FMCSA Denies Intellistop Exemption

Intellistop loses battle with FMCSA


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) denied Intellistop, Inc.’s (Intellistop) application for an exemption to Section 393.25(e) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). This regulation requires all brake lamps to be steady-burning.

Intellistop requested a five-year exemption applicable to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to allow for the use of its braking module.  When brakes are applied, the module “…pulses the preexisting brake, clearance and I.D. lamp…” for two seconds before returning to a steady-burning state.

Intellistop’s President, Michelle Hanby, emphasized that in the event of failure, “…the brake, clearance, and I.D. lamps will default to normal OEM function and illumination.”

Intellistop asserts that the module “…would allow commercial carriers to not only maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more efficient and effective operations.”  Intellistop referenced research conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2009 that concluded “…rear lighting continues to look promising as a means of reducing the number and severity of rear-end crashes.”

Intellistop noted that exemptions have been granted to National Tank Truck Carriers Inc. (NTTC) and Grote Industries, LLC.  NTTC’s exemption allows for the installation of red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamps.  The Grote exemption allows for the installation of amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps.  In both cases, the exemption is limited to five years and all pulsating devices must be used in conjunction with steady-burning brake lamps.

FMCSA has the authority to grant exemptions if it provides “… a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent the exemption.”  This standard is established in 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 49 U.S.C. 31315(b).

FMSCA determined that Intellistop’s module did not meet this standard and felt the request for an industry-wide exemption was too broad.

FMCSA noted the lack of relevant research to support Intellistop’s request and the absence of specific data about the operational features of the device.

In addition, “…Intellistop’s application seeks to alter the performance of the FMVSS-required lighting device on all CMVs rather than adding additional pulsating lights.” This differs from the exemptions granted to NTTC and Grote Industries, LLC in that the original equipment is not altered.

Despite the denial, any CMV can seek an exemption to “…purchase, install, and use Intellistop’s device…” by submitting an application and complying with the “…terms and conditions of an exemption.”

In response to the denial, Intellistop filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals on October 7, 2022, requesting a review of the decision.  Initial statements were due to the court on November 7, 2022. As we learn more details we’ll be sure to provide updates.

Please take a moment to review your experience with us by leaving us a review!

What Is IFTA and Who Needs It?

What is IFTA and who needs it? Read our blog for more.



Does Your Business Need to Worry About IFTA?

IFTA stands for International Fuel Tax Agreement and it exists to simplify the reporting of fuel use between Canada and the US. Within the contiguous United States and Canada, our roads and highways help us get to where we are going. But who takes care of these roads if they become damaged and in need of repair? Who pays the cost? 

Private citizens are not the only ones that benefit from our highway systems. Many companies and individuals depend on it as a means of commerce. Getting goods from point A to Point B is their livelihood, and any deviation in their path could cost them money, which is why maintaining the IFTA is an essential part of the foundation of our economy. 

Now, unless you work in the trucking or fuel industry, chances are you wouldn’t know about the IFTA. So, let’s take a look at this integral part of our transportation system and discover who they are and how they keep the world of commerce on the road. 

What Is the IFTA?

An acronym for International Fuel Tax Agreement, the IFTA is a way for each state and 10 Canadian provinces to assist in the upkeep and maintenance of our roadways.  Currently, in the U.S., the only states that are not a part of IFTA are the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii. Every other state participates. 

For our neighbors to the North, the provinces that have entered into the agreement are as follows: Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

Before the IFTA’s formation, each state and province required that trucking companies carried fuel permits for their region. As you can imagine, this process was time-consuming, costly, and extremely inefficient for all parties involved. 

The amount of additional work that this process created cut into each companies profitability. If your company owns a fleet of trucks that travel the continental United States and into Canada, and you have to provide fuel permits for each truck. That adds up to a lot of working hours spent filling out applications and thousands of dollars in administrative costs paid by your company alone each year.  Thankfully the IFTA fixed what was once a convoluted (and sometimes contradictory) process. 

The Process

There is still an application process that companies must abide by; however, it’s one application filled out annually rather than the numerous applications as previously required. 

Base State

Each company is required to register with a base state. This base state is where companies will submit their reports, pay their fuel tax, and maintain their records. The main IFTA office in that particular state will then hold the responsibility of disbursing funds to other states and performing audits of companies as needed.  

