Mobile Dental Systems Getting Started
b. Do regulations for vehicles differ by state and locale?


Because of the small number of mobile van manufacturers, you'll likely be buying a vehicle from a manufacturer in another state. Don't rely on the manufacturer to be knowledgeable about your state's or community's regulations. A primary concern is that once your vehicle is built, you will be able to legally operate it where and how you had planned. Every locale and state has their own requirements for load, length, width, and height. It's important to check the regulations before buying the vehicle. Check with the state highway patrol, department of transportation, the motor vehicle agency, or the police department in your area. Also determine if the manufacturer is licensed to build a vehicle for delivery to your state. Some states require inspections during the building process to assure compliance with state building codes. Once you've established these facts, then you can select the type of mobile vehicle you need based on what the requirements will allow. This upfront knowledge will prevent any delays in delivery and start up. Other regulations apply to ownership and operating the mobile dental program. As of December 2007 more than 10 states had regulations, laws or registration required for mobile/portable units (reference: Hamilton J. Mobile dentistry: Entrepreneurial boom sparks debate. AGD Impact. 2007; 35(12): 38-46.)

The following links to state regulations will help you think of questions to ask.

Some mobile programs have experienced difficulties and delays when trying to volunteer their vehicles and staff for disaster relief in other states. The Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities has a toolkit that answers questions and provides links to other useful information about such situations.

Also check on regulations concerning dumping water and waste. Fresh water and waste disposal are a small concern at work sites because water requirements are met on board the vehicle; waste can be filled and dumped upon leaving the site. Dumping waste can be accomplished at any campground and many rest areas. Some programs install fresh water fill and dump stations at their primary vehicle storage location.