Safe trucking starts before a driver even gets behind the wheel. If a semi-truck is not working properly, it puts the driver, their cargo, and anyone else on the road in danger. Because of this, the Department of Transportation (DOT) conducts periodic roadside checks of commercial motor vehicles. A truck inspection can happen at any time and there are six different levels. Of these, the most common is the Level I North American Standard Inspection. This is the variety we will discuss in this article. You can view a full list of inspection types on the official Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.
Before the DOT inspector examines the vehicle itself, they will conduct a thorough review of the driver. They will check that the driver is using a seatbelt, look for signs of drug or alcohol use, and verify that there are no hours of service (HOS) violations. The inspector will then ask for various types of documentation from the driver. It is important that your drivers are aware of what documents are required and that they keep these in a safe and easily-accessible location within their truck.
The inspector will request the following documents during a Level I truck inspection:
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Medical examiner’s certificate
- Shipping papers
- Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate, if applicable
- Record of duty status, as required
- Vehicle inspection report(s), if applicable
After reviewing the driver’s documentation, the inspector will thoroughly examine the truck to ensure that it is in good condition. They will begin by walking around the truck to check for any overall issues and then will individually check each part.
The truck inspection process includes, but is not limited to, the following parts:
- Brake system
- Steering mechanisms
- Coupling devices
- Trailer and cargo
- Hubcaps, rims, and wheels
- Fuel system
- Exhaust system
- Turn signals and lights
As they examine the vehicle, the inspector will note the condition of every part. If there are any concerns, they will indicate these on their inspection form and will let the driver know. In the case of critical violations, the truck will be marked as out-of-service and may not be operated until the issue is corrected.
Preparing for a Truck Inspection
A DOT inspection can happen at any time, so it is important that your drivers are prepared during every trip. This includes completing a pre-trip inspection, which should cover the same parts as a Level I truck inspection.
Maintenance and Inspection Training
HDS Safety Services offers on-site, hands-on inspection training. We will show your drivers how to conduct a thorough inspection of their own vehicles and will give them helpful information about what the DOT expects. This gives your motor carrier peace of mind knowing that your drivers are prepared in case of a roadside inspection.