When it comes to starting your own trucking company it can be quite confusing to sort through all the laws and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Here are a few definitions of common terms, regulations, and registrations in the trucking industry to make the research process a little easier.


Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories – BASICs

Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) are the categories of safety standards with scores given to each motor carrier as part of the FMCSA’s Safety Management System (SMS) to determine if they are properly following all safety regulations. The seven categories are:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Crash indicators
  • Hours-of-service compliance
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Controlled substances/alcohol
  • Hazardous materials compliance
  • Driver fitness

Your CSA score is based on a percentile of your company’s safety violations compared to a national average of similar violations under these main categories. The scores range from 0 to 100, and the higher the percentile, the worse the score.

How We Can Help:

If your BASICs scores are high, you could be faced with a compliance review. Give us a call to learn how we can help you keep your BASICs scores low and stay compliant with the FMCSA.

Biennial Update

The biennial update is an FMCSA requirement of all entities under its jurisdiction, i.e. owner operators, to update their USDOT number and information, even if no details have changed. If you are a motor carrier and don’t update your information every two years, you could be subject to a fine or your USDOT number could be inactivated. Also, keep in mind, some states require you to update it annually.. You can learn more about the biennial update here.

How We Can Help:

We can update your USDOT for you and keep you up-to-date with any other forms and paperwork that need to be renewed. Give us a call to get started.

Bill of Lading – BOL or B/L

The Bill of Lading is a contract issued by the shipper to the carrier that details what’s being shipped, where the load is being transported to, and how payment is expected to be fulfilled. Factoring companies can help take care of the BOL for you by giving you payment for the job and later billing the shipper. Learn more about what factoring companies are and how they can help you run your trucking company.


Also called a freight broker, a broker is someone who accepts jobs from shippers and delegates them to motor carriers. Brokers are required to get their own operating authority, but it’s a different type of authority than those looking to become owner operators or trucking company owners.

How We Can Help:

In order to become a broker, you’ll need to make sure you have the correct authority. We’re a phone call away to help you sort through all the paperwork to get everything you need to get started.


Commercial Driver’s License – CDL

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) allows someone to operate certain commercial motor vehicles, depending on the CDL Classification. There are three main types of CDLs:

  • Class A - Able to operate any combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 lbs. or more to include a towed vehicle heavier than 10,000 lbs. Class A vehicles include tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, and flatbeds.
  • Class B - Able to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier and/or any vehicle that is towing another vehicle up to 10,000 lbs. Some examples of Class B vehicles are straight trucks and large buses.
  • Class C - Able to operate a vehicle that does not meet the criteria of either a Class A or Class B license and is meant to transport at least 16 passengers or HAZMAT with the proper endorsements. Class C vehicles are usually small HAZMAT vehicles or passenger vans or buses.

Compliance Review

A compliance review is a safety audit mandated and performed by the FMCSA for motor carriers who have a number of safety violations. The FMCSA may require a compliance review if:

  • You have poor CSA BASIC scores.
  • You are requesting a safety rating change.
  • Your company had a major accident.
  • Someone filed for a complaint investigation.
  • Your drivers had roadside inspections that resulted in out-of-service violations.
  • You failed a new entrant safety audit.

How We Can Help:

We offer an easy-to-follow DOT Audit Checklist to make sure that you pass! Learn more about how we can help you pass your compliance review.

Compliance, Safety, Accountability – CSA

The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program as part of the FMCSA that keeps motor carriers and drivers accountable to properly follow safety regulations.

CSA Score

A CSA score is a trucking company’s safety rating. The main ratings the FMCSA gives are Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, and Conditional. These ratings are determined by the number of violations your company has under the FMCSA’s seven BASICs. Learn more about what a CSA score is and how to find yours. Note: If your CSA score is above a certain number in any of the categories, you may be asked to do a compliance review.

How We Can Help:

If your CSA score isn’t what you want it to be, give us a call! We can help you pass a compliance review, or if necessary, provide the documentation you need to file a safety upgrade request.


DAC Report

A DAC report is an overview of a trucker’s past records. It holds key information for employers looking to hire a trucker, including:

  • Employment history
  • DOT physical results
  • Criminal background checks

DOT Supervisor Training

If you are the owner or manager of a company that employs more than one driver, you may be required to provide a two-hour supervisor training that trains your company’s supervisor(s) the symptoms of alcohol abuse and symptoms of controlled substances use. Owner operators with no employees or contractors are not required to take the supervisor training.

