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Commercial Motor Vehicles Are the Workhorses of the Trucking Industry

Today, we’re writing an ode to the commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Over the years, the QuickTSI blog has paid service to the CMV and everything it represents. After all, where would trucking be without trucks? And yet, CMVs encompass a wide gamut of vehicle types. A CMV could be more than just a truck or big rig. So, while the topic may seem elementary, we want new readers to our blog to understand what a CMV is all about. Let’s dig deeper into the vehicle type that makes the trucking sector go.

Why Are Commercial Motor Vehicles Important?

CMVs are a vital part of the transportation industry. They provide essential services that enable businesses to transport goods and materials over long distances efficiently. They are the guts of the operation if you will. There are various types of commercial motor vehicles available on the market today, each designed to meet specific transportation needs.

Commercial motor vehicles have evolved significantly over the years, with advancements in technology, safety features, and fuel efficiency.

Here are some key ways in which commercial motor vehicles have evolved throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

  • Safety features: Modern commercial motor vehicles are equipped with a range of safety features. These include electronic stability control, anti-lock braking systems, lane departure warning systems, blind spot monitoring, and collision avoidance technology. These features help to reduce accidents and improve the safety of drivers and passengers.
  • Fuel efficiency: Advances in engine technology, aerodynamics, and lightweight materials have helped to improve CMV fuel efficiency. This is important for reducing fuel costs, as well as reducing emissions and promoting environmental sustainability.
  • Driver comfort: Many modern commercial motor vehicles are designed with driver comfort in mind. This includes features such as ergonomic seats, climate control, and advanced audio and entertainment systems. This can help to reduce driver fatigue and improve job satisfaction.
  • Autonomous technology: Commercial motor vehicles are increasingly incorporating autonomous technology. These technologies include adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and automated braking systems. While fully autonomous trucks are not yet widely available, the development of this technology could revolutionize the trucking industry in the future.
  • Alternative fuels: Some commercial motor vehicles are now using alternative fuels. They include electric or hydrogen fuel cell power, in addition to traditional gasoline or diesel engines. EV use can help to reduce emissions and promote sustainability.

What Types of CMVs Are Out There?

Now that we have examined the importance of commercial motor vehicles, let’s look closer at the different types that exist in the wild. Certainly, there are more than just big rigs. CMVs come in all shapes and sizes. And they serve many roles. Let’s look a little closer.


Trucks are the most common type of CMV, used for transporting goods and materials. There are several types of trucks, including semi-trucks, dump trucks, box trucks, and flatbed trucks. Semi-trucks, also known as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers, are the most common type of truck used in long-distance hauling. They feature a cab and a trailer that can be attached and detached as needed. Dump trucks, on the other hand, are used for transporting loose materials such as sand and gravel. Box trucks are enclosed and used for transporting goods that need to be protected from the elements, while flatbed trucks are open and used for carrying large, oversized loads.


Buses are another type of commercial motor vehicle that is commonly used for transportation purposes. They are typically used to transport passengers, whether it be for public transportation or for private events such as weddings and corporate events. There are several types of buses, including school buses, city buses, coach buses, and mini buses, or shuttles. School buses are used to transport students to and from school, while city buses are used for public transportation in urban areas. Coach buses are commonly used for long-distance transportation, such as tours and corporate events. Mini buses are smaller and used for transporting smaller groups of people.


Vans are a popular type of CMV used for transporting goods and people. They are often used by small businesses for local deliveries or by shuttle services for airport transportation. Vans come in various sizes, from small cargo vans to large passenger vans. Cargo vans are used for transporting goods, while passenger vans are used for transporting people.


Tankers transport liquids such as gasoline, milk, and chemicals. They are designed with cylindrical tanks that are mounted on a truck chassis. Tankers come in various sizes, depending on the amount of liquid being transported. Tankers are often used by oil and gas companies to transport fuel to gas stations. The hazardous material often contained in tankers requires an extra level of safety on the part of the truck drivers that operate them.

Refrigerated Trucks

Refrigerated trucks, also known as reefer trucks, are used for transporting perishable goods that require temperature-controlled environments. They feature a refrigeration system that can maintain a specific temperature, typically between -20°F and 70°F. Reefer trucks are commonly used for transporting food products, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive items.

How Are Commercial Motor Vehicles Regulated?

We are all well aware of regulations. The trucking sector is a highly regulated sector of the U.S. economy. And CMVs specifically are regulated by various government agencies to ensure safety on the roads. In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for regulating commercial motor vehicles. The FMCSA sets rules and regulations for commercial driver’s licenses, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and safety inspections. And the FMCSA has featured prominently in many of our articles over the years.

One of the most important regulations for commercial motor vehicles is the hours-of-service (HOS) rule. This rule limits the number of hours a driver can operate a commercial motor vehicle each day or week. It was created to prevent truck driver fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents. Commercial truck drivers track their HOS through electronic logging devices (ELD).

Commercial motor vehicles are also subject to regular safety inspections to ensure they are in good working order. Inspections are conducted by the FMCSA or by state agencies that have been authorized to conduct inspections. Vehicles that fail inspections are required to be repaired before they can be used again. Truck drivers are trained to expect inspections. Trucking companies that fail them risk violations and reputational hits.

Last-Mile Delivery Commercial Motor Vehicles

We wanted to highlight last-mile because it plays a very important role in the shipping network. Last-mile CMV drivers occupy a more expansive role than long-haul Class 8 truck drivers. And average Americans interact with last-mile drivers on a regular basis.

Last-mile delivery typically involves the transportation of goods from a transportation hub or distribution center to the final destination. The type of truck used for last-mile delivery can vary depending on the size and weight of the packages being delivered, as well as the layout of the delivery area.

Some of the most used CMVs for last-mile delivery include:

  • Cargo Vans: These are small to mid-size vehicles that are often used for delivering packages in urban areas where streets can be narrow, and parking can be limited.
  • Box Trucks: These are larger vehicles that can carry more packages than cargo vans. They are often used for making deliveries to businesses or residential areas where larger packages are being delivered.
  • Step Vans: These are vehicles that have a box-like structure attached to the back of the driver’s cab. They are often used for making deliveries of large or heavy items, such as appliances, furniture, or construction materials.
  • Refrigerated Trucks: These are trucks that are designed to transport perishable goods, such as food or medicine, that need to be kept at a specific temperature during transportation.
  • Electric Trucks: These are becoming increasingly popular for last-mile delivery due to their low emissions and quiet operation. They are often used for deliveries in urban areas where environmental regulations are strict.

The type of truck used for last-mile delivery depends on the specific needs of the delivery company and the types of packages being delivered.

Are Ubers Considered Commercial Motor Vehicles?

Here is an interesting question. We live in the 21st century now, so it is appropriate. Uber vehicles can be considered as commercial motor vehicles. Uber drivers use their personal vehicles for commercial purposes by offering transportation services to passengers for a fee. These vehicles are used for the transportation of people, which makes them fall under the category of commercial motor vehicles.

However, it is important to note that the regulations governing commercial motor vehicles may differ for rideshare services like Uber, as compared to traditional commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses. In many jurisdictions, rideshare companies are subject to specific regulations and licensing requirements that are different from those that apply to traditional commercial vehicles. Additionally, Uber drivers are not subject to the same hours of service rules as commercial truck drivers, as their work is typically more flexible and less reliant on long hauls.

Overall, while Uber vehicles may be considered commercial motor vehicles, they operate under different regulations and requirements than traditional commercial vehicles. Still, you never know what the future holds. What newfangled CMV will appear on our roads tomorrow? Only time will tell!

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