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  • Writer's pictureFront Range Compliance

What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

In the world of DOT, we deal with numerous vehicle combinations. Straight trucks, truck tractors, truck trailers, tractor trailers are just a few of the varieties that fall under the category of Commercial Motor Vehicle.

It's very easy to confuse and misidentify these vehicles, which in turn could get you or your company in trouble with the feds. To help carriers across the nation, we created the below flowchart to assist motor carriers in properly characterizing their vehicles operating. By answering the questions in the flowchart from top to bottom, motor carriers and drivers will be able to properly identify their vehicle as a CMV.

All drivers and carriers operating CMVs are to maintain complaint with the rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

There is an official definition for Commercial Motor Vehicles from the FMCSA, however it is very easy to confuse and misunderstand.

The FMCSA defines a CMV in 49 CFR 390.5 as follows:

Commercial Motor Vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or

  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

If you need assistance with maintaining DOT Compliance or have further questions about CMVs, please reach out to us at or reach out to Nicole Hall using the link below and we would be happy to further assist you!

Make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing Designated Employer Representative and Appendix A.

Until then, check out our other blogs or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to be the first to know when new classes are made available or for other updates like this! You can also opt-in to our newsletter for exclusive offers, regulation changes, and industry news!

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