See definitions for interstate commerce and intrastate commerce.
Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
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 (CMV)
Any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle with the following characteristics that is used to transport people or property as part of interstate commerce:
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg) or more, whichever is greater;
- Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
- Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
- Is used in transporting materials found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, Subtitle B, Chapter I, Subchapter C.
Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)
FMCSA’s safety enforcement and compliance program aimed at improving large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our Nation’s roads.
Corrective Action Plan
A written document that a carrier must develop and submit to FMCSA explaining the corrective actions it will take to fix inadequate safety management practices. Carriers are often required to submit corrective action plans upon failing a Safety Audit.
A motor carrier that transports exempt (unregulated) property owned by others for compensation. The exempt commodities usually include unprocessed or unmanufactured goods, fruits and vegetables, and other items of little or no value. For a partial listing of exempt and non-exempt commodities, please refer to Administrative Ruling 119.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
FMCSA is the U.S. Department of Transportation administration that develops and enforces regulations to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs)
FMCSRs are the set of Federal regulations that specify the minimum requirements for motor carriers. FMCSRs can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
A carrier that transports passengers, regulated property, or household goods owned by others for compensation. If you are a for-hire carrier, in addition to a U.S. DOT Number you will also need to obtain operating authority (Motor Carrier Number).
Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs)
Federal safety regulations that specify the minimum requirements for motor carrier transporting materials found to be hazardous under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
When used in connection with transportation, household goods means the 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.
Trade, traffic, or transportation 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.
Interstate commerce is not defined by the vehicle's travel between States, but the freight's movement between States.
Any trade, traffic, or transportation in any State which is not described in the term “interstate commerce.”
A motor carrier not domiciled in Mexico that applies for a United States Department of Transportation (DOT) identification number in order to initiate operations. A carrier is considered a new entrant for its first 18 months on the road, and must complete the New Entrant Program.
New Entrant Safety Assurance Program (New Entrant Program)
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.
New Entrant Web System (NEWS)
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.
Operating authority means the registration required by 49 U.S.C. 13902, 49 CFR part 365, 49 CFR part 368, and 49 CFR 392.9a.
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.
Visit the Unified Registration System to determine if you need operating authority.
A declaration issued by FMCSA or a law enforcement professional that prohibits a motor carrier or driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Private Motor Carrier
A private motor carrier transports its own cargo, usually as a part of a business that produces, uses, sells and/or buys the cargo 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).
Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP)
A program that helps carriers make more informed hiring decisions by providing secure, electronic access to a commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).
A roadside inspection is an examination of a vehicle, driver, or both to ensure that the motor carrier is complying with Federal safety regulations. Roadside inspections are often conducted by law enforcement officials at weigh stations, agricultural checkpoints, or when a vehicle is pulled over during a routine traffic stop. 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.
An 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 and to gather critical safety data needed to make an assessment of the carrier’s safety performance and basic safety management controls.
Safety management controls
The systems, policies, programs, practices, and procedures used by a motor carrier to ensure compliance with applicable safety and hazardous materials regulations, which support the safe movement of products and passengers through the transportation system. Safety management controls aim to reduce the risk of accidents resulting in fatalities, injuries, and property damage.
Safety Measurement System (SMS)
The 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.