What is a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle)?

HomeGlossary of fleet termsWhat is a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle)?

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) definition

A CMV (commercial motor vehicle) is defined as a vehicle (generally over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating) used for business, transporting product or people between states. All vehicles transporting hazardous materials (whether for interstate commerce or not) are also considered CMVs. For the most up-to-date information please refer to the official FMCSA website. All CMVs are required to have a USDOT number.

Compliance with DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as Hours of Service (HOS) Rules, the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program and the electronic logging device (ELD) Mandate is required for any fleet operating CMVs.

See our OEM solution from CMVs

What is a CDL license?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is the license required to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States, and a CDL carries higher standards than a regular driver’s license for non-commercial vehicles. Obtaining a CDL involves knowledge and skills examinations to prove that a driver can handle larger vehicles, more passengers or potentially hazardous materials. CDL holders may also be subject to drug testing and other checks like pre-employment screening.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) dictates the minimum standards for obtaining a CDL, but each state issues its own testing and certifications. Three classes of CDL (A, B and C) correspond to classifications of commercial vehicles that one can drive, but additional endorsements and restrictions apply to special types of CMVs.

Do I need a CDL to drive a CMV?

Not every type of CMV requires a CDL to legally drive, but most do. Whether you need a CDL to drive a CMV depends on factors including the vehicle’s weight, its passenger capacity, and the type of cargo in transport. Generally speaking, the FMCSA requires a CDL for vehicles that meet any of the following conditions:

  • Gross vehicle combination weight is more than 26,001 pounds (including vehicles in tow);
  • Vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people;
  • Vehicles that transport federally regulated hazardous materials.

These are the general outlines for CMVs that require a commercial license, but the regulations may vary by state.

What are the key uses of CMVs?

CMVs are instrumental for many key roles in our economy and our communities. For example, CMVs are crucial in supply chains for the transportation of goods and supplies. CMVs and CDL drivers can carry almost anything on the market — from food to building materials, and even other vehicles.

CMVs are also vital in passenger transport, with vehicles like buses and large vans providing transit and recreation in everyday life. Other types of CMVs fill specialized roles in society such as waste removal, construction operations and emergency services.

Fleet management of CMVs with Verizon Connect

Commercial carriers often utilize many CMVs in a fleet, which leads to complicated logistics regarding route planning, CMV reporting requirements, and prioritizing driver safety. Effective fleet management is essential, and can be significantly enhanced through the use of specialized software.

Verizon Connect’s comprehensive fleet management platform can integrate the operations of all vehicles in a fleet with functions like GPS tracking, route optimization, maintenance alerts, and other tools to simplify regulatory compliance. These features offer increased visibility and control over fleet operations, allowing managers to boost both safety and efficiency.

Frequently asked questions about commercial motor vehicles

How big is a CMV?

The size of a CMV can vary greatly depending on its purpose. Per the FMCSA explanation of commercial vehicles, CMVs are typically defined as having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds, or those designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver. This would include vehicles like tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, dump trucks, school buses, and large vans.

What is considered a CMV?

A vehicle’s size is only one factor that can determine its status as a CMV. Almost any vehicle of more than 10,000 pounds GVWR or 16-passenger capacity counts as a CMV, but other vehicles that don’t meet these standards may qualify if they serve certain commercial purposes.

For example, any vehicle that carries more than 8 people including the driver for compensation may be considered a CMV. Additionally, any vehicle that carries regulated quantities of hazardous materials is also considered a CMV. In these cases, a smaller vehicle that would not normally require a CDL may need a commercially licensed driver for legal operation.

What are CMV requirements?

Commercial vehicles that are used for interstate commerce must be federally registered with a USDOT Number. In addition, federal and state governments require certain kinds of reports from companies that operate CMVs.

According to The Association for the Work Truck Industry, regulations for CMVs and CDL drivers require records related to vehicle hours of service, drivers’ working hours, safety inspections, maintenance work and incident reports. These rules are designed to improve the safety of the commercial trucking industry — both for drivers and the public on the roads.

Who sells commercial vehicles with GPS tracking?

The requirements for CMV reporting are much easier to meet when vehicles are equipped with technology such as GPS tracking. In addition, fleet managers need the ability to oversee vehicle operations in near real-time.

For these reasons, many fleet vehicles are equipped with GPS telematics systems. For instance, companies like Ford, General Motors, and Dodge offer GPS-ready commercial vehicles. Additionally, aftermarket GPS tracking devices can be installed in any vehicle.

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Built to make your driver’s day easy, this FMCSA-certified ELD is connected directly to the vehicle for improved accuracy and automated logging. Includes 24/7 phone support.

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