FMCSA Regulations

From Liability to Cargo, we keep you covered

If you are the owner of a new trucking company, you know that there are many regulations with which you must comply. The Department of Transportation oversees the safety of all major modes of transportation in the United States. There are so many different modes of transportation in the US, so the DOT needs to have individual agencies in the department for each one.

Photo of a Truck

What is the FMCSA?

Established in the year 2000, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the agency within the department of transportation that regulates the trucking industry. The agency’s purpose is to minimize crashes, injuries, and fatalities caused by trucks.

The agency analyzes data and establishes regulations for the trucking and bussing industries. It is also responsible for enforcing those regulations. It gathers information from various sources to figure out the best way to enforce regulations. Simplex Group is devoted to making sure your company is compliant with FMCSA regulations.

The FMCSA conducts roadside inspections randomly and when they see the need for it based on a truck’s performance. They also conduct audits of new trucking companies and of trucking companies that have been cited for violations. They can impose fines and even shut a trucking company down for non-compliance with regulations.

How do I know if my company is regulated by the FMCSA?

If your company operates certain kinds of commercial motor vehicles and crosses state lines, it is required to comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulations. Vehicles that carry interstate commerce need DOT compliance to operate legally.

If your company operates vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater, you are under the FMCSA’s authority. 

Suppose you operate vehicles designed or used to transport between 9 and 15 passengers for money or a vehicle designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers. In that case, you are under the authority of FMCSA rules. Vehicles that carry enough hazardous materials to require placards are required to comply with the FMCSA regulations.

Trucking companies that fall under the FMCSA’s jurisdiction will have to obtain a Department of Transportation number for each vehicle they operate.

Getting a DOT Number

You can obtain your US DOT number through the Unified Carriers Registration System. Each motor vehicle must have a DOT sticker. You will not be able to start taking hauls until you have a US DOT number and the required amount of insurance for the type of trucks you drive. 

Simplex Group is staffed with insurance specialists and compliance experts. We consider ourselves a part of your company and will ensure that your DOT number registration is completed promptly.

FMCSA Compliance

The FMCSA focuses on certain areas of operations in order to prevent crashes. Simplex Group has many years of experience in compliance with these regulations and stays informed of any changes made to the regulations they impose. When we partner with your company, we will make sure that you are ready for roadside inspections and that your paperwork is always up to date.

Compliance, Safety, and Accountability Program

The FMCSA’s Compliance Safety and Accountability Program uses a Safety Measurement System that employs various data to decide which motor carriers they should review. This data comes from both roadside inspections and company audits. It determines if a trucking company is safe and should be allowed to continue operations.

An FMCSA agent will look at several basic factors when determining if your company is safe enough to operate. There are different requirements pertaining to each of these factors. Simplex group will ensure that your company and your drivers are fully qualified, that all paperwork is filled out properly, and that your records are stored for the required time.

The Safety of Your Drivers

Driving large trucks is skilled work. One of the main things the Department of Transportation is concerned with is the safety record of your drivers. Driver qualifications include a Commercial driver’s license and a clean driving record for the last three years. A driver must also be over 21. 

There are certain federal regulations with which all drivers must comply. Both intrastate and interstate drivers must have a commercial driver’s license. They will have to pass a DOT physical with an approved doctor. A driver must be able to speak English fluently to communicate with police officers, clients, and the general public. 

You should check the last three years of a driver’s employment history because the FMCSA strictly forbids hiring unqualified drivers. There are several ways to make sure a driver is qualified.

You must run the driving records of any driver you want to hire. A company needs to check out the driving record in every state a driver has lived in for the last three years. You will keep those records for three years.

You have to call all of the former employers of a driver and verify the last three years of their employment. The verification needs to be done within 30 days of hiring a new employee. You need to find out the reason the employment was terminated and keep a record of this verification. We can take care of this employment verification for you because we know just which questions to ask, so you do not make a mistake when hiring someone.

Photo of a truck driver

A driver will document any accidents or citations that they get from the company for which they work. There is an official form that the driver will have to fill out called a Certification of Violation. You will review the driver’s records annually to make sure they have disclosed everything to you. The Certification of Violation will stay on their file for three years.

If a driver has too many accidents or if they are caught with a safety violation during a roadside inspection, they may have to take safety classes or be put on corrective action. If one of your drivers has ever been required to take safety classes or has a history of violations, it has to be documented.

 A driver is required to pass a drug test before you can hire them. The results of the test need to be in that driver’s file.

If all this sounds like a daunting task, it is. However, Simplex Group has years of experience in record keeping. You will never have anything to fear when you work with us.

