Trucking Industry Regulation (FMCSRs and HMRs)

How is the U.S. trucking industry regulated?


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a separate administration within the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

FMCSA is the primary federal agency responsible for reducing the number and severity of injuries and fatalities involving large commercial vehicles.

FMCSA Truck Inspection

FMCSA is responsible for inspecting trucking companies, compliance with legal requirements, developing rules for the operation of trucks by drivers and enforcement of these rules.

  • The primary regulations developed, maintained and enforced by FMCSA are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).
  • The FMCSRs are federal regulations that establish safe operational requirements for drivers, commercial vehicles, carriers, and equipment. 
  • The trucking industry is also regulated by city, local and state laws codes and regulations.

What is the difference between interstate transportation and intrastate transportation?

Intrastate vs Interstate

Interstate means transporting cargo between states (from one state into another).

  • Interstate transportation and commerce are regulated by the federal DOT, since the business crosses state lines.
  • State laws regulate intrastate commerce, which is transportation of cargo within one state (not crossing state lines).

Is the transportation of hazardous materials regulated in the trucking industry?

Yes, when hazardous materials (HazMat) are transported by commercial motor vehicle, regulations cover many issues, such as:

  • Classification
  • Emergency Response to Spills
  • Labeling, marking and placarding
  • HazMat shipping papers
  • Training
Hazmat Placards

Can a truck driver haul HazMat?

Hazmat Knowledge Test
  • Yes, as long as the driver has obtained the HazMat endorsement on their CDL, they can haul HazMat.
  • To get the HazMat endorsement added to a CDL, the driver needs to pass a CDL knowledge test and a security threat assessment that includes fingerprint-based criminal and background checks.

What are the federal agencies that regulate HazMat?

Hazmat HMR
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces HazMat regulations that ensure the safe and secure transportation of HazMat. 
  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issues and enforces the HazMat regulations, and sets standards for containers, documents, markings, labelling, and placarding.
  • FMCSA and PHMSA are agencies within the federal U.S. Department of Transportation
Hazmat Accident

What is a Hazardous Material?

Hazmat shipment
Hazmat Driver
  • Generally, a HazMat is a substance or material capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property, when transported in commerce.
  • HazMats are classified by a hazard class or division.
  • Some examples of HazMat classes include:
    • Explosives (Class 1)
    • Flammable or explosive gas (Class 2)
    • Flammable or combustible liquids (Class 3)
    • Poisonous or infectious materials (Class 6)
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