What Is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and What Does It Do?

September 1, 2022 / Posted in Car Shipping
Hannah Michaelson

Hannah is a freelance relocation writer from NYC that has become an expert on packing and unpacking

If you are preparing for a cross-country moving experience, one of the important things to pay attention to is choosing your long-distance movers. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency that can help you avoid scammers and find reputable companies. It would be a good idea to get familiar with this agency and what it does before you book a mover and get ready for relocation.

A truck on the snowy road
What kind of agency is it, and what does it have to do with the moving industry?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a federal agency that was established in 2000, with the main goal of maintaining security and preventing fatalities and injuries related to commercial motor vehicle use. This agency also ensures moving and car shipping companies’ regulations within their program “Protect Your Move,” which makes it an important resource for everyone who plans on booking a relocation business.

US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – What Is This Agency’s Main Goal?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a government agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. It was founded on January 1, 2000, after passing the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, and it regulates the trucking industry in the United States. The official mission of this agency is to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on the road that involve commercial vehicles.

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FMCSA employs over a thousand people in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) and works directly with various Federal, State, and local agencies to ensure the safety of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). They do this through a few different practices, such as passing and enforcing regulations, targeting high-risk CMVs and drivers, improving CMV technologies, providing information, and increasing safety awareness. If you’re interested to learn more about this agency, take a look at this introductory video.

What Does This Agency Have to Do With Choosing a Moving and Car Shipping Company for Your Upcoming Relocation?

Now, you might wonder – what does this agency have to do with my upcoming relocation to another state? The answer, in short, would be – quite a lot. As they regulate the trucking industry in the United States, every moving and auto transport company has to abide by their regulations if they want to call themselves a legitimate business and provide safe and trustworthy car shipping and relocation services.

So, when you plan on hiring a relocation company any time soon, getting familiar with the agency’s website can help you avoid the worst moving mistake ever – booking unreliable movers or scammers. This is definitely an important thing to think about when planning a move to a new city or state.

This Government Agency’s Official Website Is Full of Useful Information – Don’t Hesitate to Check It Out When Planning a Move

When it comes to moving-related information and relocation tips, this is one of the best websites you can use. Since it’s an official government site, you can be sure that all the long-distance moving tips are legitimate – this will help you a lot when relocating to a new home.

Regardless of the numerous benefits of relocating, no one can deny that relocations are stressful. It’s unrealistic to expect a completely stress-free moving experience, but knowing what to expect from a moving service (and the often included packing service) can make things a lot easier. Why not save yourself from anxiety about the move if you can?

Search for Tools and Resources for Long-Distance Moving and Car Shipping in Other Places as Well

When you head to this government site, you will quickly run into the resources you need. Naturally, we suggest you don’t stop the research on relocations here – be sure to search in other places as well, but know that this site is an excellent starting point when moving to a new state. They have great tips on preparing for the move that will help you not overlook any important tasks. You will also find a detailed checklist and moving day preparations you shouldn’t forget.

Woman in a cafe, typing on the laptop, coffee, and phone next to her
This website is an excellent source of info

The Regulations This Agency Regularly Enforces Help Improve Long-Distance Moving Services

Thanks to this government agency within the Department of Transportation, relocation services keep improving. New rules and withholding the ones that are already established help keep companies in check and make them hold their services to a certain standard. So, when the reasons to move start piling up and you decide it’s time to hire movers, you can be sure that you will be able to find a reputable and trustworthy relocation team who will take the transportation of your goods seriously.

Two cross-country movers holding boxes in front of a van
Relocation companies are held to certain standards thanks to this agency

Protect Your Move – Avoid Scams Thanks to FMCSA Database of Reliable Companies

In order to further improve the relocation industry in the United States, FMCSA launched the Protect Your Move program. Its main goal is to help people avoid moving scams by browsing a list of registered movers and finding reliable companies that can be trusted. There is a database you can access on the site – all you need to do is type in the name of the company. Then, you can verify their USDOT number and see if there are any complaints filed against them.

