driver with any prior felony criminal convictions (including DUIs) or even an arrest record may be not allowed in Canada. This is a permanent, lifetime bar. There is an administrative process to gain entry, resulting in special travel papers — which must be requested at least 6 months prior to the intended entry date.

Guns, Knives, and Other Weapons

Canada has strict weapon laws. Drivers need declare to Canadian Customs authorities any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada. Weapons include certain kind of knives and pepper spray and mace. Anything not declared is kept by authorities, if discovered. For more information, visit the Canadian Firearms Program.

Tinted Windows

No tinted windows are permitted in five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It is illegal to have any tint at all on driver and passenger side windows.

Cell Phones and Texting

Distracted driving laws for electronic devices have been enacted in all Canadian provinces. Every province has a law that says you can’t text unless you’re parked. One driver was even ticketed for texting while in a fast-food line. A wearer of an Apple Watch changing music was ticketed for distracted driving in Quebec.

Using a voice-activated navigational system, as the Siri feature on an iPhone to ask for directions, is permitted in Nova Scotia, since an October 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Some Special Rules

In Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) drivers need to honk the horn before passing.

In B.C. and the Yukon, a flashing green light doesn’t mean you have the right of way to make a left turn. A flashing green is activated by a pedestrian at a pedestrian crossing when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button, in these two provinces.

In Ontario (and only Ontario) lane markings generally serve an advisory or warning function. Drivers may cross solid lines but can still be charged, if they pass when it’s not safe.

Ontario also has large fines for wheel-offs, up to $50,000 Canadian.

Tip: One major U.S. carrier does a full DOT inspection on its vehicles every time it crosses the border.

Thank you for reading this.

A Collision is a Collision is a Collision

right turn

What is a Collision?

Anyone who is a safety manger or owns or drives a truck may become involved in a collision.

If your truck hits or comes into contact with something or someone or any property, then it’s a collision. A collision may or may not be a DOT reportable accident. But a collision is a collision is a collision.

If a vehicle you strike does not appear damaged, it is still a collision. Sometimes the extent of the damage may be hidden or not easy to see to the untrained eye, or people involved later feel injured and go to the emergency room for treatment.

Should I report it to the police?

While some jurisdictions have a certain dollar damage threshold for what is a reportable accident, it’s a good practice to report a collision for two reasons:
(1.) The final damage bill may be higher that originally estimated,
(2.) Failure to report the collision may be illegal and could result in a citation.

A conviction for “Leaving the scene of an accident” is a serious matter for a CDL driver under 383.51: Disqualification of drivers, that can result in a 1 to 3 year license suspension for a first a offense or a lifetime ban for a subsequent conviction.

Another situation that occasionally occurs is when someone else hits your truck and leaves. There may be no or little damage to your vehicle. It is possible the fleeing driver is unlicensed or under the influence and fears arrest. Once again, it is a good idea to be proactive and make a report to the police as to what happened.

Can I leave a note for/with the other driver?

A note is not a police report. A note can blow away or get lost. Someone else can cause greater damage and not leave a note. It is best to always contact the proper authorities.

I don’t want to get insurance involved and I would rather pay for the damage out of pocket.

If you don’t tell your insurance company about a collision because you’ve decided to handle it privately, if the person you hit later claims an injury, the insurance company might not protect you.

If you are uncertain about the correct course of action, consider checking with your insurance agent and asking them if you should file a claim or not.

In any case, always get as much information as possible at the scene from the other driver, and take photos of the scene and any damage. It’s always a good idea to keep an accident kit in each vehicle. Ask your insurance agent for help in putting together an accident kit.

Not every collision is serious, but when things go unreported, facts can become fuzzy and things can quickly tailspin out of control.


If your truck hits a person or property or another vehicle, it is a collision.

Have a policy requiring any collisions are reported to the proper authorities and channels.

Know your insurance company’s reporting requirements for collisions. Contact your agent if you need advice or more understanding of what you need to do.

Thank you for reading this.

You Want Me to do Whaaat? Preventing Truck Backing Collisions

Beware: The Swarm . . . The Scoop on Lane Splitting

lane splitters

Did You Know . . .

Did you know that lane splitting is permitted in California?

Lane splitting” refers to the practice of riding a motorcycle between clearly marked lanes for traffic traveling in the same direction. The goal of splitting lanes is to keep moving at a reasonable speed through slow or stopped traffic.

Permitted means it is neither legal nor illegal to do.

It is not only permitted, but is an optional safety practice of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) for riders in California. The word optional, according to the AMA, means that it is not a required practice. In 2013, the California Highway Patrol published lane splitting guidelines, with the warning, “These general guidelines are not guaranteed to keep you safe.”

So in certain conditions (low speeds) and situations (neat rows of cars), a highly experienced motorcycle rider has the option of lane splitting in California.


Congested traffic or stop-and-go traffic is one of the most dangerous and risky situations to be in for motorcycle riders. Drivers of larger vehicles may make sudden stops or not be aware of the motorcycles in their proximity, making sudden lane changes or other maneuvers resulting in a conflict or collision. Motorcycles and their riders can become trapped or crushed between vehicles that don’t stop in a backup.

Lane splitting and filtering (riding a motorcycle between stopped motor vehicles to the front of the pack, typically at a intersection with a traffic signal), is legal in many countries, but is not in the U.S.

It is not recommended by the CHP that lane splitting be done, “Between trucks, buses, RVs, and other wide vehicles,” or on curves, near exit ramps, or on a double yellow line, etc., to name a few risky situations.

driving on shoulder

Professional Drivers Share the Road

Professional drivers always share the road. If traffic is slow and motorcycles are lane splitting, position the vehicle in the center of the lane, as motorcycles may be lane splitting on both sides of the truck.

Professional drivers do not interfere with motorcycles lane splitting, filtering, or riding in the carpool lane or on the shoulder. They are only driving in the manner they judge to be the safest.

  • Intentionally blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider is illegal (CVC 22400). 4)
  • Opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcycle is illegal (CVC 22517).

Drivers noticing motorcycles that are lane splitting — need to be constantly aware of the movement of the lane splitters as well as all other vehicles around their vehicle, and should always be ready to stop, if necessary.

Thank you for reading this. Have a super-safe day.