Here’s what you need to know about interstate vs. intrastate trucking operations.

On the face of it, the difference between “interstate” and “intrastate” as it pertains to trucking seems straightforward. “Interstate” refers to drivers crossing state or international borders in the course of their duties, while “intrastate” indicates that a driver is staying within the boundaries of the state in which their carrier is domiciled.

But as is often the case with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), it’s a bit more complicated than that.

For example, there are times when a load is an interstate load, even if the driver and truck never cross state lines or leave the country. That happens when the load originated in or is headed to another state or country. As the FMCSA puts it: “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.”

The key takeaway: Whether a load is interstate or intrastate is determined by where it originated and where it will end up, regardless of who moves it along the way.


Why Is It Important to Understand Interstate vs. Intrastate?

Why does interstate vs. intrastate matter? It’s because federal rules governing interstate commerce may differ from those that regulate commerce that occurs wholly within any single state. In particular, some of the intrastate rules may allow different limits for the driver and carrier.

Again, from the FMCSA: “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 CMV are subject to the FMCSRs.”

Whether you’re a driver, dispatcher or fleet manager, it’s important to understand whether it is an interstate load or an intrastate load that is being hauled so that you know which rules to follow to stay in compliance and operate effectively.

Also, insurance requirements for interstate and intrastate carriers. The FMCSA requires carries to have at least $750,000 in liability insurance coverage; the state of Texas, for comparison, requires $300,000 in liability insurance. In addition to understanding which driving rules you should be following you have to make sure that you’re also adequately insured.


Related: What is an ELD


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) vs. Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (TMCSR)

For a deeper understanding of interstate vs intrastate, let’s take a look at the some of the differences between federal interstate regulations and those for intrastate commerce in Texas.

There are many similarities between the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and the Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. But there are some notable differences between FMCSRs and TMCSRs.

Here are a few:

Minimum driver age: According to federal regulations, drivers engaged in interstate commerce must be at least 21 years old. For drivers operating solely in Texas under intrastate rules, the minimum age is 18.

On-duty and drive time: Under the TMCSRs, drivers can be on- duty for 15 hours and drive a maximum of 12 hours during that time. Federal regulations governing interstate commerce cap total on-duty time at 14 hours, with a total of 11 hours of driving time allowed.

Off-duty time: Drivers operating under the Texas hours of service rules must be off duty for at least eight consecutive hours before beginning a new shift. Under FMCSRs, drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off before going back on duty.

7- and 8-day periods: FMCSRs require that no driver be on duty for more than 60 hours over a period of seven days or 70 hours over a period of eight days. And to restart those periods, they must be off duty for 34 continuous hours. Under the Texas regulations, drivers can be on duty no longer than 70 hours over seven days and is able to reset that period after 34 off-duty hours.


With products like our dependable, durable and accurate ELD, Clarity Dashcam and industry-leading Asset Tracker powered by Phillips Connect, EROAD is committed to helping our customers run safe, efficient and successful operations while staying in compliance with FMCSA regulations. Contact us today to learn more about our fleet management solutions.

Understanding Interstate vs. Intrastate Operations

by | Jul 21, 2021 | , ,

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