The History of the


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The main goal of this agency is to improve the safety of the motor carrier industry in order to prevent commercial motor vehicle (CMV) related fatalities and injuries. 

More information about the FMCSA’s history:

Before the FMCSA

The Bureau of Motor Carriers released the first federal truck safety rules in 1936. This agency was a subdivision of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). This organization was a precursor to the FMCSA and was responsible for trucking industry safety regulations for three decades. 

In October of 1966, Congress established the DOT. This following a State of the Union speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson in January of that year when he indicated his intentions to create the agency. His decision was influenced in large part by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) and its head Najeeb Halaby. This is because Halaby recommended in a letter to the president that the government establish an agency to oversee the various groups that regulated transportation in the United States. 

The establishment of the DOT in 1966 also transferred the ICC’s regulatory authority over truck and bus safety to this new department. Congress delegated these responsibilities to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This organization originally had three bureaus. These were the Bureau of Motor Carriers, the Bureau of Public Roads, and the National Highway Safety Bureau. This last bureau later became the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA).

Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999

Congress established the FMCSA as a separate agency within the DOT beginning on January 1, 2000. This was part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Prior to the passing of the bill, the duties of the FMCSA were performed by the Office of Motor Carrier Safety (OMCS), which was a division of the FHWA. Under this law, the President appoints the Administrator of the FMCSA with the approval of the Senate.

The FMCSA Today

The FMCSA continues to promote safety and works to prevent commercial motor vehicle accidents. One of the newest initiatives from the agency was the FMCSA Clearinghouse, a system that tracks commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders’ drug and alcohol testing program violations.

DOT and FMCSA Compliance

There are a large number of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) that motor carriers must follow. These relate to hours of service (HOS), drug and alcohol testing, CDL driver qualifications, and other areas of operation. Failure to comply with these rules can result in large fines and can compromise the safety of not only CMV drivers, but also others on the roads. 

Your Partner in Compliance

With so many regulations to keep track of, it can be invaluable to have someone on your side to help you stay compliant. At HDS Safety Services we train drivers and administrators, provide drug and alcohol testing services, audit electronic logging device (ELD) records, and much more. 

Contact us today to learn more about our DOT and FMCSA compliance services.