Registering Vehicles

Not every vehicle or truck on the road is required to register with the IFTA. Companies and trucks must meet the following five requirements: 

  1. Each vehicle must commercially travel between two IFTA jurisdictions
  2. Must weigh over 26,000 pounds
  3. Must have three or more axels on the power unit 
  4. If it’s a bus, it must carry more than 20 passengers
  5. Must use diesel, propane, or natural gas 
Application Process

Once you have filed your IFTA application with the main office in your base state, it goes through an approval process. For an application to be considered complete, it must contain the following information:

  • Legal Business Name
  • Address of Business
  • Federal Business ID Number
  • USDOT Number 

Once the application process is complete, and your company or truck is approved, you will receive two decals to place on your vehicle. These decals must be on either the driver’s side or passenger side door, and a copy of the license must be in your vehicle at all times.

Since these decals are sent by mail, the state will send a temporary license via fax or email that you can keep on you until the actual stickers arrive. This small consideration helps trucking companies get to work once the application has been filed rather than waiting until their official documents arrive via snail mail. 

The renewal applications will be sent to you automatically each year once your current license is nearing its expiration period. 

Fuel Tax Report

IFTA taxes are what help keep our roads safe to drive on, so it only makes sense that they collect taxes every quarter. A tax payment made out to the Secretary of State for your base State and sent in with your reports for your fleet. 

The dates each fuel tax report are due are as follows:

  • First Quarter: covers January to March is due April 30th
  • Second Quarter: covers April to June is due July 31st
  • Third Quarter: covers July to September is due October 31st
  • Fourth Quarter: covers October to December is due January 31st

Should the amount you pay accumulate from year to year causing an overage, that credit can go on to your next year’s statement or, in some cases, refunded to you. 

Receipts and Records

Keeping good records is essential in this process. With numerous trucks in your fleet, the information can get convoluted and often quite confusing. Each time you make a payment, a receipt should be printed up and stored with that quarter’s paperwork. Each receipt should disclose the seller’s name and address, fuel type, date of purchase, the purchaser’s name, the vehicle registration number, how many gallons the purchaser acquired, and the total cost of the sale.   

As if keeping tabs on your fuel tax reporting isn’t enough work, you must also keep track of the mileage of each vehicle. Per regulation, you must list this mileage in monthly increments. Your report must also include any fuel purchased at service stations. 

Keeping Commerce Moving

Our roads and highways are the lifelines that help the trucking industry keep commerce moving. The IFTA helps to monitor those roads to ensure that they stay open and operational so we can get our products and services to where they need to go. 

For more details on your company’s tag or title needs, visit our website or contact us for more information.

Playing by the Rules: How to Keep Your Business Vehicles DOT Compliant

How to keep your business vehicles DOT compliant



Does Your Business Vehicles Fall Within DOT Compliance?

When managing a fleet of vehicles there are many things that can fall through the cracks. Here’s how to ensure your fleet vehicles fall within DOT compliance

A lot can happen on the road, especially to a fleet of vehicles carrying delicate cargo over state lines. If you’re responsible for managing a fleet as such, you’ll want to make sure that your company, drivers, and vehicles fall within DOT compliance regulations.

If you don’t keep everything within DOT compliance regulations, you run the risk of getting audited and having your business shut down for good. If you want to know how to remain compliant and avoid future audits—and what to do if you get audited—then keep reading.

DOT Compliance 101

DOT or Department of Transportation compliance refers to a set of rules and regulations governing all aspects of commercial vehicles. Whether you employ commercial fleet vehicles or corporate vehicles, it’s mandatory to ensure the safety of your workers, drivers, and of course, the general public.

DOT compliance regulations don’t apply to all commercial vehicles, however. Regulations only apply to the following:

  • Vehicles transporting hazardous waste and other materials
  • Vehicles that transport eight or more passengers, including a driver—for compensation
  • Vehicles that transport 15 passengers or more, including a driver—for no compensation
  • Vehicles with a gross weight rating or combination of 10,001 pounds or more

These types of vehicles, in particular, must be registered with the United States Department of transportation. They must also have a visible USDOT number to show that they are registered and compliant.

DOT compliance requirements pertain mainly to vehicles that travel between states. Of course, laws and regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important to check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to see if your vehicles are expected to maintain compliance during their travels.

Understanding the Rules

DOT compliance comes with a long list of rules and regulations. Companies that employ drivers that cross state lines are expected to know all of those rules and regulations from the inside out. To understand the rules of DOT compliance, you must first learn the differences between fleet and driver compliance.

