The minimum standard of care (SOC) is that minimum level of care that is required for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. This standard is required of the trucking company, by the federal government, in order to get a DOT (Department of Transportation) number. This is the contract between the people and the trucking company. The contract is contained in the Code of Federal Regulations, commonly known as the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations (FMCSR), and the Commercial Drivers License Manual.

The Commercial Drivers License Manual (CDLM) explains in plain language what a driver has to do to drive safely. The CDLM is a simplified version of the FMCSR, combined with minimum safe driver skills.  The CDLM is uniform in every state as to all federal regulations. The only change that is found is variations in some of the state regulations. The model CDL Manual is produced by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). According to the AAMVA, every state has adopted their CDLM. Most states simply use the model CDLM without change.

In addition to the FMCSR and CDLM, many industry groups establish standards for the safe operation of trucks through various publications and training materials. Some examples of these groups would be the American Trucking Association, J.J. Keller and Associates, the National Safety Council, The Smith System, etc.

The FMCSR applies to all vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) in excess of 10,000 pounds and to vehicles pulling trailers with a combined GVWR in excess of 10,000 pounds. These include all "Medium Duty" trucks and some "Light Duty" trucks such as a one ton Ford F-350 or a GM 3500.