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Is your RV Subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

 

February 22, 2021

RVA MCS Carrier Connect reader asked for guidance regarding large recreational vehicles over 10,000 lbs. GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).

RVs (all classes including travel trailers and fifth-wheels) may not exceed 45 feet in length; 8 feet, 6 inches in width; or 13 feet, 6 inches in height. The width must not exceed beyond manufacturer-installed rearview mirrors on the motorhome or tow vehicle. This may be less than 8 ft, 6 inches.

Maximum motor home length is 45 feet.

Total length including the vehicle, trailer or other towable may not exceed 60 feet (excluding boat transporters.)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for these vehicles depend on several factors, including weight and use. The following information was provided by the Indiana State Police Motor Carrier Enforcement Division.

  1. Personal Use:  The use of any vehicle, including a vehicle with a GVWR over 10,000 lbs., that is strictly for personal use not used in ANY connection with business activities is NOT SUBJECT TO FMCSRs.
  2. Private Businesses: Someone who hauls his own business products, supplies, tools of the trade, etc. (including farmers and some racers) IS SUBJECT TO FMCSRs if operating a vehicle greater than 10,000 lbs. GVWR.  Simply displaying the term “not for hire” does not exempt carriers from the FMCSRs. A “for hire” carrier just has additional requirements regarding operating authority and insurance.

    Hobby racers are considered “private motor carriers” subject to FMCSRs if they accept sponsorship money for racing operations or have business related tax items. For example, if a racer files racing related earnings and/or expenses as business related items on his tax returns, the racing would be considered commercial and not just a hobby. That racer will also need a CDL if his truck and trailer combination GVWR is 26,001 lbs. or more. Operating an RV as a power unit, rather than a truck, does not change the business status. In fact, an RV used for business should be plated as a commercial truck and not a RV. An RV plate is only for recreational vehicles in personal, non-business use (See Category #1).

  3. For Hire Businesses: The use of a vehicle with a GVWR greater than 10,000 to transport someone else’s product from point A to point B for compensation IS SUBJECT TO THE FMCSRs. Displaying “Not for Hire” does not exempt a carrier from the FMCSRs.
  4. Private Carriers: Indiana law exempts private carriers (Category 2, see above) operating a vehicle with a GVWR of greater 10,000 lbs. from FMCSRs if the carrier meets the following criteria:
    1. GVWR is 26,000 or less;
    2. The operation is intrastate only (the vehicle never leaves Indiana);
    3. Not “for hire” (not used to transport other’s goods for compensation);
    4. Not transporting passengers “for hire” as long as the capacity is fewer than 16 people (including the driver); and
    5. Not transporting hazardous materials requiring placards.

If you have questions regarding FMCSRs or other enforcement-related topics, you can call the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division at 317-615-7373, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST. If your recreational vehicle exceeds any of the dimensions listed above, please contact Motor Carrier Services at IndianaOSW@dor.in.gov or (317) 615-7320 for guidance. For more information on Oversize/Overweight regulations in Indiana, visit osw.dor.in.gov.

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