Essential DOT Terms for Fleet Compliance

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See “Crash”

Or “Operating Authority” – Generally refers to the federal permit granting authority to operate as a for-hire carrier. FMCSA operating authority is often identified as an “MC,” “FF,” or “MX” number, depending on the type of authority that is granted. Unlike the U.S. DOT Number application process, a company may need to obtain multiple operating authorities to support its planned business operations. Operating Authority dictates the type of operation a company may run and the cargo it may carry.

Generally refers to vehicle registration paperwork that is required to be carried in the truck for possible roadside compliance inspection.
Generally refers to the measurement system implemented under the CSA program that scores companies on safety performance.
Currently, this refers to a rating given a carrier after a full compliance review. Rating can be Satisfactory, Conditional, or Unsatisfactory.

Commercial Driver’s License – the special driver’s license required to operate vehicles that operate in excess of 26,000 lbs. Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities than that required to drive a non-commercial vehicle. In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), an applicant must pass both skills and knowledge testing geared to these higher standards. Additionally CDL holders are held to a higher standard when operating any type of motor vehicle on public roads. CDLs are issued by State agencies, not FMCSA.

Commercial Motor Vehicle – defined simply is a power unit greater than 10,000 lbs., has the capacity to transport 8 or more passengers
for compensation, 15 passengers not for compensation, or hauls placardable quantities of hazardous materials. FMCSRs 390.5
has the full definition.

FMCSA’s definition, in basic terms, considers fatalities, injuries, or tows, with a CMV, a crash (or accident). FMCSR 390.5 has all inclusions and qualifiers in the detailed definition. FMCSA doesn’t consider preventability or all instances like a fleet’s insurance does.

In terms of the FMSCR’s, these are the minimum written policies a company must have in place within their trucking operations.

Compliance audits are audits of performance by various agencies that ensure carriers are meeting mandated requirements. Common auditing agencies are FMCSA, IFTA, and IRP.

A written document a carrier creates and submits to FMCSA explaining the actions it will take to correct inadequate safety management practices. Carriers are often required to submit corrective action plans upon failing a Safety Audit.

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicles.

The DataQ program is the industry’s means to challenge the data validity or accuracy of entries in CSA.

“Doing Business As”— an alternative name a business may be referred to as.

Generally refers to departments within the federal, state, county, and city governments responsible for overseeing transportation policy.

Refers to the number assigned interstate carriers by the FMCSA or the state DOT for intrastate carriers for the purposes of tracking safety history.

A person who drives a CMV owned by a company.

Refers to the daily log grid drivers must complete to be in compliance with the Hours of Service regulations.

Generally refers to the data collection system implemented under the CSA program – PSP – that collects FMCSR violation data attributed to the driver.

Generally the documents a motorcarrier is required to obtain in the process of hiring a driver, outlined in the FMCSRs.

The program carriers put into place to meet the mandated FMCSA drug and alcohol testing requirements for drivers with a CDL.

Electronic logging device – means a device or technology that automatically records a driver’s driving time and facilitates the accurate recording of the driver’s hours of service, and that meets the requirements of subpart B of this part (FMCSR 395).

Business classifications – generally designated as sole proprietorship, corporation, or limited liability company.

A motor carrier that transports unregulated property owned by others for compensation. The property usually includes unprocessed or unmanufactured goods, fruits and vegetables, and other items of little or no value.

Federal Identification Number, Federal Employer Identification Number, Employer Identification Number is a unique number assigned by the government and issued to companies for credentialing and recordkeeping purposes.

For registration purposes, a fleet is a group of vehicles registered within an entity to travel in the same jurisdictions.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – a division of the Department of Transportation that oversees commercial trucking.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – safety regulations for commercial trucking published by the FMCSA.

A carrier that transports passengers, regulated property, or household goods owned by others for compensation. You will need to obtain operating authority (Motor Carrier Number), If you are a for-hire carrier, in addition to a U.S. DOT Number.

See IFTA Taxes.

Household goods. The movement of personal property.

Any road, street, or way, whether on public or private property, open to public travel.

Hazardous materials, also abbreviated to haz mat.

Generally refers to the regulations in the FMCSRs that regulate how many hours a driver can drive.

Household goods are regarded as personal property used, or to be used, in a dwelling. Transportation of the household goods must be arranged and paid for by the individual shipper (owner) or by another individual on behalf of the shipper. Household goods includes items transported from a factory or store if purchased with the intent to use in a dwelling and transported at the request of the householder, who also pays the transportation charges.

A carrier must file Form 2290 and Schedule 1 with the IRS each year if a taxable highway motor vehicle is registered, or required to be registered, in the carrier’s name under state, District of Columbia, Canadian, or Mexican law at the time of its first use during the period, and if the vehicle has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more.

Intermodal equipment provider. The company that owns the chassis and or containers hauled by motor carriers.

The International Fuel Tax Association, Inc., more commonly known as IFTA, Inc., is an Arizona not-for-profit corporation formed to manage and administer the International Fuel Tax Agreement.

A tax collection agreement by and among the 48 contiguous states and the 10 Canadian provinces bordering the US for the uniform administration of motor fuels use taxation laws with respect to qualified motor vehicles operated in more than one member jurisdiction.

A carrier requiring IFTA registers for and annually renews an IFTA License. A decal is issued, placed on each side of the truck, to visually prove the truck is properly registered.

To comply with the IFTA Agreement, a carrier must file quarterly fuel use tax reports which can result in tax owed or tax due.

