What does DOT really mean? (sign up to access article)

From an NTEA member
What does it mean when our customers ask if we are DOT-certified?

DOT stands for U.S. Department of Transportation, which has multiple divisions, including

  • U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary (OST)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS)
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD)

The U.S. federal DOT regulates planes, trains, vehicles (trucks, cars, buses, etc.) and ships. When someone asks if you’re DOT-certified, it’s misleading for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the federal agencies within the DOT do not certify items or companies. They have certified people like air traffic controllers in their direct employment, but primarily the agencies set the regulatory requirements a vehicle, operator or specific equipment item must meet. Second, DOT is a broad term in just the federal regulatory environment, let alone individual state requirements.

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