Driver Compliance

Driver compliance applies to every single driver of DOT-registered vehicles that have received a USDOT number. Here’s what you need to ensure that your drivers meet DOT compliance regulations:

  • Each driver must have a copy of the FMCSA rules
  • You must collect all drivers’ signed agreements stating that they’ve read and understood FMCSA rules
  • A record of each driver’s qualifications
  • A record of each driver’s safety history
  • A record of each driver’s hours of service (HOS)
  • You must carry out pre-employee drug testing of each driver, keeping their results on record as well. You must also have records of any known previous drug or alcohol abuse
  • Carry out random drug testing of all drivers regularly. These need to be kept in your records as well
  • Ensure that all trainers and supervisors have gone through drug and alcohol testing and are periodically tested as well

Keep in mind that this is a basic list, and should be customized to fit your specific operations and company regulations.

Fleet Compliance

Fleet compliance applies to all vehicles in your fleet that fall under DOT registration. To ensure that your fleet of vehicles meets compliance requirements, here’s what you need:

  • Your entire fleet must keep a copy of the FMCSA rules at all times
  • All vehicles must be inspected before and after each trip. All findings must be well documented
  • You must have a routine vehicle maintenance program, with all activities documented
  • Each vehicle must be marked with a USDOT registration number
  • You must keep a detailed record of any accidents or incidents that have occurred during a trip

Just as the driver’s compliance list, this fleet compliance list is general. Be sure to customize it accordingly.

Preparing for a DOT Compliance Audit

There’s a reason that you must keep records of everything including employed drivers’ signatures. Every so often, the US Department of Transportation carries out a compliance audit. This is to ensure that every company is meeting the DOT Compliance regulations.

It’s important to know that audits may be carried out for different reasons. As an employer, you have the right to inquire as to why you’re being audited. If your company is being audited, you’ll receive a notice in the mail at least two weeks ahead of time. This notice is to alert you of your upcoming audit as well as to gather information from you.

The information that the USDOT wants may have to do with your list of drivers, a list of your vehicles, drug and alcohol testing records, your corporate offices, proof of incoming revenue, and other information. It’s in your best interest to respond to your audit letter as soon as possible.

When preparing for a DOT audit, there’s plenty of room for error. This is because the USDOT requires that you provide a minimum of six months of your previous logs and Driver-Vehicle Inspections Reports (DVIRs). A bad audit can lead to fines for both your company and your drivers. In the most extreme cases, a bad DOT audit can result in your business closing down for good.

Keeping in mind the above lists you must follow to remain DOT compliant, here’s a checklist to help you prepare for an audit:

  • Documentation of proper insurance for your fleet’s carrier and cargo being transported
  • Documentation of the correct licensing for all drivers within your fleet
  • The maintained records of drug and alcohol testing for all company drivers
  • A minimum of six months of DVIRs. The DOT will examine these logs thoroughly for any violations in HOS (Hours of Service), and any errors or falsifications
  • Your records of vehicle maintenance and inspection—of at least 12 months. These records should include the model, year, identification number, and tire size
  • A record of any hazardous materials. These records should include licenses, storage information, labels, and placards. This documentation must also include proof of the required training for the transport of hazardous materials
  • A record of all driver accidents and injuries

This is where having organized records comes in handy. Just be sure that everything is well documented and completed.

Keep Your Fleet Moving

Now that you have an idea of DOT compliance regulations and how to remain within those regulations, you’ll want to make sure that you have the proper licensing and paperwork.

We can help you with that. To find out more, request a free quote today.

Managing Your Fleet: Everything You Need to Know About IRP Registration and Renewal


Keep Your Fleet On the Road

As the fleet manager at your company, you handle multiple challenges every day. You do what’s necessary to make sure your drivers drive safely. You also play a huge role in keeping your vehicles on the road. Keeping commercial vehicles on the road includes keeping IRP registrations up-to-date.

Whether you’re new in your position or are a seasoned fleet manager, keeping your IRP account current keeps your drivers, your customers, and your products on the road. If you’re an owner-operator of a fleet vehicle, this post pertains to you too.

Features of the International Registration Plan

Essentially a plan to simply registration fee processes for each state where fleet vehicles travel, the International Registration Plan (IRP) began in 1994. Imagine a scenario where you operate a fleet vehicle in multiple states. Let’s say each state requires a unique registration card or tag. Of course, each state also charges a fee for your vehicle to travel over its boundaries.

