Interstate vs Intrastate Trucking

What is the Difference Between Interstate vs Intrastate Trucking?

trucks in a row

Interstate trucking means that you drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines (including to leave the country) in the transportation of cargo or you transport cargo from one point to another within a state’s boundaries but the ultimate destination of the cargo is outside of the state.  You are engaging in Interstate commerce by transporting goods across state lines. Intrastate trucking means that you drive your commercial motor vehicle only within a state’s boundaries and that you do not fit any of the other descriptions of interstate commerce. You are engaging in intrastate commerce by transporting goods only within a single state whose final destination is within the state from which it originated.

Why is the Interstate vs Intrastate Distinction Important?

The importance of the distinction between interstate and intrastate trucking is that the laws that govern the driver, vehicle, and company are different and the regulatory bodies are different in interstate vs intrastate trucking.  In order to ensure you, as a truck driver, are in compliance with the applicable laws, you must determine which laws apply to you. If you are engaged in Interstate Trucking, you are subject to the rules and regulations (FMCSR) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).  If you are engaged solely in intrastate trucking, however, you are subject to the rules and requirements of the individual state and state regulatory agency. In Texas, this would be the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (TMCSR).

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) vs Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (TMCSR)

Some examples of differences in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are as follows:

  • The Hours of Service of Drivers Requirements in the TMCSR allows for a maximum driving time of 12 hours following 8 consecutive hours of off duty time whereas the FMCSR Hours of Service limit the maximum driving time to 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • The TMCSR exempts farm vehicles having a registered or actual gross weight of less than 48,000 lbs. from regulation whereas the FMCSR does not.
  • Intrastate drivers in Texas may not drive after having been on duty 15 hours.
  • Minimum liability insurance requirements under the FMCSR range from $750,000 to $5,000,000 depending upon the type of commercial vehicle whereas insurance requirements under the TMCSR range from $300,000 to $5,000,000.

How to Determine Whether a Truck is Engaged in Interstate Commerce

It is often difficult for the layperson to know whether a commercial motor vehicle they see on the road is engaged in interstate vs intrastate trucking, particularly if the vehicle in question is a semi-truck. While any vehicle could be used in interstate commerce, there are some commercial motor vehicles that are more commonly used in intrastate commerce. You can find a list of some of the trucks more commonly used in intrastate vs interstate commerce below.

If you are a victim of a truck accident, usually the police report will provide you with registration numbers that indicate whether the vehicle has been registered with the appropriate agency for interstate vs intrastate trucking. Thus, contacting the law enforcement agency to obtain a copy of the police report or simply asking the investigating office (if possible) is sometimes the best way to determine the answer.

Commercial Motor Vehicles Used in Intrastate vs Interstate Trucking

The main difference between interstate vs intrastate trucking is that interstate trucks are licensed to cross state lines, while intrastate trucks are not, when delivering loads. Other differences include the amount of insurance each truck is required to carry and the amount of time their drivers are allowed to be on the road. While it can be difficult to discern all of these factors after being involved in a trucking accident, the type of commercial motor vehicle involved can also indicate whether the driver was using an interstate or intrastate truck.  Below is a list of trucks and how they are commonly used.

Insurance Requirements for Texas Intrastate Motor Carriers

Texas intrastate trucks have the following minimum insurance requirements:

Farm vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 48,000 lbs and all commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 lbs must maintain liability coverage of 500,000. Generally, transporters of hazardous wastes, materials and oils must maintain a minimum of 1 million in liability coverage. However, transporters of hazardous waste in cargo tanks and portable tanks or water gallon-style hoppers in excess of 3,500 gallons must carry 5 million in liability insurance coverage.

Private buses that travel only within Texas borders and can transport a minimum of 15 but no more that 26 passengers must carry $500,000.00 in liability insurance coverage. Buses that can carry over 26 passengers must carry five million in liability insurance coverage.

Insurance Requirements for Interstate Motor Carriers

Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, for-hire general freight carriers must carry a minimum of $750,000.00 in liability insurance coverage. Fore-hire and private carriers of certain oils and hazardous wastes must carry a minimum of 1 million in liability coverage while carriers of other hazardous materials must carry 5 million in liability insurance coverage.

