Why am I DOT Regulated?

Future Truck by Benz

Does what I do with a vehicle subject me to FMCSA or does the size of the vehicle regardless of what I’m doing with the vehicle subject me to FMCSA safety rules and regulations?

Answer: All of the above.

Determination if a trip is DOT regulated is made on a trip-by-trip basis, based on:
(1.) Intent of the trip; or
(2.) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

Trip — is a one-way movement of a person or vehicle between two points.

Example: You take half of the seats out of a 15 passenger van so you can carry, at most, only 8 passengers (and escape many regulations), but occasionally have ten or twelve passengers and have those extra passengers sit on their luggage. Clearly, the intent on those trips carrying extra passengers is to haul more than eight passengers.

The key regulatory phrase is “Designed or used.”

Many times a vehicle or re-purposed or modified after it comes from the manufacturer. An old school can be turned into an RV or used as a truck. As such, it would not be a “bus,” but depending on the intent of user, it could become a federally regulated vehicle if used in commerce.

Note: Your state may have its own rules for the type vehicle you are operating or the type of operations you are engaged in (limo, towing, farm, commercial, etc).

FMCSA is the regulatory arm of the Unites States Department of Transportation (USDOT) and means: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“Do nothing” – our main Competition . . .

Competition is good. Competition keeps us sharper and focused on serving our clients and customers.

But what if the competition is a ‘wait and see attitude.’ In short, “Do nothing.”

Why do organizations put off the inevitable? For some it’s because they are what cognitive psychologists call “performance oriented,” or strive to achieve outcomes to demonstrate their current abilities. They stick to what they know well. What’s wrong with that?

One result in simply focusing on one’s “domain” is that while results are self-satisfying in “doing what you know and knowing what you do,” they can also be limiting and sometimes even self-defeating.

One industrial psychologist, Dr. Robert Kinsel Smith, has discovered that, “Many managers avoid situations they don’t know how to fix.” But effective managers (.pdf), he says, meet problems head on.

To effectively deal with DOT regulations, start by developing a different attitude and mindset toward them. Go through the regulations — not around them.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. We have some of the the tools and techniques to help you meet and exceed DOT requirements. Please visit us at http://part380.com/

Help! Threatening phone calls and UCR emails . . .

Recent UCR email from a “Service Bureau”

Q. We’re getting swamped with threatening phone calls and emails . . . If we’re strictly ‘intrastate,’ do we have to sign up for UCR?

Unified Carrier Registration or “UCR” http://www.ucr.in.gov/ is required by the federal UCR Agreement. If you operate a truck or bus (as a motor carrier or “private motor carrier”) in interstate (or international) commerce you need to register and pay an annual fee based on the number of your “interstate” vehicles (power units). Companies operating in interstate (or international) commerce solely as brokers, freight forwarders or leasing companies are required to register and pay the minimum flat fee.

What types of vehicles in interstate operations require UCR Registration?

All interstate “power units” (trucks/tractors/buses/mini-buses) are included, if the vehicle:

  1. has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or overall gross vehicle weight of at least 10,001 pounds, whichever is greater;
  2. is designed to transport more than 10 passengers, including the driver; or
  3. is used in transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placarding.
The UCR fees are based on the number of commercial motor vehicles you reported on your last MCS-150 form (for US DOT Number registration) or the total number of commercial motor vehicles owned and operated for the 12-month period ending June 30 of the year immediately prior to the year for which the UCR registration is made. This includes owned and leased vehicles (with a term of lease for more than 30 days).


Key UCR Points

The UCR applies to all states in the continental United States and the provinces of Canada (if a Canadian carrier travels in any of the lower 48 states, then UCR is required).

Roadside enforcement of UCR requirements starts Jan. 1 each calendar year.

Renewals commence during the last quarter of the calender year.

Registrations expire on Dec. 31 of the registration year.

Register online for UCR at http://www.ucr.in.gov/ . This is a federal website (down from Nov 10th Midnight till Nov 11th 3:00 PM, 2012). If your state is part of the “Agreement,” it may send out a registration form to register by mail.

What are the 2013 UCR fees?

Fleet Size
(Excluding Trailers)
Fee Per Company
0 – 2 $76.00
3 -5 $227.00
6 – 20 $452.00
21 – 100 $1,576.00
101 – 1,000 $7,511.00
More than 1000 $73,346.00

Brokers, freight forwarders or leasing companies are required to pay a fee of $76.

Do I need to register through a “Service Bureau” or permitting agent?

A third-party Service Bureau or permitting agent is not required for your UCR registration. You may register directly with the UCR at the UCR website http://www.ucr.in.gov/  It may take several months, however, from the time of registration for the UCR system to be processed, so like any government agency interaction, to avoid later fines, be sure to keep good records.

