Highway Driving: Interstate and Intrastate

The Department of Transportation (DOT) only preempts OSHA over the interstate trucking industry while traveling public roads with respect to the hazards addressed by FMCSA regulations. OSHA also has authority over all intrastate trucking (such as gravel and sand haulers, logging, agriculture, and cement and concrete mixers). DOT has authority over transportation of hazardous materials, whether interstate or intrastate.

Highway Driving Overview

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Oversees the formulation of national transportation policy and promotes intermodal transportation. Its agencies include: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the US Coast Guard (USCG). The newly created Transport Security Administration (TSA) was initially part of DOT and is now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

DOT Regulations

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Interstate and Intrastate Regulatory Guidance

Interstate commerce is under the authority of DOT if the hazards are addressed by FMCSA regulations. However, intrastate commerce is under the authority of OSHA. The following are a few sample questions of the type of regulatory guidance provided on the FMCSA site:

  • 390.3 General Applicability
    • How does one distinguish between intra- and interstate commerce for the purposes of applicability of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs)?

      FMCSR Guidance: Interstate commerce is determined by the essential character of the movement, manifested by the shipper's fixed and persistent intent at the time of shipment, and is ascertained from all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the transportation. When the intent of the transportation being performed is interstate in nature, even when the route is within the boundaries of a single State, the driver and Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

      Note: A trucking company hauls freight from California to Idaho. Another shipping company delivers the commodity to its final destination. Although the second company travels entirely in-state, the original intent of the shipment is interstate and covered by DOT. However, if the first company delivers to a warehouse in Idaho, delivery trucks taking the commodity to customers are not considered involved in interstate commerce, if the original manifest did not indicate the shipments were intended for these customers.

    • Are the FMCSRs applicable to drivers/vehicles operated by a transit authority owned and operated by a State or a political subdivision of the State?

      FMCSR Guidance: 49 CFR 390.3(f)(2) specifically exempts transportation performed by the Federal Government, a State, or any political subdivision of a State from the FMCSRs. However, this exemption does not apply to the Commercial Drivers License (CDL) requirements in part 383.

  • See the FMCSA Regulatory Guidance pages for further information.
  • 49 CFR 390, General, Regulatory Guidance
  • 49 CFR 392, Driving of Commercial Vehicles, Regulatory Guidance
  • 49 CFR 395, Hours of Service of Drivers, Regulatory Guidance
  • Hours-of-Service Regulations

Training Requirements

General Hazard References

The following references address the hazards involved in highway driving:

  • Analysis and Information Online. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Includes an online database site with SafeStat carrier details, crash profiles online, compliance reviews, roadside inspections, and traffic enforcements.
  • Building Safer Highway Work Zones: Measures to Prevent Worker Injuries From Vehicles and Equipment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2001-128, (2001). Identifies hazards faced by highway workers and recommends measures that can reduce these hazards. It is a checklist of interventions from which contractors, contracting agencies, and other entities may choose those most appropriate to their situations and needs.
  • Safety. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Contains many safety references and educational materials including:
    • Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia. National Highway Safety Administration's Fatality Awareness Reporting System (FARS), Contains data on all vehicle crashes in the United States that occur on a public roadway and involve a fatality in the crash. Included are PDF links to various Traffic Safety Fact reports, separated by categories such as Large Trucks, School Buses, and Speeding.
    • Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The MUTCD is published by the FHWA under 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 655, Subpart F. The manual is set up for double-sided, offset printing of over 1100 sheets of paper to be placed in a three-ring binder. Certain chapters and sections of the MUTCD have very large file sizes due to the large page count, number of illustrations, or both, contained within (example, Section 6H, 96 pages with 46 illustrations).
  • Highway Workzone Fatality Investigation Reports. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These tables contain links to fatality investigation reports of incidents where workers were killed in highway work zones. The first table contains a list of cases investigated by NIOSH; the second table contains a list of cases investigated by state investigators in state Fatal Accident Circumstances and Epidemiology (FACE) programs.
  • Safety. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Provides in-depth coverage of the following special safety topics:
    • Hazardous Materials (HM). Presents links to cargo tank safety reports, bilingual hazardous materials awareness training, an intrastate Hazmat incident reporting compliance brochure, spill reporting, shipping and permit information and links to the National Hazardous Material Route Registry which provides the most current listing of the national network of prescribed, restricted, and radioactive routes.
  • Motor Carrier Publications & Reports. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
  • Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths from Traffic-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 98-142 (Alert), (July 1998). Many workers are at high risk of injury and death from traffic-related motor vehicle crashes. Approximately three workers die from these crashes each day.
  • Share the Road Safely: Trucks & Bus Drivers. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Strives to improve the knowledge of all highway users to minimize the likelihood of a crash with a large truck, and to educate people about how to share the road safely with large trucks and buses.
  • Stress Factors Experienced by Female Commercial Drivers in the Transportation Industry. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (eLCOSH). According to 1998 occupational injury and illness data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), truck drivers, as compared to other occupations, experienced the largest number of injuries and illnesses with time away from work from 1992 to 1996. During this time, the number of injuries and illnesses declined for all occupations by about 20 percent, but the number increased by nearly five percent (up to 151,300) for truck drivers, with women accounting for 17.6 percent.
  • Driving Safety: Occupant Protection. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Deals with passenger and pedestrian safety.
  • Trade: Truck Driver. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Health and Safety (eLCOSH). Includes a list of links to related training material.