Trucking is a highly regulated industry. If you want to start a Maryland trucking business, you'll not only need to meet the same regulations as other Maryland businesses, you'll have to conform to state regulations specific to the trucking industry. If you travel out of the state, you must also obey federal rules, found in the Unified Carrier Registration Act. In addition to the heavier regulations, start-up expenses for truckers are higher than many businesses.
Read Maryland's motor-carrier handbook. The handbook covers the state and federal requirements your trucking company has to operate under, and provides sources for more detailed information. You need to make sure your trucks have all necessary permits and follow the law -- for example, Maryland sets a five-minute time limit on how long a vehicle can sit and idle.
Arrange at least $10,000 in financing for your company. The Start a Trucking Company website states that it will cost at least much to start a company from scratch -- and possibly as much as $30,000 -- because of the expense of vehicles, communications equipment, licensing and employee salaries.
Register your truck. Whether you bought it new or used, you'll need to submit proof of title and possibly a certificate of origin from the manufacturer, and you'll need to pay 6 percent tax on the value of the truck, at the time of publication. If it weighs more than 10,000 pounds, you must certify your knowledge of motor-carrier regulations before the state will register it.
Hire driver's. Check that each driver you employ meets Maryland's requirements, which include passing a drug test and having a commercial drivers license.
If money is tight, it might be more cost-effective to start by contracting with independent truckers rather than buying trucks and putting the drivers on the payroll. Before opening your business, decide what sort of freight you want to haul. Consider the requirements of different shipments: Baltimore crab meat will need a refrigerated car, for instance, while hazardous materials come under added federal regulation.
Talk to freight brokers and other potential customers about whether they'd want to do business with you. Don't commit to anything until your licensing and other preparations are in place, just in case something goes wrong and you have obligations you can't meet. If your truck is taller than 13.5 feet or wider than 102 inches, you'll have to take out a special permit to drive in Maryland.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.