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What is Considered a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

Posted on August 5, 2019

The phrase “commercial motor vehicle” can be confusing. When most people think of a commercial vehicle, they think of a large truck. However, the actual definition shows us that there is more to it than that. When we look at commercial motor vehicles, we will turn to two definitions: both definitions are used to describe vehicles that carry goods and passengers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is any vehicle used in interstate commerce to transports passengers or property.

  • One definition of a CMV applies to vehicles that have a gross combination weight, gross vehicle weight, or a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. A commercial driver’s license is not required to operate vehicles of this size. However, these vehicles are subject to certain requirements such as marking the vehicle with the USDOT number, a driver qualification file, hours of service, as well as inspection and maintenance requirements. Some of the common vehicles in this class include:
    • Small package delivery vehicles
    • Pickup trucks with trailers attached
    • Box trucks
    • Straight trucks
    • And more
  • Another definition of a CMV applied to vehicles used in commerce to transport property or passengers that have a gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds or more, including a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds. A commercial driver’s license is required to operate these vehicles, and these vehicles have more strict FMCSA regulations, including inspections, repair and maintenance, driver alcohol/drug requirements, driver logs, and more. Some of the common vehicles in this category include:
    • Tractor-trailer vehicles
    • Commercial passenger buses

Why it is Important to Define Commercial Motor Vehicles

Defining commercial motor vehicles is important because these vehicles and their drivers face regulations that regular passenger vehicles do not. Due to their size and weight, they are inherently more dangerous on the roadways.

It is not uncommon for us to see serious, life-altering injuries in the aftermath of a commercial vehicle crash. This can include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Other injuries that inhibit a person’s daily activities

Not only can these vehicles cause serious damages and injuries, but they can also harm more people at once. Commercial motor vehicles also often carry hazardous materials that pose even more danger in the event of an accident.

Are CMVs Dangerous?

If truck drivers and trucking companies follow all of the regulations set forth by the FMCSA, these trucks are generally safe. While not all accidents can be prevented, proper maintenance and responsible driving can prevent most incidents. Unfortunately, the careless and negligent operation of a driver or company can cause harm.

The FMCSA tells us that there were 148,000 people injured and 4,761 people were killed in large truck crashes during the latest reporting year. Looking at commercial bus incidents, there were 25,000 people injured and 274 people killed during the latest reporting year.

Without regulations, those numbers would be much higher. Both federal and state authorities work hard to keep commercial transportation safe for all Floridians. If you or a loved one are injured in a commercial vehicle crash, consider securing help from a Orlando personal injury attorney who specializes in car accident cases.