Private buses equipped to carry 15 people or less must carry 1.5 million in liability coverage. Buses that carry 15 people or more must maintain five million in coverage.

Trucks Typically Used in Intrastate Trucking

The following vehicles are commercial motor vehicles that are commonly licensed to conduct business within state lines. Intrastate trucks carry necessary materials for local businesses and government entities.

Garbage Trucks

Garbage truck

Sometimes referred to as a dustcart, garbage trucks are uniquely designed to collect and transport solid waste to the appropriate treatment facility or landfill. Today, these trucks come in many variations as some load trash from the front, rear and side of the vehicle. They may belong to a city or other government body or they may be privately owned and operated.

 

dump truckDump Trucks

Mostly used for transporting loose construction material, a dump truck is characterized by its open-box bed, which uses hydraulic pumps to hinge loads on and off the truck. These vehicles range in size, as some are also used to transfer movable cargo and deliver larger loads to and from work sites. The hydraulic pumps make it easy to lift the bed and dump the debris in a city dump or other dump site.  They are often used to haul sand, rock or other building materials to a work site as well.

concrete truck

Concrete Mixing Trucks (Ready Mix Trucks)

Concrete mixing trucks also called ready mix concrete trucks, are vehicles that continually combine cement and other necessary aggregates to form concrete. Concrete mixing trucks are designed to transport and mix concrete at the same time. They are used to deliver concrete to construction sites, as well as smaller sites, such as residential areas.  These trucks weight 20,000-30,000 pounds empty and can carry another 40,000 pounds of concrete.  Their heavy weight makes them extremely dangerous when a collision occurs. Even when empty, they can do substantial damage to person and property.

bucket truckBucket Trucks

Bucket trucks are vehicles with mounted, mobile platforms designed to lift workers and their supplies safely into the air to allow them to easily work on overhead lines. Industries such as telecommunications, public transportation and electric utility use bucket trucks to perform specific functions not otherwise possible. Telephone and cable trucks are good examples of these types of vehicles.

Tow Truckshook and chain tow truck

Tow trucks come in several shapes and sizes and are mostly used to tow vehicles. With the exception of some heavy tow trucks (used to haul 18-wheelers), most tow trucks engaged in intrastate commerce.  These include the hook and chain tow trucks, flatbed tow trucks, wheel-lift tow trucks and rollbacks. They are typically built on a 1-ton pickup truck-style frame.

box truckBox Trucks

Box trucks are trucks with an attached cargo area. Typically, they have a garage door exterior that opens into a large cube space, ideal for transporting many packages and large appliances. Box trucks are commonly used as delivery trucks, such as FedEx and UPS, but can also be rented by as moving trucks by rental companies such as Uhaul, Ryder and other moving companies.

Trucks Typically Used in Interstate Trucking

Commercial motor vehicles used in interstate trucking are usually larger and carry bigger loads than those used in intrastate trucking. It is important to know the difference between these vehicles because accidents involving interstate trucks may have stricter regulations and more insurance coverage than intrastate trucks.

18 wheelerSemi-Trailer, Eighteen-Wheelers and Tractor-Trailers

Semi trucks, eighteen-wheelers and tractor-trailers are used to carry large loads with most of their weight being in the rear. They are usually designed as a combination of a tractor unit and trailer. With the variety of trailers available today, it is easy to recognize these interstate trucks by their size and shape.  Tanker trucks are a specific type of 18-wheeler.

tanker truckTanker Trucks

Tanker trucks are commercial motor vehicles that are designed to carry liquid, gas and hazardous substances from one location to another. Similar in size to a railroad tank car, tanker trucks can be difficult to drive due to the volumes of the loads they carry. Fuel trucks also use tanks to transport materials to and from work sites. These trucks can be very dangerous in a collision when they are carrying flammable or explosive liquids.

flatbed truckFlatbed Trucks

As the name suggests, flatbed trucks are trucks with a leveled bed attached to the rear. Ideal for transporting large, and sometimes over-sized loads using webbing straps and rope, these trucks make the process of loading and unloading deliveries time efficient and convenient.

Keep in mind that the only way to be certain as to any commercial motor vehicle is to determine where it regularly conducts business and whether or not it crosses state lines.

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Author

Paul Cannon

Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.