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Who needs a US DOT number?

The Federal Carrier Motor Safety Administration (FCMSA) is responsible for issuing the US DOT number.

Here are the requirements the FMCSA states:
– Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous and transported in a quantity requiring placarding (whether interstate or intrastate). 
OR
– 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 
– Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or 
– Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; 
AND is involved in Interstate commerce:
Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—
– Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a place outside of the United States);
– Between two places in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
– Between two places in a State as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States. 

The responsibility of ever truck driver:

It is the responsibility of motor carrier operators and drivers to know and comply with all applicable Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Safety compliance and safe operations translate into saved lives and property. We believe the information in this package, when effectively applied, will contribute to safer motor carrier operations and highways.
The FMCSA provide a lot of excellent resources for trucking companies and truck fleets, but the information may be too difficult to understand for the new truck owner operator.
The actual dot number size is not exactly specified by the FMCSA for the dot number display requirements. For DOT NUMBERS on commercial vehicles and trucks it is only required that the DOT NUMBER be readable from 50 feet during daylight hours when the commercial vehicle is stationary.
dot number size and placement
(c) Size, shape, location, and color of marking. The marking must—
(1) Appear on both sides of the self-propelled CMV;
(2) Be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed;
(3) Be readily legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet (15.24 meters) while the CMV is stationary; and
(4) Be kept and maintained in a manner that retains the legibility required by paragraph (c)(3) of this section.

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