WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has stepped up enforcement of the regulation that an active and valid U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) identification number must be properly displayed on commercial motor vehicles conducting interstate business, according to the NLA. This intensification of enforcement began in July 2005 (although the rule was established four years ago).
The DOT’s regulations mandate that all motor vehicles designed or used to transport for compensation in interstate commerce more than 8 passengers (including the driver) be identified on both sides of the vehicle by (a) the legal name or a single trade name of the motor carrier operator and (b) the operator’s motor carrier identification number preceded by the letters “USDOT.”
The letters and numbers must contrast sharply in color with the background on which they are placed and must be readily legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet while the vehicle is stationary. Generally speaking, letters and numbers that are two inches in height will satisfy the legibility standard. Such marking must be kept and maintained in a manner that retains the required legibility. The operator’s name and USDOT identification number may be painted on the vehicle or displayed via a removable magnetic placard.
In the event that a vehicle is leased to another motor carrier, the lessee’s name and DOT identifier number must also be displayed on both sides of the vehicle and preceded by the words “operated by.” A violation of the vehicle identification requirements can result in a fine of as much as $11,000, though the fines imposed will generally be far less than that amount.
Moreover, to the extent that a motor carrier’s operations of such 9-15 passenger equipment are restricted entirely to a 75 air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work reporting location, the only other DOT safety regulations the carrier must satisfy are (a) to maintain an accident register and (b) file an MCS-150 Form to obtain its DOT identifier number. Such motor carriers are not required to maintain driver qualification files, nor must their drivers maintain daily driver logs. Indeed, such drivers are not even subject to the DOT’s driver hours of service limitations.
With respect to the performance of for-hire passenger movements in interstate commerce, the DOT will require the motor carrier operator to maintain a minimum of $1.5 million of public liability insurance coverage in regard to any vehicle it uses with a seating capacity of 15 or fewer passengers (including the driver). For vehicles with a seating capacity of 16 or more passengers, the public liability coverage must be at least $5 million.
Black cars and sedans operating interstate should also maintain in the vehicle at all times written confirmation of their DOT identifier number, since those operators, by virtue of the size of the vehicles they are utilizing, are not obligated under the regulations to display that number on the exterior of the vehicle.