Within five years, all will have to bear the legal name of the operating carrier.
The new rules, proposed in 1998, essentially do away with old marking requirements of the Interstate Commerce Commission. FMCSA says they are intended to "enhance the ability of the FMCSA, the states, and the general public to identify motor carriers." All changes are effective July 3, 2000, but the agency has alllowed phase-in periods for retrofitting vehicles in service before that date.
Carriers that are now using ICC numbers will have to replace them with "USDOT" numbers by July 3, 2002. By July 5, 2000, all commercial vehicles must also carry the legal name or a single trade name of the operating carrier, as listed on the motor carrier identification report (Form-150). FMCSA rejected a proposal to require the city and state where the company is based, agreeing with trucking arguments that it isn’t necessary. Any vehicles put into service on or after July 3, 2000, should be in compliance.
Identification markings must appear on both sides of the truck. Letters must "contrast sharply" with the background color, and must be legible, during daylight hours, from a distance of 50 feet while the vehicle is stationary. They can be painted on or can be displayed on a "removable device" if the device meets identification and legibility rules.
Trucks rented for less than 30 days can bear the rental company’s name but must also carry the rental agreement with the name and address of the renting motor carrier as well as its DOT number or information regarding the carrier’s operation and statement of safety compliance.
In the same rule, FMCSA also changed filing requirements, making it mandatory for new carriers to file Form-150 before beginning operations. Previous rules gave new carriers 90 days after beginning operations to file the form. Only the legal name or a single trade name maybe used on the report. The agency said it would consider requests for individual USDOT numbers to corporate divisions on a case-by-case basis but added that it must also consider whether assigning different numbers to a single corporate identity will "compromise the integrity of the collection process."
The final rule and discussions appeared June 2 in the Federal Register which can be accessed at www.nara.gov/fedreg.