Interstate commerce is not defined by the vehicle’s travel between States, but the freight’s movement between States. It is the trade, traffic, or transportation of said freight between the following: a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States); two places in a State through another State or place outside of the United States; or between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation beginning or ending outside the State or the United States.

Any trade, traffic, or transportation in any State which is not described in the term “interstate commerce.”

The International Registration Plan is a registration reciprocity agreement among states of the United States, the District of Columbia and provinces of Canada providing for payment of apportionable equipment registration fees on the basis of total distance operated in all jurisdictions.

Kentucky Highway Use Tax – this license is required for vehicles traveling in Kentucky with a registered gross weight of 60,000 lbs. and above to report mileage tax.

Generally refers to an agreement between a carrier and an owner / operator that outlines the services the owner / operator is expected to perform and rates the carrier will pay for those services.

As mandated in the FMCSRs, companies other than owner / operators are required to perform monthly audits on their driver logs to ensure accuracy and compliance.

Generally refers to the record-keeping files mandated by the FMCSRs in reference to the maintenance of equipment.

See Authority.

Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin or Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin — truck’s birth certificate.

Refers to taxes paid by the mile traveled for trucks operating in Oregon, New York, Kentucky, and New Mexico.

Generally any commercial business operating CMVs at a greater weight than 10,000 lbs.

Motor Vehicle Record – the driving record of an individual obtained from the state where the driver’s license was issued.

A New Entrant is regarded as a new carrier within its first 18 months of operation who has yet to have its required New Entrant DOT Audit.

FMCSA’s New Entrant Program monitors motor carrier safety compliance for their first 18 months on the road to help them understand and comply with safety regulations. New entrant motor carriers undergo a mandatory safety audit to ensure that they have basic safety management practices in place. Upon completing the Safety Audit and 18-month evaluation period, new entrants graduate and continue to be monitored through FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program.

The online system that carriers selected for an Offsite Safety Audit use to submit requested documents to FMCSA. Safety Auditors use this same system to review documents and communicate with the carrier about the Offsite Safety Audit.

New Mexico imposes a weight-distance tax on owners, operators, and registrants of intra and interstate commercial vehicles with a declared gross vehicle weight in excess of 26,000 pounds. This tax is based on vehicle weight and miles traveled on New Mexico roads. Companies must register and apply each year for a New Mexico Weight Distance Tax Electronic Permit for each vehicle.

New York State imposes a highway use tax (HUT) on motor carriers operating certain motor vehicles on New York State public highways.

Permanent or temporary paper credentials needed for out-of-state-based truckers to operate in Oregon.

A declaration issued by FMCSA or a law enforcement professional that prohibits a motor carrier or driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Usually, this comes after a roadside inspection.

A person who owns and operates his own commercial truck. Also referred to as independent contractor.

A general term used for the various permits a truck may need to travel in various jurisdictions.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration — DOT agency charged with chemical hauling regulations.

Refers to part of the mandated Driver Qualification File process where employers must verify with previous employers the applicant’s history of any drug or alcohol abuse.

A carrier transporting its own property, usually as a part of a business that produces, uses, sells and / or buys said property that is being hauled. A private motor carrier is required to have a U.S. DOT Number but does not need operating authority (MC Number).

A process agent is a representative within every state of travel who is authorized to accept legal documents on behalf of the carrier. Having a process agent is required as part of the process to obtain a Federal Motor Carrier Permit.

Refers to the registration of equipment using the International Registration Plan (IRP) where fees are charged on a prorated basis, based upon distance traveled.

Pre-Employment Screening Program – refers to a program accessible by motor carriers for applicant’s history, with driver permission, to view FMCSR violations attributed to the driver over the past 3 years for inspections and 5 years for crashes. Drivers can obtain their own record as well.

DOT-mandated drug and alcohol awareness training for supervisors that oversee drivers.

A Registrant is an owner / operator who leases his operation to another carrier and no longer operates under his own authority.

Inspections performed roadside by trained enforcement personnel for compliance with the FMCSRs. Roadside inspections are only completed by certified inspectors based on criteria developed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Data from roadside inspections is input into FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) as part of the motor carrier’s safety compliance record.

FMCSR violations found during a roadside inspection.

An overt and detailed examination of a motor carrier’s operations to provide educational and technical assistance on safety and the operational requirements of the FMCSRs and applicable HMRs which then provides safety data needed to make an assessment of the carrier’s safety performance and basic safety management controls.

Safety Measurement System – online database that FMCSA uses to collect and analyze motor carrier data from roadside inspections, including driver and vehicle violations; crash reports from the last two years; and investigation results to identify motor carriers with safety problems to prioritize them for interventions such as warning letters and investigations.

The process of filing truck and trailer paperwork with the state of residence to prove ownership and obtain registration.

Unified Carrier Registration – under this program, states collect fees from motor carriers, motor private carriers, freight forwarders, brokers and leasing companies, based on the number of qualifying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in their fleets. The revenues generated will be used for enforcement of motor carrier safety programs.

Unified Registration System – the Federal program that serves as a clearinghouse and repository of information on all entities that are regulated; including motor carriers, brokers, freight forwarders, internmodal equipment providers, hazardous materials safety permit holders, and cargo tank manufacturing and repair facilities. The URS will combine multiple registration processes, information technology systems, and forms into a single, electronic, and online registration process.

Vehicle Miles Traveled – an annual factor in various equations for motor carriers.