Learn More About Commercial Vehicles

Commercial Vehicles Defined

When you think of commercial vehicles, some vehicles that may come to mind are box trucks or heavy-duty pickup trucks. Vehicles of this sort are often registered to a company and may include fleet specific vehicles.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 31132, a “commercial motor vehicle” means a self-propelled or towed vehicle used on the highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property, if the vehicle:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of at 10,001 lbs. pounds, whichever is greater;
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation;
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver), and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • Is used in transporting hazardous materials.

When a commercial motor vehicle meets the FMCSA definition, organizations must comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) safety regulations for drug and alcohol testing, driver eligibility (physical exam included), Hours of Service rules, routine vehicle inspection and maintenance, and access to proper parts and accessories to operate the vehicle.

It is important to note that not all commercial vehicles are subject to all the FMCSA regulations. See the official FMCSA site for additional information.

Types of Commercial Vehicles

Commercial Trucks

  • Box Trucks have a cargo section and driver’s cab attached to one structural frame, but the cargo section is not accessible from the cab. Vehicles in this category are used for many different jobs including local deliveries, moving, and hauling larger items such as furniture or appliances.
  • Pickup Trucks with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 lbs. (e.g., Ford F-450, RAM 4500, or Chevrolet Silverado 4500) which can sometimes be factory-equipped or upfitted with pickup beds.

Commercial Vans

  • Step Vans stand taller than the average full-sized van and allow ease of access for operators to step on and off. Vehicles in this category are used by parcel services, food delivery and even some first responders – police and firefighters.
  • Cargo Vans - also known as sprinters, can vary in size. Some cargo vans have roll-up rear doors like box trucks. Vehicles in this category are used for repair services (plumbing, etc.) and delivery services.
  • Passenger Vans are used for transporting individuals (usually 9-15 total) as a service like a shuttle or even for travel usage.

Is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) required to operate a Commercial Vehicle?

Not all commercial vehicles require that the operator has a CDL. While the requirements vary state by state, the criteria to indicate if a CDL is required often includes:

  • A vehicle with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 lbs. or more, the gross vehicle weight rating with load exceeds 10,000 lbs.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more
  • Any vehicle transporting 16 or more passengers, driver included
  • Any transport of hazardous materials

Commercial Vehicle Regulations

For most commercial vehicles, there are safety regulations that must be followed per guidance by the FMCSA. Operators that exclusively drive intrastate need to comply with state laws as an alternative to federal safety requirements. However, operators that drive interstate must comply with state laws such as speed limits or traffic, and federal requirements.

Lastly, organizations should also refer to the FMCSA’s guidelines for commercial driving as it pertains to insurance and CDL driver criteria.

What’s Next?

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Are looking for light or medium duty (Class 2b-6) vehicles for short and/or long-term business needs, you can get started by filling out our Enterprise Truck Rental Inquiry Form, and a specialist from our truck team will reach out to assist you further.