How We Can Help:

If you are required by the DOT to provide a supervisor training as part of your trucking company, leave it to us! Learn more about our supervisor training program here.

Drug and Alcohol Consortium

The FMCSA requires drivers of commercial vehicles with a CGVWR of 26,001 or more lbs to be randomly tested for drug and alcohol use. As an owner operator, you can join a consortium to be added to a random pool of people to fulfill the requirement set by the FMCSA.

How We Can Help:

Are you an owner operator and need to be part of a drug and alcohol consortium? Join ours.


Electronic Logging Device – ELD/E-Log

An electronic logging device is a DOT-certified device used to track a driver’s hours of service. It’s connected to your vehicle’s engine to record hours driven. They replaced the paper logs that were originally used to track hours. These devices were made a requirement starting December 18, 2017. Read more about the ELD Mandate.


Federal Highway Administration – FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) currently maintains highways, tunnels, and bridges. It used to be called the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and provided trucking companies and owner operators their operating authority until the FMCSA was introduced.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is part of the Department of Transportation. The FMCSA creates and enforces regulations to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities, crashes, and injuries.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations – FMCSR

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) is the general title for any of the regulations set by the FMCSA as requirements for motor carriers to keep them safe both on and off the road.

Form 2290

The Form 2290 is a tax form used to file your Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT). Motor carriers are required to submit this form if they have registered or are required to register a motor vehicle with a weight of 55,000 pounds or more in their name.

How We Can Help:

Give us a call, and we’ll provide the resources you need to make sure this tax form is filed correctly before the August 31st deadline.

Form OP-1

The Form OP-1 is a form that must be submitted to become a motor property carrier or get your broker authority. The FMCSA recently changed some rules regarding the Form OP-1, as it can only be submitted for motor carriers obtaining additional types of operating authority. However, an online version of this form must still be submitted to get your operating authority to start your own company or become an owner operator.

How We Can Help:

We can fill out this form out for you as part of our operating authority package.


Gross Vehicle Combined Rating – GVCR

The maximum weight of your vehicle and any trailers attached. Note: The GVCR can be less than both your vehicle’s GVWR and the trailer’s GVWR.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating – GVWR

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight limit for your vehicle, meaning the weight of your vehicle plus any passengers, accessories, or loads in your vehicle. It’s different from a GVCR.


Hazardous Materials – HAZMAT

Hazardous materials as classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you choose to haul HAZMAT, whether as a company driver or owner operator, you must have the proper endorsements on your CDL as mandated by the DOT.

Heavy Vehicle Use Tax – HVUT

A tax that must be paid if using a vehicle that has a registered gross weight equal to or more than 55,000 lbs. The Form 2290 is used to file for the HVUT.

How We Can Help:

We can make sure that your Form 2290 is filled out properly. Give us a call, and we can provide you with the resources you need to file this tax and not pay more than you need to.

Hotshot Trucker

A type of owner operator. Hotshot truckers haul loads commercially and operate under their own operating authority. Depending on the type of truck a hotshot trucker owns, they may not need a CDL to operate but still need proper operating authority. Hotshot truckers usually have lower start-up costs than owner operators because a hotshot truck costs less than a semi-truck.

How to Become a Hotshot Trucker:

If you want to be a hotshot trucker operating under your own operating authority, we can take care of all the paperwork for you! Learn more about how we can make the process easy here.

Hours of Service – HOS

The Hours of Service (HOS) is the maximum number of hours drivers can work consecutively, as set by the FMCSA. The HOS are often tracked using paper logs or ELDs.


International Fuel Tax Agreement – IFTA

An agreement among the United States and some of the provinces in Canada. Rather than calculating fuel taxes based on how much fuel is bought where, IFTA takes into account the proportion of miles traveled in each state to determine how much of the fuel tax should go to each state.

How We Can Help:

To stay compliant with IFTA, motor carriers are required to file IFTA reports every quarter. We can calculate your mileage and fuel consumption and prepare and submit the filings for you. We also provide a report after to help you find ways to keep IFTA costs down.

International Registration Plan – IRP

A fee motor carriers pay to account for operation throughout the U.S. and some of the provinces in Canada. Rather than calculating the exact number of miles traveled in each state to determine the cost, the IRP fee is calculated based on a percentage of the distance traveled in each state compared to the total amount driven.

