Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

Who is FMCSA?

The FMCSA is the lead federal government agency that regulates and also provides safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), including all commercial trucking companies, interstate bus companies, and all holders of the commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The FMCSA enforces DOT rules and regulations which govern the way truck drivers can operate in the United States in “Interstate” commerce. Staying abreast and remaining compliant with the US DOT regulations can be a challenge, but it is important as it also guarantees the well-being of all drivers, especially when they are on the road.

What Does FMCSA Do?

The FMCSA’s mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. With that mandate therefore, the FMCSA:

  • Develops and enforces data-driven regulations that balance motor carrier (truck and bus companies) safety with efficiency
  • Harnesses safety information systems to focus on higher risk carriers in enforcing the safety regulations
  • Targets educational messages to carriers, commercial drivers, and the public
  • Partners with stakeholders including Federal, State, and local enforcement agencies, the motor carrier industry, safety groups, and organized labor on efforts to reduce bus and truck-related crashes

FMCSA Regulations

The FMCSA regulations are published in the Federal Register and compiled in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). If you wish to have copies of appropriate volumes of the CFR in book format, you can purchase it from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, or find it at a public library. The CFR is also available online.

Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) Regulations

FMCSA’s Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations set the baseline for training requirements for entry-level drivers. This applies to those seeking to:

  • Obtain a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time;
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL; or
  • Obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time.

The ELDT regulations are not retroactive; individuals who were issued a CDL or an S, P, or H endorsement prior to February 7, 2022 are not required to complete training for the respective CDL or endorsement.

If an applicant who obtained a CLP prior to February 7, 2022, and obtains a CDL before the CLP or renewed CLP expires, the applicant is not subject to the ELDT requirements.

Any individual who meets one of the exceptions for taking a skills test in 49 CFR Part 383 is also exempt from the ELDT requirements.

Motor carriers that provide entry-level driver training must register in FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry

On February 7, 2022, the Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations were implemented. The ELDT regulations establish a Federal standard for training CDL applicants. Applicants must successfully complete this training with a registered training provider before they will be permitted to take the CDL skills test or, in the case of the H endorsement, the knowledge test.

Any entity, including motor carriers, that provides entry-level driver training must register in FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry . For more information, see the FMCSA’s Entry-Level Driver Training page.

Safety Programs

The FMCSA has several safety programs to help achieve its mission:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a safety compliance and enforcement program by FMCSA that holds motor carriers and drivers accountable for their role in safety. The enforcement covers all motor carriers (including the owners and operators) and works by picking out those with safety problems to recommend them for corrective or warning actions such as warning letters and investigations.

Safety Measurement System (SMS)

The SMS is the motor carrier’s safety data that appears online in the Safety Measurement System, and is regulated by the FMCSA. Every month, the SMS is updated using data collected from roadside inspections. This data includes everything, from driver and vehicle violations, to crash reports from within a specific period, and also results of other investigations conducted.

Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP)

With the PSP, carriers are able to make better informed hiring decisions by providing secure, electronic access to a commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history from the FMCSA Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS).

New Entrant Safety Assurance Program

The New Entrant Safety Assurance Programs are U.S. and Canada-based motor carriers not domiciled in Mexico that then apply for a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) identification number, in order to initiate operations in interstate commerce.

Once you are a New Entrant, you will be monitored during the initial 18-month period during which you will be expected to:

  • Operate safely
  • Maintain up-to-date records
  • Conduct regular inspections and perform maintenance on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs)
  • Pass the safety audit

Grant Funding

The FMCSA runs safety grant funding opportunities which are available to State and local government agencies. The funding opportunities can be accessed in one of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. To apply for the funding, you must be involved in commercial motor vehicle safety activities, and also demonstrate a capacity to work with highway traffic safety.

Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Grant

The MCSAP is another federal grant program serving States with the mandate to reduce the number and severity of crashes and hazardous materials incidents involving CMVs. The MCSAP does this through consistent, uniform, and effective CMV safety programs. The MCSAP is FMCSA’s largest grant program supporting the use of over 12,000 enforcement officers by State and local law enforcement agencies to increase enforcement and safety activities across the nation.

Commercial Driver License (CDL) Program Implementation Grant

The CDLPI grant provides a financial boost to States to help attain compliance with the requirements of 49 CFR Parts 383 and 384. The CDLPI grant program also provides financial assistance for other entities capable of implementing national projects that aid States in their efforts to remain compliant, thereby improving the national Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program.

CMV Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) Grant

The CMVOST grant program has two main aims:

  • To increase the number of CDL holders who have undergone enhanced operator safety training to help reduce the severity and number of crashes on U.S. roads involving CMVs
  • To assist current or former members of the United States Armed Forces along with their spouses to receive training to aid their transition to the CMV operation industry

High Priority (HP) Grant

The HP grant program is a discretionary (competitive) program that provides financial assistance to boost the MCSAP commercial vehicle safety plan (CVSP) activities, and to maintain innovative technology and/or any new project(s) not covered in the CVSP as long as it promises a positive impact on commercial motor vehicle safety.

The FMCSA Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program

Initiated in January 2005, the Federal Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program was initiated in support of FMCSA’s mission to improve truck and bus safety on the highways for intrastate, interstate, and foreign motor carriers shipping specific types and amounts of hazardous materials.

All carriers involved must comply with certain safety levels in their daily operations. They are also expected to receive certification indicating that they have programs in place as required by the Hazardous Materials Regulations and the Hazardous Materials Permit regulations.

Cargo Tank Safety

In a bid to improve the safety of cargo tank motor vehicles on the highways, the FMCSA:

  • Enforces related rules and regulations
  • Conducts inspections
  • Licenses hazmat carriers
  • Conducts studies
  • Issues advisory notices
  • Provides educational resources to assist in the safe movement of cargo tanks

Consumer-Related Safety Programs

The FMCSA has a few customer-centric programs in place to keep the public abreast on matters of safety on the highways and also act as an interface for any communication from both parties.

National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB)

FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint Database is an online platform enabling consumers, drivers and others to present complaints against unsafe and careless motor carriers and/or their employees and other road users on the highways.

Look Before You Book

This program allows consumers planning to book an interstate bus trip to conduct research on company safety records online and quickly verify that the company is authorized to operate and has its required liability insurance.

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