Online payment must be made by either credit card or e-check. Log in and follow the step-by-step instructions. There is a $3.00 transaction fee charged for each filing. Additionally, if paying by credit card (Visa or Mastercard), you will need to pay either a 2.5 percent processing fee, or if paying by e-check, a $1.00 transaction fee.

Who is DOT regulated?

When things go wrong . . .

“When things go wrong, don’t go wrong with them.” Elvis

(I) Application of the federal DOT regulations is determined on a trip-by-trip basis, based on the “intent” of the trip. Most states have adopted the federal motor carrier safety regulations.

Example 1: An employee (of a contractor) offers to carry some work supplies across state lines to a work site with his personal 11,000 pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rated (GVWR) pickup.

Both the vehicle and driver would be DOT regulated* on that trip.

Example 2: An employee (of a contractor) uses the same, personal truck to carry his own work tools to a work site.

The vehicle and driver would NOT be regulated on that trip.

Example 3: A contractor uses his personal 11,000 pound Gross Vehicle Weigh Rated pickup truck to carry his own work tools across state lines to a work site.

Both the vehicle and driver would be regulated* on that trip.

*If engaged in “commerce” (see 49 CFR Part 390.5 – Definitions)

(II) If engaged in “commerce,” DOT compliance requirements are based on the weight of the vehicle. Each “Part” of the regulations should be taken into consideration; application of the DOT regulations are determined on a “Part-by-Part” basis.

Is your vehicle (power unit or trailer or combination) over 10,001 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight Rating GVWR (empty or laden – it doesn’t matter)?

If yes, it is a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) under 49 CFR Part 390 – (see “Definitions”) and parts 390, 391,392, 393, 395, 396, etc., apply.

If the GVWR is under 26,001 pounds (or under 10,000 pounds GVWR for the trailer) it is a non-CDL vehicle then Parts 40, 382, and some of 383 would not apply.


Answer: “All of them.”

As a rule of thumb, assume “all” of the DOT regulations apply to your operation and then work backwords for any exceptions to the rule.

– Any quick fixes will leave you frustrated;

– Doing nothing can cost you time and money in the long run;

– Delayed action is perilous.

If you own or operate a truck used in business, then it is likely both the truck and driver are DOT regulated.


Start today on the path toward compliance and save time and money. To learn more, please visit: www.part380.com



Welcome to the part380.com blog

Peter Arno's Drawing Board
“Well, back to the old drawing board.”

“Knowledge hoarded is knowledge wasted.” Mike Myatt, Forbes Magazine


The part380.com blog helps individuals, businesses and organizations mobilize (or take action), with a proactive management philosophy, to better prepare for and comply with the tsunami wave of regulations affecting road transportation in North America. The scope of this blog includes safety, health and environmental (SH&E) regulations, as well as related topics including: risk management, organizational governance and government affairs. A proactive management approach can greatly reduce costs.


Compliance is not “rocket science.” Surprisingly, it’s actually much harder than rocket science because it’s competing with all of the other things and activities going on in the organization. Compliance can’t be done “when it’s convenient” to do or the “budget improves.”

What’s the biggest cost of delayed compliance? Waiting to “get ’round to it,” may not result in just a citation or monetary fine. Depending on the type of violation, loss of some degree of freedom or control may result.

Example:  Negligence by Cedyco Corp. led to not only a fine of $557,000 but an order by the federal government to stop certain operations in Louisiana.

Lesson Learned: a reminder to us to be vigilant of any engine oil or bearing grease leaks, and be mindful of the process used in powerwashing of fleet vehicles.


“We do not have the time or resources.”

“We have to get the real work done.”

“We’ll just ‘deal with it’ as it comes and we can work it all out later.”


The above statements are simply cop outs. Costs and time constraints can be brought in or controlled from the start by recognizing and then prioritizing clearly defined principles. A principle is defined as, “A rule or standard, especially of good behavior.”

Start with a recognition of the standards. Know or get to know, learn about and stay current with any required rules and regulations. Prioritization tells us what’s important now so we can proactively address meeting or exceeding the expected standards. Then mobilize or marshal all of your resources with the goal of taking action for a positive outcome.*


Make a “good faith” effort to comply with the regulatory requirements and then document your efforts. Recognition of the required rules and regulations leads to prioritization of the “here and now” making mobilization, or acting with specific outcomes in mind, much easier than the consequences of putting off the decision.

If there is just one rule to always remember, it’s this: the cost of compliance only increases in direct proportion to the length of time that compliance decisions are postponed or put off. Delay is a decision — for the wrong way.

To learn more, please visit: http://part380.com

*Note – The “Recognition, Prioritization and Mobilization” approach sometimes called the “RPM process,” is attributed to safety and risk expert, Mr. Gordon Graham.