The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provides inspections on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to increase safety on the road. They check that all parts and components of the vehicle will be in good working condition. As a truck driver, do you know the specifics of each inspection level or the most common violations? We will help you to gain a better understanding of what to expect from DOT inspections.
The Differences Between the Six Levels of DOT Inspections
The North American Standard Inspection Program includes six levels of inspections that officials provide on a vehicle or a driver to understand if they follow certain laws and regulations.
- Level I: North American Standard Inspection – This level is the most thorough inspection provided by officers. They will look at the entire vehicle for worn-out or damaged parts. The officer will examine the braking system, tires, lighting, battery, securement of cargo, and more. The inspector also will talk with the driver to check for alcohol and drug consumption, seat belt use and proper documentation. If the officer finds violations, they can place the CMV out of service (OOS).
- Level II: Vehicle Inspection or the Walk-Around Driver – The officer only walks around a truck to look for anything operating incorrectly, but the official doesn’t check components that require them to get underneath the vehicle. Then they check the driver’s paperwork and credentials.
- Level III: Driver-Only Inspection – During a Level III, the officer will inspect only driver credentials. Truck drivers should be prepared to present the following: License. Record of Duty Status (RODS). Electronic logging device (ELD). Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). Hours of Service (HOS). Level III can include also traffic violations.
- Level IV: Special Inspections – This level is rare and is usually conducted as a one-time examination of a particular item for research purposes such as the vehicle’s engine or a driver documentation.
- Level V: Vehicle-Only Inspection – This level includes everything that would be in a Level I Standard inspection, but without the driver present. The inspection is occurred at the carrier’s location during a compliance review.
- Level VI: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments – This level is one of the most thorough types of inspection for both the driver and vehicle, as it relates to hazardous materials. It consists of: inspection procedures; radiological requirements; enhanced OOS criteria; improvements to a level I inspection.
What happens After The Dot Inspection?
There are three possible outcomes of truck inspections:
- No violations are found – If no violations are found, the official places a CVSA decal on the vehicle (valid for up to three months). This means that the driver and the truck passed the inspection.
- Violations aren’t serious – The officer found something wrong with the driver or vehicle, but the problem isn’t serious enough to place either OOS. Even though the vehicle can still operate, the violations count against the carrier or the driver. It can affect CSA scores. During 15 days, repairs must be fixed, and the carrier must send a report to the FMCSA showing all repairs were completed in time.
- Vehicle or driver is placed OOS – This means a serious violation that poses a danger to other drivers. All violations must be corrected and documented that an OOS vehicle or driver can operate again.
What Are The Most Common Violations?
Violations cause a truck driver or CMV to be placed out of service. Knowing the most common violations will help drivers better maintain the CMV and keep the necessary documentation on hand.
- Logging violations;
- Invalid or expired license;
- No medical card, or it’s expired;
- Exceeding HOS laws;
- Not wearing a seat belt.
- Inoperable lights.
- Oil, grease, transmission fluid or fuel leaks.
- Tire tread depth below 2/32 of an inch.
- Improperly loaded cargo.
- No current annual inspection on file.
- Discharged or unsecured fire extinguisher.
How To Be Ready for DOT Inspections
DOT inspections typically take less than an hour if the CMV has been properly maintained. You can use the following tips to be ready for DOT inspections:
- Clean your truck (inside and out);
- Provide a regular preventive maintenance to keep your vehicle in good condition;
- Perform inspections of your truck to check for problems – pre-trip, en route and post-trip;
- Secure shipments properly;
- Understand inspection procedures.
Pass Your DOT Inspection With New Sound Truck Driving School!
If you a truck driver, New Sound Truck Driving School will help you to pass Dot inspections.
Contact us at 253-210-0505 to learn more about the DOT inspection and how to handle it.