How We Can Help:

Registering for the IRP can be tricky. If you are based in Utah, Progressive Reporting can help you fill out the paperwork and determine exactly how much you need to pay, so you aren’t paying more than you need to for your IRP fee. Learn more about our IRP registration services.

Interstate Commerce

Motor carriers that haul loads commercially through more than one state or country. Owner operators or trucking companies hauling interstate need their USDOT number and operating authority in order to haul property across state or national lines.

Interstate Commerce Commission – ICC

The old name for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The ICC used to be in charge of handling operating authority back until 1995. It has since been replaced with the FMCSA.

Intrastate Commerce

Motor carriers that haul loads commercially in only one state or province. Owner operators or trucking companies who only plan to haul loads in intrastate commerce may need different types of operating authority than those hauling interstate commerce.


MC Number

An MC Number is usually tied to your USDOT number and gives your trucking company the authority to transport goods in interstate commerce. Some other names of this operating authority include “FF Number” or “MX Number,” depending on the type of operating authority your company needs.

How We Can Help:

If you need an MC Number, leave it to us! We can get you your MC number as part of our new motor carrier authority package.


The form necessary to obtain a USDOT number. This form outlines all of the business information about your company that the FMCSA needs to know. In order to stay compliant, the MCS-150 needs to be updated as part of the biennial update.


New Entrant Safety Assurance Program

The new entrant safety assurance program is FMCSA’s program to make sure new motor carriers stay compliant with the safety regulations mandated by the FMCSA. As part of this program, the FMCSA requires all new motor carriers to pass a new entrant safety audit, and if necessary, a compliance review.

How We Can Help:

If you have any questions about the FMCSA’s safety programs, give us a call and we’ll be happy to work through the concerns you have and keep your company compliant with the FMCSA.

New Entrant Safety Audit

The new entrant safety audit is a requirement set by the FMCSA within the first 12 months of your company’s operation. Its purpose is to verify that your company is following all safety protocols set by the FMCSA. You can learn more about what you need to prepare for the audit here.


Operating Authority

Operating authority is something granted by the FMCSA to operate on a for-hire basis commercially in interstate commerce. There are multiple kinds of operating authority, depending on the types of loads and the organization of the company. For example, motor carrier operating authority is different from the operating authority brokers need. Additionally, companies that haul passengers need a different operating authority than companies that haul property.

How We Can Help:

If you need your operating authority, it’s important to get the right type. As part of our new motor carrier operating authority package, we can get exactly what you need and more. Just give us a call to get started.

Owner Operator

Someone who owns and operates their own truck. There are two main types of owner operators:

  • Leased Owner Operators. Work for a company under another company’s operating authority.
  • Independent Owner Operators. Act as their own trucking company under their own operating authority.

Learn more about owner operators.


Safety Measurement System – SMS

The Safety Measurement System (SMS) is a tracking system under the FMCSA that reports data from roadside inspections, crash reports, and investigations. The SMS logs the data under seven BASICs. Much of the data in the SMS is open to the general public to view scores of any trucking company or owner operator.

Safety Rating

A safety rating your company is given based on a compliance review. There are three main safety ratings:

  • Satisfactory
  • Unsatisfactory
  • Conditional

Any safety rating under satisfactory could get your trucking company put out of service.

How We Can Help:

If your safety rating isn’t satisfactory, we can help you create a safety upgrade request and any necessary corrective action plan to prove to the FMCSA that your company is operating safely.


Unified Carrier Registration – UCR

Not an FMCSA program, the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) is an annual fee motor carriers pay based on the number of trucks in their fleet. This fee is then used to support each state’s efforts to keep motor carriers safe.

How We Can Help:

If you need to pay the UCR fee, give us a call and we can walk you through the process to make sure you aren’t paying more than you have to.

Unified Registration System – URS

The Unified Registration System (URS) is the online system set in place by the FMCSA for new motor carrier authority applicants. This system replaced submitting physical copies of forms to the FMCSA for new motor carriers.

How We Can Help:

Navigating under the URS can be confusing and it’s hard to determine what you need to register under the system and what you don’t. Our coaches can walk you through the system or take care of any registrations for you, so paperwork doesn’t have to slow you down. Just give us a call to get started.

USDOT Number

Also called a DOT number, a USDOT number acts as a unique identifier for your trucking company. A USDOT number is similar to a driver’s license number, and it tracks information collected during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.

How We Can Help:

If you need a USDOT number for your trucking company or to become an owner operator, we can get it for you as part of our new motor carrier authority package.

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