What is Considered a Commercial Vehicle?

There are actually a few different types of commercial vehicles, and knowing what they are can be helpful in the future. This is because the steps that you need to take following an accident might be different if it involves a commercial vehicle.

There are different classifications and requirements for commercial vehicles, and we are going to get into everything that you might need to know about them in this article.

What is Considered a Commercial Vehicle?

We are going to look at what is considered to be a commercial vehicle, what you need to know about them, and even how they can affect your claim if you were to be involved in an accident with one.

The situation is often slightly different, which is why it is important to know exactly what you are dealing with.

What is Considered a Commercial Vehicle?

If you are looking for the actual definition of a commercial vehicle, it is ‘any self-propelled or towed vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle’:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation
  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

So, there are a lot of different things that classify a vehicle as being a commercial vehicle, and these are things that you should be aware of if you are ever in an accident. It doesn’t necessarily matter if the vehicle is being driven or towed or whether it carries people or goods, as long as it meets the above criteria. 

If the vehicle weighs more than a hefty 10,000lbs, then it will be classed as a commercial vehicle. However, the way in which the total weight of the vehicle is calculated will vary slightly as there are two methods of weighing a vehicle. The first is the gross weight of the vehicle, which is essentially just how much it weighs, and the second is the gross vehicle weight rating, which is the maximum operating weight that will be determined by the manufacturer. 

You will be able to find this information out, and whichever of the two total values is larger will determine whether or not the vehicle is classed as commercial. For example, if the gross weight is just 9000lbs, making it under the regulation, but the manufacturer states that it is 11,000lbs, then you are using a commercial vehicle. 

If the vehicle is being used for the purpose of transporting nine of more people for commercial reasons, then it is a commercial vehicle. This only has to include eight passengers and the driver. This could be any tourist transportation services, and more. Similarly, if the vehicle is transporting more than 15 people at a time, whether it is for commercial purposes or not, it will still be classed as commercial. This goes for public transport, and any large vehicle hire.

Any vehicle that is moving hazardous materials is automatically classed as a commercial vehicle. No matter how big or small the vehicle is, if it has a dangerous load, it is a commercial vehicle. There are also other requirements for carrying hazardous materials in your vehicle. 

You will need to make sure that you are aware of the rules and requirements surrounding driving a commercial vehicle if you intend to drive a vehicle that meets any of the factors above. Otherwise, you might end up in a tricky situation. Depending on the state that you live in, there may be additional rules that you need to adhere to. 

Commercial Vehicle License Requirements

The majority of commercial vehicles cannot be driven without someone that holds a commercial driver’s license. This might not apply for all of them, but you can be sure that it will for most.

A commercial driver’s license can be obtained through additional tests and training that will qualify you to be able to drive commercially. Driving these vehicles without a commercial vehicle license is not legal in most cases, and there will be trouble if you fail to meet the laws and requirements that are in place. 

There are exceptions to the rule for things like emergency service vehicles, including fire trucks that are carrying lots of people. The rules may also be different for things like military vehicles, farm vehicles, and recreational vehicles that are solely for personal use. You will need to make sure that you are aware of everything that may affect you.

Breaking the Rules

If the person that is driving the commercial vehicle breaks any of the laws in place when they are driving, they could be found to be guilty of negligence. This is due to the fact that breaking the rules can cause an accident, which can become very dangerous.

The negligent party may have to pay for damages, and there will be additional fines for either the driver or the vehicle owner. The liability of the accident could fall to the driver, the owner of the vehicle, or the company involved.

Will this Affect Your Claim?

It can be really helpful to be aware of the type of vehicle that you are dealing with if you have been in an accident, as it could affect the way that it is investigated and who is at fault.

It could also influence your rights, and the way in which things will be resolved. Your attorney will be able to help you to gather details and information to help your claim, but it is always best to be well-informed and prepared for any situation.