One of the unique features of this plan is that each vehicle gets one apportioned license plate and one registration card. The card, kept inside the vehicle cab, allows travel in multiple states. This certainly cuts down on paperwork, but also makes the drivers’ lives less complicated.

Who Needs IRP Registration?

Your company may operate what it calls fleet vehicles. Fleet vehicles are different than the ones each employee drives to work each day. Even if an employee uses a vehicle for work-related activities, unless they’re driving a company-owned vehicle, they don’t drive one of the fleet vehicles.

Fleet vehicles, in this case, have a much different meaning. These are not the sedans typically issued for employee use.  The IRP defines a fleet of vehicles as one or more apportioned vehicles registered in the same jurisdictions.

If you’re new to the task, you should have electronic (or paper) files on each of your fleet vehicles. Typically you can identify whether a specific vehicle needs IRP registration by the following:

  • Used for inter-state travel.
  • Used for transportation of property.
  • Used for the transportation of persons.
  • 2 axels and registered gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 lbs.
  • 3 or more axels regardless of gross weight.

Keep in mind even if your company only operates one fleet vehicle, if it meets the above requirements, you must obtain IRP registration.

Documents Needed for IRP Registration

This is an international plan because it operates in the U.S. and certain Canadian provinces. Registration, however, happens at the state level. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for state-specific requirements.

Before you register, you need a base jurisdiction. Your base jurisdiction is the physical location of your business. It must have a street or road name, not a post office box. Proof of business location can include:

  • Utility bills in the company name.
  • Documents filed with your state showing corporate residency.
  • Bank Statements
  • Tax Returns
  • Heavy Vehicle Use Tax Form

You’ll also need various forms and schedules required by the IRP. Usually, each state makes an instruction manual available outlining the various rules and regulations of registration. To make things easier, you may also use a service that specializes in helping your company manage its IRP registration.

Don’t Forget to Renew

Once your IRP approves your registration, you’ll get an apportioned license plate for each fleet vehicle. You’ll also receive a cab card for the inside of each vehicle. A registration is valid for 12 months. If you don’t renew and an employee drives the vehicle with an expired registration, it can create a legal issue for you and the driver.

Most jurisdictions mail renewal packets about 90 days before your current registration expires. Each jurisdiction also has deadlines for when they need your completed renewal forms, including proof of taxes, and payment.

Included with your renewal packet you should find the following:

  • Renewal Checklist – IRP-33
  • Renewal Printout
  • Instructions – IRP-34

The renewal printout contains all information currently on file for your account, including vehicle information.

How Much Does it Cost to Register or Renew?

Several factors go into fee calculations for your apportioned plate and cab card. Since you register with your jurisdiction’s state, you’ll pay a registration fee determined by your base state. Each base jurisdiction calculates fees based on gross vehicle weight and the states where you’ll register your vehicles. Some carriers only register in 1-2 states, some register in all the lower 48 states, while others also register for travel in Canada.

Miles also matter. The cost of your IRP apportioned plates and card depends on the percentage of miles each of your fleet vehicles travel in each jurisdiction. Fees usually also include other criteria specific to each vehicle.

The only way you’ll know the exact cost of your registration or renewal is by submitting all required documents. You should then receive an invoice with your complete charges.


Along with your IRP registration, you should also understand the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). If your fleet vehicles require IRP registrations, they also may require IFTA. IFTA is a system used to report fuel-use between the U.S. and Canada.

Here’s how IFTA works.

Every time you buy fuel for one of your commercial vehicles, you pay a per-gallon fuel tax Those taxes go into your account and each quarter you submit a fuel tax report. The report includes miles traveled in each jurisdiction and gallons of fuel purchased in each jurisdiction. Using data from the report you’ll calculate your average fuel mileage. Based on your calculations, you determine the fuel tax paid by you to each jurisdiction.

Transferring of funds to each jurisdiction isn’t your responsibility. The jurisdiction where you register your IFTA and IRP ensures all funds get transferred appropriately.

Need Help Managing Your IRP Account?

Hopefully, this post clarified information about your IRP account. Registering and renewing are only two tasks associated with fleet management. With so many details and routine changes, maintaining your IRP account can get tedious. Whether you run one or many fleet vehicles, it’s nice to know you have options for getting assistance with your IRP registrations.

If you have questions about IRP registration or want to take advantage of our wide range of motor carrier services, contact us today.