Fall 2021

Maryland’s Preventive Maintenance Program Takes a Step in the Right Direction

Maryland’s Preventive Maintenance Program (“PMP”) for commercial vehicles, Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 23-301 et seq (West 2021) is one of the strictest in the country. Until recently, the PMP required Maryland registered commercial trucks be inspected annually or every 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Federal law only requires annual preventive maintenance inspections regardless of miles, and no other states have a mileage-based requirement. This requirement has created a disincentive for companies to register their trucks in Maryland and puts Maryland motor carriers at a disadvantage compared to their out-of-state counterparts, who run trucks through Maryland but are not subject to the same stringent requirements.

In January 2021, Maryland State Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo sponsored House Bill 250 (“HB 250”) seeking to make Maryland’s truck inspection laws less strenuous by increasing the mileage at which Class F vehicles and certain Class E vehicles must be inspected, maintained, and repaired. Under HB 250, Class F tractors less than five years old would be subject to preventive maintenance inspections every 35,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. The thought was that increasing the mileage requirement for inspections on tractors to 35,000 miles would ease the financial cost to long-haul trucking companies by reducing the average inspections per year. Additionally, because zero-emission vehicles (“ZEVs”) require less maintenance than internal combustion engine vehicles, HB250 also sought to increase the inspection mileage requirements for ZEV straight trucks (Class E) to every 50,000 miles, or every 12 months, whichever occurs first.

On May 30, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 250 into law, and it became effective on October 1, 2021. Therefore, as of  October 1, 2021, Maryland vehicles are now subject to the following Preventive Maintenance Inspection requirements: annually or every 35,000 miles (whichever comes first) for Class F tractors if they are no more than five years old; annually or every 50,000 miles (whichever comes first) for Class E straight trucks if they are no more than five years old and powered by a zero-emission fuel source; and annually or every 25,000 miles for vehicles that are older than five years, consistent with the law before HB 250.

Maryland’s recent PMP requirements will help Maryland become a more viable state for motor carriers to conduct business. These requirements will promote public safety and environmental health by encouraging companies to invest in newer, more reliable, and fuel-efficient trucks equipped with modern safety features. Even with these revisions, which only affect trucks less than five years old, Maryland still has one of the strictest preventive maintenance programs in the country. However, the enactment of HB 250 is a step in the right direction.

For more information, contact Stephen J. Marshall.