When you stop to think about it, operating any type of vehicle is a huge responsibility. Driving a motor vehicle is widely considered the most dangerous activity that we perform on a day-to-day basis. Dangerous driving can not only impact us but other drivers and pedestrians on our nation’s roads.
The knowledge, skills, and physical requirements needed to operate a commercial vehicle such as a truck or a bus are different than those required for operating a small vehicle such as a car or SUV. All states have recognized the need for safe driving and proper licensing for operations of certain types of vehicles, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration (FMCSA) was born.
According to their website, the goal of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and busses. The FMCSA was established as a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on January 1, 2000, pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Their headquarters is located in Washington, DC, and they are present in all 50 states. In order to enforce safety regulations and encourage good practice, the FMCSA:
- Is responsible for developing and enforcing data-driven regulations that attempt to strike a balance between safety and efficiency for truck and bus companies;
- Gathers and utilizes safety information systems to focus on enforcing safety regulations;
- Disseminates targeted safety educational messages to carriers drivers and the general public; and
- Collaborates with stakeholders including local enforcement agencies, safety groups, various motor carrier industries, and the Federal State agencies to organize efforts to reduce truck- and bus-related crashes.
Commercial Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration
Ultimately, the main objective of complying with the FMCSA’s various rules and guidelines is to obtain and maintain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and to ensure that your vehicle is properly registered and in compliance with state regulations. Serious consequences can arise if the required documents are absent or not up to date. In addition, commercial drivers are usually held to a higher standard of driving than regular drivers: traffic offences committed by commercial drivers usually carry greater ramifications. These include difficulty in obtaining a commercial driver’s license and renewing certifications.
Many of the required forms and documents are available on the FMCSA website. Some of these forms include the following:
Form MCS-150 and Instructions – Motor Carrier Identification Report
The FMCSA registration process requires that companies define the type of business operation (Motor Carrier, Broker, Shipper, Freight Forwarder and/or Cargo Tank Facility) that they plan to establish. Each motor carrier that conducts operations in interstate commerce must file a Motor Carrier Identification Report. They are usually required to be filed:
- Before the beginning of operations
- Every 24 months in accordance with the schedule stipulated by the FMCSA
- If the next-to-last digit of its USDOT Number is odd, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider must file its update in every odd-numbered calendar year. If the next-to-last digit of the USDOT Number is even, the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider shall file its update in every even-numbered calendar year.
Form OP-1(P) Instructions – Application for Motor Passenger Carrier Authority
This form grants the authority to transport or arrange the transportation of passengers or property for compensation. It is mandatory for all for-hire motor vehicle carriers of non-exempt passengers or property, brokers, and freight forwarders based in the United States or Canada to obtain Operating Authority from the FMCSA.
Form MCSA-5889 – Motor Carrier Records Change Form
This form is used to submit requests for Operating Authority address and name changes. It may also be used for submitting requests for the reinstatement of an Operating Authority.
eFileCabinet Document Management and FMCSA Forms
The forms listed above are just a few available on the FMCSA website. It is important that users keep a copy of all filled forms for recordkeeping purposes. There is no better way to do this than with eFileCabinet’s document management software (DMS).
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