Vehicle Lettering Regulations

Sometimes figuring out what state and federal regulations mean in real terms for your business can be a struggle. When it comes to required DOT information, marking your commercial fleet correctly is important for both safety and budget because tickets for noncompliance can be steep.

What do federal regulations say?

printed cut vinyl truck doorsThe relevant Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR 390.21 states that the vehicle must bear the name of the operator, which generally means your company name (many also include the address), along with your DOT number preceded by “USDOT”. The letters must:

  • appear on both sides of the vehicle
  • contrast with the background color, and
  • be visible in daylight from a distance of 50 feet when the vehicle is stationary.

At Signwave we generally use black vinyl on light backgrounds and white vinyl on dark backgrounds, but we can also use custom logo colors if the contrast is appropriate.

What do NY State regulations say?

New York state regulations are basically identical to the federal regulations, with one small addition. The state regulations add that a minimum height of 2″ for individual letters is recommended. At Signwave we want to err on the side of caution, so we always create lettering that is 2″ or higher. If you operate in New York City we may even recommend a letter height of 3″ because enforcement is up to the discretion of the individual officer. Our designers are skilled at choosing fonts and placement to ensure both readability and aesthetic. Letters 3″ high can be overwhelming if not designed properly.

Custom vehicle lettering can be compliant

While compliance with federal and state regulation is always paramount, the open-ended wording of the code still allows for a little creativity. Signwave will design custom DOT lettering as part of your overall commercial fleet graphics program, keeping you on the road doing business across the island and beyond. Send us a message using the Contact Us form, or call us at 631-761-9292 to see how we can help.



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