Are You Operating an Illegal Trucking Business Without Even Knowing It?
Believe it or not – many people are running a trucking business and hauling loads every day completely violating all kinds of regulations without even knowing they are not operating legally at all.
The regulations are not always clear or easy to understand – and it is easy to get in deep trouble fast if you make a mistake. Even worse Uncle Sam doesn’t care much at all about your intentions – and the fines and penalties will be assessed just the same.
How much? How about tens of thousands of dollars – just to start off with. Beyond that, there can even be criminal charges and possibly additional lawsuits – particularly when an accident has occurred with injuries or death.
Little Trucks are NOT Always Exempt Either!
If you have seriously looked into requirements for starting and operating a trucking company then you would have quickly found out there is a ton of information on requirements for tractor trailers. It’s still complicated to a point – but you get the idea quickly that there is a ton of regulatory stuff associated with operating tractor trailers in commerce.
But what about smaller vehicles like box trucks, pickup trucks and pulling cargo trailers with a small truck or a van – even in vehicles that do not require a CDL to operate?
I see that all over the place in ads selling various vehicles of all sizes ” No CDL required” etc.
Many people assume that because no CDL is needed or required that there will be no other regulatory compliance issues either – like the need to get a DOT number and or MC authority or meet minimum levels of financial responsibility (insurance) etc.
They are often sadly WRONG!
If there are requirements that are not met – there can be catastrophic consequences eventually. It may take a while – but sooner or later the chances are almost 100% that they will find you if you are operating illegally – and when they do it will destroy your business and maybe even your personal life too.
Some of the major violations include;
- Failure to have a DOT number when required
- Failure to have MC number (proper operating authority) when required
- Not meeting minimum driver qualifications (CDL/Physical/Qual file etc)
- Vehicle not marked properly
- Failing to have emergency equipment on board (triangles, fuses, fire extinguisher)
- Not being in a DOT compliant drug and alcohol testing program
- Failure to meet financial responsibility requirements (insurance) or have proof (MCS 90 etc.)
So do not operate in ignorance.
Take the time and make the effort to find out what you need to have and make sure you are meeting the requirements.
There are certain types of operators and companies that are highly likely to “step in it” without even knowing they are doing so. Below is a list of a few of them, though there are others too. But if you are on this list – then you need to be extra careful to be sure you are certain that you know what you are doing!
- Landscaping Companies
- Box Truck (Straight Truck) Operators
- Pickup Trucks Pulling Trailers
- Hauling Passengers
- Hauling Hazardous Materials regardless of vehicle size/type
There are many people, many companies and other organizations doing these things – and plenty of them are doing them illegally too – yet they are completely oblivious to it.
Others are well aware – yet are intentionally choosing to violate the regulations.
Either way, whether intentional or not – it is a HUGE risk with potentially life devastating consequences.
My recommendation is that you at the very least take the time and make the effort to find out if what you are contemplating doing is going to require a DOT number and possibly an MC number (authority) too, then make sure you are making well informed and intentional risk management decisions.
If you find you are already in violation – well then – it gets more complicated. You will need to start fixing what you can immediately and minimizing the chances for future problems, unfortunately though, you will still be exposed to potential regulatory action if they find out about it. The only thing that will decrease the chances of that is the passage of time after putting all of your management control systems in place and making sure you are within the regulations at all times from then on.
DOT, FMCSA and State Requirements
Go to the FMCSA site to start with and read through it very carefully. That is your starting point. Keep in mind there are other entities that may come into play too such as the sate and local area requirements where you are based out of – and even states and local areas you travel through and operate in.
They are NOT all the same and there are various requirements you will need to meet based on certain factors that apply to you and the type of operations that you do as well as the type and size of equipment you operate or intend to operate.
Even beyond all that there are multiple additional risk management issues you need to be well aware of and carefully consider to help reduce your risks and to save you a ton of money – not to mention saving yourself plenty of stress and headaches too!
Keep in mind that the regulations – as much of a pain as they can be – are all just the minimum requirements you need to be aware of and meet in order to legally operate. Additional management control systems are necessary if you want to make as much money as possible and avoid paying extra for insurance and other expenses.
Do not be afraid – but at the same time do not take this stuff lightly either.
Many motor carriers and their owners have been driven out of business and financially ruined because of ignorant decisions they made resulting in noncompliance which lead to their eventual destruction.
Learn what you need to know and then do it so you can achieve and maintain Trucking Business Success!