One thing that most operators seem to agree on is erring on the side of caution by displaying every number issued by a government agency. Illustration by LCT graphic artist Kevin Haegle.
What identification is required?
With abundant regulation of the transportation industry, it can be confusing to keep track of the requirements for what “authority numbers” must be displayed on your vehicle. There is no global answer as state rules vary. One thing that most people seem to agree on is erring on the side of caution by displaying every number issued by a government agency.
This might include ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission), US DOT, State DOT, MCA (Motor Carrier Authority) and state issued Public Utilities Commission permits. According to US DOT regulations, you do not need to display state issued DOT numbers if you have a US DOT number which is valid for crossing into any state.
However, officers and truckers continue to debate whether to post other numbers, such as an ICC number, according to The American Trucking Association. The ICC was abolished and its function absorbed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Some state agencies still require the state DOT number to be displayed on a vehicle despite the US DOT number on the vehicle.
Vinyl, paint or magnetic
How you get the letters on your vehicle can vary from do-it-yourself adhesive vinyl letters to hand-painted lettering or professionally made decals. Of course, the most economical way is the do-it yourself letters that can be picked up at art supply stores. These letters probably will not last long if you wash your vehicle frequently and travel many highway miles. Professionally printed decals can be made just to fit a specific vehicle with all the numbers on a single sheet and applied in one application.
The longest lasting displays are those hand painted by a craftsman. If you choose the decal style, there are many companies such as signspecialist.com that can do the entire layout for you and guide you on what your state requires.
Magnetic signs are prohibited under US DOT regulations. But in some states, providing you do not cross state lines, magnetic signs are permissible but most commonly used for temporary situations.
The company name
The company name must be displayed on both sides of the vehicles for commercial vehicles more than 10,000 pounds. Listing your city and state is not necessary if you are displaying a US DOT number, as anyone can easily locate information about your company on the FMCSA website using the US DOT number.
The company name and all other required display information must be at least two inches tall and visible from 50 feet. The name and numbers on the vehicle must be on a contrasting surface, such as white lettering on a dark color or black lettering on white. The font must be easily readable from a distance of 50 feet.
To logo or not
The decision to place your logo on a vehicle is one that should be thought out. If you farm in from many different companies, they will not appreciate clients being exposed to your company logo while performing jobs for them.
If you are placing your logo on a limousine, it screams of a rental vehicle, and most networks that farm out work will not use you because they also don’t want their clients exposed to your name when they pride themselves on marketing that they have cars in nearly every city. Celebrities have been known to refuse to get into a limousine with a logo as they don’t want their fans believing that they were in a rental limousine.