What is a USDOT Number?

shutterstock_13801870A USDOT number is an identifier that is unique to your company. It allows quick access to your company’s safety information. This information is gathered during accident investigations, inspections, audits and compliance reviews.

Commercial vehicles used by your company to transport passengers or haul cargo in interstate commerce, must have the company’s USDOT number displayed on every commercial company vehicle. Companies that transport hazardous materials within the state in amounts that require safety permits must also display the company’s USDOT number on the vehicles used for transport.

Do I Need a USDOT Number?

These guidelines will help you determine if your company needs a USDOT number. You need a USDOT number if your vehicle is involved in interstate commerce (trade or transportation in the United States) and also meets one or more of the following qualifications:

  • Your vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. The measurement includes gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight, whichever is greatest.
  • Your vehicle is designed to carry 8 passengers for payment (this number includes the driver).
  • Your vehicle is used to carry more than 15 passengers (including the driver), but is not used to carry passengers for payment.
  • Your vehicle is used to transport materials deemed by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous, and in a quantity that requires a safety permit.shutterstock_176701853

Where your vehicle transports goods or passengers is also an indicator of whether you need a USDOT number.  You need a number if your vehicle is used for trade or transport in one or more of these ways:

  • Between states (this includes places outside of the United States)
  • Between two places in one state through another state, or through a place outside of the United States
  • Between two places in one state as part of traffic, transportation or trade that begins or ends in a place outside the state or the United States.

Certain states require a USDOT number for all commercial vehicles aside from the specifications listed above. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Remember, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires you to obtain a USDOT number and comply with all federal regulations. No matter how many commercial vehicles are in your company’s fleet, you only need one USDOT number. The number is required to be displayed on every commercial vehicle your company operates in accordance with the specifications above.

For more information on what forms are needed to obtain a USDOT number, visit the What Do I Need to File? page on the FMCSA website.

New Hazmat Regulation: Drive Smart and Safe

CaptureWhenever a new hazmat rule is rolled out there’s no question that you want to make sure you’re fully up to date and in compliance.  “I didn’t know about the new rule,” isn’t an excuse that’s going to buy you a lot of leeway.  So when a new hazmat regulation came out starting on October 25, plenty of people took notice.  The language reads:

“Drivers hauling hazmat may no longer cross a highway-rail grade crossing unless there is sufficient space to drive completely through without stopping.

This rule was made in collaboration by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  The rule change had been considered since 2011, but it was only recently that this regulation was put into effect for haulers of various toxins, hazardous materials, and other similar agents.

A need for signage

While both the National Tank Truck Carriers and American Trucking Associations prefer that appropriate signs should be added to the 21,000+ railroad crossings across the country where it’s not possible for a driver to pass through completely without stopping, the PHMSA and the FMCSA have stated that they do not have the authority for such a mandate.

The concerns have been heard

There’s been some grumbling that it’s not always easy to know ahead of time when a route is appropriate or not and that certain routes might not have appropriate detour routes especially in extremely industrial or port areas.  The good news is that officials recognize that these issues can happen and they even suggest that enforcement of the rules shouldn’t be iron clad 100% of the time, but should be enforced at discretion based on the circumstances.

Photo source: iTunes.com
Photo source: iTunes.apple.com

Technology can help

Another effort to help hazmat drivers obey the new rule comes in the form of a free mobile app that can be used by any iPhone or iPad.  The Federal Railroad Administration created the Rail Crossing Locator app to help provide hazmat-friendly routes to drivers, as well as a clear understanding of the grade crossings that were known. The app can locate crossings by Crossing ID, address, or geo-location. Crossings can also be identified by special characteristics. Users can also check accident history for each crossing.