The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) controls and regulates interstate commercial traffic through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety (FMCS) regulations, which apply to all traffic involved in interstate commerce, whether it involves property or passengers. The only exceptions to the FMCS regulations are vehicles owned or operated by Federal, state and local governments (law enforcement, Public Safety vehicles, etc.), school buses, transportation of personal property by individuals and vehicles that are carrying injured persons (ambulances) and corpses (coroner vehicles).
All motor carriers must comply with DOT inspections, repair, and maintenance requirements regardless of whether they are licensed by the government or not. These requirements include maintaining accurate records for all vehicles (with identifying information, inspection schedule, and records of tests), recording and correcting any violations reported by roadside inspection reports, and keeping a post-trip inspection report after every days driving.
A FMCSA compliance review is an examination conducted on-site by a licensed U.S. federal safety investigator to make sure that a motor carrier is up to DOT standards. The safety investigator will determine that drivers have not exceeded the DOT maximum hours allowed before a break, that vehicles are being maintained according to DOT requirements, that all drivers are licensed and certified to perform their duties, and on the occasions that it is deemed necessary the investigator will conduct drug and alcohol tests.
Motor Carrier Responsibility
Motor carriers are required to perform required duties in order to maintain their licenses, including filing a Motor Carrier Identification Report every 24 months, reporting accidents involving bodily injury or disabling damage to one or more vehicles (and maintaining an accident register for 12 months following the accident), assisting the FMCSA in any investigations and making all requested records available and marking their vehicles with the motor carrier’s name, location (city and state) of business headquarters, and the DOT number issued to them.