Do I Need USDOT Numbers On My Commercial Vehicles?
Currently, 37 states require commercial vehicles to display DOT numbers. For some reason, it is really hard to find out how to properly display them on your truck. Fortunately, The Mighty Sign Makers have got your (DOT) number. Here’s the short version:
DOT numbers must be located on the cab door or just to the right of the door when facing the cab. The number must be on both the driver and passenger sides. Colors must “contrast sharply” with background colors and be large enough to be seen from a minimum distance of 50 feet during daylight hours when the vehicle is stationary. – Source Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Administration (FMVSA)
Our letter visibility chart shows that 2 inches, or taller, lettering is visible from 50 feet.
Seems simple enough. Most companies use block letters but a fancier font can be used as long as the writing is legible. The vast majority of companies use long-lasting vinyl lettering for vehicle lettering. The lettering is typically in white or black but it can be any color as long as there is a sharp contrast with the color of the vehicle. If you run with a lot of chrome, the lettering can be chrome as long as it contrasts. Since the vehicle is new, newly painted, or new to you, we suggest that you add your company contact information, and logo at the same time.
Information to display?
According to the Motor Carriers Guide to Improve Highway Safety, Vehicle Identification (390.21), every commercial motor vehicle operated by a motor carrier in interstate commerce must be marked, on BOTH sides of the vehicle, with the following:
- The motor carrier’s name or trade name
- The motor carrier’s identification number, preceded by “US DOT”
- The size, shape and color markings must be in letters that contrast sharply in color with the background on which the letters are placed
- The lettering must be readily legible during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet.
What else should you put on the sides of your vehicle? Your truck is one of the public faces of your company. Use it to promote your company with logos, taglines, contact information, and phone or website.
What are the USDOT Number requirements?
Now we are getting into regulations which can change so you shouldn’t rely solely on the Mighty Sign Makers’ blog post. Just about every state has adopted the FMCSA rules which require all interstate carriers and intrastate carriers need to have US DOT numbers. Both Washington and Oregon follow the FMCSA guidelines. According to the FMCSA website, you are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that:
- Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403).
- 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.
What about displaying Operating Authority (MC number)?
If you are required to have an MC number then the display requirements are the same as the DOT number.
Where do I go to get high-quality numbers, lettering, and logos?
At Specialty Graphic Solutions we only use the highest quality materials that are designed for long life during outdoor automotive use. We use 3M, Avery and Oracal vinyl which we feel are the best products on the market. The Mighty Sign Makers can install the graphics for a professional look. Why use a company like Specialty Graphic Solutions? Because we care about our customers and their needs and we do things right the first time. About 80% of our business is repeat or referral. We are particularly good at working with fleets of vehicles.