The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – FMCSA
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or the FMCSA, is a division established in January 2000 as an integral part within the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT). The FMCSA regulates the trucking industry in the United States, with the primary objective of improving the safety of commercial motor vehicles and truck drivers that operate them. The goals of the FMCSA are attained through enacting and enforcing safety regulations. Any company that operates commercial motor vehicles that carry passengers, or conducts the business of hauling cargo between states, must register with the FMCSA and obtain a USDOT Number.
What happens when a company registers with FMCSA?
When a company that conducts business across state lines, or carries passengers between states, registers with the FMCSA they are required to obtain a USDOT number. The USDOT Number is unique to each individual company. This number is used to track the data regarding a company’s safety information obtained through audits, inspections, compliance reviews, and accident investigations.
Upon application, any first-time carrier will receive automatic enrollment in the FMCSA New Entrant Safety Assurance Program. The entrant will not receive permanent registration status until they have been in the program for a period of 18 months. During this initial period, the new entrants must pass a safety audit within the first 90 days. Additionally, the company must maintain acceptable roadside safety performance during the probationary period.
All my business is intrastate. Why do I need a USDOT Number?
Thirty-one states also require a USDOT number for commercial vehicle registrants regardless of whether or not their business is conducted between states. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
It should be noted that if a company is operating strictly as a broker or freight forwarder, then it is not necessary to obtain a USDOT Number.
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How do I get my USDOT Number?
Companies can apply for a USDOT Number by going to the FMCSA website, www.fmcsa.dot.gov, for information. You can also reach the FMCSA by calling their toll free number, 1-800-832-5660. Each state also has a local Department of Transportation office or FMCSA field offices. You will need to complete the forms provided, including the MCS-150 or MCS-150B. Online registration is encouraged by the FMCSA but a docket number and PIN will need to be obtained before registering. The FMCSA provides assistance for online registration with a helpful step-by-step guide that can be found on their website.
What do I do with my USDOT Number?
When a company obtains a USDOT Number it must be visibly displayed on every commercial motor vehicle within its fleet that is required by law to display the number. Because the purpose of the USDOT Number is to track safety data, it allows the average driver an identifier in order to locate the company and report operators that are driving in an unsafe manner. Vehicles operating with faulty or dangerous equipment can also be reported to the company to which the USDOT Number belongs. The USDOT number provides a universal mechanism for reporting unsafe driving actions as well as any safety issues related to a commercial motor vehicle.
How Do I Find a Company’s UDOT Number?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has a website that allows for a search by USDOT Number. If you have a number and want to receive information about the company to which the number belongs you can go to http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov/CompanySnapshot.aspx to obtain that information. Simply type in the number in the search box and make sure the USDOT Number option has been selected.
The search results should return information about the size of the company, their identifying information, safety record (to include a safety rating if available), information about accidents, and inspection summaries. This service is provided by the USDOT free of charge.