Driver Alertness

Another important thing the FMCSA is concerned about is drivers who are simply too tired to do their job. They want to make sure that drivers are alert when they operate vehicles to keep the general public safe. Hence, there are very strict rules applying to Hours of Service. A driver must document all the hours they work and the hours they are on the road. 

The FMCSA is very strict regarding a driver’s Hours of Service. A professional truck driver logs everything they do on their Electronic Logging Device. This includes the hours that they are driving, the hours that they are performing maintenance, the hours that they load the truck, and the hours that they unload the truck. They are required to take a certain amount of time for meals, and they must take a certain amount of time for breaks every day.

A driver may only drive for 11 consecutive hours. If a driver is carrying passengers, they may only drive for 10 hours. The driver can only be on duty for 14 consecutive hours no matter their duties. They are also required to take 30 minutes during the day for a meal. 

Each driver’s hours of service are to be kept in an electronic file. When your company has its New entrant audit, the auditor from the FMCSA will make sure that your drivers are accounting for every single hour of their day. We will monitor your ELD records carefully and make sure that every Hour of Service is accounted for.

Driver Fitness

Nowadays, there are laws protecting people who have physical limitations. The Americans with Disabilities Act made it more difficult to discriminate against a person with a physical disability. The law states that a person cannot be denied a job based on their disability as long as reasonable accommodations can be made for them.

Truck driving is a physically demanding job, and you have to be in good shape to do it. Your drivers have to pass a physical exam to comply with FMCSA regulations. Your driver will be issued a medical certification when they successfully complete their exam.

Photo of a truck driver resting

Standards are higher for truck drivers than they are for people in other professions when it comes to drug testing. A truck driver cannot use marijuana even if it has been prescribed by a doctor. If a driver has a medical condition that requires them to take anti-seizure medication, they will not be able to drive a commercial vehicle. People who have to take prescription narcotics are not allowed to be commercial truck drivers. 

Not just any doctor can give a trucker a medical exam. A physician must be listed in the National Registry if they want to be able to provide medical certification to truck drivers.

A commercial driver also needs to be able to pass a whisper hearing test. There are certain heart conditions that will prevent a person from driving a commercial truck.

Controlled Substances and Alcohol

It is very important for the driver to be sober when they operate a commercial truck. In addition to the pre-employment drug test, there are a few other times when the FMCSA requires you to administer drug tests to your drivers. 

When the driver has an accident, they should be tested for drugs and alcohol. Law enforcement will normally do this. However, an FMCSA inspector may do this as well. If you have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the beginning of a shift, you may test them for drugs.

You will be expected to do occasional random drug tests on your drivers. Simplex Group will ensure that records of all drug tests are properly documented and stored in the driver’s files. When it is time for your new entrant audit or any other audit, the auditor will be able to access everything they need right away. We can also help you arrange for the drug testing.

Vehicle Maintenance

Commercial truck drivers are required to inspect their vehicles before and after every trip. The most advanced electronic tracking devices, like the ones we offer, will allow you to record the results of these inspections. You are required to maintain a record of your daily inspections for the FMCSA.

A driver should test the lights on a vehicle. They will also make sure that all the windows are present and adjusted properly. Tests that ensure the steering wheel and brakes are working and that the truck is not leaking fuel are very important parts of the inspection.

If a truck does not pass the daily maintenance inspection, it will be sent to a mechanic for repair. Once your mechanic has made the repair, they must document exactly what they did. You should keep a record of the repair on file. The records of the inspection and the repair will include the vehicle’s VIN and license plate number.

Photo of a man checking permit


A trucking accident can cause a major disaster. There can be multiple injuries and deaths, and It can cause traffic to back up for hours. A trucking accident could result in major environmental damage. It can also do damage to the highway, so it is very important for a trucking company to be fully insured.

A trucking company is required to have liability insurance to pay for any injuries or deaths that happened as a result of an accident. The FMCSA requires a truck carrying freight to have a minimum of $750,000 to  $5,000,000 of insurance, depending on what is being transported. You must carry $300,000 of insurance for vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs that transport non-hazardous freight. 

Cargo insurance is also required. Your clients trust you to get their products to their customers in one piece, but there are many dangers on the average truck trip. Not only can you have an accident, but there is a chance that the product might get stolen. If a product is not loaded into a truck properly, it can become damaged. If perishables are not stored properly, they can become spoiled or worthless when they arrive at their destination.

You are required to have cargo insurance of $5,000 for each vehicle or $10,000 for each occurrence. Your contract with your client is likely to specify a much higher amount of cargo insurance.

Simplex Group can keep a record of all the insurance you have, and we can also help you obtain the policy.

The FMCSA has plenty of regulations, and there is a good reason for every single one of them. We are committed to the success of our clients. We specialize in helping new trucking companies with their initial compliance and ensuring compliance is maintained. Give us a call today.