Red Flags or Not, Be Sure to Vet the Company on This Official Site Before You Even Consider Hiring Them for Relocation Services

Checking this database is an excellent relocation hack for sure, but what if you think there is no need for it? Maybe you’ve got a recommendation for a certain company from someone you know or just can’t find any red flags online. Should you check the database either way? Yes, of course! When it comes to moving interstate, it’s always better to be safe and double-check every piece of info you come across. Here are the necessary steps to take before hiring essential workers in the relocation industry:

  • Search the company online and check its reviews and reputation,
  • Make sure they are registered in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) national registry and have insurance,
  • Check if they have a complaint history in the FMCSA database,
  • Get a free estimate of your household goods from the company,
  • Think about their estimate and decide if it suits your relocation budget.

The Information on FMCSA Website Can Help You Learn All About Your Rights and Responsibilities

While there are many things that your mover is responsible for and has to do by following some regulations, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing that falls under your responsibility during this relocation experience. That’s right – the customer has many rights but also a few responsibilities. A booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” has all of this written in detail, and it can be found on the website.

For example, the booklet states that you should read the documentation provided by your movers – including the contract. It might sound silly to remind someone to read the contract before signing it, but you would be surprised at how stress can make you lose your cool and do things you normally wouldn’t.

Learn More About What Each Moving Service Should Be Like to Avoid Getting Tricked By Nefarious Cross-Country Movers

Don’t forget to download the previously mentioned booklet and read it carefully. Knowing what to expect from relocation is the key to having an efficient move, trust us. This is especially true if you are relocating for the first time and have no idea what can happen. The more insight you have into the industry practices, the lesser the chances of you getting scammed or tricked into paying more than it’s customary for relocation services.

Two long-distance movers carrying a sofa on which a woman is sitting
You have plenty of rights as a client, but also a few responsibilities

Even With All the Regulations, Moving Scams Happen Quite Often – You Can Contact FMCSA If You Have Been Scammed

Even with everything that this agency does, scams can’t be exterminated. Sadly, there will always be someone who wants to scam people who move or who takes advantage of an unsuspecting client who missed the obvious red flags. Hopefully, you won’t end up with depression after relocating because you were scammed – you’ll do detailed research on the company and only hire someone with no red flags.

Still, if this text finds you too late and you have already had an unpleasant experience, is there something you can do? FMCSA can help with that as well – they are one of the institutions you should contact if you have been scammed. Leaving a complaint against a disreputable mover will help others avoid what you’ve been through. Other entities you can contact after being scammed include the state attorney general, Better Business Bureau, The American Moving and Storage Association, or The International Association of Movers.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Moving Fraud

Moving scam is a pretty complex type of fraud – sometimes, the client isn’t sure what is happening and what they should do. We’ve gathered a few of the most common questions that bother customers who have been scammed – if you find yourself in one of the following situations, here are the answers you’ll need.

What if your mover increases the agreed price?

If the truck is loaded, and your mover increases the price after that, you don’t have to pay more than what’s stated in the binding estimate or more than 110% of the non-binding estimate. The company has to bill additional charges within 30 days of delivery of your belongings.

What to do if the mover won't deliver your belongings?

If you have paid for moving services (100% of the binding estimate or 110% for the non-binding one) and the mover hasn’t delivered your belongings at the agreed time, they have violated federal regulation, and you should file a complaint immediately.

What should be included in the complaint against the mover?

When writing a complaint, include the following info – your name, address, and street number, your mover’s name, US DOT, their address and number, the origin and destination of the shipment, and a short description of what happened.

What are the most common examples of complaints against movers?

Some of the most common complaints against a mover include holding the shipment hostage until the client pays more than what’s agreed on, refusing to pay for damages or losses during the transportation, and not honoring the pick-up and delivery dates without giving any notice.

Search for a Reputable Long-Distance Moving Company in the USA and Gather All the Necessary Information

As you can see, finding movers to contact for a stress-free move is a complex task – maybe even the most complicated one on your to-do list. That’s why you need to devote enough time to it – booking movers should be done at least two months before the move. Use all the available resources and arm yourself with knowledge – that way, no one will be able to take advantage of you and ruin your relocation.

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