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Does My Pressure Washing Business Rig Need a USDOT Number?
When I first came to the laundry industry, I was coming off twenty years as a commercial driver. I thought how nice it would be to be free of the traffic laws that were such an important part of my job.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not long after I started, I was cleaning a policeman’s house. After I finished rolling the pipe, he asked me the weight of my car and my trailer.
“I don’t know, I gave myself permission to gain tons so I wouldn’t be fat,” was my simple answer. I was proud that I had taken the time to work on my license and my weight gain.
“Where’s your DOT number?” was his next simple question.
I, like many other hard-working car washes in my community, had never considered these requirements when driving commercial vehicles. After the $100 fee, I was sure I had it sorted. Got my DOT number.
Trying to decide if you need a DOT number can be a tricky question, and there are some government requirements you need to know, but my client said the most important thing is, “If you have a car or trailer with company markings. , and/or a trailer with axles more than one, I’ll write you a ticket if you don’t have a USDOT number.”
Specific requirements can be found on the United States Department of Transportation website. There is a lot of information out there, and resources to understand it all. There are even online quizzes to help you when trying to figure out if you should have a DOT number in the first place.
The basics are the most important, and this is it. You need a USDOT number if:
For users of vehicles over 10,000 lbs,
o Traveling between 9 and 15 people (including the driver) to pay,
o Carrying 16 or more passengers, or
o Transporting dangerous goods in international trade.
You should be aware that once you have a USDOT number, there are record keeping requirements that go along with it. For example, if you carry hazmat, such as large amounts of sodium hypochlorite, or flammable liquids such as your engine oil and a fuel tank or two, you should be aware of that. You must also register as a HAZMAT carrier and maintain records of the material and quantity. You must establish a safety program with a driver’s license, as well as a record of your driving hours.
This sounds like a lot of red tape, but it’s what it takes to be a pressure washing business that operates on systems that fall under Department of Transportation guidelines. It’s the cost of doing business, and it should be part of your business plan. It’s helpful to remember that these notes are simple, and can be based on the notes you already keep.
In my experience, motor vehicle safety regulations are open to different interpretations, so it’s best to check with your state’s DOT and your local Carrier Enforcement Department. They should have the information available to help you stay tuned. The USDOT website has links to all state DOT websites.
Again, the information can be conflicting, so find the most knowledgeable people you can, the fees go up from my few hundred dollars. Don’t bet the company on the word of an employee, ask the questions you need to, to get clear answers.
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