New rules are going into effect 9/1/2018 regarding commercial vehicle markings. The official name for the updated rule is “MA State Markings Regulation 540 CMR 2:22.” The new rule affects all “heavy duty” commercial vehicles traveling on Massachusetts’ roads. Previously, only those vehicles traveling across state lines were required to display certain information. If you think your business vehicle(s) fall into the heavy duty category (10,001 lbs +), please keep reading for requirements and information about how to avoid paying fines or having your vehicle removed from the road.


What are business owners being asked to do?

Under the new MA State Markings Regulation, owners of commercial vehicles (including heavy duty pickup trucks and vans, with a gross combined weight of 10,001 lbs +) are being asked to do two things:

  1. Apply for and display a U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number on their vehicles.
  2. Prominently display their company name/contact information on their vehicles.


What is a USDOT number?

A USDOT number gives authorities another way of identifying your truck(s), for the purpose of collecting and monitoring your safety information. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducts audits, inspections, or compliance reviews, it uses USDOT numbers in its reporting. USDOT numbers are also collected during accident investigations.


Why do I need a USDOT number?

Up until recently, USDOT numbers were only required for commercial vehicles driving interstate routes (traveling across state lines), or for those carrying dangerous cargo. However, Massachusetts recently changed its rules to expand the requirement. Now, all commercial vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds* need to obtain and display a USDOT number—even if only driven inside Massachusetts borders.

*NOTE: This weight class typically includes heavy-duty pickup trucks, box trucks, walk-in vans and larger utility vehicles—like bucket trucks.


Where do I get a USDOT number?

You can visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) web page for your application: For questions, call FMCSA at (800) 832-5660.


How much does a USDOT number cost?

There is no cost for a USDOT number. But you will need to pay for the truck lettering to display your business name/DOT number on company vehicles, according to specified terms. 


How do I “display” the required information?

Vinyl signage experts will make sure you’re in compliance with the law. Here are the key requirements:

  1. Your company name, phone number and/or website, and USDOT number must be permanently printed on two sides of the vehicle.
  2. The lettering must be on the truck body, not on window glass.
  3. The lettering must be legible from 50 feet away (during daylight hours).
  4. The lettering must contrast sharply with the background surface (e.g. DON’T use black lettering on a dark blue truck or gray lettering on a white truck).


How do I know if this new rule affects my company?

Your company probably needs to take action if:

  1. It owns or leases any vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combined Vehicle Weight more than 10,000 pounds.
  2. It transports hazardous materials.
  3. It owns or leases any vehicles capable of transporting more than 15 passengers.


There are some exceptions to these new rules, please contact us at: 413-443-5943 and we can let you know if you’re an exception.


How much time do I have to comply?

You have until September 1, 2018 to get your USDOT number and be sure all applicable company trucks are displaying it. Keep in mind though, the FMCSA is backlogged at this time. We recommend starting the process as soon as possible. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have questions about the new MA State Markings Regulation, commercial auto insurance or what you need to do.


What is the penalty for violating the new rule?

If you don’t have the information displayed by the first of September, you could be subject to civil fines and your vehicles could be placed “Out of Service” until you comply with this rule. What’s more, without the proper lettering, you may be increasing your chances of getting pulled over—especially by Massachusetts State Police.


Questions? Please contact us at: 413-443-5943